Chicken Pasta with Thyme-Mint Cream Sauce

We tried this thyme mint cream sauce from another recipe and loved it so much I decided to make it with chicken and pasta. Great flavor combination, and the kicker is that by the time the pasta water has come to a boil and the pasta is cooked, everything else is ready too, making for a filling, tasty midweek meal.

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Chicken Pasta with Thyme-Mint Cream Sauce Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta, such as linguine or fettucini
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

1 Heat 4 quarts of salted* water in a large pot for the pasta. As the water heats, prepare the chicken. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high. Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the chicken pieces, spreading them out initially and then not stirring them, so they have an opportunity to brown. Once lightly browned on one side, use tongs to flip the pieces over so they brown on the second side. When pieces are browned on both sides, and just cooked through, remove to a paper towel lined plate.

2 Deglaze the pan with white wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and let liquids reduce by half (turn up the heat if necessary). Add the cream, mint, thyme, lemon zest, honey, salt, and vinegar. Reduce the sauce by half again.

3 Once the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta and cook following directions on pasta package. When pasta is ready, drain and add to cream sauce when cream sauce has been reduced by half and is thick enough to coat a spoon. Add chicken to the pasta and sauce. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

* Use a teaspoon of salt for every quart of water. Some people wait until the water is boiling to add the salt. Makes little difference to me. Just make sure you get the salt in the pasta water or your pasta will be tasteless.

Serve immediately. Garnish with a little chopped fresh mint and thyme.

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Adapted from a fried chicken recipe by Chef Stephen Pyles, as reported in the Wall St. Journal, April 14, 2007.

33 Comments

  1. Cathy at Wives with Knives

    Honey and mint together in the pasta sauce. Sounds wonderful.

  2. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    You’d think for all the mint I have in my garden that I’d have tried a recipe like this one — but I haven’t… so time to remedy that. Even here in New England, the mint survives in my garden until Thanksgiving, and I’m always looking for new ways to use it.

  3. Sues

    And noww I’m starving!! I bet the mint gives it an awesome little kick. Need to get some fresh from my dad’s garden!

  4. Joanna

    Oh, this looks delicious! I’m not sure I’ve ever used thyme and mint together but I’m intrigued. Also, re: salting pasta water, I always wait until the water is boiling because that way the salt dissolves quickly. If you add salt to cold water, it won’t dissolve right away and it can eat away at the coatings on some pots. (My dad always used to salt first, and now his pasta pot is a brilliant example of this unfortunately!)

  5. Bob

    Looks tasty. I love it when both parts of a recipe cook for the same amount of time. I have a spaghetti al amatraciana recipe like that.

  6. sally

    What a lovely combination…thyme and mint and cream. Nice!

  7. Annie

    The thing I find most interesting is the original source you cited. Did Chef Stephen Pyles serve a thyme-mint cream sauce with fried chicken?

    Yes he did. Tasted great, but a little over the top in terms of richness in my opinion. ~Elise

  8. Soma

    Love the combination of the herbs. Mint sounds very intriguing in Pasta.

  9. Michael

    Lemon and thyme!

    I’m really happy to see this recipe here. You guys are right, it must be absolutely delicious.
    I sometimes make this kind of pasta at home, it is not only easy to make, but also suitable for all kinds of dinners, and your guests will not feel that you have neglected the food preparation.

    Here’s my personal variant: put some sage together (or instead of) with the thyme, and add them to the oil with the chicken so that it gets a deeply aromatic taste.
    You can also add dried chilies and roughly chopped garlic, it’s even better.
    Extra tip: serve with some parmesan cheese AND finely chopped raw garlic to enhance the ‘wow’ flavor at the end.

    I also have a secret version of this recipe, but I haven’t made up my mind on giving it away yet hehehe… :p

  10. Sunny

    I was wondering if one could somehow reduce the fat content of the heavy cream and use 1/2 and 1/2 instead. Can’t wait to try.

    You can try it. I usually stick to heavy cream in recipes because then there is less chance of curdling. ~Elise

  11. Melissa

    Lovely. Another one for my list. :)

  12. Teresa

    I went right out to my herb garden and snapped up some mint and thyme and OMG! This recipe was amazing!!! My husband loved it, my two very picky kids loved it, and the most spoiled member of our household (Phoebe our Yorkie) even got a taste afer we were all too stuffed to move. This recipe will become the one we pull out time and time again. I’ve even been thinking about some variations already. The funniest thing is my husband said, I get the thyme, but I don’t see the mint idea at all. He totally gets it now! Thank you Elise!

    Awesome. I was hoping someone would try it, and like it as much as we did. :-) ~Elise

  13. Julianne

    Just thought you’d like to know that I made this tonight here downunder in Melbourne, Australia and we loved it! Yummo!

  14. Larissa

    This recipie was amazing.
    I added a chopped up apple,
    letting it cook in the sauce,
    and it turned out better than I had expected.
    I’ll definately make this again;
    it was a huge hit!

  15. Mitchel

    Just wanted to say thanks!
    Made this last night. My mother dropped by unexpectedly and she joined us for dinner.
    She’s not a fan of pasta in general but she couldn’t stop raving about this. Wife loved it as well.
    I was concerned that the mint would be overpowering but the whole thing has a very appealing and subtle flavor.
    Definitely a keeper.

  16. Wendy

    This was sooo good, made this last night and we all loved it! I love using fresh herbs and the combination of it with honey and Xères vinegar was unbelievable ( I had never tried that type of vinegar before) I was a little uncertain about the entire 1 1/2 cup of heavy cream but it was all worth it…Even Roxy my3 yrs old boxer loved it. Thank you Elise for a successful diner idea! Adding this to my to re-do list!

  17. Jess

    Made this last night and it was a huge success! I think I went a little light on the seasoning for the chicken which was a mistake as the pasta seemed beautifully seasoned, but the chicken was quite bland. Will make sure that I do a better job on that next time. Otherwise, an absolute winner! This is getting added to my everyday dinner cookbook.

  18. Starving Student

    As a medical student, I am always in search of tasty, healthy, and inexpensive meals that require little time or talent. This dinner lived up to all my expectations.

    A few alterations that I made: (1) I cooked the pasta by adding it to chicken broth and letting it absorb all the liquid (there’s probably a fancy cooking word for this but I don’t know what it is); (2) I sauteed yellow zucchini and red bell peppers into the pasta + sauce because veggies are important (3) I used course ground sea salt to add a more distinct flavour; (4) I served with the same wine I used in the deglazing for an easy meal-wine match.

    Three cheers for great food! Thanks for the excellent idea.

  19. Monica

    I generally buy creme fraiche rather than heavy cream. Would that work too? (Maybe use a bit less?)

    You can try it, let us know how it turns out if you do! ~Elise

  20. Jim

    My wife and I cooked this meal this evening (phenomenal by the way) and we successfully made it with half and half. After doing some research, we experimented with ways of stabilizing the half and half so it doesn’t curdle.

    To start off with, we mixed about a half a teaspoon of corn starch with the half and half beforehand and set aside. We added the honey and vinegar to the wine and broth in the pan, ensuring both were well dissolved, then generously tempered the half and half with the mixture. Starting on a low heat we stirred in the tempered half and half, then slowly sprinkled in another half teaspoon of corn starch, stirring the sauce constantly.

    We reduced the sauce at a medium-low heat, keeping it moving, and it worked beautifully. No curdling and the meal tasted great.

  21. sheila

    When asked if she has any ideas for dinner, my daughter (16 y/o) always replies, “pasta”. I was a little concerned about this recipe due to the use of mint and honey, but I thought something beyond garlic would be a nice change of pace. It was delicious blend of delicate flavors!! Thank you.

  22. Jania

    This recipe has so much potential, but it was a big disappointment. I followed it exactly. For all the ingredients, it should have had a lot of flavor. I tasted the sauce just before adding the linguine and chicken, and it did have a nice flavor. But when I added the pasta and the chicken, the linguine absorbed most of the sauce. That wasn’t a problem because the photo shows that this is not a saucy dish. It actually looked nice on the plate, just as it does in the picture. However, it was flavorless. I cook all the time and have never cooked anything that tasted so bland. I might as well have used cream by itself for the sauce. My family didn’t get a hint of the wine, mint, honey, lemon zest, chicken stock, and vinegar. If I do make this again, I will add more of these ingredients.

  23. RD

    I made this a few days ago for the family. Fettucini seems to be the perfect pasta for creamy sauces. I used some boneless chicken thigh meat we had in the freezer. Followed the advice for letting the chicken pieces brown as I sometimes start stirring things up too soon. My wife took the left-overs in for lunch at work the next day without telling me. I was upset because I wanted it. I will definitely make this again.

  24. Abby

    This pasta dish is delicious! Honey, mint and thyme —– who would have thought. Be sure thyme and mint are well chopped. Also, I like to warm my plates before serving.

  25. Rebecca

    I made this last night, and it was delicious – but very slightly too subtle for me. I wanted more punch from the mint and thyme. I never would have expected to put those herbs together and have it taste so fantastic. Next time I’ll just up the herb amounts. Wonderful website – thank you so much for your recipes!

  26. Bogdan

    Very nice recipe, just tried it. I did not have any lemons so I put a stick of lemon grass. Works perfectly.

  27. Younghye

    Hi Elise,

    I just tried this tonight and it was so good that I called my friends to share!(of course later I regretted and wished I had some left-over for tomorrow)
    I added a little salt but later I realized it had gotten a little salty so I wish I didn’t add the extra salt. Also like Rebecca mentioned, I might add a little more mint and thyme later. It was rich but not too rich with the herbs and hint of lemon. Thanks so much for the great recipe!

  28. Becky

    Yummy! Need I say more. I absolutely love this site and all of your recipes! Last week I even ended up cooking five nights in a row because there were so many things I just had to try. This is out of the norm as my boyfriend is usually the chef in the relationship. We joked that this site is making me become “domestic”. haha. As per usual I was perusing the recipes yesterday morning/afternoon as a nice distraction(better than facebook) from job hunting and I came across this beauty. My boyfriend loves mint and we already had a lot on hand-he makes an amazing roasted red pepper, corn, and chick pea salad with fresh mint- so it was the perfect dish for dinner last night! I never would have considered pairing thyme and mint but after eating it I felt silly for never having considered such a merry joining before now. Kudos!

  29. Kate

    I’ve made this 2-3x now & thought I should encourage anybody thinking about trying this recipe to DO IT!

  30. Nikki

    Dear Elise, just made this tonight, dinner for two but EASILY for 4. The sauce was a bit thick on my side, I think I let it reduce a little too far. For variation I added some button brown mushrooms and used a little bit of some soaked mushrooms liquid when I first browned the chicken on the pan. It turned out so delicious! The mint I used from Mom’s herb garden was LEMON MINT but it wasn’t as strong as regular fresh mint. Perhaps I should try that next time. My friend loved it. :) Thanks so much! I love you. OMG I LOVE YOU ELISE. (I LOVE YOU.) xx

  31. Shelah

    My boyfriend and I made this last night for our anniversary meal, and it was simply delicious. This was the first time using mint and I was skeptical about using it, but I was pleasantly surprised at the subtle flavor it added in the end. I could also really taste the thyme (maybe a bit too much, but that’s probably my fault since I wasn’t careful about measuring this), a hint of lemon, and a finish of honey. This was definitely a pasta I could savor and make again and again.
    Thank you so much for this recipe!

    As for slight changes, I did use the apple cider vinegar since I couldn’t locate the sherry vinegar, and it worked quite well.
    I didn’t use the full pound of fettuccine since I added little by little and noticed that it probably wouldn’t all get an adequate coating of the sauce.
    Dry vermouth works very well as the dry white wine.

  32. Andrea

    Let me just say that I love this recipe. It is delicious and fairly quick to make. I’ve made it three times now. I’ve used water once instead of chicken stock (I didn’t have any) and it wasn’t too terrible, although the chicken stock certainly gives it more flavour. (I upped the amount of wine and used less water)

    The one issue that I had with this recipe was that it’s very thin. Maybe I am used to thicker recipes (I do love Alfredo!), so I made a slurry (I used 1/4 cup of ice cold water & 1/4 cup of flour) which solved the problem!

    Delicious! Thanks!

  33. Jesica

    I just made this last night, and it was very good. The sauce was my favorite part, it does make a lot of food so we have a good bit of left overs.

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