That Spicy Chick

Chili-Lime Cream Sauce Pasta with Peri Peri Chicken

This Chili-Lime Cream Sauce Pasta with Peri Peri Chicken is refreshing and mouthwateringly tasty! Juicy and crispy Peri Peri seasoned chicken thighs are served with a chili-lime cream sauce pasta that’s loaded with champignon mushrooms, sweet cherry tomatoes, and encrusted with Grana Padano cheese!

Overhead view of six grilled peri peri chicken thighs lined up on top of chili-lime cream sauce pasta in a 9x13 white baking dish.

Guys, meet my latest obsession: Chili-Lime Cream Sauce with Peri Peri Chicken!

She’s a beaut, isn’t she?! And she tastes beautiful too!

I’ve been developing several new recipes lately because I’ve been craving spring and summer on my plate. With the weather changing and the sun coming out daily to smile and play, it’s safe to say I’ve temporarily closed the chapter on warming winter soups for now. It’s currently too dang hot here to still be in warming-winter-soups mode. And definitely too hot to be standing over a boiling pot and EAT what’s in that pot, especially when all you’re really thinking about is ice cream and melting like one too! 😉

So spring and summer foods is what I’m doing right now. I’m saying hi to zesty limes, tangy lemons, cooling cucumbers, juicy red and robust fresh tomatoes, and all the fresh herbs in the world!

But sometimes I’ll give a little wave to dry herbs too. They’re okay in my book every now and then when a particular fresh herb I want to cook with isn’t in season. So they get a big smile from me and I’ll use them if I’m going big with flavors in other ways in any dish I cook!

So without further delay, here’s the lowdown on my latest hit! I think you’re going to love this beauty!

Front angle view of six grilled peri peri chicken thighs lined up on top of chili-lime cream sauce pasta in a 9x13 white baking dish.

HERE’S WHAT WE HAVE GOING ON:

  • Juicy Peri Peri seasoned grilled chicken thighs. Pan seared on the stovetop first, then oven-grilled. So we get a nice crispy crackling skin on the outside and tender soft meat on the inside! 🤤
  • The most refreshing, creamy, buttery, garlicky, and citrusy chili-lime sauce!
  • The sweetest, juiciest, mini cherry tomatoes, plus elegant (I think they are, but don’t ask me why) champignon mushrooms. YUM!
  • And penne pasta in this creamy magical sauce, kissed and crusted with Grana Padano cheese, sprinkled with parsley flakes, and topped by those juicy-crispy-spicy-tangy flavorful chicken thighs!

YUMTOWN! 😍 Get in my belly NOW!

Diagonally placed 9x13 baking dish with Chili-Lime Cream Sauce Pasta with six grilled Peri Peri Chicken thighs on top. Dish is resting against a blue dinner napkin, a there's a small white plate of lime wedges to back right side.

Okay, so let’s break this delicious pasta dish down.

PERI PERI SEASONED GRILLED CHICKEN THIGHS

The chicken thighs are first marinated with a dry rub mixture of Peri Peri (aka Piri-Piri) seasoning and black pepper. They are then pan seared on the stovetop to get a nice crispy brown crust, and then baked until they’re cooked through in the oven.

Cape Herb and Spice Piri-Piri Chilli Seasoning is the best store-bought option I’ve tried, so I use theirs. But there are several brands making Peri Peri seasoning and they’re readily available in supermarkets and grocery stores worldwide. If you try any other brands with this recipe, let me know! I’m a HUGE fan of this South African/Portuguese spicy-tangy seasoning, so I always love to hear recommendations for anything Peri Peri! ☺️

Plate of chili-lime cream sauce pasta with a grilled peri peri chicken on top and a fork on the side of the pasta. In the back is a small plate of lime wedges and the dish of Chili-Lime Cream Sauce Pasta with Peri Peri Chicken.

CHILI-LIME CREAM SAUCE PASTA

While the chicken thighs are in the oven, we make the magical creamy chili-lime sauce with mushrooms and naturally sweet cherry tomatoes!

As you know from my Chili Chicken and Chicken Tikka Nachos post, I’m a sucker for new and unique hot sauces and love trying new ones! For this chili-lime cream sauce, I opted to use something a bit more mainstream and went with Nando’s Extra Extra Hot Peri Peri Sauce for some extra heat and Peri Peri flavor! I actually love all of their sauces – yes even the milder ones! So if you’re not big on heat, you can definitely use Nando’s Lemon and Herb Peri Peri Sauce or their Garlic Peri Peri Sauce instead as they both taste great and work well in this dish!

Now, toss some cooked penne pasta (or any other pasta will do) in the creamy refreshing sauce. Then, transfer it all out into a baking dish.

Deep white plate with a peri peri chicken grilled chicken thigh on top of a bed of chili-lime cream sauce penne pasta. In the back the dish of Chili-Lime Cream Sauce Pasta with Peri Peri Chicken resting on a blue dinner napkin.

BRING IT ALL TOGETHER!

Now all there’s left to do is compile the masterpiece dish in four steps:

  1. Grate some Grana Padano cheese over the pasta and sauce.
  2. Line up the chicken thighs on top of the cheese.
  3. Sprinkle a bit of parsley flakes over everything for some extra herby flavor.
  4. Bake until the cheese has melted and you have one big yummy-li-cious weeknight dinner in front of you!
Overhead view of two diagonally placed white plates with a peri peri chicken grilled chicken thigh on top of a bed of chili-lime cream sauce penne pasta in each plate. Silver forks are sticking out of the side of the pasta on the plates.

The thing I truly love about this pasta is that it has all the fresh spring and summertime flavors thanks to the lime juice and zest. But it’s also spicy and sweet since the heat is balanced out with all the juicy and naturally sweet cherry tomatoes.

Plus, it doesn’t take eons to make it! It’s a pretty simple and refreshing chicken pasta and I guarantee you will have everyone coming back for seconds!

Front view of two diagonally placed white plates with a peri peri chicken grilled chicken thigh on top of a bed of chili-lime cream sauce penne pasta in each plate. Silver forks are sticking out of the side of the pasta on the plates.

CAN I MAKE THIS GLUTEN-FREE?

Yes! Just use gluten-free pasta and you’re all set! All of the other ingredients are naturally gluten-free. But it’s best to double check that the cheese you will be using is GF certified.

Deep white plate with a peri peri chicken grilled chicken thigh on top of a bed of chili-lime cream sauce penne pasta.

Happy Spring and Summertime everyone! 🤗

MORE TASTY & EASY WEEKNIGHT PASTAS

Long Pin - Top Photo: Deep white plate with a peri peri chicken grilled chicken thigh on top of a bed of chili-lime cream sauce penne pasta. Bottom Photo: Close up overhead view of grilled peri peri chicken thighs over chili-lime cream sauce pasta in a 9x13 white baking dish.
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Deep white plate with a peri peri chicken grilled chicken thigh on top of a bed of chili-lime cream sauce penne pasta.

Chili-Lime Cream Sauce Pasta with Peri Peri Chicken

Juicy and crispy Peri Peri seasoned grilled chicken thighs are served on top of chili-lime cream sauce pasta that’s loaded with champignon mushrooms, sweet cherry tomatoes, and encrusted with Grana Padano cheese!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 46 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop and Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian/American
Scale

Ingredients

For the Peri Peri Chicken:

  • 3 TBLS Peri Peri (Piri-Piri) Seasoning (I use Cape Herb and Spice Piri-Piri Chilli Seasoning)
  • 1.52 TSP Black Pepper
  • ½ TSP Kosher Salt, to taste (optional and recommended only if your Peri Peri Seasoning does not have salt already included)
  • 2 lbs. Bone-in Chicken Thighs (about 67 pieces) – excess fat trimmed, cleaned, and pat-dried
  • 12 TBLS Olive (or any other cooking oil)

For the Chili-Lime Cream Sauce Pasta:

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 1 TBLS Unsalted Butter
  • 8 ounces uncooked Penne or Penne Rigate Pasta (or any other noodle type/short cut pasta. Use Gluten free or whole-wheat pasta if needed or desired.)
  • 14 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 210 Red Chilies (optional), to taste and deseeded depending on your desired heat level – finely minced
  • 12 Sweet Mini Cherry Tomatoes – halved
  • 180200g Champignon Mushrooms (about 89 small-medium sized pieces) – soaked in water, stubs removed, then quartered or thinly sliced
  • 4 Shallots – thinly sliced
  • 3 TSP Lime Zest
  • 300ml Whole Milk
  • 200ml Cooking/Single Cream/Half and Half (or use milk for a lighter version)
  • 1.5 TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
  • 1 TSP Black Pepper
  • 1 TSP Crushed Red Chili Pepper flakes, more or less to taste
  • 1 TSP ground Cayenne, more or less to taste
  • 1 TSP Garlic Powder
  • 1 TSP Onion Powder
  • 1 TSP Mint Flakes
  • 1 TSP dried Rosemary
  • 5 TSP freshly squeezed Lime Juice
  • 2 TSP Nando’s Extra Extra Hot PERi PERi Sauce (or choose your desired heat level from their range of sauces – Mild, Medium, or Hot. Their Lemon & Herb and Garlic Sauces taste fantastic too in this pasta if you want to make it milder!)
  • ½¾ cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (freshly grated Parmesan would be great too!)
  • ½1 TSP dried Parsley Flakes (for garnish)

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Make the Spice Bowl: Combine all the spices except the parsley flakes in a small bowl and set aside. Cover the bowl with cling wrap or a small plate to prevent the spices from being blown everywhere.
  2. Marinate the Chicken: Clean and trim the excess fat on the chicken thighs. Rinse and dry well with paper towels. In a large bowl, combine the Peri-Peri seasoning and black pepper and add the chicken thighs to the bowl. Rub the seasoning mixture on top and under the skin, on the meat underneath the skin, and the back of the chicken thigh too. Set aside.
  3. Fresh Ingredients: Soak the champignon mushrooms in water for a few minutes, rinse and drain well. Remove the stubs and discard (or save to make a soup or broth some other time), then quarter or thinly slice the mushrooms. Chop the garlic, red chilies, cherry tomatoes, and shallots as indicated in the “Instructions”.
  4. Cook the Pasta: Cook the pasta al–dente according to package directions in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain and set aside once cooked. (I like to run water over the pasta to prevent it from cooking further.)

For the Peri Peri Chicken:

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C/350° Heat 1-2 TBLS of olive oil in a large skillet or nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the oil is hot, place the chicken thighs (3 at a time to avoid overcrowding the pan) skin side down in the pan to brown and crisp up the skin. Fry for 3-4 minutes then use tongs to flip them and fry the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Place the chicken thighs (skin side facing up) on a baking tray lined with foil. Repeat until all the chicken thighs have been cooked in the pan and transferred to the baking tray.
  3. Bake the chicken for 12-13 minutes or until the chicken has fully cooked through. (You can use a thermometer to check if the internal temperature has reached 165°C if you like.) Remove from the oven (but leave the oven on as you will need to use it again to melt the cheese on the pasta later) and set the pan aside.

For the Pasta in Chili Lime Cream Sauce Pasta:

  1. While the chicken is baking in the oven, start the sauce for the pasta. (Note: Make sure to check on the chicken and remove from the oven once cooked even if you’re still making the sauce). Heat 1 TBLS olive oil and 1.5 TBLS of unsalted butter in a large sauté pan over high heat.
  2. Once the oil is hot and the butter has melted and is foaming, add the shallots and garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
  3. Add the minced red chilies (if using) and continue sautéing for another minute.
  4. Add the mushrooms and lime zest and sauté until the mushrooms have softened – about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-high and slowly pour in the whole milk and cooking cream. Stir to combine.
  6. Tip in the spices from the spice bowl you made earlier and add the cherry tomatoes, stir to combine with the sauce.
  7. Stir in the Nando’s Peri Peri Extra Extra Hot sauce and freshly squeezed lime juice.
  8. Let the sauce simmer for 4-5 minutes while stirring occasionally, then add the cooked pasta. Stir and toss to coat the pasta well with the sauce. Cook for 3-4 minutes longer or until the sauce has reduced and is creamy.
  9. Pour the pasta into a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle Grana Padano cheese over the pasta, then line up the chicken thighs on top of the cheese. Sprinkle parsley flakes on top, then bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  1. To make this gluten-free: Use a gluten-free pasta and double check that the cheese you will be using is GF certified.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 plate
  • Calories: 769
  • Sugar: 12.2g
  • Sodium: 1086.6mg
  • Fat: 46g
  • Saturated Fat: 16.3g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 23.6g
  • Trans Fat: 0.4g
  • Carbohydrates: 49.6g
  • Fiber: 4.7g
  • Protein: 40.2g
  • Cholesterol: 164.7mg

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