Skinny Creamy Italian Chicken Skillet


Skinny Creamy Italian Chicken Skillet is quick, creamy, and satisfying – and made with ZERO cream!

So my parents are in this 3-part, mini Advent-themed play at their church during the next three weeks of Wednesday night Advent services. This cracks me up for two reasons:

1. Can YOU keep a straight face picturing your parents standing up in front of their congregation and, uh, ACTING?!

2. My Mom can’t memorize lines to save her life. Poor gal!

See, my dad was cast in the play first, but they still needed a women to play his wife so he volunteered, well, his wife, then asked her if it was ok. You know how it goes.

After being a good sport about it for the first couple of practices, the thought of actually getting up there and reciting her lines live from memory proved to be more than the poor woman could handle, so she quasi-begged to be replaced at their final dress rehearsal last night, on the eve of their first performance – TONIGHT!

No dice.

I’m sure she’ll be fantastic though. I told her to tape her lines to the back of a prop, and make sure she gets a Britney Spears over-the-ear mic instead of a hand held one. Just another distraction, right?

By the way, I can laugh about all this because it’s not me. If the roles were reversed I’d be either a.) barfing, or b.) sweating profusely on the alter as they called action, as I can’t memorize lines for ‘ish either, AND I hate standing up in front of crowds. That said, I can’t wait to see them in action. BaHA!

Anyways, all the church talk got me reminiscing about the countless hours my family used to spend there on Wednesday nights growing up. From youth choir, bell choir, and puppet club (yeah…) practices, to youth group meetings, and gosh, who knows what else, I feel like we were there all afternoon and evening on Wednesdays, especially during the holidays!

If we weren’t eating at the church’s weekly soup supper potluck, my Mom would usually whip up a quick and easy meal before heading out of the house, like this Skinny Creamy Italian Chicken Skillet for a healthy dinner that would keep us going all night long.

YOU GUYS. This dinner is SUCH a winner!! Marinated chicken is sauteed then placed on top of chewy penne pasta coated in a luscious, tomato-pesto-cream sauce that’s made with ZERO CREAM! I’ll show you my trick, it’s freaking amazing.

Made in one skillet, and extremely filling, this is one mouthwatering dinner that will keep hungry bellies full and satisfied for hours.

Start by marinating chicken breasts in a lip-smacking, flavor-packed marinade. (BTW – I made 1/4 of the chicken for the photos below!)

In a large, Ziplock bag place 2 Tablespoons pre-made pesto. You can use my homemade recipe, or buy it pre-made from the store. This pre-made pesto from Trader Joe’s is fantastic. I’ve used it dozens of times for different recipes and it always tastes really fresh.

Next add 1/2 bottle of Lawry’s Herb & Garlic Marinade to the bag. This is a 30 minute marinade which means it gives the chicken TONS of flavor, in just a little bit of time. Finally, add the chicken, squish to coat in the mixture, then marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours. Marinade = done!

When you’re ready to eat, spray a large skillet very well with non-stick spray then cook the chicken breasts over medium heat for 5-6 minutes a side, or until they’re no longer pink in the center. Remove the chicken to a plate, cover loosely with foil, then set ’em aside for a bit.

At the same time, drop 8oz penne pasta into salted, boiling water. Once it’s al dente, drain then set it aside too.

K! Now onto the creamy, dreamy sauce that’s made in the same skillet as the chicken.

Carefully wipe out the skillet with a spatula, then saute 1/4 small minced onion in 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil until tender. Then add 2 minced garlic cloves and saute for 30 seconds. Next, add 1/2 cup chicken broth and let it cook until reduced by half. Only takes a minute or two!

Once the chicken broth has reduced, add 8oz tomato sauce, followed by my secret weapon – 1 cup fat-free evaporated milk!

Evaporated milk gives the same creamy mouth-feel as cream does to recipes, but adds a fraction of the fat and calories. I used it in a Creamy Roasted Brussels Sprouts post I did for Delish Dish last week, and am seriously never looking back!

The last step to take the creamy sauce up a notch is to whisk in 1 teaspoon flour, and 4 teaspoons pesto.

Let the sauce bubble and thicken for a few minutes, then stir in the cooked pasta.

Finally, plate and top with the cooked chicken!

Skinny Creamy Italian Chicken Skillet

Serves 4


Skinny Creamy Italian Chicken Skillet is quick, creamy, and satisfying - and made with ZERO cream!


  • For the chicken marinade:
    • 4 small chicken breasts
    • 1/2 bottle Lowry's Garlic Herb Marinade
    • 2 Tablespoons prepared pesto
  • For the skillet:
    • 8oz penne pasta
    • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 small onion, minced
    • salt & pepper
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 cup chicken broth
    • 8oz tomato sauce
    • 1 cup evaporated skim milk
    • 1 teaspoon flour
    • 4 teaspoons prepared pesto


  1. Combine marinade and pesto in a large Ziplock bag then add chicken breasts and squish to coat. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
  2. Saute marinated chicken in a large skillet sprayed well with non-stick spray over medium heat for 5-6 minutes a side, or until no longer pink in the center. Remove to a plate then cover loosely with foil to stay warm and set aside. Carefully wipe out skillet with a spatula or wet paper towel. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil then season with salt and add penne. Cook until al dente then drain and set aside.
  3. Still over medium heat, add oil to the skillet then add onions and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 3-4 minutes, or until tender, then add garlic and saute, stirring constantly, for 30 more seconds. Carefully add chicken broth then let simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and evaporated milk then whisk in flour and pesto. Simmer until thick and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Add cooked and drained pasta then toss to combine. Portion out to plates then top with cooked chicken.


Adapted from Plain Chicken

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

This sauce is a home-run, outta the ball park, winner. You would never know it was made with evaporated milk and not heavy cream. It’s so decadent and delicious!

The chicken is flavorful from inside and out, and super tender too. A combo of good quality chicken, and a GREAT marinade!

Devoured. LOVED this meal!

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  1. This meal looks fab, per usual. Hilarious that your parents are in a play!

    That little thing won’t work for me, it’s still “loading,” just an FYI!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.05.2012

      Dang it! Are you using Internet Explorer, by chance? (Thanks for letting me know, btw!) :)

    • Megan 12.05.2012

      Doing the same thing for me — except tell me “Aw shucks we didn’t get your entry, please try again”. I’ve reloaded and still no dice. I’m in Chrome.

  2. Jessica C. 12.05.2012

    This dinner looks amazing! And the Rafflecopter isn’t working for me either, and I’m using Google Chrome. Just to let you know!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.05.2012

      I replaced the code then re-tried in Chrome and it’s working now. Thanks for letting me know! :)

  3. Rebecca 12.05.2012

    Same for me, using FF.

  4. Rebecca 12.05.2012

    It worked! Took a bit to load, but once it did it worked fine for both entries. Again, I was using FF.

  5. ladysaotome 12.05.2012

    I actually prefer rafflecopter widget entries when they are like yours – one or two likes – not 15 steps, tweats, emails, etc. :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.05.2012

      I agree with you. My only wish is that it worked consistently across all browsers!

  6. Katie 12.05.2012

    worked for me!

  7. Rosé is my favourite pasta sauce so I am loving the idea of using evaporated milk instead of cream to reduce fat and calories, especially around the holidays. What a fantastic tip! Thanks for sharing:)

  8. Rafflecopter working for me on Firefox! This looks delicious! What a cool way to make the sauce creamy. The brussels sprouts recipe you linked to sounds amazing too!

  9. Yvonne G. 12.05.2012

    I can’t wait to try this…..always looking for something new to do with chicken.

  10. jennyv 12.05.2012

    My husband would LOVE this dish! He loves chicken and pasta… put it together, it’s love!

    I am w/ both you and your mom — I would probably pit out (sorry for the visual) and then I’d sweat some more! I’m curious, what church do they go to? (I’m local)

    Raffle worked through Chrome.

  11. Joann 12.05.2012

    Pinned this recipe – gonna try it soon – yum!!! Let us know how your mom did ! I am sure she will be fine!

  12. Lanesa 12.05.2012

    Definitely going to try this!

  13. Liz 12.05.2012

    This looks delicious! I am going to have to try it this week :)

  14. Kimberli 12.05.2012

    This looks amazing, I can’t wait to try it!! Thanks for the heavy cream replacement trick, pure genius!!

  15. Ok so random but I just noticed (after reading your blog for over a year) that you have a flat-top stove. I have one too and I actually really hate it! Do you have any tips for cooking on a flat-top?

  16. Carol 12.05.2012

    The chicken looks so tasty!!!

  17. Your poor mother! That sounds dreadful. I hope you made her some of your dinner for when she is done “acting”!!

  18. Barbara 12.05.2012

    This looks great and will probably be on my this week menu. I’m another midwestern from MO now in sunny Arizona.

  19. Ktlovespie 12.05.2012

    worked for me!

    Mmm your chicken looks delicious!

  20. Kay Miracle 12.05.2012

    this dish looks delicious


  21. Ashley M 12.05.2012

    Worked for me in Chrome. Recipe looks fab, per usual. :)

  22. Mikal 12.05.2012

    Looks delicious.. I am going to have to try this. What is the salad that you had in the picture – that looks good also!\

  23. I love cooking with Just BARE chicken! My only complaint is that it tends to be a little more expensive, but I like knowing that I’m not eating hormones and chemicals! It’s worth it.

  24. Allison 12.05.2012

    Thank you for making your contests so easy to enter. It takes about twenty minutes to enter some of these bloggers’ contests. Chef in Training has like a seven step process right now for winning an IPAD.

  25. It worked fine for me! Thanks for the giveaway!

  26. Dorothy 12.05.2012

    I can sympathize with your mother. I had to make a YouTube video today with classmates in which we had to sing. Needless to say, there is a reason why I don’t sing. Thanks for the giveaway!

  27. Candy 12.05.2012

    I LOVE Just Bare chicken…buy it all the time. Nice give-away package.

  28. Adrienne 12.05.2012

    I’m confused, isn’t 12am Thursday actually just a couple hours from now? Midnight on Thursday is actually 12am Friday, is that when the drawing ends or is it actually 12am Thursday? Sorry for the confusion!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 12.06.2012

      Yes, you are correct! I was never any good at that stuff… :( Updated – and thanks for the heads up!

  29. Janna 12.05.2012

    Yum! The perfect compromise when the hubby likes cream sauce and I like tomato sauce with my pasta. Must try!

  30. Jane Ritz 12.06.2012

    Thanks for this wonderful giveaway.

  31. Kristin Kraabel 12.06.2012

    Oh I am one of those mamas running like crazy Wednesday and Thursday nights…so excited for this recipe and eay to make gluten free :)

  32. Sonja P. 12.06.2012

    Can’t wait to try this recipe!! So glad I found your site!!

  33. Jen W 12.06.2012

    This recipe looks great, and is sure to be a crowd pleaser! I also had to chuckle because it’s rare to find someone else who has played in bell choir. Ring on!

  34. Carole Resnick 12.06.2012

    one night early next week

  35. Emily 12.06.2012

    Kristin, I just have to tell you how much I LOVE your blog. You always make me laugh…especially this post about your parents. I can so relate! Not to mention your recipes are fantastic. Anyway, thanks for all you do.

  36. jesser 12.06.2012

    I think my husband will love this!

  37. Kristin from MN 12.06.2012

    I have a off-topic question… do you have any suggestions for washing work-out clothes and keeping them fresh? Thanks!

  38. Stephanie 12.06.2012

    I am getting different answers while searching Nutritional Info for evaporated milk. Can anyone help out if they have a can at home? I am calculateing this to be 8 grams fat/serving (of evap. cream in sauce alone. I keep googling… thanks to anyone in advance.

    • Stephanie 12.12.2012

      GOOD LORD! FAT FREE evaporated milk. DUH! Sorry for my comment…lack of sleep ;) Yeah… that makes a LOT more sense.

  39. Jenny G 12.06.2012

    this looks delicious.

  40. Joyce 12.06.2012

    Becoming convinced about using organic food sources, especially with meats. Will have to check out their website and see where I can buy some locally. The recipe looks yummy. Anxious to try your “cream” secret in this dish and a few others!

  41. Trisha 12.06.2012

    Oh, your poor mother. :( There’s nothing worse than being in front of a group, not feeling very confident on the subject matter. My mom will be onstage in a Christmas show all weekend but she LOVES the stage!
    This dish looks super fab, no big surprise there!

  42. Victoria in Connecticut 12.06.2012

    FYI – NO chicken sold in the U.S. has added hormones.

    From the USDA website;
    NO HORMONES (pork or poultry):
    Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”

    Awesome recipe tho! Gonna try this tonight.

  43. Brenda Sue 12.06.2012

    This looks yummy!

  44. This chicken looks so flavorful and great for a weeknight dinner. I love using evaporated milk – I do it in creamy soups to reduce the fat and calories!

  45. I know what I’m having for dinner soon

  46. Jill 12.06.2012

    Can’t wait to check this out

  47. Luciana Davis 12.06.2012

    looks delicious!!!!!

  48. Angela Ten Clay 12.06.2012

    This recipe sounds delish! Can you buy Just Bare Chicken at Hy-Vee? Any other places in Des Moines you can buy it?

  49. Michelle 12.06.2012

    How do did you pick the Keurig winner? Do you randomly pick or did you choose the best comment? Just curious. :)

  50. Lizzie 12.07.2012

    I made this dish last night. My fiance and I both really liked it! Very comforting for a “skinny” recipe. Thanks!

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