Chicken Bacon Pasta in a Garlic Cream Sauce

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Instant Pot Chicken Bacon Pasta is a quick, easy, one-pot meal that’s rich, hearty, and ready in less than 30 minutes. Made with spinach, tomatoes, and a creamy parmesan sauce, the entire family will love it!

A white bowl with Instant Pot chicken bacon penne topped with fresh parsley and cheese.

❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe: This recipe is a keeper, thanks to the beloved components of crispy bacon, penne pasta, tender chicken, and a creamy tomato and parmesan sauce. Not to mention, it’s a 30-minute one-pot pasta dinner recipe!

We first made this recipe several years ago after Sigrid, a long-time reader of Pressure Cooking Today, emailed us a recipe she thought would be a good fit for the pressure cooker.

One look at the recipe, and I knew Sigrid was right! It is a great one-pot pressure cooker meal.

We’ve updated this post and the recipe with new photos, tips, and instructions to make this quick and easy Instant Pot pasta recipe a breeze for everyone.

This is one of our most popular Instant Pot pasta recipes and one of our favorite one-pot chicken recipes! If you love simple chicken and pasta dinners, try Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Pasta next.

Ingredients for Instant Pot chicken bacon penne, including diced chicken, chicken broth, garlic, heavy cream, butter, parmesan cheese, diced tomatoes, diced bacon, spices, chopped spinach, and penne pasta.

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED

Here’s what you need to make this delicious Chicken Bacon Penne Pasta recipe:

  • Spices. I season this pasta well with paprika, Italian seasoning, fresh garlic, and hot pepper flakes for a kick.
  • Chicken. You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. 
  • Bacon. Dice your bacon before adding it to the pressure cooker for maximum crispiness.
  • Broth. Choose low-sodium chicken broth to control the saltiness of your sauce. 
  • Penne pasta. You can use another short pasta if you like. 
  • Half and half. For the rich, creamy sauce. 
  • Parmesan cheese. You can shred it fresh yourself or buy pre-shredded parm for a faster recipe. 
  • Spinach. We like baby spinach because it has thinner, more pliable stems. 
  • Tomatoes. You can use grape or cherry tomatoes. 
Meat, spices, and broth in the bottom of the Instant Pot for making chicken bacon penne.

How to Chicken Bacon Pasta in an Instant Pot

This easy recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.

Start by marinating the chicken. Combine the chicken, paprika, and Italian seasoning in a zip-top bag or bowl. Toss well to coat the chicken and set this aside to infuse it with flavor. 

Next, use Saute on the Instant Pot to cook the chopped bacon for about five minutes, until crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon to a plate, leaving the drippings in the pot. Add the butter to the pot. Once it’s melted, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook them for about a minute, until they’re nice and fragrant. 

Then add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes, stirring to brown on all sides. Then stir in the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. 

Then add the pasta and water. Lock on the lid and cook on High Pressure for three minutes. When the cook time ends, use a quick pressure release. 

Remove the lid and test a piece of penne to ensure it’s cooked. If not, use Saute to bring the mixture to a simmer and continue cooking the pasta until it’s cooked to your liking. Finally, stir in the half and half and cheese, adding just a little at a time until the cheese is smooth and fully melted. Stir in the bacon, spinach, and tomatoes. Then season the pasta to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot! 

An overhead picture of chicken bacon penne cooked and ready to serve in an Instant Pot.

Important Tips for Making Chicken Bacon Pasta

It’s important to note that different kinds of penne have different cooking times. In particular, if you’re using whole wheat or gluten-free pasta, you’ll want to see our perfect pasta formula in this post about how to cook pasta in the Instant Pot. You’ll need to check the specific cooking time for your box of pasta. 

While frozen whole chicken breasts will not work for this recipe, there is a fix if you forget to defrost your chicken. Follow the instructions in this post to quickly defrost your chicken, then dice it into bite-sized pieces. 

When you’re releasing the pressure, if you find that foam is coming out of the valve, quickly open and close it multiple times to release the pressure in short bursts. This prevents the foam from clogging the valve. 

An overhead picture of a white bowl with Instant Pot chicken bacon penne topped with fresh parsley and cheese.

Frequently Asked Questions about Chicken Pasta with a Bacon Garlic Sauce

Should I use chicken thighs or breasts?

I prefer to use chicken thighs when cooking in the pressure cooker, as they stay a bit more moist and tender. However, you can use either for this recipe, just be sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces. 

How should I store leftovers?

Cool any leftovers, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. 

Can I use a different kind of pasta?

If you don’t have penne, you can swap out the pasta. Be sure to use our magical perfect pasta formula for cooking pasta in the pressure cooker. You can find it in this post about How to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot.

Is there a substitute for spinach?

You can use any other fresh green, such as chopped kale, swiss chard, or collard greens. 

Can I double the recipe?

You won’t be able to double this recipe in a six-quart pressure cooker. If you have an eight-quart cooker, then it should work. Just note that you should never fill your pot more than halfway with something like pasta, as it creates foam when it cooks.

Can I make this in a skillet?

Absolutely! The original recipe, Chicken and Bacon Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes in Garlic Cream Sauce, is a one-pan skillet from Julie’s Album, where Julie shares easy-to-make weeknight dinner recipes.

A white bowl with Instant Pot chicken bacon penne topped with fresh parsley and cheese.

MORE Chicken Dinner Recipes

Keep your Instant Pot / pressure cooker out to make these other quick and easy dinner recipes next:

  • Chicken Pesto Pasta is a light and refreshing dinner made with mushrooms and tomatoes. 
  • Chicken and Rice Soup is a creamy and satisfying warm-up dinner with tender, sweet carrots and rotisserie chicken. 
  • Chicken Bacon Ranch has everything you love about this pasta recipe, plus tangy and herby ranch dressing. 

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Pressure-Cooker-Chicken-Bacon-Penne-Pasta-In-Garlic-Cream-Sauce served in a red bowl.

Chicken Bacon Penne Pasta in a Garlic Cream Sauce

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Additional Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This Chicken Bacon Pasta is a quick, easy, one-pot meal that's rich, creamy, and delicious! It's pure comfort food with a creamy garlic sauce, fresh spinach, and tomatoes, that's ready in about 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts or 1 lb. chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5 garlic cloves minced or pressed
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (14.5 fluid ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 package (1 pound) penne pasta
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded plus more for serving
  • 1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning

Instructions

  1. Add chicken, paprika and Italian seasoning to a Ziploc bag and toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. Select Sauté and add the bacon to the pressure cooking pot. Fry for about 5 minutes until crisp, stirring frequently. Transfer the bacon to a plate, leaving the bacon fat in the pot.
  3. Add the butter to the pressure cooking pot. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute. Add the chicken to the pressure cooking pot and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the chicken broth and deglaze the pot if necessary. Add the pasta and stir to combine. Add enough water to cover the pasta, about 3 cups. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 3 minutes cook time. When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker. Use a quick pressure release, or if necessary, use an intermittent release to prevent liquid from coming out of the valve.
  5. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. Stir the mixture and taste penne for doneness. If needed, select Simmer/Sauté and cook for a few minutes more, stirring often, until the pasta is tender. Stir in the half and half and Parmesan a little at a time until cheese melts. Stir in the bacon, spinach, and grape tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 352Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 695mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 32g
Cooking Pressure Cooker Chicken Bacon Penne Pasta&nbsp in the Max.

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