“This might be my favorite thing you’ve ever made,” said my husband as he ate this today. Yup, that happened. This chicken and broccoli linguine is covered in a thick and creamy lemon butter basil sauce. It’s packed with good for you broccoli. You can make it in 30 minutes. And even though it’s creamy and decadent tasting, it uses NO milk or cream and only two tablespoons of butter for the whole thing!
The secret to the creamy texture has a lot to do with the starches from the pasta in the sauce. I’ve been on a pasta kick lately. I’m missing Italian food down here in Texas after living in the Boston area for a long time, so I’m grabbing the bull by the horns and forging ahead with making Italian food myself.
Granted, this chicken and broccoli linguine isn’t necessarily a traditional Italian recipe, like my last one (Bucatini all’Amatriciana), but it’s cooked using a similar method. This method ensures that the flavor-packed sauce sticks to every single noodle.
Really, the photos don’t do this one justice. Trust me- those noodles are coated in the most delicious lemony, chickeny, buttery sauce imaginable.
I recommend using the “nice” pasta from your grocery store for this recipe (read: not the one that costs 99 cents), and for almost all skillet pasta recipes. Bronze cut is best- that means there is a bit of a texture to the pasta, so the sauce sticks a bit better. Bronze cut pasta also contains more starch. Some of the pasta water is added to the sauce to thicken it, and the pasta will finish cooking for just a minute or two in the sauce, absorbing its flavor and imparting its starches into it.
For even more creaminess to the sauce, I stirred in some finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese at the end as well as a pad of butter for extra richness. Mmm, mmm. This pasta is seriously delicious.
The ingredients in this recipe pair so well together. Chicken and broccoli is an obvious one- who doesn’t love that combo? The sauce is super fresh and bright from fresh basil and lemon. It’s rich and salty from the Pecorino Romano cheese. Finally, sliced almonds give each bite a delightful crunch.
Plus, the pan is deglazed with white wine after the chicken and garlic is cooked, ensuring all of the delicious browned bits from the pan are incorporated into the sauce. Don’t drink wine? No problem- just use a little extra chicken broth instead (see recipe notes).
One final note: I love me some whole wheat pasta, but for this recipe, I used regular white pasta. White pasta is starchier, meaning the sauce will be creamier. If you choose to use whole wheat pasta, be prepared for a less creamy sauce.
Here’s the printable recipe for chicken and broccoli linguine with lemon butter basil sauce!
Chicken and Broccoli Linguine with Lemon Butter Basil Sauce
- Large pot
- Large Skillet
- 8 oz. linguine
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 2 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1" cubes (or thighs)
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- juice and zest of one lemon
- 2 cloves garlic minced or finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc
- 1 cup chicken stock/broth
- 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese finely grated, or parmesan
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil cut chiffonade or chopped
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds or sliced
- extra salt and pepper, lemon zest, Romano cheese, and fresh basil for serving (optional)
- Cook the pasta according to directions in a large pot of heavily salted water. 3 minutes before it's al dente, remove 1/2 cup pasta water and reserve for later. Add the broccoli florets to the water and boil with the pasta. Drain the pasta and broccoli until it's almost cooked, just before al dente.
- Meanwhile, season cubed chicken breasts liberally with salt and pepper, as well as the zest from the lemon.
- Sauté the chicken in a large skillet over medium high heat in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil, until browned and fully cooked. Don't worry about it sticking to the bottom of the pan- you'll deglaze it in a moment.
- Remove the chicken and set aside on a plate. Add the minced garlic (2 cloves) to the pan and sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
- Add the white wine (1/2 cup) to the pan to deglaze it, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from cooking the chicken and garlic. Turn heat to medium and simmer until almost all of the liquid from the wine is gone.
- Add the chicken stock (1/2 cup) and stir.
- Add the drained linguine and broccoli, as well as the 1/4 cup reserved pasta water. Continue cooking over medium heat until sauce thickens and pasta cooks all the way through- about 2 minutes. Add the cooked chicken back in.
- Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon butter, fresh basil (2 tablespoons), Pecorino Romano cheese (1/4 cup), and slivered almonds (1/4 cup). Stir until cheese has fully melted.
- Serve immediately with extra cheese, lemon zest, fresh basil, and/or salt and pepper, if desired.
- Wine Substitute: Instead of wine, you can use 1/4 cup extra chicken broth.
- Using frozen broccoli: I used fresh broccoli florets, but frozen can also be used. While I specified 4 cups, the specific amount is not too important, so go ahead and throw the whole bag in if you want to, right into the water- no need to defrost first!
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.