This creamy crockpot Italian chicken pasta requires almost no hands-on time and is the perfect comfort food for a busy day!
I’m very particular when it comes to crockpots and slow-cooker recipes, because there are just a couple reasons why I say to myself, “Hey, I want to make something in the crockpot today.”
- I want to leave the house for an extended period of time and come home to have dinner ready.
- I am incredibly lazy and want to eat something that requires absolutely no prep.
Number one seems simple enough, but there are a lot of recipes that require a cook time of something like 4-6 hours. Well, if I go to work in the morning at 8 and get home at 5, there’s 9 hours for ya. That crockpot recipe is going to be cooking for 9 hours or not at all. Because, after all, the whole reason for me making something in the crockpot is that maybe I don’t want to cook a lot when I get home from a long day at work. I’m not going to come home at lunch time to turn on the crockpot, and I really don’t want to confine my slow cooker recipes to weekends only, when I actually have time and energy to cook.
Number two also stands out to me as a given, but again, I see recipes allll the time that require browning meats beforehand so it’ll taste better and not look so pasty. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat. It may actually taste that much better, but for me to know that, I’d actually have to have tried it.
I will sometimes acquiesce and chop some vegetables beforehand, but I’m not going to be turning on the stove, dirtying up another pan, and spending time sautéing or browning just so something can sit in the slow cooker for another 5 hours while I don’t even have time to go for a full day’s work. And pigs would fly before I’d get up early to do any browning before I leave for work at 7:30. Hah!
This recipe is nothing if not easy. There’s no prep, almost no measuring, and you can leave it all day in the crockpot before you finish it up. I threw this together into the slow cooker in literally three minutes before running out the door to church. Block of cream cheese, BAM. Can of cream of chicken soup, BAM. Pack of Italian dressing seasoning, BAM. Pack of 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, BAM. Swish around with a spoon to coat the chicken, cover, turn on to low, run out the door.
Once you come home, all you have to do is cook some pasta (no soggy slow cooker noodles) once again without measuring, put in a whole bag of spinach, a whole jar of sun-dried tomatoes, some lemon juice, pepper, and the contents of the slow cooker. I shredded the chicken (the lazy way, in my ahhhhmazing KitchenAid mixer with the paddle attachment – BEST USE OF A STAND MIXER EVER) but if you don’t want to shred, cut it into chunks, or if you don’t want to do anything but dump stuff in a pot, just set the chicken thighs aside and give one to each person. See if I care. And it’ll be delicious whichever way you go with it.
The base for the creamy Crockpot Italian chicken is a very popular recipe I’ve seen on probably 6 other blogs so I’m not really sure who to credit here, but the post-crockpot portion of the recipe is mine. The sauce straight from the crockpot is so creamy, rich, and delicious, but once it’s mixed in with the other ingredients it for some reason feels very heavy and even a little bland to me. I think the pepper kicks up the flavor (I would consider adding a second package of Italian dressing mix too, since it’s mixed with so much other stuff, but I haven’t tried that) and the lemon juice is a very necessary ingredient to brighten it up a bit. The next day, the sun-dried tomato flavor had soaked into the noodles a bit and I daresay it was even better! It’s great when you first make it but I might even prefer it on day 2, at room temperature. Yum!
Do you have any recipes you prefer next-day?
Disclaimer: I use a vintage Rival slow cooker from the 70s, which I would highly recommend, since the low setting reaches a lower maximum temperature than modern crockpots. In a modern crockpot, low and high reach the same eventual temperature (boiling), it just takes longer for low to get there. If you leave chicken on low in a new crockpot for 8 hours, it will be boiling when you get home. In a vintage crockpot, low will never boil no matter how long you leave it on.
The US government decided people were too irresponsible to cook their food properly in crockpots and started requiring slow cookers to reach higher temperatures on low, which many people know is too high, so now people try to get around it by cooking things on “keep warm,” which really IS too low, or hooking their crockpots up to dimmer switches and turning them into temperature dials, which is a lot of work and not super safe.
So anyway, if you don’t already have one, I’d recommend going to your local Goodwill, Craigslist or eBay and picking up a vintage crockpot. I cannot guarantee your chicken will still be juicy after 9 hours in a modern slow cooker although it is in mine.
If you do have a modern crockpot, start with frozen chicken thighs and it will buy you a bit of time. If you use white meat I can almost guarantee you it will be dry unless you significantly cut down the cook time. Dark meat forever!
Creamy Crockpot Italian Chicken Pasta
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 Italian dressing mix seasoning packet
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs about 1.75 lbs
- 16 oz bag egg noodles
- 5 oz bag of fresh spinach
- 8.5 oz jar julienned sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Throw cream cheese, soup, Italian dressing mix, and chicken into a slow cooker. Stir to coat chicken.
- Cook on low for 7-9 hours (see disclaimer).
- Cook egg noodles according to directions and drain.
- Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred or cut into bite sized pieces, if desired. Whisk creamy sauce in crockpot until smooth.
- In a large bowl or your pasta pot, layer pasta, spinach, chicken, and sun dried tomatoes, drained from the oil. Pour the warm sauce over top, which will help wilt the spinach. Stir to combine, then add pepper and lemon juice and stir to combine again.
Note: This recipe contains an affiliate link for my awesome KitchenAid mixer, which I think would be totally worth it even if you ONLY used it to shred meat. If you buy one I will get a small commission.