This copycat penne rustica recipe from Macaroni Grill is my kids absolute favorite dinner – A creamy, cheesy sauce with fresh herbs and spices has a definite kick. This chicken penne pasta is easy to make and tastes amazing.
How I created this Copycat Penne Rustica Recipe
I don’t eat out much, but when I do I tend to find food I LOVE then figure out how to recreate it at home! I especially love pasta’s!
Typically I make it with just chicken as my kids don’t like the shrimp or prosciutto. Plus it’s cheaper with just chicken, and my kids request this almost every day!
I used to make a double batch of the sauce, then put aside half so we can have it again a few days layer with fresh chicken and pasta (but way less work!). But now my kids eat so much we make an entire double batch.
Start with a spicy creamy sauce, add the smoked meat and stir in the mini penne pasta! We like to serve it with my copycat macaroni grill rosemary bread!
The official macaroni grill dish is baked. I’ve mentioned before that I am not a fan of baking pasta after making it – I don’t like the crisp edges the pasta gets.
So after everything is cooked and mixed together we serve and eat it right away. BUT feel free to put it in a cute dish, sprinkle more Parmesan and paprika on top and bake for just a few mins.
Just take me to the Creamy Chicken Penne Recipe already!
If you’d rather skip my tips and tricks for penne rustica, along with links to other pasta recipes and get straight to this delicious creamy spicy chicken penne pasta – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.
Tips to Make the Perfect Penne Rustica Dinner
– Cook the penne “al dente”. You don’t want the pasta falling apart as you mix it with the sauce and meat so you want it to be more firm.
– For the right flavor smoke both the chicken and shrimp and buy smoked prosciutto. The chicken takes about an hour to smoke an the shrimp is more like 25 mins, so I add the chicken to the smoker first – trying to get them to finish at the same time.
– You can make the sauce anytime and just reheat – As long as your measuring everything out you might as well make a large batch and use half for night one and reheat the other half for night 2.
– liquid smoke is a great way to add that smoky flavor to the sauce so even if you don’t smoke your meat you’ll get a great flavor.
– FRESH HERBS are key! Seriously dried rosemary and thyme is never as good as the fresh stuff, but it’s okay in some dishes – NOT in this dish though. I made it with dried herbs once and even the kids didn’t like it.
Creamy Chicken Penne Pasta Recipe
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If you love Pasta dinners you’ll love these other recipes!
To watch me make this chicken penne pasta live watch the video in the recipe card. A short teaser should be auto playing.
You can find all my cooking show style recipe videos on YouTube, or my short recipe videos on Facebook Watch, or my Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.
Chicken Penne Pasta – copycat penne rustica
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 3 Tbsp white cooking wine
- 2 C heavy whipping cream
- 1 C grated fresh parmesan
- 1/2 C whole milk
- 1/2 C chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 lbs penne pasta cooked al dente and drained I like the mini penne
- 2 chicken breasts
- 12 shrimp – peeled and deveined optional
- 1/4 lbs 1/4 inch thick prosciutto sliced optional
- Melt butter in sauce pan, add garlic and sweat for 5 mins.
- Add wine and cook for another 5 mins.
- Add the next 10 ingredients and whisk until smooth.
- Bring to a simmer and cook until thick – 8-10 mins.
- I like to smoke the chicken and shrimp to match the penne rustica flavor – but you can cook them however you like
- heat the smoker to 225
- skewer the shrimp – add salt and pepper and olive oil to both the chicken and shrimp and add to the smoker
- Smoke until the chicken is 165 and the shrimp is 120 degrees (I usually wait to add the shrimp until 30 mins into the chicken cooking so they end at the same time)
- slice the prosciutto and the chicken
- Stir the pasta, meat and sauce top with more parmesan and serve or divide into oven safe dishes and bake!
- Preheat the oven to 475
- divide the pasta into oven safe dishes, top with extra parmesan and a sprinkling of paprika
- Bake in the oven for 10 mins