Creamy Bowtie Pasta with Asparagus

Coming off a weekend filled with U10 soccer games, football games (both the kid-kind and the collegiate-kind; go Cougars!), loads of yard work, wrangling pygmy goats, entertaining friends with BBQ pork sandwiches & peach pie, family cornhole tournaments, and a crazy delicious slow cooker lasagna (which has nothing to do with anything except that I’m excited to tell you about it in greater detail later)…phew, I’m in need of another weekend.

Or if not that, please give me some super simple ways to get dinner on the table this week without losing my mind. A bonus. The not losing the mind thing.

Creamy Bowtie Pasta with Asparagus

While I hunt down other quick and easy dinner strategies, you go ahead and savor the one I’m sharing today. This creamy bowtie alfredo pasta dish is so simple and delicious, you might want to go ahead and add it to your permanent dinner rotation. Seriously. Right now. Do it. My sister-in-law, Angela, sent the recipe to me a while ago – it’s been her family’s favorite meal for years. In my current world, it’s passed the company test. The kid test. The make it three times in two weeks and still love it test. The no-fuss dinner test. Basically, it’s as tried-and-true as you can get.

And it’s a keeper. I’ve added some notes to the recipe for substitutions and ways to make it fly together (if prepped responsibly, you can have this on the table in 20-minutes or less). Enjoy, my friends, enjoy.

What To Serve
Green salad (if you’re after a recipe, this amazing romaine salad is…well, amazing)
Fresh, seasonal fruit
Divine breadsticks

Creamy Bowtie Pasta with Asparagus

One Year Ago: Creamy Chicken and Quinoa Cordon Bleu Casserole
Two Years Ago: Cinnamon and Chili Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Apple Salsa
Three Years Ago: Peaches and Cream Sensation

Bowtie Chicken and Asparagus Alfredo

Yield: Serves 6-8

Bowtie Chicken and Asparagus Alfredo

This dish will be as delicious as the chicken you use - really. Go for a moist rotisserie chicken (with lots of flavor), or use this simple method for quick, skillet cooked chicken (season it well!), or use a delicious marinade or ample seasonings for grilled chicken. I almost always use 1% milk, but a couple times I've splurged and subbed in 1/4 cup heavy cream for 1/4 cup of the milk; it adds a little richness that is delicious (you can add more cream in place of milk to your liking).

If asparagus isn't in season or you can't get it, broccoli makes a great substitution.

The pasta is best served immediately - leftovers or pasta that has sat out for a while aren't quite as creamy (although you can rejuvenate leftovers by adding a splash of milk or cream before reheating).


  • 3 cups cooked and cubed chicken (see note above for options)
  • 1-2 pounds asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound bowtie (farfalle) pasta
  • Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (see note above)
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Zest from lemon (about a teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 6-8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the noodles according to package directions. When there is two minutes left on the cooking time, add the asparagus to the pot and cook for the remaining time. Drain the pasta and asparagus and rinse quickly with cool water (to stop the asparagus from cooking more).
  2. For the sauce, while the noodles/asparagus cook, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the garlic, cooking for 20 seconds or so, stirring constantly. Stir in the flour and cook for about a minute, stirring, until the mixture is toasty and sizzling. Gradually add the milk and chicken broth about 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Bring the mixture to a low simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the cheese has melted. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
  3. Place the pasta, chicken and asparagus in a large bowl or serving dish and pour the sauce over the top. Toss lightly to combine. Sprinkle on the bacon and additional Parmesan cheese (if using). Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe my sis-in-law, Angela, sent me for their family’s favorite meal (cut down the butter, used milk instead of heavy cream, overall just lightened it up a bit)

20 Responses to Lightened Up Bowtie Chicken and Asparagus Alfredo

  1. Ida Ewing says:

    This was seriously yummy! I loved the lemon flavor to it and was lucky enough to get some tender baby asparagus that cooked up perfectly in the pasta water. I will be making this often. I love all your recipes and use this site more than any other site/cookbook/mangled old recipe card etc.
    Thanks for all the work you put into making me the hero of dinnertime in my home!

  2. Andee says:

    Could/would you use frozen asparagus?

    • Mel says:

      I think you could although the texture might be different. I’ve only used frozen asparagus a time or two – I usually stick with fresh if I can find it.

  3. Amy says:

    Mel! I can’t thank you enough for this recipe! My husband and I are on a low-calorie diet, and we haven’t been able to find a “lighter” pasta that we like (ground up cauliflower does NOT taste like Alfredo, and squash is NOT spaghetti . . . LOL). This dish is seriously better than our (previously) favorite Alfredo pasta dish using full cream! So, so so good, it will definitely become a feature on our monthly recipe rotation. My husband was so ecstatic, that I’m almost certain I’ll get lucky tonight.

    For those counting calories, this is the nutrition break-down. Keep in mind that we calculated 8 servings (which was a very generous portion), subbed 1/4 cup milk for cream as suggested, used 1% milk, and only 4 slices of bacon (that’s all we had on hand):

    Calories: 444
    Fat: 14.9 grams
    Protein: 31.3
    Fiber: 3.3
    Sugar: 5
    Carbs: 49.2

  4. Anne says:

    My no mess and super easy way to make bacon is to line a cookie sheet with tin foil and lay bacon on it. Then cook at 375 for 15-20 min. Funny, but a doctor at work taught me that method. I made the bacon so it was done right before everyone got home from school. They all had to have some for a snack and then I crumbled the rest up in the dinner. Creamy and delicious! I added 1/2 cup of cream and 1 cup milk and subbed broccoli for the asparagus. Thank you for another great dinner!

  5. Crystal says:

    this was sooooo good! not super fast but for how yummy this is it doesn’t have to be!! I used a veggie medially of the bowtie pasta and you couldn’t even tell, my husband got 3rds 🙂

  6. Nita says:

    Made this for dinner tonight and I was really surprised at how delicious this was! I used your simple shredded chicken recipe and seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and penzeys mural of flavor seasoning. I also made the asparagus separate and seasoned it with a bit of olive oil, salt ,pepper, garlic powder, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese. This meal was so so so good! The lemon in the pasta was really delicious and really brought out all the flavors. I will definitely be making this again!

  7. Erika says:

    Hi Mel,

    So I want to make this but wondering how important that crumbled bacon is? I seem to recall you mentioning a precooked bacon you used. Was that you? Or am I thinking of someone else?! And if so what was the brand? I don’t want to go to the effort of pan frying bacon for this recipe as want to keep it quick and easy. I’ve also heard about microwaving bacon. Never tried it tho. Was that tip from you and would you use it here? Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Erika – sometimes I use the Kirkland brand of crumbled, precooked bacon and give it a bit of a lift by microwaving it between paper towels for 15-20 seconds.

      • Erika says:

        Haha! I think both ideas were from you then! Microwaving precooked bacon from costco. That sounds very familiar. Will give it a try. Thank You for your reply!

  8. Allison says:

    I made this last night (subbed broccoli for asparagus) and our whole family of 5 loved it!! There was the perfect amount of leftovers for everyone to have lunch today as well. 🙂 Thank you!

  9. Kim in MD says:

    It sounds like you had a fun, exhausting weekend! This looks so delicious, Mel. I can’t wait to hear more about the slow cooker lasagna recipe!

  10. Patricia Mahoney says:

    I made last night with broccoli and rotisserie chicken – was very tasty and will add it to my routine! I tossed the chicken with the pasta and broccoli after draining – is that when you added the chicken (I didn’t see that in the recipe) Thanks!

  11. Hannah says:

    I made this tonight and we loved it! I have tried so many of your recipes since I found your blog a few months ago and they all have been great! I love that you add suggestions of what to serve the main dish with! It makes dinner planning so much easier!! Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for your comment, Hannah! I’m so happy you loved this and you reminded me I forgot to add the “what to serve” with this! I’ll go do that now. 🙂

  12. Paige says:

    This looks so delicious! I love the addition of the asparagus in with the alfredo! It sounds like such a tasty combination and a great way to add in a little more vegetables!


  13. Looks good. I’m making a quick bowtie with chicken and spinach for dinner tonight. This looks good, I’ll have to try it next time.
    My weekend found me spending all day with my sister in town celebrating my birthday. Then back home to milk goats, can tomato sauce and avoid the garden again.

  14. Helen says:

    Hmm soccer and football … Sounds like my weekend .. Oh wait ummm my week too !!! With 2 football players a drill team dancer and a soccer player in the house plus a three year old who spends his life tagging along a sleeping under an umbrella in the stands I hate to admit we’ve grilled way too many hotdogs (actually sausages .. But same thing) the past couple weeks !! I’m thinking its time to plan better and re-vamp meals at my house too !!! Thanks for this one … Looks like a good place to start … Keep’em coming and I can’t wait to hear about slow cooker lasagna !!

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