Lemon Basil Chicken Pasta

An easy pasta dish that’s made with penne noodles tossed in a creamy lemon basil sauce topped with grilled chicken and parmesan cheese. This is about to become your favorite weeknight meal!
Penne pasta in a lemon basil cream sauce with chicken and parmesan cheese on a dark gray plate sitting next to lemon wedges and small bowls of basil and Parmesan cheese

Alright loves, where are all my pasta lovers at?? Because this recipe right here is definitely one for the books. It’s tangy, it’s creamy, it’s also light and refreshing! Basically it’s everything you could ever want in a pasta dish AND more! I’m talking about my incredible easy lemon basil chicken pasta.

What is al dente pasta?

Upon writing this, it occurred to me that not everyone might know what “al dente” pasta is, let alone how to cook it. (Props to my dear mother for pointing that one out to me. 😉 ) So al dente pasta… what is it? Well al dente simple translates to “to the tooth.” Which in normal people terms means “firm to the bite.” So basically, we always know the pasta is done when it’s slightly soft on the outside and pliable to the touch, but still has a nice firmness to it when we bite into it. (I’ve found that most pasta box directions are right on the money in terms of “doneness” so just follow the package directions and you should be fine. 🙂 )

What kind of pasta noodle can you use?

All different kinds! That’s the beauty of this recipe. I personally love using penne or farfalle (bowtie), but you can also use your favorite noodle too. Because the sauce is so light, it’s doesn’t necessarily need a sturdy noodle to hold up in it. So go wild loves and use whatever your little hearts desire!

Close up picture of lemon basil chicken pasta on a dark plate with a silver fork on the side

Lemon Basil Sauce

Ahh the sauce…the piece de resistance! Let me tell ya babes, this sauce is EVERYTHING! Yeah I know it could be “a little healthier” and it really doesn’t need “all that cheese.” But let’s be real…cheese is life and you can just pair this baby with a side salad to “get your greens in” and call it a day! 😉 Ingredients for making this glorious sauce are below:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • Juice of 3-4 lemons (depending on their size)
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil leaves
  • Handful of lemon zest

See recipe below for full instructions!

Can I replace the chicken with a different protein?

Abso-fricken-lutely! This pasta would also be great with shrimp or salmon. Or you can even leave it meatless and add in a few extra veggies as well! In the past, I’ve added broccoli and peas and have even replaced the noodles with zucchini noodles for an easy gluten free option!

I hope you all enjoy this recipe just as much as my family and I do! Keep rockin’ the day babes!

[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my social media @kalefornia_kravings – I love seeing what you create!]

Lemon Basil Chicken Pasta

Penne pasta and grilled chicken all tossed together in a creamy lemon basil sauce! This will definitely be your next family favorite!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Comfort Food, Easy, Pasta
Keyword: basil, chicken, easy, lemon, parmesan, pasta, sauce
Servings: 4 people
Author: Caitlin


For the pasta:

  • 4 chicken breasts, cooked & cut into cubes
  • 1 box penne pasta*

For the sauce:

  • ½ stick butter
  • 3-4 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup half & half
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup shaved parmesan** (or 1 5oz. container)
  • cup chopped basil leaves
  • Lemon zest


  • Cook the pasta according to the box's directions. Drain it and pour it into a large bowl with the chopped chicken. Set aside.
  • In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Pour in the lemon juice and whisk them together.
  • Add the half & half and heavy cream and whisk until it's hot. Add the parmesan cheese and keep whisking until all the cheese has melted. Stir in a sprinkle of basil and lemon zest.
  • Pour the sauce over the pasta and chicken and stir until everything is coated. Sprinkle the top with the remaining basil and lemon zest and serve!


*Farfalle (bowtie) pasta also works well for this recipe too.
**I’ve found that shaved parmesan works the best for this recipe because it melts easily. You can also use shredded parmesan too but I would NOT recommend using grated!

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