The One-Pot Chicken Parm Pasta Recipe That Will Make Your Life Easier

Chicken Parmesan is one of our favorite comfort food dishes, but it's one of those dishes that most of us only order at an Italian restaurant. Between breading the chicken and making the sauce, it just seems like so much trouble to make it at home. While our one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe might not be traditional, it captures all the flavors you love from this Italian dish while making it so much easier to pull off.

We cut the chicken into small pieces to help the breading adhere, and we use store-bought marinara sauce to save time and make this meal in less than an hour. We also use a single pot — from breading the chicken to cooking the pasta — to make clean-up that much easier, so it's worth the extra mess to bread the chicken. That said, we won't judge you if you want to shave even more time and effort off of this dish by using store-bought chicken tenders instead.

Gather the ingredients for this one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe

It may seem like there are a lot of ingredients in this one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe, but it's simpler than it looks if we break it down into its individual components. It all starts with making breaded chicken pieces, so grab a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins. They get their breaded exterior by dipping each piece into flour, egg, and Italian-style breadcrumbs. To boost their flavor, we'll season the all-purpose flour with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt.

From there, we make store-bought marinara sauce more interesting by adding onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and some red pepper flakes. Then we add short pasta (like penne) and finish the dish with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. The only other ingredients you'll need are some chopped basil and parsley to give this one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe a fresh finish before it's served.

Why is this dish called chicken Parmesan?

When most people think about chicken Parmesan, they think of a breaded chicken cutlet swimming in tomato sauce and topped with ooey, gooey melted mozzarella cheese. So why is the dish described as chicken Parmesan instead of chicken mozzarella? According to Serious Eats, the original chicken Parmesan didn't even contain Parmesan cheese — or chicken, for that matter. It was made with eggplant, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese and called Melanzane alla Parmigiana ("eggplant in the style of Parma"). The word "Parmigiana" referred to Parma, a city in northern Italy where Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is made.

When Italian immigrants came to the United States, they started using chicken instead of eggplant. Somewhere over the years, people began to add Parmesan cheese to the dish. While we can't say for sure why this change occurred, we can certainly assume that people thought the word Parmigiana indicated the dish must include this type of cheese.

Choosing the right pan for this one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe

Our one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe has to be made in the right pot. Otherwise, the contents will overflow as they cook. We recommend grabbing a large Dutch oven, a 12-inch tall-sided saute pan, or a 12-inch cast-iron skillet with straight sides. All of these cooking vessels are large enough to hold a pound of pasta plus six cups of marinara sauce and water. It's best to use a pan with a lid, but if yours doesn't have one, you can use a tightly fitted piece of aluminum foil instead.

If the pan is oven-safe, all the better. After cooking the pasta, you may want to transfer the pan to the oven to keep it warm before serving. You can also place the pan underneath the broiler to melt the cheese, a method that creates lovely browned spots over the top. That said, the cheese melts just fine when covered with a lid, so don't stress it if your pan isn't rated for oven use.

What's the best pasta to use for a one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe?

We used penne to make our one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe. We love the way that ridged penne rigate clings onto the sauce, delivering a forkful of rich marinara with every bite. That doesn't mean you have to use penne in your recipe, though. You have some freedom when it comes to choosing the pasta for chicken Parm. Most short pasta shapes work well here, from the elbows traditionally used for mac and cheese to shells, rigatoni, orecchiette, and more. You could also use long pasta like spaghetti or fettuccine, although you'll probably have to break the noodles in half to get them to fit into the pan.

Keep in mind that each pasta shape cooks in its own time. We cooked the penne for 15 minutes, but smaller pasta may be finished in as little as eight minutes. Check the back of the box for the recommended cooking time for each shape, and give the noodles a taste a minute before the timer goes off to see if they're finished.

Start by cutting the chicken for this one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe

The first step in making this one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe is to make the chicken. Traditional chicken Parmesan is made with a whole chicken breast, but we like cutting them down into smaller pieces for this dish. It's easier to eat the chicken mixed in with the pasta if it's in smaller, bite-sized piece.

You can start with any type of chicken. We used chicken tenderloins because they're already shaped into one-inch strips, but you could also start with chicken breasts or chicken thighs. If using the latter, slice the chicken into one-inch strips. Then, cut the strips into two to three pieces, creating one and a half-inch pieces.

In a pinch, you could also use chicken nuggets or breaded chicken tenders for this recipe. If that's the case, skip over the breading instructions and heat the chicken according to the package directions.

Use seasoned flour and breadcrumbs to make this one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe

To create the most flavorful one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe, you'll want to season the flour and breadcrumbs. We learned about this secret when making our copycat KFC chicken recipe, which used 11 herbs and spices. We don't need to use nearly as many seasonings for this recipe because the chicken will be enjoyed with a flavorful tomato sauce, but we still want to add a few.

Place the all-purpose flour in a large bowl. Add a teaspoon of Italian seasoning and a half teaspoon each kosher salt, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. If you don't have Italian seasoning on hand, you can make your own by combining dried oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage. You could also use any one of these herbs solo, if you prefer.

You'll want to season the breadcrumbs too, but we found an easier way. Store-bought Italian-style breadcrumbs already contain seasonings, so we didn't have to add anything extra. If you want to make your own flavorful blend, feel free to go for it!

How do you keep the breading on this one-pot chicken Parm pasta?

You can make the most flavorful breading in the world, but it won't matter if it falls off the chicken before it makes it to the plate. The best way to ensure the breading sticks on this one-pot chicken Parm pasta is to follow a proper breading technique. It's a three-step process: flour, egg wash, then breadcrumbs. Prepare your breading station by placing the seasoned flour and breadcrumbs in shallow bowls. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water until they're well mixed.

Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel before dropping them into the seasoned flour. You want to make sure the chicken gets coated on all slides, so work in batches and avoid dropping all the chicken in at once. Shake off the excess flour and dip the chicken into the egg, making sure it gets coated on all sides. Then, transfer the chicken to the breadcrumbs. To make sure the breading sticks, press the chicken firmly into the breadcrumbs during this step. If they don't adhere, dip the chicken back into the egg and try again. Finally, transfer the breaded chicken pieces to a piece of wax paper to rest while you finish the rest of the chicken.

Want to keep your hands from getting caked with breading? Use one hand when working with the dry ingredients and the other when working with the wet ingredients.

Cook the chicken and pasta in the same pan for the perfect one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe

When all the chicken for your one-pot chicken Parm pasta is breaded, it's time to get cooking. Heat one cup of canola oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan or Dutch oven. When the oil is shimmering but not quite smoking, add the breaded chicken pieces, working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. It should take about three to five minutes per side for the chicken to become golden brown and cooked through. Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches the safe temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken to a wire rack or a paper towel-lined plate and continue frying until all the chicken is done. Pour out and discard the excess oil before moving on.

Wipe the pan clean and add a tablespoon of new oil. When it's hot, add the onions and cook them until they're softened, about five minutes. Then toss in the garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes, cooking until the aroma of garlic fills the air (about a minute). Stir in the pasta, marinara, and a marinara jar full of water (about three cups). When the mixture reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pan until the pasta is tender, about ten to 15 minutes.

Add the cheesy topping to finish this one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe

As the pasta for your one-pot chicken Parm pasta cooks, you'll notice that the marinara sauce begins to thicken. The pasta is simultaneously absorbing the extra water we added and releasing its natural starches, thickening the jarred marinara to the perfect consistency. When the pasta is finished, we only have one step before it's ready to serve.

Press the cooked chicken pieces into the pasta, submerging them most of the way into the sauce while leaving the tops exposed. That will help the chicken maintain some of its crispy exterior without getting too soggy. Then, sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses on top. Melt the cheese by covering the pan and reducing the heat to low, or you can pop the pan underneath the broiler. The latter will create a more pizza-like topping with browned spots.

From there, the pasta can be held warm in the oven for up to an hour, or you can serve it immediately. Make sure to garnish the pasta with chopped basil and parsley before serving.

What goes well with this one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe?

If you're running short on time, don't feel like you have to serve this one-pot chicken Parm pasta with any side dishes. It tastes great on its own, and you can even stir in some vegetables like broccoli or spinach if you want to increase the vegetable content. But if you have extra time on your hands, any number of vegetable side dishes go well with chicken Parmesan.

For busy weeknights, the easiest side dish is a simple side salad made with lettuce, arugula, baby kale, or shredded cabbage. Light, bright salad dressings using citrus juice or champagne vinegar pair best with the pasta's heavy flavors, but dairy-based dressings like ranch or blue cheese also work well. Roasted vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts make great vegetable side options, or you can make the dish more decadent by serving it with a side of garlic bread or cheesy bread.

The One-Pot Chicken Parm Pasta Recipe That Will Make Your Life Easier
4.4 from 7 ratings
Chicken Parmesan is one of our favorite comfort food dishes, but it's one of those dishes that most of us only order at an Italian restaurant. While our one-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe might not be traditional, it captures all the flavors you love from this dish while making it easier to pull off.
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
45
minutes
Servings
6
servings
how to make One-pot chicken Parm pasta recipe
Ready in 60 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound short pasta, like penne, rigatoni, or orecchiette
  • 1 (24-ounce jar) marinara
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped basil and parsley, for garnish
Directions
  1. Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch strips. Cut the strips down to 1- to 1-½ inch pieces and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water.
  3. Portion the breadcrumbs and flour into two separate, shallow bowls. To the all-purpose flour, stir in 1 teaspoon of the Italian seasoning, salt, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.
  4. Working in batches, dip the chicken pieces into the seasoned flour. Shake off the excess flour before dipping the chicken into the egg, making sure each piece is coated on all sides. Transfer the chicken into the breadcrumbs, pressing down firmly to ensure that the breadcrumbs adhere. If they don't, dip the chicken in the egg and try again. Transfer the breaded chicken pieces to a piece of wax paper and repeat the process until all the chicken is breaded.
  5. Heat 1 cup of the canola oil in a large saute pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it's shimmering. Add the breaded chicken pieces, working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook the chicken for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until it's golden brown and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken to a wire rack or a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.
  6. Pour out the excess oil and wipe the pan clean. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil and heat it over medium heat.
  7. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  9. Add the pasta, marinara, and a marinara jar full of water (3 cups) to the pan, stirring until the ingredients are well combined. Bring the mixture to a boil before reducing the heat to a simmer.
  10. Cover the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pasta is tender.
  11. Add the cooked chicken to the pot, pressing it into the pasta so the tops don't become submerged in the sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses on top.
  12. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot until the cheeses are melted. Alternatively, you can place the pan under the broiler to lightly brown the cheese.
  13. Garnish the finished chicken Parm pasta with chopped basil and parsley and serve immediately.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 999
Total Fat 54.9 g
Saturated Fat 11.1 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 123.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 81.5 g
Dietary Fiber 4.2 g
Total Sugars 4.5 g
Sodium 692.0 mg
Protein 43.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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