Chicken breasts are coated in an irresistible creamy sun-dried tomato sauce filled with spinach, delicious smoked paprika, and parmesan, and topped up with salty crispy bacon. This Creamy Tuscan Chicken is an excellent restaurant-quality dish and is definitely a winner of a chicken dinner!
Quick and delicious comfort food meals are our favorite meals.
⭐We love easy chicken recipes from our Mushroom Chicken Thighs, Teriyaki Chicken to Butter Chicken.
If chicken breast recipes are your jam too, then this Tuscan Chicken is sure to become your new favorite.
There is a skip-to-recipe button in the top left corner along with a clickable table of contents list (just below) that will quickly take you to the part you are more interested in. Enjoy!
Why It's Yummy
- Irresistible flavors. Seasoned with smoked paprika boneless chicken breasts are pan-fried in butter and oil until golden and crispy before being added to a mouth-watering sun-dried tomato cream sauce.
- Easy and fast weeknight meal. This creamy chicken recipe is quick and ready in a little over 30 minutes, it’s perfect for an easy weeknight dinner and special occasions.
- No more dry chicken. Chicken breasts have a quite bad reputation for being too dry. However if prepared correctly, especially adding into a perfectly cooked creamy sauce it is almost guaranteed that they'll be tender and have a perfectly juicy flavor.
My few comments on the ingredients + don't forget to read the Tips section!
The full recipe and ingredients can be found in the recipe card below this post.
- Butterflied Chicken Breasts - boneless skinless chicken breasts are halved and then cut again in half lengthwise. Or you can use ready-made chicken cutlets from the store. Traditionally this dish is made with chicken breast but feel free to use chicken tenders or more juicy and tender chicken thighs instead.
- Sun-dried Tomatoes add a tangy sweetness to the sauce and provide a great texture contrast to the tender chicken. As a quick substitute, you could use canned diced tomatoes or roasted fresh cherry tomatoes.
- Heavy Cream - I used cooking cream but dairy free option (coconut milk, cream or soy based cooking creams) would also work here.
- Fresh Garlic - Fresh is always best but for a quick solution, minced garlic from a jar is totally fine too. Not a fan of garlic? I get it! You could substitute garlic with Asafoetida, shallots, onion, mustard seeds or garlic powder. It will not be the same but enhances the sauce pretty well too.
- Parmesan Cheese - If you don't have Parmesan on hand, you can use other hard cheeses like Pecorino Romano or Asiago. Grate it yourself from a block so it blends in smoothly in the sauce.
- Smoked paprika - a quick note here, if you haven’t cooked with this spice it is better to use less or use regular ground paprika instead. Smoked apprika is very unique in it’s flavor but people usually either hate it or love it.
- Fresh Spinach - fresh is best, and I don’t recommend using frozen spinach in this sauce because the small spinach bits will be scattered inside and all over the sauce. Frozen spinach is best to use in Frittata or baked Spinach Dip. I like to use baby spinach or regular spinach which is chopped into smaller chunks. If you’re not a fan, kale or Arugula will work too but these have slightly different flavors.
- Optional Seasonings - to enhance this dish even more add 1 or ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning to your sauce.
📋 JULIA'S TIP The heavy cream is what gives the dish its richness and velvety texture. If you want a lighter version, you can substitute the heavy cream with half-and-half. Make sure to simmer the sauce for longer until it starts thickening.
Chop bacon into small pieces and cook in a dry pan (no oil) until slightly crispy. Set aside.
Butterfly the chicken: Cut chicken breast halves in half lengthwise. Season with salt and pepper, and smoked paprika (I used 3 large chicken breast halves and slices them in half).
Heat up a large skillet (or use the same but clean it from the bacon bits) with olive oil over medium-high heat, and add butter stirring until melted.
Throw in the chicken and cook for 3 minutes on high heat (both sides) until nicely charred and golden brown. Set aside.
In the same pan add onion and saute in the chicken juices over medium-low heat. Add more oil if needed. Follow with sundried tomatoes and garlic.
Cook for 30 seconds until garlic becomes fragrant. Add spinach. Saute for a minute or until spinach reduces in size, pour in the chicken broth.
Take it to a boil and then add cream. Salt and pepper to taste. (If you have chicken stock that is already seasoned with salt and pepper then you might skip the seasoning for now or adjust it later).
Simmer the sauce on lower heat until it thickens. Don’t boil the cream!
Return the chicken to the pan, coat it with the sauce and cook for about 2-3 minutes on low heat.
Finally, stir in parmesan cheese until melted and fully incorporated in the sauce. At this point, your sauce will start thickening.
Sprinkle with salty crispy bacon and garnish with parsley. Serve hot with your favorite sides!
🥗Make It Healthier
Use leaner poultry such as turkey breast.
Instead of heavy cream, use half-and-half or plant-based alternatives.
Use less sodium parmesan cheese as its alternative. Parmesan helps the sauce to thicken but can be left out completely.
Bacon is optional and can be left or simply use a little less.
What is Tuscan Chicken?
Creamy Tuscan Chicken is a dish made with chicken breast smothered in creamy sauce, spinach, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes. The chicken dish originated in the Tuscany region of Italy.
No fancy equipment is needed. Here are the basics:
- Wooden Spoon
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Airtight Food containers
- Cutting Board - good sturdy long lasting wooden cutting board
- Meat Tenderizer
- Enameled Cast iron Skillet or less expensive option from Amazon Basics
- You can use heavy cream or plant-based soy or a can of full-fat coconut milk instead.
- The sauce will not thicken immediately after adding in your cream. Once you add parmesan cheese and return the chicken back to the pan, it will thicken your sauce. No other additives like cornstarch are needed. Easy and healthy!
- Grate the parmesan block yourself, I found that the store-bought option might not melt 100% when added to the sauce.
- A smaller and thinner Chicken breast cut in half are best here but you can use chicken cutlets or chicken thighs instead. If you have thicker chicken breasts, you can pound them with a meat mallet to flatten them out.
- It is easy to overcook the chicken. Be sure to follow the recipe instructions and use a meat thermometer to check the chicken for doneness (165 F).
- Brown the chicken in a hot skillet - When browning the chicken, make sure the skillet is hot before adding the chicken. This will help give the chicken a crispy exterior and prevent it from sticking to the pan.
- The Parmesan cheese adds a lot of flavor to the dish, so it's important to use good-quality cheese. Grate it yourself from the block which will ensure way better and even melting than the pre-shredded store version.
- Adjust the seasonings to taste- Taste the sauce as you go and adjust the seasonings as needed. You may want to add a pinch of salt or more garlic, depending on your preferences.
- Allow the sauce thicken: The sauce will thicken as it cooks. For a thicker sauce, you can let it simmer for a few minutes longer or add a bit of cornstarch slurry to thicken it up.
- To add some heat to the dish, you can add red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to the sauce. Start with a small amount and adjust to taste.
📋 JULIA'S TIP Juicy chicken: Brown the chicken over medium-high heat, this will help the chicken exterior to brown and crisp up nicely while the chicken remains juicy and tender on the inside.
Traditional Tuscan way: Make a creamy tuscan chicken pasta by pouring the sauce over cooked pasta or stirring in some spaghetti, fettuccine or fusilli in the sauce.
Pasta is the traditional serving style but your options are endless. This dish pairs well with a variety of sides, such as roasted vegetables, garlic bread, or a simple green salad. You can also serve it with a glass of your favorite wine to complement the flavors of the dish.
Some our favorite sides are:
- Grains: Steamed brown or white rice or quinoa, lentils.
- Potatoes: A true hearty side that works with any cream sauce is mashed potatoes (sweet potatoes are delicious here to), baked potatoes, smashed potatoes.
- Salad: for more Mediterranean cuisine inspiration make my Chickpea salad, Mediterranean Cucumber Salad or for a lighter meal serve it with Cabbage Cucumber Salad.
- Veggies: for a low-carb side make my Roasted Beet Salad, Halloumi Salad, or make air fryer veggies such as my Brussels Sprouts.
- Crusty bread: don’t waste a small bit of the sauce and serve this with your favorite bread. We like gluten free garlic bread, dinner rolls, baguette.
Freezing And Storing Instructions
- To Store. For the best flavor, consume right away or the next day. Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- To Freeze. You can store leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. I don't recommend freezing it as with any heavy cream-based sauce, it may separate once thawed and reheated.
- To Make Ahead. Follow the recipe instructions until the step where you need to add cheese. Keep everything refrigerated and add the cheese when reheating.
- To Reheat. To Reheat leftovers, place the chicken in a skillet over medium heat stirring occasionally. If you are making the chicken as a meal prep ahead of time then don’t add parmesan cheese for freezing. Make the sauce as it is and only add the parmesan when reheating. Continue to simmer the sauce until it thickens and the chicken is warmed through.
One way to prevent the sauce from separating is to add the heavy cream at the very end of cooking and let it simmer for only a minute or two. Be sure to stir the cream in gently over medium-low heat to avoid separation in the sauce.
Look for chicken breasts that are pale pink in color, with very little visible fat. Or you can also cut it out later. To ensure they cook evenly, choose two chicken breasts that are similar in size.
We prefer fresh baby spinach for it small leaves and it wilts in the sauce quickly. I find it also mild in flavor that will work even for picky eaters. I do not recommend using frozen spinach for this sauce as the green bits will be all over in the sauce.
More Favorite Chicken Recipes
For more easy delicious recipes check out my Chicken recipe index.
Chicken breast recipes are one of the most popular on this blog and here's some of our favorites you can make next time: Chicken Patties, Chicken Chili, easy creamy Asparagus Stuffed Chicken, or Chicken Mushroom or these delicious creamy Chicken Tacos.
For more one-pot skillet dinners check out our top recommendations:
💗I hope you'll enjoy this creamy tuscan chicken recipe, please leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo of your food and tag me on Instagram @theyummy_bowl. I love seeing your creations! 💗
Easy Creamy Tuscan Chicken Skillet Recipe
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken (breast or thighs)
- 4 cup fresh spinach (washed and dried)
- 6 slices bacon (chopped)
- 4-5 tablespoon sundried tomatoes (drained from oil, sliced)
- 1 cup heavy cream (or plant based cream, coconut cream)
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon butter
- salt and black pepper (to taste)
- ½ cup chicken broth (or more if you want more runny sauce)
- ½ cup brown onion (or shallot diced fine)
- 1 teaspoon garlic (freshly minced)
- Chop bacon into small pieces and cook in a dry pan (no oil) until slightly crispy. Set aside.
- Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Season with salt and black pepper, smoked paprika (I used 3 large chicken breast halves and slices them in half). For even cooking, I recommend pounding meat with tenderizer first.
- Heat up a large skillet (or use the same but clean it from the bacon bits for less fat in your food) with olive oil over medium high heat, add butter stirring until melted. Cook seasoned chicken for 3 minutes on high heat (both sides) until nicely charred and golden brown. Set aside.
- In the same pan add onion and saute in the chicken juices over medium-low heat. Add more oil if needed. Follow with sundried tomatoes and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds until garlic becomes fragrant. Add
- Add spinach. Saute for a minute or until spinach reduces in size, pour in the chicken broth. Take it to a boil and then add heavy cream. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. TIP: If you have chicken broth that is already seasoned with salt and pepper then you might skip the seasoning for now or adjust it later. Simmer
- Simmer the sauce on lower heat until it thickens. Don’t boil the cream!
- Return the chicken to the pan, coat it with the sauce and cook for about 2-3 minutes on low heat.
- Finally, stir in parmesan cheese until melted and fully incorporated in the sauce. Allow some time for the sauce to thicken.
- Sprinkle with salty crispy bacon and garnish with parsley. Serve warm with your favorite sides!
- You can use heavy cream or plant-based soy cream or a can of full fat coconut milk instead.
- Chicken breast: smaller and thinner ones or large ones (halves) cut into half lengthwise. Or use chicken tenders, chicken cutlets, or boneless chicken thighs. If you have thicker chicken breasts, you can pound them with a meat mallet to flatten them out.
- Optional Seasonings: to enhance this dish even more add 1 or ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning to your sauce.
- To store: For best flavor, consume right away or the next day. Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- To freeze: You can store leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. I dont recommend freezing it as with any heavy cream based auce, it may separate once thawed and reheated.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)
How much chicken stock?
About 1/2 cup, add more in the end (after cream & cheese) if you feel more sauce needed.