Creamy & Spicy Chicken Rigatoni


Here you have a dish that is inspired by Buca Di Beppo. I say inspired by because I’ve never even been to Buca Di Beppo, so I could hardly call this a copycat recipe without ever having tried theirs. I saw a copycat recipe for it on Pinterest (this one) and decided to create my own because it looks delicious. I love Italian food, I guess this is probably more Italian American but I love them both! I could live on pasta, especially when it’s covered in a creamy marinara sauce.

Creamy and Spicy Chicken Rigatoni | Cooking Classy

This recipe is actually very easy. It just takes some time to simmer. I’ve listed an alternate method if you don’t have 45 minutes to an hour to wait for the sauce to simmer (which I may fall back on someday when I’m in need of a quick dinner).

This would also be delicious with grilled chicken or you could probably even replace the chicken with ground beef or Italian sausage.

I’ve listed the red pepper flakes as 1 – 3 tsp to taste, so just adjust to your desired heat preference. You can even omit them if you’d prefer (and just make it a creamy marinara and chicken rigatoni).

If you’re like me that would be 3 tablespoons but I like a lot of heat, and I resisted adding that much so I could still taste the delicious flavors of the sauce. Sometimes too much heat can hide all the delicious flavors underneath.

Serve this tonight for dinner and everyone will be more than satisfied with such a simple, creamy and flavorful dish – with just the right amount of spice of course (side note – if you are making it for the kids too, I’d dish theirs up first before adding red pepper flakes. I try to sneak a faint amount in my kids to get them used to a little spice and they always notice :). Enjoy!

Creamy and Spicy Chicken Rigatoni | Cooking Classy

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Rigatoni with Spicy, Creamy Marinara

Pasta is tossed with a delicious, slow simmered creamy marinara sauce that has a nice spicy kick to it.

Servings: 7
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes*
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 - 3 tsp crushed red pepper flakes , to taste
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
  • 1 lb rigatoni pasta
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups half and half
  • 3 oz finely shredded parmesan cheese , plus more for topping
  • 3 cups cooked boneless , skinless chicken breast, diced into small strips
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen and thawed baby peas


  1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add onion and saute until tender, about 4 minutes, adding in garlic during last 30 seconds of sauteing. Add in crushed tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, red pepper flakes, sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture just to a bubble then reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes - 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly.
  2. Cook pasta to al dente according to directions listed on package. Meanwhile, in a separate medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly 1 minute. While whisking, slowly pour in half and half. Bring mixture just to a boil, stirring constantly (mixture should be thick). Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour creamy white sauce into red sauce and stir to blend. Drain cooked pasta, return to pot along with cooked chicken and toss with sauce mixture. Place over low heat and let cook several minutes, allowing sauce time to absorb into noodles. Serve warm garnished with peas, additional parmesan and more red pepper flakes as desired.
  3. *If you wanted to make this recipe quicker, you could reduce the amount of crushed tomatoes to 2 1/2 cups (instead of the whole can) and add in 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp of tomato paste to thicken the sauce without have to simmer so long. I'd then reduce the simmer time to 15 minutes just to give the herbs time to meld.
  4. Recipe Source: Cooking Classy, inspired by Buca De Beppo
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Marinara Sauce
Author: Jaclyn


  • Jen: Made this tonight and my husband and I both LOVED it!! I love creamy tomato sauces so this is right up my alley. I cooked the chicken in the pan with the garlic and onions and then simmered it with the sauce, and it worked great. I also used dried herbs instead of fresh, and fat free half simply because that’s what we had, and it was still very creamy. Thanks for the great recipe! December 20, 2016 at 5:54pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for the great review Jen! December 22, 2016 at 1:41pm Reply

  • Nicole: How many calories does this yield per serving? Looks delish!! February 7, 2016 at 10:51am Reply

  • Humairah saleem: Hi!

    How many servings does this yield? February 2, 2015 at 6:55pm Reply

  • 20 Recipes Using Rotisserie Chicken | New Orleans Moms Blog: […] Want something a little spicy and Italian inspired? Ashley also highly recommends this recipe for Creamy & Spicy Chicken Rigatoni that she just made last week! This one is super easy to put together on a weeknight when subbing in […] January 2, 2014 at 7:39pm Reply

  • Ruth Dubb: I just made it. It turned out pretty good. I think I would prefer it to be less creamy but it certainly filled me up and I have plenty left for lunch tomorrow. October 7, 2013 at 2:42pm Reply

  • Zainab @ Blahnik Baker: I just made this for dinner tonight and it was AMAZING!! The best creamy pasta we have ever had and I can’t wait for lunch tomorrow already. Thank you for a great recipe. August 28, 2013 at 8:14pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear you liked this pasta Zainab! Thanks so much for coming back to leave a comment! August 29, 2013 at 8:41pm Reply

  • Amy: Do you have any recommendations for a substitute for the cheese? For example, could heavy cream work? August 18, 2013 at 11:00pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I don’t think there’s really any replacement for the cheese except a different kind of cheese like Romano cheese. If you have an allergy then you could leave it out and yes you’d probably want to up the cream a bit as well as the flour and butter just a little. August 19, 2013 at 12:07pm Reply

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