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Lemon Chicken Pasta with Broccoli

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Lemon Chicken Pasta with Broccoli will be your new go-to dinner for those nights when you’re craving a mouthwatering pasta recipe but are short in time. It’s a great way to transform leftover chicken into a foodie-approved meal bursting with lemon flavor.

A dish of lemon chicken pasta on a marble countertop.

What you’ll love about this recipe: 


  • 8 Ingredients: With just eight ingredients, you’ll create a gourmet meal that’s easy on your wallet.
  • Reimagine your leftovers: This recipe transforms yesterday’s roast chicken (or a store0bought rotisserie chicken) into a brand new meal. You’ll barely recognize it!
  • Vibrant lemon flavor: This pasta packs a punch with zesty lemon, succulent chicken, and fresh broccoli that’ll defy your taste buds.

Transform Your Leftovers With This Gourmet Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe

Roast chicken is one of my favorite dinners, but I never like to eat it two times in a row. The second night always feels boring, plus the chicken tends to dry out overnight.

I’d much rather enjoy a traditional chicken dinner one night and then use the leftovers to create something completely new, like this simple but delicious pasta recipe loosely inspired by cacio e pepe.

Of course, as a busy foodie, I know how precious time can be. That’s why I’m passionate about ensuring we have quick, go-to recipes that don’t skimp on taste.

This chicken pasta is loaded with flavor from brown butter, lemon zest, and black pepper. Plus, broccoli adds a nutritious punch.

So let’s dive into the recipe! Once you make it, you might find yourself looking for reasons to make a roast chicken just so you have leftovers.

 

Ingredients needed to make lemon chicken spaghetti.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

Butter: Browned butter forms the base layer for your sauce, ensuring a silky smooth texture and giving the pasta and rich, nutty flavor. I always cook with unsalted butter and add my own kosher salt or sea salt to taste.

Lemon Juice and Zest: Fresh lemon zest and juice gives this pasta a wallop of bright, tangy flavor. Use a fresh lemon for the best results.

Cooked Chicken: A time-saving and flavorful addition, the chicken adds protein and flavor. I love making this recipe with leftover roast chicken (especially this grilled wine can chicken!), but you can sauté a diced boneless skinless chicken breast, use a store-bought rotisserie chicken, or use pre-cooked chicken like Applegate grilled chicken strips.

Frozen Broccoli: Nothing beats the convenience of frozen vegetables! I love how broccoli soaks up with lemony flavor from the sauce.

Grated Parmesan Cheese: Gives a tangy bite and creamy finish to the lemony pasta sauce. Always grate your own cheese for the best flavor!

Spaghetti.

Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper.

Adding lemon zest to the sauce.
Adding cooked spaghetti to the pan.
Adding the leftover cooked chicken to this pasta recipe.
Finishing the lemon pasta off with grated cheese.

How to make lemon chicken pasta

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Brown the butter, then use it to create a flavorful sauce with black pepper, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
  3. Add the chicken and broccoli and cook until just warmed through.
  4. Stir in the spaghetti and cheese.

Busy Foodie Tips

  • For the best lemon zest use a microplane grater and zest the whole lemon before slicing and juicing. Position the grater on top of the lemon and move it back and forth across the lemon to collect the zest on top – this makes much less of a mess than putting the lemon over the grater. If you use lemons often, make it a habit to zest them before cutting into them – lemon zest freezes well and it a great ingredient to have on hand!
  • For an even faster, one-pot version of this recipe, use fresh pasta and follow the method in my one pot cacio e pepe.
  • Avoid dried out chicken — be sure not to overcook it as it can become tough. As you’re working with cooked chicken, your goal is just to heat it through.
  • For added crunch, try topping your pasta with breadcrumbs tossed in olive oil and lightly toasted in a hot skillet. It adds a super fun textural contrast!

Close up overhead view of lemon chicken pasta with broccoli.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use fresh broccoli instead of frozen?

Yes, but it will need to cook longer. If using fresh broccoli in this lemon chicken pasta, I suggest adding it to the pasta pot about 4 minutes before the pasta is done. That way the broccoli has time to properly soften.

How do I store leftovers?

Leftovers keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Since the chicken has already been heated twice, reheat it just enough to loosen the sauce and take the chill off. Trust me, it’s delicious!

Can I use a different kind of pasta?

Yes! I used spaghetti because i was inspired by cacio e pepe, but this can be made with any pasta shape you want. Try anything from shells to orzo to bowties!

Can I use bottled lemon juice?

Yes, but fresh lemon juice has a crisper flavor with less acidity. Plus this chicken pasta just isn’t the same if you skip the lemon zest. if you do choose to use bottled lemon juice, I recommend using lemon pepper seasoning instead of plain cracked pepper.

I don’t like broccoli. Can I use something else?

Try frozen peas, baby spinach or fresh cherry tomatoes.

Can I use a different kind of cheese?

Sure, try grated Pecorino Romano cheese or Asiago cheese.

More easy pasta recipes

Lemon spaghetti with chicken and broccoli tablescape.
Lemon spaghetti with chicken and broccoli tablescape.

Lemon Chicken Pasta

Looking for a speedy gourmet dinner? This mouthwatering Lemon Chicken Pasta with Broccoli recipe is perfect for busy weekdays! It's made with frozen broccoli and leftover cooked chicken to help speed things up!
5
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 532 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 2 cups leftover diced chicken
  • 3 cups frozen broccoli
  • ½ pound dry spaghetti
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • lemon wedges for serving

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box, taking it off the heat when it’s al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
  • While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the butter is deeply browned and starts to smell toasty.
  • Add the pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
  • Whisk in the reserved pasta water.
  • Add the chicken and broccoli. Cook 2-3 minutes, until just heated through.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta and cheese into the lemon sauce until it's evenly coated and creamy.
  • Top with additional Parmesan cheese and black pepper, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 532kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 34gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 517mgPotassium: 553mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 933IUVitamin C: 63mgCalcium: 278mgIron: 2mg
Love this recipe?Mention @TheBusyFoodieLauren or tag #busyfoodie!
By on August 27th, 2023
lauren

Hi, I'm Lauren!

I love to cook -- but even more importantly, I really like to eat! I have a demanding day job that keeps me busy, so time is precious. I'm a culinary school graduate and five-time cookbook author who's all about finding ways to make delicious, restaurant-quality meals at home on a tight schedule. Read more...

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