This chicken pasta dinner is ready in under 30 minutes, but with TONS of flavor from a delicious no-cook sun-dried tomato pasta sauce and juicy, perfectly cooked chicken.
This quick, simple meal comes together while the pasta is cooking. The no-cook sauce delivers a deep, rich tomato flavor that tastes like it’s been cooking all day long. Gather up some sun-dried tomatoes, olives (optional), chicken, pasta, and herbs and get ready for the perfect weeknight meal! Scroll down to read more about this great pasta recipe or click here to head straight to the recipe.
The Sauce Ingredients
The sauce for this pasta dinner is a quick, no-cook sauce. It’s essentially like a pesto or tapenade, where flavorful ingredients are processed together. In fact, this sauce came about because I was creating a sun-dried tomato tapenade recipe and then realized that it was amazing on pasta. You essentially puree the ingredients together and then toss the blended mixture with hot pasta. The heat of the pasta warms the sauce through.
Beyond the sun-dried tomatoes, the other ingredients in this sauce are black olives, garlic, and fresh rosemary.
If you’d prefer to skip the olives, you have two options. First, you can simply add an extra 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes along with 2 tablespoon of drained capers. Second, you can use1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of chopped fresh tomatoes from which you have drained away most of they juices.
If you don’t have fresh rosemary, that’s totally fine too. You can use fresh basil, fresh parsley, or 1 teaspoon of dried oregano or of dried basil. I actually don’t recommend using dried rosemary here though because this recipe is ready so quickly that those little dry sticks of herb won’t have time to soften and give off their flavor.
What Kind Of Sun-Dried Tomatoes To Use
Sun-dried tomatoes come dry in a package or packed in oil in a jar. They’re typically found in one of three locations: either the produce section with the tomatoes; where the canned tomatoes and tomato paste are located; or with the prepared pasta sauces.
The big difference between the two types is that the jarred tomatoes packed in oil will be soft, supple, and ready to eat, while the dried, packaged variety needs to be rehydrated in hot water.
For the sake of time, this recipe uses the jarred tomatoes packed in oil. If the dried/packaged variety is all you have, soak them in boiling water for about 10 minutes before using.
Tips For The Best Chicken
If you’d like your chicken to be extra tender and juicy, I recommend that you spend a few extra minutes and pound it to an even thickness before cooking, as explained in my Baked Chicken Breasts Recipe. And, if you have time, it’s absolutely worth brining the chicken breasts first, and even as little as 30 minutes will make a difference. Note that if you skip the pounding step and the brining step, you will still have a delicious dinner, don’t worry! It’s just a little extra for the days when you have the time and energy.
Another thing you can do is to bread the chicken and have it be nice and crispy. If you do this, I recommend that you slice it and serve it over the pasta, rather than mixing it in. Here is how to make Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Breasts in the Air Fryer and here are Breaded Chicken Cutlets.
Making The Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Pasta Dinner
The idea here is to get the chicken started first so that in the time it takes for the pasta water to boil, the pasta to cook, and the no-cook sauce to be made, the chicken will be ready. Then everything is tossed together and it’s time to eat.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the chicken breasts with a bit of olive oil and then some some onion powder and salt. Arrange them on a baking sheet and bake until cooked through. They should reach 160F on an instant-read thermometer, or cut into one to make sure it’s no longer pink inside. That will take 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breasts.
Want to use the air fryer? Toss the chicken with the oil and seasonings and then cook in the air fryer at 360F until an instant-read thermometer reads 160°F, about 18 minutes.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. You’ll want a hefty pasta, like a bucatini, spaghetti, or rigatoni. If you prefer a quick-cook pasta, like angel hair, wait 10 minutes after the chicken goes into the oven before starting the pasta to keep the recipe’s timing on track.
The simple sauce takes less than five minutes to make in a food processor or blender. I like to use a mini food processor for blending and for less to clean up later. Toss the garlic, olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, salt, and a few tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves into the food processor, and blend until almost smooth. You want it to be slightly chunky. Set this aside until the pasta is ready.
Transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot it was cooking in. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss to coat. Then cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the pot of pasta and sauce. Toss again to coat the chicken, and top with chopped fresh parsley and freshly grated Parmesan right before serving.
Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of breast. They’ll cook in about the same amount of time as the chicken breasts would.
You can make this dinner quicker by using leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken. Cut it into bite-sized pieces while the pasta cooks. Then, just before the pasta is done cooking, stir the chicken into the hot water with the pasta. Allow to heat through and then drain the pasta and chicken at the same time. Easy-Peasy!
If you’d like to skip the chicken, you can do the same thing with some cooked beans. I really like chickpeas and/or cannellini beans in this dish. You can use beans that you cooked yourself, or canned beans that you’ve drained and rinsed.
More Delicious Pasta Dinners
If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for more delicious dinners to make for your family. I’m linking to some of my all-time favorite pasta dinners for you below, and you should also definitely give all of my weeknight dinner recipes a browse over here (there are over 300 mouth-watering meals so you can always find the perfect thing).
- The Amazing No-Boil Baked Pasta
- Italian Sausage Pasta Recipe
- Pasta Carbonara Made With Greek Yogurt
- Feta Pasta Bake
- Shrimp Scampi Pasta Bake
- Beefy Stuffed Shells
- Taco Stuffed Shells
Enjoy! -Christine xo
Podcast Episode: Making This Chicken Pasta Dinner
Listen to learn how to make this recipe, along with some great tips from Christine:Print
This chicken pasta dinner is ready in under 30 minutes, but with TONS of flavor from a delicious no-cook sun-dried tomato pasta sauce and juicy, perfectly cooked chicken. Check the blog post above for alternate cooking instructions for the chicken, as well as a vegetarian substitute. Garnish with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
- 4 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tsp. cooking oil
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, lightly drained
- 1 (6 oz.) can pitted black olives*, well drained
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves
- 12 oz. box bucatini
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Put chicken into a large bowl. Toss with the cooking oil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the onion powder. Toss to coat.
- Transfer chicken to a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F**.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions.
- While pasta and chicken cook, to a small food processor or blender add sun-dried tomatoes, olives, olive oil, garlic cloves, rosemary, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Blend until almost smooth. Set aside.
- Transfer cooked chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest while draining pasta.
- Drain pasta and return it to the pot. Add the sauce and stir until well coated.
- Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces and add it to the pasta. Toss to coat in sauce.
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*If you’d prefer not to use olives, you can use more sun-dried tomatoes instead along with an optional tablespoon of drained capers. Another option is to substitute in 1/2 cup of chopped fresh tomatoes from which you’ve squeezed most of the liquid, and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
**Carry-over cooking will bring the temperature of the chicken to 165° F, which is the recommended safe temperature for cooked chicken.