Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes - Italian-inspired dinner with the best homemade creamy pasta sauce! The sun-dried tomato pasta sauce is made from scratch using basil, red pepper flakes, garlic, paprika, cream, and shredded Mozzarella cheese.
I am a huge fan of pasta, and some of the most popular pasta recipes on this site include this chicken mozzarella pasta that you are reading right now, creamy chicken pasta with bacon, and pesto chicken pasta. One thing all these pasta recipes have in common is that they use creamy, comforting sauces.
If you want to try chicken pasta that is more refreshing, without the creamy sauce, I whole-heartedly recommend family favorite chicken pasta with spinach and tomatoes or super flavorful Italian sausage pasta.
Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken
- This recipe features sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Both ingredients are popular in Italy and in the Mediterranean region.
- The most prominent flavor in this recipe is the homemade sun-dried tomato sauce. The sauce is made from scratch by combining cream with shredded Mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes.
- Cooked chicken and penne pasta are then smothered in this delicious creamy Mozzarella pasta sauce. There is enough sauce to coat every single bite.
Ingredients for sun-dried tomato sauce
- 3 garlic cloves
- 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes
- olive oil
- 1 cup half-and-half (or ½ cup heavy cream + ½ cup milk)
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
How to make sun-dried tomato sauce
- In a large skillet, cook 3 cloves of minced garlic and 4 oz of chopped sun-dried tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of olive oil on high-medium heat for about 1 minute.
- Add ½ cup of heavy cream + ½ cup of milk (or 1 cup of half-and-half) to the same skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer.
- Add 1 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese.
- Simmer and stir until the cheese melts and forms a creamy pasta sauce.
- Add 1 tablespoon of dried basil, paprika, and at least ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- Season with about ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Use either sun-dried tomatoes without oil or sun-dried tomatoes in oil (in a jar). Note: if using sun-dried tomatoes in oil (in a jar), make sure to drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, before using them.
- Sprinkle a small amount of paprika over the chicken before cooking - it adds flavor as well as the color to the dish.
- Make sure to reserve some pasta water as you will DEFINITELY need it to thin out the cream sauce.
- Feel free to increase the amount of spices for this recipe: basil, red pepper flakes, paprika. This will make the sun-dried tomato sauce even more flavorful!
- Make sure to season the chicken mozzarella pasta with just the right amount of salt. That means you might have to add more salt. Salt will enhance the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.
How to Make Chicken Mozzarella Pasta
1) In a large skillet, on medium heat sauté garlic and sun-dried tomatoes in the olive oil. Remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the skillet.
2) Season sliced chicken with salt and paprika.
3) Add the chicken to the skillet and cook on high heat.
4) Add back the sun-dried tomatoes. Add half-and-half and shredded Mozzarella cheese.
5) Bring the mixture to boil, then reduce to simmer and stir the sun-dried tomato sauce until the cheese melts.
6) Add spices: basil, crushed red pepper flakes, salt.
7) Add cooked and drained penne pasta and stir to combine.
More recipes featuring sun-dried tomato pasta
- Creamy Shrimp Pasta with Mozzarella Sauce features shrimp instead of chicken.
- Asiago Chicken Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach - this sun-dried tomato pasta is made even more flavorful with the addition of Asiago cheese and spinach.
- Scallop Pasta features scallops - another protein you can use in place of chicken in a recipe that is otherwise very similar to this one.
- Creamy Mozzarella Pasta with Smoked Sausage is a great choice if you want to make the same pasta with sausage.
- Sun-Dried Tomato and Mushroom Pasta is the meatless version of this recipe.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken and Creamy Mozzarella Sauce
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb chicken breast tenderloins , sliced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup half and half (or use ½ cup heavy cream + ½ cup milk)
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese , shredded (do not use fresh Mozzarella, use pre-shredded Mozzarella)
- 8 oz penne pasta (for gluten free, use gluten free brown rice pasta)
- 1 tablespoon basil
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup reserved cooked pasta water or more
- ¼ teaspoon salt to taste
- In a large skillet, sauté garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil) in 2 tablespoons of olive oil (reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes jar) for 1 minute on medium heat until the garlic is fragrant.
- Remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the skillet, leaving the olive oil.
- Add sliced chicken (salted and lightly covered in paprika for color) and cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain the pasta.
- Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller pieces and add them back to the skillet with chicken.
- To make creamy pasta sauce, add half-and-half (see substitution for half-and-half in the Recipe Notes section below) and Mozzarella cheese to the skillet, and bring to a gentle boil.
- Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms.
- Add cooked and drained pasta to the skillet with the cream sauce, and stir to combine.
- Add 1 tablespoon of basil, and at least ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- If the creamy sauce is too thick: Add about ½ cup of reserved cooked pasta water to the skillet to thin it out. Do not add all of pasta water at once - you might need less or more of it.
- Season the chicken pasta with salt and more red pepper flakes, to taste, if needed. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes for flavors to combine.
- Note: Make sure to salt the dish just enough to bring out of the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.
- What is half-and-half? Substitute ½ cup of milk + ½ cup of heavy cream for 1 cup of half-and-half.
- If using sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (in a jar), make sure to drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, before using them. Reserve 2 tablespoons of this drained olive oil.
- Do not use fresh Mozzarella. Fresh Mozzarella is usually sold as a large ball or small balls in a brine or water solution. Do not shred fresh Mozzarella. Use pre-shredded Mozzarella cheese sold in bags.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Totally awesome meal.Will definitely be 1 of my goto meals forever
Can you add chorizo to this?
Julie, yes! That would be a tasty addition!
How do I prevent the sauce from breaking
John, here are some troubleshooting tips:
➡️ 1) Before adding the cheese, bring the cream to a quick boil but immediately reduce it to a simmer (the lowest heat setting at which the sauce still simmers but without violently boiling). Then, gradually add the cheese. It's important that the sauce should be hot. At the same time, it should not be violently boiling. This is one of the most common reasons why the sauce separates.
➡️ 2) You did use pre-shredded mozzarella? Not the fresh kind?
➡️ 3) Bring shredded mozzarella to room temperature before using it in the recipe. Take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes prior to making this recipe.
➡️ 4) If the sauce did separate, you can somewhat salvage it by a) adding some heavy cream to add creaminess; b) serving your pasta dish with lots of grated Parmesan sprinkled on top (and some of the grated cheese mixed into the sauce) to disguise the "broken" texture of the sauce.
Wow! My picky 4 yr old loved this (as did the rest of my family)! He even asked for seconds and that doesn't happen often! We will definitely be making this again!
Mandy, I am really flattered that your little 4-year-old loved this recipe! Thank you for sharing this great feedback! ❤️
I tried this recipe and it was very flavorful. I did not have sun dried tomatoes but I did have sun dried tomato pesto. I added 1/4 cup to the sautéed chicken. I also used 1% milk instead of the half and half to bring down the calories. I will make this again!
Judy, thank you so much for this super helpful and detailed feedback! ❤️ Glad this recipe worked with sun-dried tomato and 1% milk!
I added Bacon to this recipe. It is now going to be a regular for us! Thank you!
Andrea, adding bacon is delish! Thank you for the 5-star review! 🙂
Why can’t I use grated fresh mozzarella? Fresh is always better because pre-shredded cheeses have more additives to keep them fresh
➡️ By fresh, I mean do not use the soft kind of Mozzarella that is usually sold as a large soft ball of cheese in a tub of water. Or, it's sometimes sold as a soft log tightly wrapped in plastic.
➡️ Just make sure you use Mozzarella cheese labeled as part-skim, low-moisture - it's usually sold as rectangular blocks of cheese or pre-shredded in a bag. You can buy the rectangular block of Mozzarella and shred it yourself.