Lemon Ricotta Parmesan Pasta with Spinach and Grilled Chicken


Don’t we all love the lemon and ricotta and lemon and parmesan combinations? And you can never go wrong with lemon, chicken and spinach. Put that all together with a fair amount of pasta and you get this simple yet hearty and satisfying Italian and Greek inspired dinner!

Lemon Ricotta Parmesan Pasta with Spinach and Grilled Chicken | Cooking Class

I love that you don’t have to make a sauce in a separate pan for this. You just add the ingredients directly to the pasta and voila. I did also try adding the spinach directly to the pasta without cooking it at all first and it didn’t seem to have a chance to fully wilt within a few minutes of cooking it with the pasta. Which is why in the recipe below I suggested cooking it separately so you don’t end up over-cooking the pasta and drying the sauce. You can even cook the spinach in the microwave if you’d like. I just add it to a microwave safe bowl, toss it with a little water then cook just until it starts to wilt, stirring it once halfway through cooking and then drain the water. My favorite way to cook it though is on a steamer basket set over a little simmering water (cover the pan with a lid). You could probably even saute it in the 2 Tbsp oil listed in the recipe then add the cooked pasta and cheeses etc.

Don’t pass this one by, it may just become a new favorite! The vibrant lemon mixed with the mellowness of the ricotta along with the slight char and depth of flavor from grilling the chicken is totally irresistible!

Lemon Ricotta Parmesan Pasta with Spinach and Grilled Chicken | Cooking Class Lemon Ricotta Parmesan Pasta with Spinach and Grilled Chicken | Cooking Class


Lemon Ricotta Parmesan Pasta with Spinach and Grilled Chicken

Yield: About 5 - 6 servings


  • 1 lb grilled chicken breasts , sliced into strips*
  • 1 lb dry linguine , fettucine or spaghetti
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 6 oz fresh baby spinach , steamed just until beginning to wilt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan , plus more for serving


  1. Cook pasta in salted water according to directions listed on package, reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining pasta.
  2. Drain water (reserve 1 cup) and return pasta to pot. Set pot over medium-low heat and add olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, ricotta, 1/2 cup hot reserved pasta water and parmesan and toss to evenly coat. Add in more pasta water as desired to thin and season with salt and pepper to taste, cook and toss, about 2 minutes, until ricotta is heated through. Toss in spinach and grilled chicken. Serve warm topped with more parmesan if desired.
  3. *I recommend brushing the chicken lightly with olive oil and season both sides salt, pepper and garlic powder before grilling.
  4. Recipe source: Cooking Classy


  • Laura (Tutti Dolci): This is my kind of pasta, I love anything with lemon and ricotta! March 8, 2015 at 8:43pm Reply

  • Sammie: Oh yum, yum, slurp, yum. This dish not only looks delish but sounds absolutely yummy. A definite try (have everything just need the ricotta). Thank you for posting this dish – I love pasta and the combo of lemon, chicken, Parmesan and spinach sounds divine. I especially love the small slices if lemon added to the dish. Sammie March 9, 2015 at 2:41am Reply

  • Enz F | Pinoy Kusinero | http://www.pinoykusinero.com: This pasta looks scrumptious and healthy at the same time. Im loving the added tang from the lemon. :) Thanks for sharing! March 9, 2015 at 7:11am Reply

  • Erin @ Miss Scrambled Egg: All of my favorites mixed into one dish. What beautiful photographs! I can’t wait to try this at home. March 9, 2015 at 8:32am Reply

  • Brighton Peachey: This looks so amazing! I can’t wait to make it tonight!! March 9, 2015 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Jen @ Baked by an Introvert: This pasta looks incredible! I love pasta and can not wait to whip this up for dinner on night! March 9, 2015 at 6:27pm Reply

  • Holly: Tonight I made this for dinner and it turned out amazing! Will definitely be making this again. I liked it so much I had second helpings haha. Will bookmark this asap cause I never want to lose it! X March 10, 2015 at 3:47am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you liked it Holly! Thanks for your feedback! March 10, 2015 at 6:33pm Reply

  • Marta: I may give this recipe a try this weekend, looks incredibly yummy! x March 10, 2015 at 4:27pm Reply

  • Megan: Made this for dinner tonight and it was a big hit! My four year old even loved it! I added a few cloves of garlic minced too! Deeeeelish! March 10, 2015 at 7:11pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad it was enjoyed :)! Thanks for leaving a comment Megan! March 10, 2015 at 9:00pm Reply

  • Melissa: This looks so yummy! Pinning! March 11, 2015 at 12:36pm Reply

  • Pamela: Looks delicious but you never add the calories, fat, carbs or protein for recipes. It would be helpful for those that count and track those things. Thanks! March 11, 2015 at 3:42pm Reply

    • Zane Paul: Calories, fat, carbs and protein will be listed on the ingredients you use during preparation. With such a small set of ingredients, you’ll only be adding a few numbers.

      But common sense would tell you this is a very high calorie meal consisting of mostly fats and carbs and a negligible amount of protein. August 17, 2016 at 9:02am Reply

  • Angela: Made this for dinner the other night. It was yummy and simple, perfect for a weeknight meal. March 13, 2015 at 9:43pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m glad you liked this recipe Angela! Thanks for your review! March 15, 2015 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Mary: Looks yummy! I can’t wait to make it. Thanks! March 15, 2015 at 3:48pm Reply

  • Lakeshia: I made this last night and it is excellent! I added fresh mushrooms to mines just for added flavor it’s a great recipe! March 16, 2015 at 11:43am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Glad you could switch it up to suit your taste! Thanks for your comment! March 16, 2015 at 5:14pm Reply

  • Pamela Gerrior: Any chance that you could add the calories, carbs, protein and fiber to your recipes? Some of us like/need to know this information. Thank you March 16, 2015 at 6:22pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Sorry I don’t but there are some websites that you can calculate some of that info like myfitnesspal.com and caloriecount.about.com April 10, 2015 at 9:57pm Reply

    • Stephanie: Hey. I input the ingredients on My Fitness Pal and it’s 671 calories if serving 5, 559 if serving 6. So it’s quite high calorie. x May 17, 2015 at 5:11am Reply

  • Cheri: What cheese can you use in place of ricotta? March 20, 2015 at 12:43am Reply

    • Jaclyn: You could use more parmesan if you don’t like ricotta. March 21, 2015 at 12:37pm Reply

  • xoxolinda: I’m making this right now. I have some red peppers that I need to use up so adding those in. Also grilled up 2# of chicken. Might need to modify by adding more pasta water, ricotta, etc. March 22, 2015 at 8:30am Reply

  • Jessie: OMG!! I just made this! Amazing dish, my family truly enjoyed it, it was something different for us! Thank you!!!! March 22, 2015 at 5:02pm Reply

  • Linda Diehl: Can’t wait to try it!!! It will be a nice dish down here in Florida. ❤️ March 23, 2015 at 7:51pm Reply

  • Abbie: I made this last night and it was delicious! I dusted my serving wit crushed red peppers, which added a great kick to the creamy lemon flavors! March 24, 2015 at 5:07am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m happy to hear you liked it Abbie! Thanks for leaving a review! March 24, 2015 at 4:47pm Reply

  • Laura: Made this tonight for dinner, it was a huge hit! So incredibly easy! I used Wegmans lemon and garlic marinated chicken that I sliced and broiled, thank you for this amazing dish! I am sad that there are no leftovers!! March 26, 2015 at 6:54pm Reply

  • Kim: Can’t wait to try this! Sounds wonderful. Regarding the spinach, I have another recipe that has you put the spinach in the colander before draining the pasta. It makes for a perfect wilt. March 30, 2015 at 4:52pm Reply

    • Michelle: Holy cow-what a genius idea! I am just about to start making this for dinner and was wondering how I could use as few pots as possible as I don’t have a dishwasher. I can’t wait to try this :-D June 19, 2015 at 4:37pm Reply

  • Mary Jane Roemaet Sweeney: Looks absolutely scrumptious, I will definitely
    Try this recipe. Thank you so much! March 30, 2015 at 8:02pm Reply

  • Todd: This was absolutely delish! Because I got carried away, I made double this recipe so I have to ask, can you freeze this? lol We really loved this recipe, thanks again! April 2, 2015 at 9:45am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I never freeze my pasta (other than lasagnas and manicotti) so I’m not sure. I think the pasta would freeze okay I just don’t know how well the ricotta would freeze. It’s worth a try though vs. tossing it. Glad you liked it! April 4, 2015 at 4:00pm Reply

  • Kristin: Can you use shrimp instead of chicken April 3, 2015 at 9:38am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes definitely! April 4, 2015 at 3:09pm Reply

  • Barbara: Thanks for this recipe, made it tonight and it was a hit! So delicious April 13, 2015 at 11:33pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for your review Barbara! I’m glad to hear it was a hit! April 15, 2015 at 10:35pm Reply

  • PastaLover: We loved this dish. The lemon was very delicate but made it’s presence known in such a nice way.

    We used exactly 1/2 cup of the pasta water and that was perfect. We may have gone a bit overboard on the parmesan but you can’t really go overboard on parmesan. This is a great base recipe that one can add to.. think yellow peppers or basil in place of the spinach or sweet Italian sausage in place of the chicken! May 21, 2015 at 4:39pm Reply

  • Michelle Hines: I’m trying this tonight. Since I have to watch the amount of carbs, I’m going to try and cut down to angel hair pasta instead of fettuccini or linguine. I wonder how that will turn out. June 1, 2015 at 10:44am Reply

  • Pat: The reviews and the pictures sold me. Can’t wait to try it! Served with a nice salad on the side, should be a hit with my family. Thank you for sharing this recipe! June 6, 2015 at 7:43am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I hope you and your family love it Pat! June 6, 2015 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Maranda: this turned out delish! I love how easy it was to adapt for a vegetarian dish, just leave out the chicken(and save a few bucks too)! Thanks for sharing! June 11, 2015 at 3:28pm Reply

  • Kelly: Super delicious! I grilled mushrooms, onions, and cherry tomatoes….and added fresh peas. This is the bright Spring sauce that I have been craving! Beautiful photos! Thank you! June 19, 2015 at 4:48pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you liked it Kelly! Thanks for the compliment! June 20, 2015 at 10:22pm Reply

  • Monica: I made this and my only change would be to add more spinach…not enough in original recipe for the amount of pasta July 8, 2015 at 2:30pm Reply

  • Kathy: I’ve just discovered your site – this dish is being prepared as I type – smells great. July 10, 2015 at 5:34pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad you stumbled upon my site Kathy! I hope you loved this pasta! July 10, 2015 at 9:57pm Reply

  • Kristina: I tried making this and it didn’t turn out good. Are there different types of ricotta cheese? My noodles ended up like mush. Any ideas what I did wrong? August 29, 2015 at 5:47pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: It sounds like the noodles were just over-cooked. Just follow the directions on the package only to al dente. I really like Galbani ricotta but any of them should work here. August 30, 2015 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Nicole: I made this with leftover rotisserie chicken and leftover asparagus (instead of spinach) that just had salt and pepper on it. Delicious and even easier than the original recipe. August 30, 2015 at 9:33am Reply

  • Michelle: Just had it for dinner. Delicious! My whole family loved it.. August 30, 2015 at 7:26pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m happy to hear your family enjoyed it Michelle!! August 30, 2015 at 11:18pm Reply

  • Jen: Thanks for the recipe! It was absolutely delicious. After draining the linguine, I added olive oil to the pot and sauteed some shallots and garlic, then added a splash or two of white wine before adding the pasta back in. Everything is better with wine. :) September 23, 2015 at 4:58pm Reply

  • Darien: Just finished making this for dinner and it looks soo good. I’m trying to wait for my man to get home but I couldn’t resist and tried a little. Thanks for the recipe! September 23, 2015 at 6:43pm Reply

  • Susan Clamp: I did not change a thing. I came out perfect. I flavored my chicken and cooked in grill pan for the effect. Will share and make again! Thank you! October 4, 2015 at 9:43pm Reply

    • Susan Clamp: Meant to say “It came out perfect” Sigh. Make this dish! October 4, 2015 at 9:44pm Reply

  • Jean: This was very good. I used shrimp instead of chicken. Sautéed shrimp with garlic in a separate pan then wilted an 8oz bag of spinach in the pan with the shrimp. Added all that with its liquid to the pasta mixture. Only needed 1/2 cup of the pasta water. November 4, 2015 at 5:39pm Reply

    • Kathy Evans: I was wondering about using shrimp. It’s Friday, it’s Lent, perfect recipe! March 4, 2016 at 3:28pm Reply

  • Aaron: After making lessons learned :)
    1. Don’t use angel hair pasta. As tasty as it is it can’t handle the mixing.
    2. Mix immediately after the pasta is cooked. Otherwise the pasta is way to sticky.
    3. If you double the recipe gret ready go use your muscles to mix. Also be sure you have a big pot.
    Tasty dish! December 5, 2015 at 5:48pm Reply

  • Paige: Absolutely Delicious!! I also added garlic & red pepper flakes. It was a hit at my dinner party! December 27, 2015 at 8:09am Reply

  • Sara: I very rarely ever comment on recipes that I pin and actually make BUT this was so good!! Thank you for sharing! January 2, 2016 at 5:02pm Reply

  • Eileen: Will def be making again and again! Thanks January 18, 2016 at 7:07am Reply

  • Bee: What did you serve with this dish? January 29, 2016 at 6:16pm Reply

  • Heather cleveland: I added garlic in the water while the pasta was cooking OMG delish February 1, 2016 at 3:30pm Reply

    • Bee: What sides did you serve with this February 2, 2016 at 9:37am Reply

  • Leah: Has anyone made this substituting spaghetti squash for pasta? Any tricks to
    It? February 20, 2016 at 1:59pm Reply

  • Jessica: Made this last night and it was pretty good, but also a tad bland. I infused 3 cloves of chopped up garlic in the olive oil under low heat for about 20 minutes (I also used about 4 tablespoons of oil instead of just 2). I didn’t measure, but I’m sure I used about 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, and I ended up adding about 4 tablespoons lemon juice (instead of 2), and used about 1.5 cups of the parm cheese. I had to keep adding more of these ingredients because the lemon flavor just wasn’t coming through strong enough, and it always felt like it was missing something. It ended up being pretty tasty, but ricotta in itself is pretty bland, so adjustments are definitely needed in my opinion. Thanks for sharing! March 3, 2016 at 10:39am Reply

    • Melissa: Same for me…made this last night. Enjoyed the lightness of the pasta dish. I added chopped garlic to infuse the oil and ended up using about the same amount of oil. I added more lemon juice and zest from another lemon, but the flavor was very subtle. The leftover bits in the pan were delicious though. I think I’d use lemon pepper chicken next time to help bring out that lemon flavor. Again, loved the lightness though. March 16, 2016 at 5:28am Reply

  • KP: I know I’m really late to this party, but I just saw this recipe yesterday on Pinterest. Tried it tonight and it is fabulous! I almost, left the lemon zest out, but decided I’d make it as specified – boy, am I glad I did! Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe. My husband loved it as well. March 7, 2016 at 6:48pm Reply

  • Bee: I made this for a brides luncheon wow what a hit!!! March 8, 2016 at 11:26am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m happy to hear it was Bee! Thanks for your comment! March 8, 2016 at 3:50pm Reply

  • James: I’m going to throw some capers in that bitch as well. Yum! March 15, 2016 at 2:22pm Reply

  • K: Turned out really bland, I was bummed. I love ricotta and lemon and was psyched but just tasted like nothing. Maybe half the amount of ricotta and double the lemon zest and maybe ok then, but rough. I even had seasoned the chicken with italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt and pepper, and then added red pepper flakes and more pepper to my served dish to just get some flavor! Like the theory of the dish but def needs some major adjustment on flavor and texture. April 9, 2016 at 9:21pm Reply

  • Janet: I’m definitely making this tonight. I have a pkg. of Trader Joe’s grilled chicken strips, an open container of ricotta, lemons I need to use, and an open pkg. of baby spinach and plenty of spaghetti or linguini and freshly grated parm. When cooking for one, I’m always looking for ways to use up things I have opened. I only have whole wheat pasta, so not as much starch in the water after it’s cooked. Should I use a little less water? April 12, 2016 at 9:11am Reply

  • Lara: Ok, I was so excited to make this, but it didn’t turn out! I’m sure it was my fault. It tasted like lemon cheesecake. I’m not used to so much cheese, and it didn’t have much flavor. Just very lemon-y (I added proper amounts). Any ideas? May 10, 2016 at 7:04pm Reply

  • Katherine Johnson: I have made this twice and simply adore it. I gave it a little sprinkle of basil since I’ve been able to keep a plant alive in my kitchen. Looking forward to trying more recipes from your site! May 15, 2016 at 1:55pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad you loved it Katherine! May 16, 2016 at 9:39am Reply

  • miranda: I’m going to try this with kale, because I have an abundance of it growing in my garden. I’ve had good luck in the past throwing the greens directly into the pasta water before draining until the are cooked to my liking. Takes out the step of steaming. May 19, 2016 at 2:52pm Reply

  • Nikki: Loved the recipe, I substituted the noodle with spaghetti squash. It was delicious, I recommend no water of you substitute the noodles for the squash. I did add a little garlic salt to add some flavor to the squash.
    Will definitely use this recipe again! June 5, 2016 at 7:44pm Reply

  • Ghainsom Kom: Nice weeknight dinner! My chicken was griled seasoned with salt, pepper and 5-spice. June 7, 2016 at 1:05pm Reply

  • Lynda: So delicious! Thanks! Easy recipe that makes my kitchen smell like lemons. Yay! June 11, 2016 at 6:33pm Reply

  • Ronnie: added mushrooms to this and it was fabulous! June 20, 2016 at 5:06pm Reply

  • Judi: This recipe is so good. I made it tonight for dinner. The only difference I did was through in some cherry tomatoes that I had to use before they went bad. Other than that I followed the recipe as is. Very tasty and will have again. September 1, 2016 at 5:35pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Judi! September 2, 2016 at 2:20pm Reply

  • NS: can this be made ahead of time and reheated? September 29, 2016 at 5:39pm Reply

  • Ron: Decided to wing a mid-afternoon meal and needed a reference for some ideas; although altered, your recipe was a nice inspiration. Brought salted water to boil, added halved spaghetti and asparagus (wood tips trimmed). Drained, cup & 1/3 ricotta, 1/2 cup parm, and a couple tablespoons of zest. At first I almost ruined it when tweaking to taste, as I tried adding more parm and salt, but it was when I added more ricotta that I realized the creaminess was the star if the dish, with a vegetal, lemony undertone. Nice and fresh. October 8, 2016 at 6:56pm Reply

  • Margaret: I’m omitting the chicken and using cauliflower rice instead of pasta. Hope it works!!! January 21, 2017 at 3:44pm Reply

  • Lisa: Instructions should have “grill chicken” as the first step, then the rest of the instructions. As written, you do all the yummy pasta stuff, then uh-oh, now add grilled chicken. March 1, 2017 at 11:01am Reply

  • Jackie: I can’t wait to try this tonight, I think I’ll add a good bunch of asparagus as well. April 4, 2017 at 3:38pm Reply

  • Joan of Ark: Just cleaned our plates. It was a bit bland for my taste so next time will add garlic like noted above. I would give it a 4/5. I added dress spinach directly into pasta pan and it all blended with the cheese. I didn’t have parmesan cheese so added assagio. Nice presentation and very rich. August 20, 2017 at 6:55pm Reply

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