The classic, comforting soup transforms into a complete meal with a family-friendly recipe for French Onion Pasta with Chicken.
French onion soup flavor, but make it a meal! If you love the rich taste of the classic soup, allow me to introduce you to your new favorite meal-in-a-bowl: French Onion Pasta with Chicken… complete with crispy gruyere toasts for dunking!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Short pasta: Take your pick from orecchiette, penne, shells or any other short pasta shapes.
- Chicken breasts: Dice them up into 1-inch pieces for quick cooking. Chicken thighs would also work.
- Oil: Neutral is key. Vegetable or canola work well, but avocado is an easy sub.
- Onion: The star of the show! Two medium onions cook down into the perfect quantity of caramelized onions.
- Garlic: An essential addition to complete the French onion flavor.
- Dry sherry or white wine: Either works well for deglazing the pan. Not a fan of alcohol? Swap in chicken or beef stock!
- Flour: This is an essential thickening agent.
- Beef bouillon paste: Not required, but it takes this recipe from a 9 to a 10.
- Worcestershire sauce: This is mandatory for rich umami flavor in every bite.
- Heavy cream: Smooth our your sauce with a splash of dairy.
- Fresh thyme: Fresh or dried, herbs are always a good idea!
How to Make French Onion Chicken Pasta
- Boil the pasta in a large pot until al dente.
- Cook the chicken. Start seasoning with salt and pepper at this point, but don’t overdo it!
- Remove the chicken then add more oil, onions and garlic to the pot.
- Cook the onions, low and slow, until caramelized. This will take a full 30 minutes!
- Add the wine or sherry and scrape up any brown bits, then stir in the flour to help thicken the sauce.
- Finish the sauce by adding bouillon, Worcestershire, heavy cream and reserved pasta water.
- Stir in the cooked pasta, chicken and fresh thyme then serve.
Pro Tips for Recipe Success
- Pick Your Pasta: Short pasta works best in this recipe (think penne, shells, orecchiette, etc.). It absorbs the sauce and works well texturally with the onions.
- Take the Time: Caramelized onions require time to get dark golden and sweet. Don’t rush through this step!
- Cheese, If You Please: Gruyere is the classic counterpart to French onion anything. It can absolutely be stirred into this pasta, but I prefer to sprinkle it atop baguette slices and toast them up to make for dipping perfection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! You can easily substitute to the wine for chicken, beef or vegetable stock.
The bouillon paste isn’t essential in this recipe, however it really does amp up the umami flavor of the sauce. The good news is that even if you omit it, the Worcestershire will still deliver a punch of richness.
Taste test! Most short pastas (ie. penne, shells, orecchiette) reach the al dente state around 10 minutes. At the 10-minute mark, test one noodle by biting into it. There should be a toothy bite to it, however the center should no longer be white.
In this recipe, fresh or dried parsley, oregano or marjoram are suitable substitutes.
If the pasta is dry and uncooked, it should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature (in the least humid section of your pantry/kitchen!). Cooked pasta should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
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- 12 oz. uncooked short pasta, such as shells, rotini or orecchiette
- 2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons beef bouillon paste
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnishing
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 ¼ cups pasta water then drain the pasta and set it aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to a heavy-bottomed stock pot set over medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken, season it with salt and pepper then brown it on all sides until it is cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to a bowl and set it aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the skillet then add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring as needed, until the onions are caramelized, about 30 minutes.
- Increase the heat to high then add the sherry, and cook while scraping up any brown bits, for 1 minute. Stir in the flour then cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the beef bouillon paste, Worcestershire sauce, heavy cream and 1 ¼ cups pasta water. Simmer the sauce for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the pasta, browned chicken and thyme. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes, then serve.
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