That Spicy Chick

Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta

This Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta features bold flavors that will tantalize your taste buds and is ready in just 30 minutes! Packed with savory chicken, crispy bacon, fresh basil in a creamy and smoky tomato sauce with a sharp bite from Calabrian chili pepper paste, this mouthwatering pasta dish is sure to delight! 

Looking for more easy spicy chicken pasta recipes? Try my One Pot Chicken Fajita Pasta, this Tomato Ricotta Pesto Pasta, or Creamy Peri Peri Chicken Pasta next.



 

Confession. My obsession with Calabrian chili paste did not end with my Spicy Vodka Pasta nor my Spicy Pumpkin Vodka Pasta recipes. It continues to tingle my taste buds with its tremendous depth of flavor on grilled meats, roasted veggies, scrambled eggs, in sandwiches…and now in this Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta dish!

This chicken and bacon pasta is weeknight delicious comfort food at it’s best and I think you’ll love it!

We have here savory seared chicken pieces, crispy bacon, penne pasta, crisp red bell pepper, and fresh basil in a robust smoky and slightly creamy, beautifully spiced and seasoned tomato sauce! 

With just a handful of mostly everyday ingredients, this simple spicy chicken pasta recipe can be made in about 30 minutes in one pan on any night of the week!

Top view of Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta garnished on plate and in a pan.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Calabrian chili pepper paste kicks up the heat level with tantalizing spicy and smoky flavors with a hint of tang. 
  • Penne pasta with ridges allows the creamy tomato cream sauce to cling onto the pasta perfectly.
  • Using both passata and double concentrated tomato paste ensures that there is ample sauce for the pasta. The tomato paste gives this dish a wonderful bold tomato flavor, while the passata adds a lighter and bright tomato flavor.
  • Single cream balances out the richness of the tomato sauce with creaminess and is a lighter and healthier option than heavy cream or double cream.  
  • Adding fresh basil add the end brightens up everything.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutes

Labeled ingredients for Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta on a wooden board.
  • Chicken: I used diced boneless and skinless chicken breasts and seasoned it with salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Boneless and skinless chicken thigh fillets can be used instead.
  • Bacon: Thick-cut bacon adds savory smoky bacon goodness to this pasta dish. For a lighter option, regular cut streaky bacon or bacon medallions can be substituted. If using bacon medallions, add oil to the pan to cook it since it is void of fat.
  • Veggies and Aromatics: Red onion (substitute with yellow or white onion, or shallots), red bell pepper, garlic and fresh red chilies for an extra spicy kick of heat. I used Thai Bird’s Eye red chilies but any variety will work. Use more or less (or omit them) to make this spicy chicken and bacon tomato pasta suited to your heat level preference.
  • Fresh Italian Basil Leaves: Brightens up and balances out the rich and spicy flavors in the tomato sauce. Dried basil won’t be as delicious but can be used in a pinch.
  • Whole Grain Penne Pasta: I like using whole grain (whole wheat) penne pasta for this recipe because it has more fiber than regular pasta. It also has ridges for the sauce to cling onto perfectly. Feel free to any short-cut regular pasta or gluten-free pasta if needed.
  • Calabrian Chili Pepper Paste/Sauce: A smoky, spicy and slightly tangy chili paste that’s made with Italian hot chili peppers and garlic. It packs a flavorful punch! It’s usually sold in glass jars and can be found at Whole Foods, Williams Sonoma and online from Amazon.
  • Double Concentrated Tomato Paste: For rich and bold tomato flavors.
  • Passata: Known as tomato puree in the USA, this is a medium-thick sauce made completely of tomatoes. Substitute with fresh or diced canned tomatoes, which can be blended into a puree using a blender or food processor before you start cooking.
  • Seasonings: To season the tomato sauce, we have kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika (use hot or sweet), crushed red pepper flakes, ground cayenne and Italian seasoning. 
  • Single Cream: Also known as table or light cream in the USA. It’s a cream with 15% fat per 100ml. Feel free to use heavy cream or double cream for a richer and more decadent sauce if preferred.
  • Reserved Pasta Water: Be sure to save some before draining the cooked pasta in case you need it to loosen up the sauce.
  • To Serve: Shower your plate with freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and sliced basil to finish.
Closeup of plate with Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta.

Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.

How to Make Spicy Chicken & Bacon Tomato Pasta

Here is a step-by-step overview on how to make this recipe. The full recipe with detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card below.

  1. Cook the pasta and bacon. Cook the pasta al-dente according to package instructions in a large pot (or the same medium deep sauté pan you’ll use to make the pasta dish) of boiling salted water. Reserve some pasta cooking water, then drain and set aside. 

Add the bacon strips to a medium-sized deep sauté pan and cook until browned and crisp and cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Discard all but one tablespoon of bacon grease from the pan.

Cooking bacon strips in a skillet.
  1. Cook the chicken. Add the seasoned diced chicken and cook until lightly seared but not fully cooked. Push the chicken to the back of the pan.
Cooking seasoned chicken pieces in a pan with bacon grease.
  1. Sauté the veggies. Add the red onion and bell pepper and sauté until slightly softened.
Added red onion and bell pepper to pan with seared chicken.
  1. Sauté the aromatics. Add the garlic and chilies and sauté to combine until fragrant. 
Added garlic and chilies to pan.
  1. Add the Calabrian chili paste and tomato paste. Mix well until everything is evenly coated.
Added Calabrian chili paste and tomato paste to pan.
  1. Stir in the passata and seasonings. Mix well to combine and let the sauce bubble for a few seconds.
Added passata and seasonings to pad with chicken, aromatics, onion and bell pepper.
  1. Add the light cream, pasta and bacon. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the single cream. Then add the pasta and bacon and mix well to coat. If the sauce thickens too much, add a splash of reserved pasta water. Mix until everything is evenly coated and the sauce clings to the pasta. 
Added cooked bacon to pan with creamy tomato chicken pasta.
  1. Mix through the basil. Stir through most of the basil, then switch off the heat.
Added sliced basil to pan with Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta.
  1. Serve! Divide evenly onto plates and garnish with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and sliced basil. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta garnished with grated cheese and basil on a plate.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Store any leftovers in an airtight sealed container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway in between, until hot throughout. I recommend garnishing with basil and cheese just before eating. Fresh basil tends to blacken and become bitter when reheated in the microwave.

Cook’s Tips

  • Cook the pasta al-dente. It should be cooked 1-2 minutes shy of the cooking time specified on the package. Or check your pasta package for the cooking time for al-dente pasta if specified. This will ensure the pasta doesn’t become too soft or starts breaking down when you add it back into the pan to combine with the tomato sauce.
  • Make it as spicy or mild as desired. For a milder dish, use less (or omit) the fresh red chilies, Calabrian hot chili pepper paste, crushed red pepper, ground cayenne and use a sweet smoked paprika instead of a hot one. For a spicier dish, add more of the aforementioned ingredients and use a hot smoked paprika.
  • Double the recipe. Leftovers store well in the fridge for 3-4 days and you can double the recipe ingredients to make 4 servings.
Front view of Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta garnished on plate and in a pan.

Variations

  • Use shrimp. Use thawed peeled and deveined shrimp or prawns instead of chicken. Cook them in a little olive oil first with salt and pepper, then transfer to a clean bowl. Add them back into the pan when you add the pasta. 
  • Use cooked chicken. Use store-bought shredded rotisserie chicken or cooked diced or sliced chicken. Add the cooked chicken to the pan when you add the pasta and bacon to the sauce. Mix until heated through.
  • Make the sauce creamier. For a creamier sauce, add 79ml / ⅓ cup single cream. Alternatively, use 60ml / ¼ cup heavy cream instead.
  • Use a different type of pasta. Any short-cut pasta shape like paccheri mezze, fusilli, cavatappi, farfalle, etc. will work. However, for a different and delicious take on this Spicy Chicken & Bacon Tomato Pasta dish, use ravioli, tortellini or gnocchi.
  • Add more/different veggies. Baby spinach or baby kale, diced zucchini, green peas, etc.

FAQs

How long will chicken and bacon tomato pasta keep?

Leftovers will keep well for 3-4 days in a sealed airtight container in the fridge.

What can I use instead of Calabrian chili paste?

Substitute ‘Ndjua, harissa, spicy tomato paste, sriracha, sambal oelek for Calabrian chili paste. Or simply add more garlic and fresh chilies and to the dish. In a real pinch, Tabasco can be added to the tomato sauce instead.

Can I make this vegetarian/vegan?

Use a plant-based meat substitute such as Daring Chicken (sold in the US) and vegan bacon slices. Use dairy-free light cream.

What to serve with chicken and bacon pasta?

This chicken and bacon pasta is well balanced with protein, carbohydrates, and veggies and also has a good amount of fiber. It is filling on its own but a simple side salad would pair well with it.


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Print

Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta

Closeup of Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta garnished with grated cheese and basil on plate.

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5 from 1 review

Chicken, crispy bacon, pasta, fresh basil and a creamy and smoky tomato sauce come together in this quick and tasty 30-minute Spicy Chicken & Bacon Tomato Pasta dish!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Sauté
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale

Chicken:

  • 8 ounces / 226 grams Chicken Breast, boneless, skinless – cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ¼ + ⅛ TSP Fine Sea Salt (use ¾ TSP if using kosher salt), to taste
  • ¼ TSP Garlic Powder
  • ⅛ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper

Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta:

  •  2 rashers / 66 grams thick sliced Bacon – sliced into ¼-inch strips
  • ¼ medium / 50 grams Red Onion (substitute with yellow or white onion, or shallots) – finely chopped
  • ½ medium / 100 grams Red Bell Pepper – finely diced
  • 2 cloves / 15 grams Garlic – minced
  • 56 pieces / 20 grams fresh Red Chilies (optional, I used Thai Bird’s Eye red chilies but any variety can be used, omit for milder dish – note 1*)
  • ≈ ½ cup / 10 grams fresh Italian Basil Leaves – finely sliced into thin strips
  • 5.3 ounces / 150 grams Whole Grain Penne Pasta (whole wheat pasta, or use any short-cut regular pasta or gluten-free pasta if needed)
  • 2 TBSP / 30 grams Hot Calabrian Chili Pepper Paste/Sauce (note 2)
  • 1 TBSP / 15 grams Double Concentrated Tomato Paste
  • ≈ 2 cups / 200 grams Passata (substitute with tomato puree)
  • ¾ TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
  • ½ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • ¼ TSP Garlic Powder
  • ½ TSP Smoked Paprika (hot or sweet)
  • ½ TSP Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, to taste (note 3*)
  • ¼ TSP ground Cayenne, to taste (note 3*)
  • ½ TSP Italian Seasoning
  • ¼ cup / 60ml Single Cream (also known as table or light cream in the USA – note 4)
  • 2 TBSP reserved Pasta Cooking Water, as needed
  • To Serve: Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (or Parmesan cheese), reserved sliced Basil

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Season the chicken: Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to a medium bowl. Season with fine sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Mix well to coat.
  2. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Chop/slice the bacon, red onion, red bell pepper, garlic, red chilies and basil as indicated in the ‘ingredients’ section.

Spicy Chicken & Bacon Tomato Pasta:

  1. Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta al-dente according to package instructions in a large pot (or the same medium-sized deep sauté pan you’ll use to make the pasta dish) of boiling salted water. Reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water, then drain and set aside. (I like to run water cold water over the pasta to prevent it from sticking and cooking further but this is optional.)
  2. Cook the bacon: Place a medium-sized deep sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the bacon strips. Sauté until crisp, browned and cooked through – about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain off the excess grease. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan.
  3. Cook the chicken: Add the seasoned chicken pieces and spread the pieces out in the pan. Allow to sear for 30 seconds, then flip and cook the other side for another minute or until no longer pink but not fully cooked yet. Push the chicken to the back of the pan.
  4. Sauté the veggies and aromatics: Add the red onion and red bell pepper and sauté for 1 minute until softened. Add the garlic and red chilies and sauté to combine for 20 seconds until fragrant.
  5. Build the tomato sauce: Add the Calabrian chili paste and tomato paste. Mix to combine with everything in the pan. Then pour in the passata and add the kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, ground cayenne and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine and allow to bubble for 20-30 seconds.
  6. Add the cream: Reduce the heat to low and stir in the single cream.
  7. Add the pasta and bacon: Add the cooked pasta and bacon and mix for 1 minute until everything is evenly coated in the sauce. If the sauce thickens too much, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta cooking water to loosen it. Mix to combine until the sauce clings to the pasta.
  8. Stir through basil: Stir in most of the sliced fresh Italian basil (reserve some for garnish), then switch off the heat.
  9. To Serve: Divide evenly onto plates and garnish with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and sliced basil. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Fresh Red Chilies. Any type of hot red chilies easily available to you can be used. Adjust the amount based on how hot the chilies are and your heat level preference. For a milder dish, omit the fresh chilies. The dish will still be spicy because of the Calabrian chili pepper paste, crushed red pepper, ground cayenne, and smoked paprika (if using a hot one). You can reduce the amount of the seasonings but reducing the amount of Calabrian chili pepper paste will alter the final flavor of the dish.
  2. Calabrian Chili Pepper Paste/Sauce. This is smoky, spicy and slightly tangy chili paste is made with Italian hot chili peppers and garlic. It packs a powerful flavor punch! It’s usually sold in glass jars and can be found at Whole Foods, Williams Sonoma and online from Amazon.
  3. Crushed Red Pepper and Ground Cayenne: Use more or less to taste depending on your spice level preference. Omit for a milder dish.
  4. Single Cream. This is a cream with 15% fat per 100ml and is known as table cream or light cream in the USA. Feel free to use heavy cream or double cream if a richer and more decadent tomato cream sauce is desired.
  5. Storing and reheating. Store any leftovers in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway in between, until hot throughout. I recommend garnishing with the grated cheese and sliced basil after reheating. The basil tends to become bitter and blackens when reheated in the microwave.
  6. Nutritional information. Nutritional information provided is inclusive of ≈ ¼ cup / 20 grams of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to be divided for 2 servings. Feel free to use more or less as per your preference.
  7. See the ‘Variations’ section in the post above if you’d like to customize this recipe.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 of recipe
  • Calories: 712
  • Sugar: 10.7g
  • Sodium: 1669.2mg
  • Fat: 26.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 10.2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 16.2g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 65g
  • Fiber: 10.8g
  • Protein: 47g
  • Cholesterol: 82.5mg

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One comment on “Spicy Chicken and Bacon Tomato Pasta”

  1. This was incredibly easy and delicious! Loved that it wasn’t overly creamy, but just creamy enough. Thank you!






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