Restaurant-inspired southwestern chicken pasta with fresh tomatoes, sweet corn and cilantro tossed in a creamy chipotle sauce.
Am I the only person who goes to a restaurant, orders dinner, and then announces to the table that I can totally make what I ordered at home? Am I also the only person who, at least nine times out of ten, never actually follows-up on that promise because… well, because life is busy and I can’t possibly follow through on everything I say?
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I get really inspired by menus and restaurant dishes, but I rarely try to recreate the dishes at home mostly because I have challenges in the organization department and tend to write notes on sticky pads that inevitably collect on my desk and in my purse only to be thrown away because I can’t figure out what I actually took note of – what was that? Something about pasta or pumpkin or potatoes?
So now I am using a note-taking system and trying very hard to stay organized so I can hang on to and try out some of the many tasty inspirations I stumble across online and in real life.
And today I’m sharing one… Success!
This southwestern chicken pasta is inspired by a dish I’ve had several times at a restaurant called Top of the Hill in Chapel Hill, NC and it’s been sitting on my “gotta make this at home” list for about two years. It’s full of pasta, chicken, fresh cherry tomatoes, sweet corn – all kinds of fresh flavors. The best part is the chipotle cream sauce. It’s a little smoky with a kick of heat that’s a nice contrast to the tomatoes and sweet corn.
- I used rotini for the pasta which is a corkscrew-shaped, but any short pasta will work like penne, cavatappi, orecchiette, or farfalle.
- There’s also boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked whole and then cut into bite-sized pieces.
- The base of the sauce is butter, cream and white cheddar cheese. I’ve also made this pasta with smoked cheddar cheese which is delicious, too.
- The sauce is flavored with chipotle peppers, which are jalapeno peppers that have been smoked. You can buy them canned in adobo sauce which is flavored with all kinds of spices. You can use both to flavor the sauce. Look for it in the Latin foods section at the grocery store.
- Chipotle peppers have a spicy bite, so you can omit the pepper and just use the adobo sauce instead.
- There’s also chopped fresh cilantro in the sauce.
- After the pasta and chipotle sauce are combined I like to add grape tomatoes and corn right at the end. They warm up in the sauce but still maintain their fresh flavor.
4 Steps to Make this Chicken Pasta
- First, boil the pasta following package directions.
- While the pasta boils, cook the chicken in a large pan over medium heat until it’s browned and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
- In the same pan, make the chipotle cream sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat, add the chopped chipotle pepper and adobo sauce. Add the cream and, once it’s warmed through and lightly simmering, add the shredded cheese and cilantro. Stir until the cheese is melted.
- Last step! Bring it all together and stir the cooked pasta into the sauce. Add the tomatoes and corn and stir to combine.
That’s it! A southwestern chicken pasta inspired by a restaurant but made at home in about 30 minutes ❤ I hope you give it a try!
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More Pasta Recipes to Try
- Cavatappi with Mexican Chorizo & Black Beans
- Tortellini with Sausage and Zucchini
- Pancetta Pasta with Peas
Tender chicken, corn, cherry tomatoes, and pasta all tossed together in a smoky chipotle cream sauce.
- 8 ounces rotini pasta
For the Chicken
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the Sauce
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped (see note)
- 3 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese (see note)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 cup frozen corn (see note)
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
- Boil the pasta following package instructions.
- Slice the chicken breasts in half crosswise. Season each with the salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and cook them for four to five minutes on each side or until they are cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Melt the butter in the same pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and stir to combine. Add the cream and, once it’s heated, add the cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the cilantro and stir.
- Add the chicken, corn, and tomatoes. Stir to combine and serve.
Look for chipotles in adobo in the Latin foods section at the grocery store. If you don’t like a lot of spice you might want to reduce or omit the chopped chipotle pepper and just use the sauce.
For an extra smoky flavor, substitute the same amount of smoked cheddar cheese in place of the white.
If you leave the corn out at room temperature while you make the dish it will thaw out by the time you add it. Even if it’s still cold it will warm up quickly in the sauce.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stove
- Cuisine: Southwestern
- Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
- Calories: 672
- Sugar: 5.5g
- Sodium: 570mg
- Fat: 40g
- Saturated Fat: 22g
- Trans Fat: 0.8g
- Carbohydrates: 41.8g
- Fiber: 2.8g
- Protein: 34.2g
- Cholesterol: 157.6g
Keywords: chipotle chicken pasta, southwest chicken pasta, chicken pasta recipe
The nutrition information in this recipe is an estimate only and was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.