This easy, one-pot skillet chicken fajita pasta is loaded with flavor from every day pantry ingredients and comes together fast – perfect for busy nights!
Easy, quick, one-pot meals. You just can’t beat them! And this creamy skillet chicken fajita pasta is a quick add to my favorite fast meals for busy weeknights.
Of particular note: my entire family ate it without complaining, even the resident bell pepper hater (spoiler alert: I think he gave his peppers to his sister). It helps that we are a family of fajita lovers. So combining those much-appreciated flavors into a one-pot pasta meal was bound to a be a hit.
This 30-minute pasta dinner is creamy, as cheesy as you want it to be, and packed with simple, smoky, delicious flavors.
Homemade Fajita Seasoning Mix
The flavor base of the recipe is a simple, pantry-staple, homemade fajita seasoning:
paprika (smoked or regular)
The level of spicy heat in this seasoning almost totally depends on the type and/or brand of chili powder you use. I’m using Penzey’s chili powder and it has a mild kick to it (McCormick’s is usually pretty mild). Feel free to dial any of these ingredient amounts up or down to taste.
What kind of pot or skillet is best?
Because this recipe calls for a pound of pasta, it’s going to be a tight fit in your every day 12-inch skillet. I don’t want you to hate me when things go overflowingly awry.
I often use a deep skillet (with about 2- to 3-inch sides) for one-pot meals like this. A large saucepan or pot will work just fine, too. Cooking the chicken in a single layer is important, so if your pot or skillet has a smaller surface area on the bottom, cook the chicken in separate batches. This helps the chicken develop great golden flavor instead of steaming from being crammed in too close of quarters.
After the chicken goes off to the land of “set aside on a plate,” it’s time to cook the onions and peppers. You can use any type of bell peppers you like. And I firmly believe in my heart this recipe is adaptable to other veggies: mushrooms, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, etc.
The vegetables get a healthy sprinkle of the homemade fajita seasoning (so did the chicken…and so will the pasta). And then after cooking until crisp-tender, they join their chicken compatriots on the plate to hang out for a minute.
Since this is truly a one-pot (+ one plate) wonder, the pasta gets dumped into the pan with broth, milk (trust me, I promise it won’t curdle), diced tomatoes, and the rest of the fajita seasoning. This mixture cooks at a vigorous (but not crazy high) simmer and stir occasionally to make sure the pasta isn’t sticking.
Any tube shape pasta that cooks to al dente in about 10-12 minutes will work great in this recipe. Each brand and type of pasta will vary a bit in how much liquid absorbs and exact cooking time; thank goodness this recipe isn’t really rocket science-y. There’s a lot of room for little variances like that.
There will still be some liquid in the bottom of the pot when the pasta is finished cooking. This is good. You want this. Otherwise the overall pasta dish will be dry. This remaining liquid will lend a delightful creaminess to the pasta (and the entire pasta dish will thicken a bit more as it cools down).
Once the pasta is tender, the chicken and veggies get dumped back in. It should smell absolutely amazing right about now.
The pasta is already quite creamy thanks to the milk used during cooking. But who can say no to cheese? Not me. Throw some cheese on there. Monterey Jack, preferably, since it melts amazingly well. I’ll leave the exact amount up to you. 🙂
Pepper Jack would be an exceptionally fine substitution for a little spicy kick. Yum.
And there you have it. Easy skillet chicken fajita pasta. The likes of which you could definitely go pay an arm and a leg for at a restaurant (it’s that good), but now you can make it at home for a fraction of the cost (and in your PJs if you so choose – definitely can’t put a price on that).
Serve this with a little squeeze of fresh lime juice and maybe some sliced avocado and you have a seriously killer meal.
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch strips or pieces
Salt and pepper
2 medium bell peppers (whichever colors you prefer), cored and diced
1/2 cup chopped onion, white or yellow
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (I use low-sodium)
2 1/2 cups milk (preferably not skim)
1 (15-ounce) can diced or petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
16 ounces tube-shaped pasta (see note)
1 to 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Fresh limes, chopped chives, avocados, for serving (optional)
Combine all of the fajita seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.
In a pot or deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until rippling and hot. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels, season lightly with salt and pepper and add in a single layer to the pot. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the fajita seasoning mixture and cook, stirring often, until no longer pink in the center, 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate/dish and set aside.
To the pot, add the peppers, onions, and 1 teaspoon of the fajita seasoning mixture. Add another teaspoon or so of oil if the pot is really dry so the veggies don’t burn. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and the peppers are crisp-tender. Scrape the mixture onto the plate with the chicken.
Return the pot to the heat and add the broth, milk and diced tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the pasta, 1 teaspoon salt, and the remaining fajita seasoning. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally to make sure the pasta isn’t sticking, until the pasta is tender, 12-15 minutes (depending on the brand/type/shape of pasta). It’s ok if there is a bit of liquid remaining, it will absorb as the pasta cools and sets up a bit.
Stir in the chicken and veggies and heat through. Add the cheese and stir until creamy and combined. Squeeze half (or two halves) of a fresh lime over the pasta and stir (optional, but so very delicious). Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Serve with chopped fresh chives, lime wedges and sliced avocados, if desired. The pasta will thicken as it cools.
Pasta: This recipe is tested with thin tube-shaped pasta that has an al dente cooking time of 11 minutes on the package. Adjust the cooking time accordingly if needed. Additionally since different brands of pasta may differ in texture and liquid absorption, keep an eye on the pasta as it cooks and add additional broth, if needed. I have not tried this recipe with gluten-free pasta.
Bell Peppers: I prefer using sweeter bell peppers, like red and orange, in this recipe. But any color bell pepper of your preference will work.
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