Delicious Pasta with Chicken and Olives Recipe

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This easy and delicious Italian recipe uses the classic combination of pasta with chicken and olives. It is perfect for those nights when you just want a quick and satisfying dinner. Mixed with fresh tomatoes cooked down with garlic and olive oil, this flavorful Italian recipe is a must have.

pasta with olives and chicken

I recently served this dish for my sister who was passing by and stopped over for dinner. I didn’t feel like eating out, and knew I could make her something that tasted so much better anyway.

So I looked through my collection of Italian chicken recipes for inspiration and ran across this old recipe. I had forgotten how simple it was to make and since I had all the ingredients on hand, I knew it would be perfect for a quick but impressive dinner.

About this Pasta with Chicken and Olives Recipe

Making pasta with chicken and olives is best when using short pasta with this dish such as penne, rigatoni, or farfalle.

Regarding the sauce, there is no heavy tomato sauce. Instead we create a light tomato and olive mixture that delicately clings to the ridges of the penne. With longer pasta like angel hair, spaghetti or fettuccini, the sauce doesn’t adhere as well.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use long pasta, but it’s something to consider, regardless.

Another benefit I want to mention is that it can be conveniently made in a single pan. This means all the ingredients can be cooked, mixed together and served from one frying pan. This is the same process I use in my dry Italian seasoning chicken recipe.

Of course we have to cook the pasta separately, but we then toss it in with the chicken and olive mixture towards the end.  

Ingredients

ingredients for pasta with olives and chicken

Here are the ingredients you will need for making my version of pasta with chicken and olives. Exact measurements are in the recipe card below.  

  • Penne pasta or other short pasta
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Boneless chicken breasts sliced into thin 2” slices
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Garlic cloves – sliced thin. I don’t chop them in this recipe.
  • Olives sliced in halves – Use a mix of “pitted” green olives and kalamata olives for maximum depth. See my section on olives below about what kind to use.
  • Chopped tomatoes along with their juices
  • Handful fresh basil leaves (if out of season, don’t fret, you can omit this if you must)
  • Romano cheese for serving

As I mentioned earlier, there are many variations to this dish. I provide additional ingredient substitutions or variations further down the post.

Step by Step Instructions

1- In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook pasta until al-dente or according to package instructions. Reserve some pasta water to use for later, if needed.

2- Meanwhile, season the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper and then cut into sliced 2” pieces. I avoid using thick chunks due to the shape and size of the pasta.

3- In a large skillet or frying pan with deep sides (I used my Cuisinart French Classic Stainless 5-1/2-Quart Saute Pan) , heat the olive oil over medium heat.

chicken cooking in pan
Cooking the chicken slices in olive oil.

4- Add the chicken slices to the pan and cook 5 minutes or so while turning them over. Continue cooking until no pink is found inside and the internal temp is 165F.

5- When done, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

6- Reduce heat to low and add in the garlic and saute until fragrant for about 3 minutes, then add in the olives and chopped tomatoes along with their juices.

olive and tomato mixture

7- Stir the olive tomato mixture, then simmer for 5 minutes covered with a lid.

chicken pasta with olives

8- Return chicken to the pan to warm through. By this time the pasta should be ready.

9- Drain and transfer the pasta to the pan and mix well to incorporate all the flavors.

PRO TIP: Make sure to cook the pasta according to package instructions. However, since the pasta will be mixed with the chicken and olive sauce, it will continue to cook. So I recommend boiling the pasta al dente, if you like your pasta with a slight bite to it.

10- If the pasta and chicken mixture seem to be a little dry, add a bit of the reserved pasta water to loosen it.

Serve in some Italian pasta bowls topped with the fresh basil and grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

About the Olives

green olives and kalamata

In this recipe, I use two types of olives, green and kalamata. The pasta with green olives and chicken adds a nice Mediterranean flavor, but also a saltiness.

So much so, that along with the Romano cheese I think you can easily omit the dash of salt in the ingredients list. However, some people prefer their foods more salty than I do, so I left it in there.

Italian green olives are milder than kalamata olives, but have a distinct unique flavor. Italian green olives are often hard to find and more expensive. So I often resort to simply using my jarred Spanish olives which are often less expensive.

The mix of olives really helps season the chicken.

Expert Tips

This pasta with olives and chicken recipe can also be made by using leftover rotisserie chicken! Just cut the the pieces of chicken into small slices and add to the simmering sauce to heat through.

If you don’t have boneless chicken breasts or can’t find them in the store, try using chicken tenders instead. Either will work great for an easy dinner. My two large boneless and skinless chicken breasts amount to 2 cups of sliced chicken.

The advantage however to cooking the chicken in the pan is all about flavor. Some recipes use a chicken stock, however there is really no need. Use the chicken pieces cooked in the olive oil to flavor the dish.

Variation

This chicken pasta recipe can be easily modified to suit a wide range of flavors and tastes. Here are some suggestions.

  • Omit the meat for a vegetarian dish
  • Use just pasta with green olives and chicken
  • Add in capers and swap the mixed olives for black olives for a puttanesca sauce. Some recipes use anchovies.
  • Use sun dried tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes.
  • Add in red pepper flakes for additional heat, making it close to an arrabiata dish.
  • Omit the pasta and serve over pan fried chicken breasts alongside some Italian chicken cutlets.

What Goes Well with Pasta with Chicken and Olives?

I would recommend the following side dishes to compliment this dish or any dish that uses chicken, pasta, olives, and tomatoes.

how to make italian green beans recipe

Italian green beans are my favorite type of green beans to make. Check out my recipe for how to make Italian green beans.

sauteed zucchini

This recipe would go great with a side dish of sauteed zucchini with olive oil.

how to make garlic bread

If you know how to make Italian garlic bread the easy way, then you’ve got another great side dish to add to the menu.

Check out some more Italian side dish ideas.

FAQs

Is pasta with chicken and olives the same as puttanesca?

The two recipes are very similar, but puttanesca typically uses anchovies and capers.

Can we eat pasta and chicken together?

Yes, pasta and chicken is a very popular combination in Italian cuisine. Sometimes chicken is served on top of pasta, while other times it is mixed together.

Can we put olives in pasta?

Using olives in pasta is a great way to add additional Mediterranean flavors to your dish. Many pasta recipes use black olives, green olives or kalamata olives.

Similar Recipes

If you like this type of pasta dish with the olives and chicken, you might also enjoy these.

chicken with figs and olives

Chicken with olives and figs is an easy dish that goes great with a simple dish of pasta, like my pasta with breadcrumbs recipe.

chicken cacciatore recipe

Delicious chicken cacciatore is a recipe that uses chicken and although it doesn’t use olives, it goes great with pasta.

pasta alfredo con pollo

Pasta Alfredo con Pollo is a super simple chicken and pasta recipe that uses a light alfredo sauce.

I hope you try my Pasta with Chicken and Olives recipe, it’s easy and quick and makes a great dinner. If you tried it, or made tweaks to make it your own, let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!

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pasta with chicken and olives th

Pasta with Chicken and Olives

This Italian one-pan dish is served with penne pasta, chicken and a mix of olives. Topped with cheese and fresh basil it's a perfect quick dinner and tastes absolutely delicious.
5 from 2 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 418kcal

Equipment

  • 1 saute or frying pan
  • 1 sauce pan

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Boneless chicken breasts sliced into 2" long pieces
  • 3 Garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 cup Pitted green and kalamata olives sliced in half You can use Spanish olives; they don't have to be Italian.
  • 3 cups Fresh chopped tomatoes This is about 4 large fresh tomatoes. Or 28 oz. canned diced tomatoes.
  • 1 Handful fresh basil, 6-7 leaves. optional, but it adds a nice flavor!
  • Dash salt and pepper
  • Romano cheese

Instructions

  • In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook pasta until al-dente or according to package instructions. Reserve some pasta water for later, if needed.
    3 cups Penne pasta
  • Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides, then cut into 2" long slices.
    Dash salt and pepper
  • Meanwhile, in a large saute pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
    1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • Add in the chicken pieces and cook 5 minutes turning occasionally or until they are fully cooked through with no pink inside. Should be 165F internal temp.
    2 Boneless chicken breasts
  • When done, remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  • Add in the garlic and saute until fragrant for about 3 minutes.
    3 Garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • Add the olives and tomatoes along with their juices.
    1 cup Pitted green and kalamata olives sliced in half
  • Stir and reduce heat to low, then cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes.
    3 cups Fresh chopped tomatoes
  • Return chicken to the pan to warm the pieces through.
  • When pasta is ready, drain and transfer the pasta to the chicken and olive mixture. Mix well to incorporate all the flavors.
  • If pasta and chicken mixture seem to be a little dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen.
  • Top with fresh basil and grated Romano cheese.
    1 Handful fresh basil, 6-7 leaves., Romano cheese

Notes

  1. You don’t have to remove the chicken from the pan if you don’t have space. I do this so the chicken won’t over cook. 
  2. I strongly recommend using green and kalamata olives. The green olives really bring this dish to life. 
  3. If you don’t have fresh basil, you can try adding some dried basil along with a little bit of dried parsley.

Nutrition

Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 319mg | Potassium: 536mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 501IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 1mg

This article was originally published August 2012. Updated Sept 2023.

Delicious Pasta with Chicken and Olives Recipe

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