Creamy, easy comfort food! My one pot chicken fettuccine alfredo is full of juicy and tender meat, tart tomatoes, yummy bacon and creamy, cheesy sauce.
Honestly, I wondered if my family had eaten before with the way they pounced on all the food. Though I can’t blame them since everyone’s contributions were really yummy. Mom and I make a great team and I had a wonderful time spending the week with mom and dad ahead of the holiday. (And dad gets full marks for being a whirlwind at cleaning up as we cooked.)
This week, I’m taking a little break here between Thanksgiving recipes and Christmas recipes to post a couple of weeknight comfort food dinners! Because we can’t live on holiday food alone. Sometimes we just need dinner!
My first recipe this week is a one pot creamy chicken fettuccine alfredo. A dish you need in your life! It took me a little while to get the balance right – too much sauce, too little sauce, mushy pasta, dry meat. I figured it all out!
The final version has just the right amount of sauce (and with the right amount of creamy flavor!), nicely cooked pasta, and juicy chicken. Yum! Also a little red pepper for spice (that’s the daughter’s contribution), and plenty of sweet and tiny tomatoes for little bursts of flavor.
And totally get a container of the tiny rainbow tomatoes if you can! They are both pretty to look at and sweet and flavorful to eat.
What do you need?
- Chicken Breast – Two breasts, each cut into thirds and salted.
- Fettuccine – I like the kind sold in little nests since they don’t tend to stick together when you cook them.
- Pancetta – I love the depth of flavor you get from a bit of bacon. (Yes, I had to say it.)
- Tomatoes – Little grape or cherry tomatoes. Multicolored if you can find it!
- Cream/Cheese – Heavy cream and parmesan for a classic Alfredo sauce.
- Fresh Herbs – A little parsley or basil finishes things off nicely.
How to make this
To make one pot chicken fettuccine alfredo, brown the chicken in the pan then remove and make the sauce with pancetta (or bacon), onion, and cream. Add the pasta and cook through, then toss with parmesan cheese, tomatoes, herbs, and the reserved chicken.
- Cut the breast to size, then pound it to an even thickness.
- Brown and cook it through. Slice into bite-sized pieces.
- Cook the pancetta and onion then deglaze with white wine.
- Add water and cream, bring to a boil and add the pasta.
- Once the pasta is cooked, stir in the parmesan and add the tomatoes.
- Add back in the chicken and top with fresh herbs.
1. Cook the chicken
To make juicy and fully cooked chicken, you need to do a few things. Skipping any of these will lead to dry and/or bland meat!
First, cut each breast into three thin pieces. One cut crosswise across each breast and then another through the thicker half of the chicken lengthwise. At this point a light pounding will take care of any variations in the thickness.
Second, salt it well with kosher salt. If you have 30 minutes to let it rest, go for it, but even 15 minutes can make a big difference in flavor and juiciness. (It’s basically a quick dry brine you’re doing here.)
Third, use a hot pan. Heat your skillet until a drop of water skitters across the surface. Then add the oil and the chicken. This will allow it to brown before it cooks through.
2. Make the fettuccine and sauce
There are a few tricks to getting the pasta right too. I’ve tested a number of variations of the recipe and this truly makes the best pasta and cream sauce.
First, rinse off the pan before you start cooking the pancetta. The high heat you used to brown the meat makes a fond which gets too brown and bitter after cooking the veggies and pancetta for the sauce.
Second, a little white wine to deglaze the pan after cooking the pancetta and onions amps up the flavor.
Third, use water and cream only. Chicken stock muddies the flavor.
Fourth, use a little less water than the pasta really needs. Adding more water at the end to increase the amount of sauce works much better than trying to cook down the sauce with the pasta in it. (You’ll end up with overcooked pasta!)
Fifth, don’t skip the tomatoes! They balance the dish and give it the acid it needs.
Do you love one pot and one sheet pan meals as much as I do? Here are a few I’ve shared here over the years!
If you try my recipe for creamy Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
One Pot Creamy Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
- 1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided, 2 tbsp with the chicken and 1 tbsp with the pancetta
- 3-4 oz diced pancetta, or bacon
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 10 oz fettuccine
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley or basil
- Cut each breast in half crosswise. Then take the thicker half and cut it in half lengthwise. This will produce three pieces of about the same size and thickness.
- Lay out the pieces on the cutting board and cover them with plastic wrap. Lightly pound them to make them all uniformly flat.
- Sprinkle the chicken with the kosher salt and black pepper. Set it aside while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
- Once you are ready to cook, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then the chicken pieces.
- Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes on the first side and then 2-3 minutes on the second side, or until browned on both sides and cooked through. Remove to a bowl.
- Slice the chicken against the grain into bite sized pieces.
- Rinse out the skillet and wipe it down.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Once the pan is hot add the tablespoon of olive oil and the pancetta or bacon. Saute for 4-5 minutes. Then add the onion and saute for another 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and saute for 1 minute.
- Add the wine and bring to boil. Cook for about 1 minute, or until reduced by half.
- Add the water and cream. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Once the liquid is boiling, add the pasta and reduce the heat to medium. Turn the pasta over a couple of times to get it all soaked then cover the skillet and let cook for a minute.
- After a minute you should be able to stir the fettuccine into the sauce. Cover again and cook for 2 minutes.
- Take the cover off and continue cooking the pasta while reducing the sauce. Stir as needed. If the sauce reduces too much, add a little more water.
- Once the pasta is cooked through, take the skillet off the heat and stir in the parmesan. Then stir in the chicken, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. Rewarm the pasta over the hot burner if needed. Serve with extra parmesan at the table.
- White wine: If you don't have any white wine in the house, vermouth makes a good substitution. And, in a pinch, I have used vodka and it's been great too.
- Parmesan: Do not use pre-grated parmesan! You need freshly grated cheese in order for the cheese to melt properly into the sauce. Pre-grated cheese will lump up and make a gritty sauce.
- Sauteing the Chicken: To produce browned and juicy chicken it is important that you cut the chicken into thin pieces, salt the chicken letting it sit for 10-15 minutes, and have a hot pan. Heat the pan until water skitters across the surface before you add the oil.
- Creamy Sauce: You will likely need to add a little more water to the pasta as it absorbs the sauce while you're mixing in the tomatoes and chicken. You want to end up with a creamy thick sauce, but not soupy. I find that adding only 2 cups of water to start makes it easier to control how much sauce I have at the end.