Weeknight dinner is solved with this 35-minute Creamy Tuscan Chicken! Made with chicken breasts that are first pan-seared until golden then finished in a luxuriously creamy and flavourful sauce, it’s the perfect meal for a busy evening, yet special enough for serving guests.
Why You’ll Love This Creamy Tuscan Chicken
When you’re craving a cozy Italian-American classic meal, it’s hard to beat this beloved, easy-to-make creamy Tuscan chicken that gets dinner on the table in no time.
As a general rule, I don’t cook creamy, indulgent dishes too often. This one is an exception. It’s just so easy to make and so darn good. With a creamy sun-dried tomato sauce that dreams are made of, and impossibly tender, juicy chicken, it’s a dish that will please everyone from adults to children.
- Why You’ll Love This Creamy Tuscan Chicken
- What is Tuscan Chicken?
- Ingredients And Substitutions
- Variations And Additions
- Coconut Milk As A Dairy Free Option
- Tips For Preparing Chicken Breast
- How To Make Creamy Tuscan Chicken
- Tips For Pan Searing Chicken
- What To Serve With Tuscan Chicken
- Storage Tips
- More Easy Chicken Recipes To Try
- Creamy Tuscan Chicken
- More Ideas
This dish has been a family favorite for years so you can be sure this recipe is foolproof and filled with all of my best tips to get perfect tender chicken in a delectable, flavourful sauce.
Run don’t walk to grab the ingredients, you’re going to love this cozy, hearty meal.
What is Tuscan Chicken?
Ask an Italian to make you Tuscan chicken and you will either get a puzzled look or a very different version of what you see here. The ingredients aren’t particularly emblematic of actual Tuscan cuisine, or even very common. Instead, this creamy, cheesy chicken dish filled with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes was likely popularized in North America by Olive Garden’s Tuscan Garlic Chicken.
But like other Italian-American dishes with murky origins (hello spaghetti and meatballs!), this creamy Tuscan chicken recipe is ridiculously comforting and delicious and one hundred percent worth making.
Pan-searing pounded chicken breasts ensures the meat cooks quickly while remaining tender and juicy. The luscious creamy parmesan sauce, made with an effective combination of onion, garlic, dried herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan and cream is so flavourful you will want to drink it with a straw.
You would think Spinach is thrown in just so we feel a little less guilty, but in fact it’s quite delicious swimming in all the creamy sauce. You will want to serve this with a starch — potatoes, pasta, rice, or polenta — and/or crusty bread for sopping up the sauce.
Ingredients And Substitutions
- Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are most commonly used for this dish but skinless chicken thighs will also work. See below for tips on how to prepare and cook the chicken breast.
- Extra virgin olive oil – This is what we use to pan-sear the chicken. You could use butter instead (or a mix) if you wish.
- Aromatics – Here we are using a small onion and lots of garlic for a very flavourful cream sauce. You could also use shallots in place of the onions.
- Spices and seasoning – For the spices I use a pre-made Italian seasoning blend but you can also use a mix of dried marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Salt and pepper for more seasoning.
- Sun Dried Tomatoes – Fo this recipe, you can use dry-packed sundried tomatoes that come sold in packages, or oil-packed that are sold in jars. I prefer oil-packed because they are softer and you can also use some of the oil for flavouring the dish. If you are using dry-packed and they seem really dry, be sure to re-hydrate them by soaking in some warm water for 15 minutes.
- Baby spinach – I like a lot of fresh spinach in this dish. The recipe calls for 3 packed cups but it wilts down considerably so you can add a little more if you wish.
- Heavy Cream – Though heavy cream makes an unquestionably delicious sauce, we enjoy this dish just as much with coconut milk. I have also made it with a mix of cream and coconut milk which is also delicious. See more below if interested in using coconut milk as a dairy-free option.
- Parmesan – Freshly grated parmesan cheese adds loads of flavour and more creaminess to the sauce. For a dairy-free option, try a reliable store-bought vegan parm, or sprinkle a bit of nutritional yeast.
Variations And Additions
- Deglaze with white wine: For a little more depth of flavor, feel free to deglaze the pan with white wine before adding the cream.
- Cherry tomatoes instead of sun-dried tomatoes: If you aren’t a fan of sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes would be a great substitution.
- Add mushrooms: If you love mushrooms, they would be great here. Simply sauté some sliced mushrooms with the onions.
- Use kale instead of spinach: If you love kale, it would work wonderful in place of the spinach.
- Make it spicy: Add a pinch red pepper flakes if you like a little heat.
Coconut Milk As A Dairy Free Option
Coconut milk is a fantastic dairy-free option for this creamy Tuscan chicken. The sauce turns out just as rich and creamy as if you were using heavy cream. If you’re worried the sauce may taste too much like coconut, it truly doesn’t. There’s enough savoury flavours in the dish to mask all the coconut flavour. In fact, I alternate between making it with cream and coconut milk and in my household, no one has ever noticed the difference…shhhh…
For a nice creamy sauce, use full fat coconut milk and a brand that is notoriously creamy (without much water mixed in). That said, I don’t recommend using coconut cream which does have a stronger coconut flavour and will be a little too sweet and too thick.
Tips For Preparing Chicken Breast
A problem people may encounter when using whole chicken breasts for this recipe is that the chicken doesn’t have enough time to thoroughly cook on the inside. And if you cook the chicken for too long, you will lose all the sauce.
For perfectly cooked juicy chicken breasts, the thinner the chicken, the better. To achieve that you have two choices depending on the size of your chicken breasts:
- Pound FOUR SMALL chicken breast: Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic or parchment paper and pound them gently to make them even in thickness. They should be no thicker than 3/4-inch.
- Slice TWO LARGE breast in half lengthwise, so you have 4 thinner breasts. No need to pound them.
How To Make Creamy Tuscan Chicken
Though this dish is surprisingly straightforward, it is helpful to read through the tips in post for a little extra guidance on cooking the chicken breasts to perfection.
Prepare the chicken breast. You can either slice 2 large chicken breasts in half horizontally, or pound 4 medium-sized chicken breasts to an even thickness. (See tips above.)
Brown the chicken. Season chicken breast on both sides with Italian seasoning (or mixed spices), salt, and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, then transfer to a plate.
Sauté the veggies. Add another tablespoon of oil to the same skillet. Add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute. Add all of the spinach to the pan and sauté until it just starts to soften and wilt down.
Make the sauce. Add the heavy cream, parmesan cheese and bit more Italian seasoning, stir to combine. Simmer for about 1 minute, scraping up any browned bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Return chicken to the pan. Nestle the chicken breasts into the sauce; bring to a simmer then reduce to medium-low heat. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from heat, top with a little more cheese, if desired, and serve immediately.
Tips For Pan Searing Chicken
- Avoid nonstick pans. A heavy-bottomed pan that retains heat is best for searing meat such as cast-iron or stainless steel.
- Use high heat. To achieve a nice golden colour on the exterior of the chicken, you must use high heat. Otherwise, the chicken will release all its moisture and poach instead.
- Do not move the chicken around. Once you place the chicken in the pan, do not move it around or lift it to peek for at least 3-4 minutes. This gives time for a crust to form which is also what helps the chicken release easily from the pan.
What To Serve With Tuscan Chicken
We enjoy this creamy Tuscan chicken served over white rice or boiled baby potatoes and a bowl of lightly dressed, lemony leafy greens. Other options you may enjoy:
- Noodles – Serve this as a creamy tuscan chicken pasta dish by serving the saucy chicken over your favorite pasta. For a less heavy option, try spaghetti squash noodles or zucchini noodles
- Crusty bread
- Mashed potatoes
- Cauliflower mash or cauliflower rice
- Green beans
- Roasted veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower
This creamy tuscan chicken is best eaten right away while the sauce is loose and silky. Once stored, the sauce will thicken and the chicken may dry out a little. That said, we have been known to fight for the leftovers the next day.
- To store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
- To reheat: Heat a bit of cream, coconut milk, or broth in a skillet over medium heat. Add the creamy Tuscan chicken leftovers and heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until warmed through.
More Easy Chicken Recipes To Try
- Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken
- Crispy Baked Parmesan Chicken
- Sheet Pan Chicken with Caramelized Shallots
If you give this Creamy Tuscan Chicken recipe a try, please feel free to leave a comment and/or a star rating below. We appreciate and welcome all your feedback. Thank you!
Creamy Tuscan Chicken
- 4 medium-sized boneless/skinless chicken breasts (see notes if using large chicken breasts or chicken thighs)
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided (can also use a mix of dried marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 small onion diced (about 1/3 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes thinly sliced
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream (see notes for dairy-free)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan plus more for serving
- Place each chicken breast between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound it down to make it an even thickness.
- Season chicken breast on both sides with 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, then transfer to a plate.
- Over medium heat, add remaining tablespoon of oil to the same skillet. Add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute. Add all of the spinach to the pan and sauté until it just starts to soften and wilt down, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream, parmesan and remaining teaspoon of Italian seasoning and stir to combine. Simmer for about 1 minute, scraping up any browned bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Nestle the chicken breasts into the sauce; bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove skillet from heat, top with a little more cheese, if desired, and serve immediately.