A lightened-up chicken and spaghetti meal with bags of flavour! This Chicken and Red Pepper Pasta is great for when you’re craving carbs, but you’re trying to eat lighter. It comes in at 521 calories, and is syn-free if you’re following Slimming World!Plate of spaghetti topped with chicken and red pepper sauce on a light background

Ahhh spaghetti. Such a simple ingredient, yet loved the world over.  Served in the classiest restaurants and the cheapest little cafes – it’s one of the best staples money can buy.

I probably love it too much.  I can easily put away as much as Chris (my 6ft husband), and served with a rich tomatoey and chicken sauce too? Just give me the pan and a fork.

Fortunately, with it being January (and after all that Christmas indulgence) this is a lighter recipe. No I’m not swapping out the spaghetti for courgetti (zoodles), just reducing the pasta amount a little, and using spray oil and lots of veggies, plus a few extras additions for a rich and satisfying flavour.

I’ve always been one to go up and down in weight. I don’t yo-yo constantly, I tend to diet for a couple of months every year or two, just when my clothes are starting to get too tight, and I can feel myself huffing and puffing when running up and down the stairs.

Last year was definitely a year for putting on weight. Chris and I put ourselves under too much pressure, working crazy hours (and making tonnes of recipes for our blog and freelance recipe work – meaning lots of indulgent delicious food was cooked), and as a result our diet suffered.

We fueled ourselves with coffee and sugar and now we’re finding we constantly feel lethargic with lots of cravings.

So naturally we’re doing the boringly predictable thing of dieting whilst starting at a new fitness plan!

I’ll keep you updated (are you interested in seeing regular updated in my Instagram stories?), and you’ll see some lighter recipes on the blog, but of course I’ll still be making some naughtier things too – for the occasional weekend treat!

What you’ll needChicken, onions and red peppers cooking in a pan

How to make it:

We start by frying chicken thighs in a little spray oil until browned. Then add onion, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes until that onion is nicely softened and starting to turn translucent.

Add in chopped red pepper and garlic, mushrooms, a crumbled stock cube (extra flavour!), tomato puree and oregano. Then in goes a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes.

Let it all simmer away for 15-20 minutes while you cook the spaghetti. I’m using 75g (2.6 oz) of spaghetti per person to stay below that 550 calorie range. Then top the drained spaghetti with the chicken and red pepper sauce and a sprinkling of basil leaves. Add a few chilli flakes too if you like it a little spicy.

chicken in red pepper sauce in a pan

Or if you prefer, you can mix the chicken and sauce into the pasta and serve topped with basil.

Chicken and red pepper pasta in a pan topped with fresh basil

Can I make it with chicken breast instead of thighs?

Absolutely! I like chicken thighs in this recipe as they’re more tender and flavourful – which is great for lower calorie cooking. Chicken breast will still taste great though, and I often use them too.

Other types of pasta:

I really like spaghetti in this dish, but you can replace with tagliatelle, linguine or pasta shapes.

Overhead of chicken and red pepper sauce on top of spaghetti

More lighter meals (around 550 calories or less):

If you like this recipe we have a whole category dedicated to lighter meals < click here.  Below are some of my favourites:

The Chicken and Red Pepper Pasta Video:

The Chicken and Red Pepper Pasta Recipe:

5 from 2 votes

Chicken and Red Pepper Pasta

Lighter chicken and red pepper pasta - so satisfyingly tasty, but less than 550 cals per serving (also Syn free if you're on Slimming World).
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian


  • 10 sprays fry-light or other 1-cal per spray oil
  • 500 g (17.5 oz) boneless chicken thighs any skin and visible fat removed, cut into chunks
  • large pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 large brown onion peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 red pepper chopped (seeds discarded)
  • 2 portobello mushrooms sliced
  • 1 chicken stock cube or 1 tsp bouillon for gluten-free
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree paste for US
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 x 400 g (2 x 14 oz) tins chopped tomatoes
  • 300 g (10.5 oz) dry spaghetti (gluten-free if required)

To Serve:

  • handful of small basil leaves
  • ¼ tsp chill flakes
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  • Heat a large frying pan and spray with the fry-light.
    10 sprays fry-light
  • Add in the chicken and cook for 8-10 minutes until the outside of the chicken starts to brown (if you don't move it around too much it will brown a lot quicker).
    500 g (17.5 oz) boneless chicken thighs
  • Add in the salt, pepper, and onion and cook for a further 5 minutes until softened.
    1 large brown onion, large pinch salt and pepper
  • Add in the garlic and red pepper and cook for 2 more minutes, then add in the mushrooms.
    3 cloves garlic, 1 red pepper, 2 portobello mushrooms
  • Crumble on the stock cube (or bouillon), add the tomato puree and oregano and stir to combine.
    1 chicken stock cube, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, stir and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
    2 x 400 g (2 x 14 oz) tins chopped tomatoes
  • Whilst the sauce is simmering, fill a large pan with boiling water from the kettle and add the spaghetti. Cook for 10-12 minutes until al dente.
    300 g (10.5 oz) dry spaghetti
  • Drain the spaghetti then divide it between 4 bowls. Top with the chicken and sauce and sprinkle on the basil leaves and chilli flakes before serving.
    handful of small basil leaves, 1/4 tsp chill flakes



Can I make it gluten free?

Yes, use gluten free pasta and gluten free stock cubes.

Can I make it ahead?

I don't recommend cooking the spaghetti ahead, but the sauce can be made ahead, then quickly cooled, covered and refrigerated.
Reheat in a pan, stirring occasionally until piping hot throughout (about 7-8 minutes). You can also reheat in the microwave if you prefer. Reheated at the highest setting and give it a stir every minute. It will take 5-8 minutes, it's done when it's piping hot throughout.

Can I freeze it?

You can freeze the sauce (I don't recommend cooking and freezing the spaghetti). Make the sauce, then quickly cool, cover and freeze. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat as per the reheat instructions above.

Nutritional information is per serving - including the spaghetti.


Calories: 521kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 651mg | Potassium: 1149mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1236IU | Vitamin C: 60mg | Calcium: 107mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

This post was first published in August 2015. Updated in January 2020 with new photos, video and tips!

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

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Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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  1. Anna-Maria says:

    5 stars
    Love this so simple recipe. Gonna try and make this tonight for dinner, hopefully the kids love it x

  2. Leona says:

    Really tasty, light recipe. Will become a regular for us.

  3. Sue Painter says:

    Absolutely yummy! Made this last night!
    Scrumptious sauce indeed! Thank you Nicky!

  4. Floranet says:

    Useful Content. Thanks a lot for the info!

  5. Deborah says:

    5 stars
    Loved this dish – thank you

  6. CJ says:

    This meal went down a treat! Great recipe, many thanks.

  7. Anika Schulze says:

    Hi there! I about to cook your dish for friends tomorrow at dinner. Just wondering how you cut the mushrooms? The instructions don’t specify this. Thanks, Anika

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Good spot Anika, thanks for letting me know. The mushrooms are just sliced – I like to slice them quite thickly. I’ve updated the recipe now.

  8. Pat says:

    Sounds yummy, will definitely make this pasta. And I am a chocolate devourer too, love Cadbury milk.

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Hope you enjoy it Pat. Can’t beat a lovely (giant sized) Dairy Milk 😀