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Tequila Lime Chicken with Pasta

Tequila Lime Chicken Pasta is a zesty one-bowl meal, packed with veggies and tender chicken breast cooked in a zesty marinade of tequila and margarita mix.

pasta with chopped chicken and veggies; text overlay "Tequila Lime Chicken Pasta"

Tequila & Lime Chicken with Pasta

I have always loved experimenting with new recipes and over the years have collected quite a few favorites from many different places. About 20 years ago I found this one in an online forum I belonged to. It didn’t even have a name, so I called it “drunken chicken and pasta.” You’ll see why in a minute!

Alcohol and especially wine are often used in cooking meat. The alcohol cooks off and leaves a distinct flavor that is difficult to replicate without the booze.

This recipe uses tequila and margarita mix to flavor and tenderize the chicken. It might sound unusual, but it tastes amazing! This classic drink mix adds extra zest to the chicken.

This recipe layers flavor upon flavor. There is garlic, onions, olives, fresh herbs, lime, and more! It might sound like too much, but it really isn’t! Somehow all these flavors blend seamlessly into pure deliciousness. This is a pasta dish you just want to keep eating.

I promise, it does not taste like you are eating a margarita! There is a subtle citrus flavor in the chicken and vegetables that makes every bite pure deliciousness. You’ll be craving more as soon as you’re done! (Ok, I do anyway!)

While you could enjoy the chicken as a stand-alone dish, the recipe calls for serving with pasta and this is how I made it.

I recently made this tequila lime chicken pasta for visiting friends and it was a hit. I served a green salad alongside it and that was all it needed to create a satisfying meal.

This recipe calls for two large sauté pans and one pot to boil water for pasta and a very large mixing bowl. You will be cooking and watching all three, with some chopping on the side. It sounds harder than it is. This is a one-bowl meal, with protein, veggies, fiber…the works!

I’ve put the instructions in the order to do things so it just flows. If you like margaritas you can have one while you cook!

two chicken breasts cooking in a sauté pan, with bottle of tequila in background

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Green onion
  • Tequila
  • Margarita mix
  • Mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Assorted herbs: Use what you have on hand: basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, etc.
  • Olives
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Medium red onion
  • Freshly cooked pasta (16-ounce box of dry pasta)
  • Balsamic vinaigrette
  • Grated parmesan cheese

TIP: Full ingredient amounts are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Helpful Kitchen Tools

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bowl of tequila lime pasta topped with shredded cheese

Instructions

To Prep: While everything is cooking chop your olives and add to the large bowl (big enough to hold EVERYTHING) a chopped red onion, and one can of chopped artichokes.

In a large skillet (big enough to hold 3 or 4 chicken breasts), add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and heat on low heat. Add minced garlic and chopped green onions. Sauté while you are preparing the chicken.

To Cook:

  1. Place three or four chicken breasts on a cutting board. You are going to score them, not cut all the way through. Score each chicken breast horizontally a few times and then score them in the other direction. You will have deep cuts but not ones that go all the way through. Put the chicken breasts into the hot oil, garlic, and green onion mixture. Start out at medium heat and adjust as needed so the chicken cooks but does not burn on the outside.
  2. When slightly browned, pour small amounts of tequila and margarita mix over the chicken. Continue adding small amounts of tequila and margarita mix as the chicken cooks, letting the liquid cook way down between times. You get a deep rich brown glaze as the mixture caramelizes. Turn the chicken occasionally to make sure they are well coated with the oil mixture. The delicious flavors will seep through the chicken breasts because of the scoring.
  3. While your chicken is cooking, in another sauté pan, add one small box of sliced mushrooms, one bunch of asparagus sliced, and any fresh herbs you have on hand. I used thyme and parsley this time.
  4. Cook one box of pasta of your choice. Al dente pasta will hold up a bit better in this dish, since we’ll be tossing with chicken and sauce. Drain and add to the large bowl with your olives and artichokes.

4 step photo collage showing how to make tequila lime chicken with pasta

To Serve:

Cut the cooked chicken into bite-size pieces and add the diced chicken to the bowl with the noodles and cold veggies. Add the cooked vegetables and stir gently to evenly distribute the ingredients. Finally, add balsamic vinaigrette to taste; I used about a half cup.

I serve this dish in that big bowl, family style, with parmesan or Romano cheese on the side. You can also serve with more fixins’ such as lime wedges, fresh cilantro, or jalapeno for spice. I love to add the cheese to my own bowl while the pasta is still hot, so it will melt and become creamy. A squeeze of lime juice is also fantastic!

bowl of pasta with chicken and veggies

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Type of Tequila to Use for This Recipe?

When cooking with alcohol, I always suggest using something mid-range in quality and price. You don’t necessarily want to cook with expensive top-shelf spirits. However, if you use super cheap stuff, it just won’t taste quite as good!

For this recipe, I used Jose Cuervo Tradicional. It is one of my daughter and son-in-law’s favorite tequilas and they recommended it to me. It is good for sipping or making margaritas too! However, you’re welcome to use your favorite brand.

Both silver or gold tequila will work just fine in this recipe.

Is This the Same Dish That’s Served at California Pizza Kitchen?

I would say that the flavors of this dish are similar to that of the California Pizza Kitchen Chicken Tequila Fettuccine. However there are a few differences:

  • CPK uses a spinach fettuccine for their pasta (which is green in color), and while you can absolutely do so too, that’s not what I originally used or what is in the photograph here. But feel free to use spinach pasta if you like!
  • The California Pizza Kitchen recipe is made with heavy cream. Our recipe is actually dairy-free if you don’t add any shredded cheese on top.
  • CPK recipe also uses a few different ingredients, such as soy sauce, chicken broth, and bell peppers. If you like peppers, you could sauté some green bell peppers or red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, etc. with your mushrooms and asparagus, or use as a substitute.

 

Tequila Lime Chicken Pasta Recipe (Printable Recipe Card)

If you tried this recipe and liked it, please rate it!

bowl of tequila lime pasta topped with shredded cheese

Tequila Lime Chicken Pasta

Sara Garska
Tequila Lime Chicken Pasta is a zesty one-bowl meal, packed with veggies and tender chicken breast cooked in a zesty marinade of tequila and margarita mix.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 480 kcal

Equipment

  • 2 large saute pans
  • 1 large cooking pot for pasta
  • Large serving bowl
  • Cutting board/knife

Ingredients
  

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2-4 TB olive oil
  • 3-5 green onions chopped
  • 2-5 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 cup tequila + margarita mix
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 pint mushrooms sliced
  • 1 can artichoke hearts chopped
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 16 oz. pasta of choice
  • 1/4-1/2 cup prepared basalmic vinigrette
  • grated parmesan or Romano cheese optional

Instructions
 

  • In a large sauté pan (big enough to hold 3 or 4 chicken breasts), add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and heat on low. Add minced garlic and chopped green onions. Sauté while you are preparing the chicken.
  • Place three or four chicken breasts on a cutting board. You are going to score them, not cut all the way through.
  • Score each chicken breast horizontally a few times and then score them in the other direction. You will have deep cuts but not ones that go all the way through.
  • Put the chicken breasts into the hot oil, garlic, and green onion mixture. When slightly browned, pour small amounts of tequila and margarita mix over the chicken.
  • Continue adding small amounts of tequila and margarita mix as the chicken cooks, letting the liquid cook way down between times. Turn the chicken occasionally to make sure they are well coated with the oil mixture.
    4 step photo collage showing how to make tequila lime chicken with pasta
  • While your chicken is cooking, in another sauté pan, add one small box of sliced mushrooms, one bunch of asparagus sliced, and any fresh herbs you have on hand. I used thyme and parsley this time.
  • Cook one box of pasta of your choice. Drain and add to a large bowl.
  • Combine the pasta, cooked vegetables, cooked chicken, and cold vegetables in the big bowl
  • Dress with some basalmic vinaigrette (salad dressing) to moisten the pasta, chicken,and vegetables
  • Serve some parmesan or Romano cheese on the side.

Notes

Nutrition information is provided as an estimate only and will vary based on exact ingredients used and serving size.

Nutrition

Calories: 480kcalCarbohydrates: 68gProtein: 27gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 324mgPotassium: 894mgFiber: 7gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 682IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 4mg
Keyword chicken, lime, pasta
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Pin our Tequila Lime Chicken Pasta on Pinterest:

2 photo collage: chicken breasts cooking & pasta dish

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