Main Dish | April 20, 2020

Penne Rosa – Noodles & Company Copycat

Al dente pasta tossed in a spiced tomato cream sauce with fresh tomatoes and spinach.  This Noodles Copycat Penne Rosa will have you skipping takeout to make it at home.

Penne rose in a white braiser, garnished with spinach.

What Is Penne Rosa?

Penne Rosa is a dish served at a restaurant called Noodles and Company.  The dish consisted of penne pasta tossed in a spicy tomato cream sauce, fresh tomatoes and spinach, mushrooms, and parmesan crusted chicken.  To die for. I have been making our at home version of their Penne Rosa ever since we I was a newlywed.  Penne Rosa has been a lazy Sunday afternoon staple for years and years and years. I adore how fast and easy this dish is to whip up, and for me, it is the ultimate comfort food.  

Close up shot of penne rosa.

What To Add To Your Grocery List

For this homemade version of penne rosa – you’ll need:

  • penne pasta
  • olive oil
  • egg
  • chicken breasts
  • bread crumbs
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh garlic
  • chicken broth
  • fresh or canned tomatoes
  • fresh spinach
  • crushed red pepper
  • your favorite jarred marinara sauce
  • heavy whipping cream
  • shaved parmesan for garnish

Ingredients you'll need to make penne rosa.

Creating Penne Rosa At Home

This is a semi-homemade recipe and doesn’t require lots of skill or a pantry full of special spices or ingredients.  It is a solid, basic, make any day of the week meal that I promise will please your tummy!  Let me give you the run down.

To prep – start by boiling some water and cooking 16 ounces of penne pasta according to the package directions.

Penne pasta being cooked.

  1. Using shallow bowls, combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan in one, and an egg in the other.  Give the egg a quick scramble.
  2. Dip each chicken breast into the egg mixture and coat both sides.
  3. Immediately dip the chicken into the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture and coat both side.  Repeat for both chicken breasts.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  5. Once the oil is heated, add your chicken breasts and cook until they no longer stick to the pan.
  6. Flip your chicken and cook the opposite side until chicken is cooked through.
    How to make parmesan crusted chicken.
  7. Remove chicken from the pan and place on a plate to rest.  If you’d like to keep it warm – you and place the cooked breasts on a baking tray and rest in an oven set to 200 degrees.
  8. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan along with minced garlic.  Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  9. Add chicken broth to the skillet and deglaze the bottom by using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom.
  10. Toss in diced tomatoes and cook for one minute.
    How to make penne rosa.
  11. Add jarred marinara sauce to your skillet.
  12. Toss in crushed red pepper.  Stir to combine and cook for 10 minutes.
  13. Pour in heavy whipping cream.  Stir to combine.
  14. Add spinach and mushrooms. 
    How to make a tomato cream sauce.
  15. Toss in cooked penne pasta.  Toss to combine and add grilled chicken to the top.
    Finished penne rosa in a skillet.

Secrets To Perfect Parmesan Crusted Chicken

One rule to follow when cooking your chicken is to resist the urge to be flip happy.  DO NOT.  I repeat.  Do not flip your chicken a gazillion times.  You want to cook each side only once.  The chicken will naturally release from the pan when it is done cooking – so you shouldn’t have to scrape it out of your frying pan at all.  So if you try to lift it and it is stuck, let it continue to cook.

Chicken must be cooked to 165 degrees internally for it to be safe to eat.  I always use a thermometer to check my meat temps.

Close up of parmesan crusted chicken.

Penne Rosa FAQ

How Can I make this vegetarian?

Swap out the chicken broth for Vegetable broth and omit the chicken.

How can I make this vegan?

Swap out the chicken broth for Vegetable broth.  Omit the chicken and the whipping cream.  Skip the parmesan as a garnish. Feel free to add tofu or extra veggies.

How do I get my chicken to not stick to the pan?

The chicken will naturally release from the pan when it is done cooking – so you shouldn’t have to scrape it out of your frying pan at all.  So if you try to lift it and it is stuck, let it continue to cook.

Can I use vodka sauce rather than marinara sauce?

Yes – use your favorite jarred vodka sauce in place of the marinara sauce.  Omit the cream.

Is this the real Noodles & Co recipe?

No.  While I wish I had their secret recipe, this is my best stab at it.  Many have tried this recipe and find it to be pretty darn similar.

How do I store the leftovers?

Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.  Reheat leftovers in the microwave.  Will keep for 5 days.

At Noodles they offer both parmesan and feta as a garnish.  Can I use feta in place of parmesan?

Of course!  Feta adds a nice creamy touch to this dish in place of the parmesan.

Penne rosa, garnished with fresh tomatoes and parmesan chicken.

I LOVE This Recipe!  Do You Have Others I Can Try?

Our French bread is the perfect companion to this recipe.  I also love serving it with one of our delicious salads.  If you’re looking for more pasta recipes – try out our:

Penne rosa, shot from overhead, in a braiser atop a wooden cutting board.

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If you tried this Penne Rosa or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave us a comment below. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to see what else we’re getting up to!

4.73 from 11 votes
Penne rose in a white braiser, garnished with spinach.
Penne Rosa – Noodles & Company Copycat
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

Copy cat recipe of Noodle's and Co Penne Rosa. A spicy tomato cream sauce tossed with penne, tomatoes, and spinach - topped with parmesan chicken. Click here now for the full recipe!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: creamy tomato pasta, spicy creamy tomato sauce
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 626 kcal
Author: Kadee
Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 24 oz jar of marinara sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp + crushed red pepper flakes adjust depending on how spicy you like it
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz can sliced mushrooms drained or 1/2 cup fresh (optional)
  • 3 small tomatoes diced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 16 oz penne pasta
  • grated parmesan cheese for garnish
Instructions
  1. Using shallow bowls, combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan in one, and an egg in the other.  Give the egg a quick scramble.
  2. Dip each chicken breast into the egg mixture and coat both sides.
  3. Immediately dip the chicken into the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture and coat both side.  Repeat for both chicken breasts.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  5. Once the oil is heated, add your chicken breasts and cook until they no longer stick to the pan.
  6. Flip your chicken and cook the opposite side until chicken is cooked through.
  7. Remove chicken from the pan and place on a plate to rest.  If you'd like to keep it warm - you and place the cooked breasts on a baking tray and rest in an oven set to 200 degrees.
  8. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan along with minced garlic.  Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  9. Add chicken broth to the skillet and deglaze the bottom by using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom.
  10. Toss in diced tomatoes and cook for one minute.
  11. Add jarred marinara sauce to your skillet.
  12. Toss in crushed red pepper.  Stir to combine and cook for 10 minutes.
  13. Pour in heavy whipping cream.  Stir to combine.
  14. Add spinach and mushrooms.
  15. Toss in cooked penne pasta.  Toss to combine and add grilled chicken to the top.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Penne Rosa FAQ

How Can I make this vegetarian?

Swap out the chicken broth for Vegetable broth and omit the chicken.

How can I make this vegan?

Swap out the chicken broth for Vegetable broth.  Omit the chicken and the whipping cream.  Skip the parmesan as a garnish. Feel free to add tofu or extra veggies.

How do I get my chicken to not stick to the pan?

The chicken will naturally release from the pan when it is done cooking - so you shouldn't have to scrape it out of your frying pan at all.  So if you try to lift it and it is stuck, let it continue to cook.

Can I use vodka sauce rather than marinara sauce?

Yes - use your favorite jarred vodka sauce in place of the marinara sauce.  Omit the cream.

Is this the real Noodles & Co recipe?

No.  While I wish I had their secret recipe, this is my best stab at it.  Many have tried this recipe and find it to be pretty darn similar.

How do I store the leftovers?

Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.  Reheat leftovers in the microwave.  Will keep for 5 days.

At Noodles they offer both parmesan and feta as a garnish.  Can I use feta in place of parmesan?

Of course!  Feta adds a nice creamy touch to this dish in place of the parmesan.

Nutrition Facts
Penne Rosa – Noodles & Company Copycat
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 626 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 110mg37%
Sodium 947mg41%
Potassium 1145mg33%
Carbohydrates 74g25%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 35g70%
Vitamin A 2392IU48%
Vitamin C 21mg25%
Calcium 178mg18%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

 

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  1. WOW!! I cooked this tonight for my family and it was amazing! Tasted exactly like what I have at the Noodles & Company

  2. Before u add thoes ingredients add noodles garlic tomatoes and mushrooms to a pan and add vegitable broth and white wine and reduce trust me. I know how to make everything at noodles and co.

  3. OMG. This was delicious. I used to spend so much money at Noodles because I couldn’t make Penne Rosa at home. Now I can. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Thank you for the recipe. Just tried it and turned out pretty well. I love penne rosa. This is my comfort food and I am glad I can make it at any time I want but I am concerned about the heavy cream. Can someone suggest a substitute for heavy cream while still (somewhat) preserving the taste of the recipe?

    1. Hi Griff,

      I haven’t been able to find a store bought vodka sauce I enjoy. Do you have a favorite? And if you try to substitute that in the recipe please let me know how it turns out! :)

  5. Ok, love the recipe but how on earth did you get your chicken to turn out like that?! Everything just fell off and stuck to the pan so I ended up baking it.

    1. Hi Mia! I’m so sorry your chicken did not work on the skillet. Let me give you a few of my go-to tips. Your chicken needs to be pretty thin – so if you have thick chicken breasts I would butterfly them so that they can cook thru without burning. Also – once you put the breaded chicken in the skillet do not flip it until it easily releases itself from the pan. When it is easily flipped and nothing sticks to the pan the breast should be about 50% cooked and you can repeat on the other side. So resist that urge to pry it from the pan. If you let it cook up like this you should get nice, golden, breaded chicken. Let me know if you give it another try.

  6. Made this for the first time. Good recipe.
    But, heres what I’ll do next time:
    1. Instead of marinara and heavy cream, use vodka sauce as Griff suggested. Really, your favorite sauce is the best choice (+- cream).
    2. Use 3/4 c parm cheese and 1/4 c breadcrums and season with S&P
    3. Add spinich a few minutes prior to serving so it has a little crunch left.
    4. Keep chicken warm in A 200 degree oven on a cookie sheet with parchment paper until ready to serve.

  7. im Making this for dinner tomorrow since its my husbands favorite dish from noodles. he orders it with crumbled feta on top, just adding that suggestion because it adds a good compoonent!

  8. So… this is my favorite from noodles and company! I want to make this for my family, BUT… my daughter is a veegetarian. It’s easy enough to leave the parmesan chicken off of her plate, BUT… do you think a vegetable broth would work just as well as the chicken broth? Or should I just leave it out? This dish is marked as vegetarian at noodles & CO – so they obviously don’t use chicken broth (i hope!).

    This is probably a silly question, but I’m not very comfortable in the kitchen, so I’m asking. Thank you! :)

    1. 5 stars
      HEy karen! I made this with veg broth instead just by convenience and it Turned out perFect! I also added tofu to the dish and it rounded the dish out. For the tofu i just SauteeD it on high for about 5 minutes until Lightly browned anD then baked @ 375 for 15 minutes, when You add it all together the longEr the tofu can sit and soak up the sauce the better it tastes :)

    1. Make sure your chicken is nice and moist before coating. Also – do not flip the chicken until it easily releases from the pan. When the first side is done you should be able to easily release it and flip it. Flipping before it comes up easy will leave breading stuck to the pan.

  9. 5 stars
    This was amazing! I made it a few nights ago and my 3yo ate two servings (he LOVED the mushrooms and doing!! :O ) and my 2yo requested 5ths!!!

    My husband and I both adored it as well and it will be going in to the regular rotation. Thanks for making this recipe. <3

    The chicken was good, but the pasta was an A+ hit!

  10. 3 stars
    While good, definitely not a noodles copycat. WAY too much sauce/marinara, I plan to do ¼ of what’s listed here. It came across super liquify, whereas noodles is much more dry.

  11. 5 stars
    I searched for this recipe on a whim and I’m so glad! I made this as a vegetarian version and added double vegetables, a little cayenne, and feta. It is more saucy than noodles version but I always found theirs to often be too dry and they skimp on veggies, IMO.

    I will certainly try more of your recipes!

  12. 4 stars
    as a past noodles & co. employee, I applaud you for your adaptation. im actually enjoying it this way. but its not in any way how noodles actually makes it.

    1. Thanks for your comment Jesse. I wish I knew how noodles made it – so if you want to share any secrets :). This is my best stab having never seen their recipe card.

  13. 5 stars
    This recipe is pretty easy to follow and tastes INCREDIBLE. I use ground cayenne pepper seasoning instead and its incredible, I use it generously for a good kick of spice. This is a great recipe thank you, you saved my struggling 20 year old lazy self.

  14. 5 stars
    Made this with angel hair instead (thanks to almost no pasta anywhere during this pandemic) but still great! Panko crumbs instead of bread crumbs but followed to the T and turned out perfect. Thanks!!

  15. 5 stars
    I made it twice already. The first time was just a trial to make sure I was making it right. Aaaand we LOVED it! Way better than noodles & co. So for the second time, I made a big batch of the penne rosa sauce. How many days can we keep it in the fridge for?

    Thank you for sharing your recipe!!

  16. 5 stars
    Very easy to make and delicious! I added a creamy tomato pesto for more flavor and this recipe itself for the sauce is tad better than the restaurant itself. I doubled the measurements to make for my big family and WOW! Enough to feed 10+ people! Thanks again for the recipe.