One-pot Jamaican Rasta pasta is an easy recipe packed with bold color and flavor. It’s made with tender chicken, bell peppers, and onions tossed in a creamy sauce with jerk seasoning, for the perfect weeknight meal!
Why you’ll love it: Jerk chicken pasta is quick, easy, and super tasty! This dinner recipe is ready in one pot in under an hour.
How long it takes: 45 minutes from start to finish
Equipment you’ll need: a large skillet or Dutch oven
Servings: 6 servings
Creamy Rasta Pasta With Jerk Seasoning
The other evening I flung open my fridge in need of inspiration. 45 minutes later, this epic Jamaican Rasta pasta was on the table. It took hardly any effort and we couldn’t get enough! This Rasta pasta recipe is loaded with tender chicken, bell peppers, and kicky jerk seasoning, all cooked together in an outrageously creamy sauce. It’s simple to make, but the flavors are, to quote Bob Marley, jammin’.
Fun fact: In Jamaica, “jamming” means an impromptu celebration. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what this Rasta pasta is. It’s ready in under an hour, and you won’t find a weeknight dinner with a more delicious combination of veggies, protein, and spice.
Why You’ll Love This Rasta Pasta Recipe
- Jamaican-inspired. If you’re just getting acquainted with the unique, spicy taste of jerk seasoning, this is the dish to do it. The addition of cream and cheese in the sauce helps to mellow out the heat while keeping all that island-style flavor.
- One-pot. This creamy Rasta pasta comes together in one pot on the stovetop. Not only does it mean the EASIEST clean-up, but all those Caribbean flavors combine into a truly savory, spicy, and delicious pasta dinner.
- Customizable. Change up this recipe in tons of ways. Make it vegetarian, swap out the cream, add your own veggies, and adapt the spice levels to taste. Keep reading for more suggestions!
Why Is It Called Rasta Pasta?
Jamaican Rasta pasta (also known as jerk chicken pasta) originated in Negril, Jamaica. Chef Lorraine Washington put together a pasta dish for some hungry workers, consisting of fettuccine, tomato sauce, and a local ingredient, ackee fruit. The workers called it “Rasta Pasta” as the colors reminded them of the Rasta colors, and the noodles looked a bit like dreadlocks!
Fast forward to now, and there have been so many variations of this fun, easy pasta recipe. My version of Rasta pasta is loaded with red, green, and yellow bell peppers for color, Jamaican jerk for flavor, juicy chicken, and short pasta noodles.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Below is a short overview of the ingredients you’ll need to make this easy Rasta pasta. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card for the full recipe amounts, instructions, and nutritional info.
- Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into thin strips.
- Salt and Pepper
- Olive Oil
- Onion – Thinly sliced yellow onion, or another mild onion like Vidalia or brown onion.
- Bell Peppers – Sliced red, green, and yellow bell peppers create the Rasta colors.
- Garlic – What’s a pasta recipe without garlic?
- Jerk Seasoning – Jamaican jerk seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices with a hot pepper kick (see below). You’ll find it in the spice aisle at most grocery stores. Depending on the blend you’re using, you can add more or less to taste.
- Chicken Broth – I prefer to cook with low-sodium chicken broth or stock, to keep the salt levels under control.
- Pasta – We make our Rasta pasta with short pasta, such as ziti, penne, rotini, or farfalle. It makes it easier to scoop! You can really use any type of pasta you’d like, though.
- Heavy Cream – Or half-and-half, if you prefer a lighter sauce.
- Parmesan – Freshly grated parmesan is always best in terms of texture but pre-grated also works fine in this recipe.
What’s In Jerk Seasoning?
Jerk seasoning is a staple in Jamaican cuisine. It’s a spice blend made from fiery Scotch bonnet peppers, allspice and other ingredients like cinnamon and clove, nutmeg, thyme, garlic powder, and brown sugar. I make my pasta with dry jerk spice, but this recipe will work with any type of jerk seasoning, jerk marinade, and even jerk sauce (whatever you have on hand!). You can find a blend that suits your tastes at the grocery store, or add some extra cayenne pepper for spice.
How to Make Rasta Pasta
Who’s ready to make some creamy jerk chicken pasta? Get out a large skillet or pot, and let’s get started:
- Brown the chicken. Start by adding the chicken pieces to a large pot with oil. Brown the chicken for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add veggies. Toss in your sliced onions and bell pepper. Continue to cook until the veggies are softened. Next, stir in the garlic and jerk seasoning.
- Combine and cook. Pour in the chicken broth followed by the pasta. Stir everything together and bring the pot to a boil, then cover and simmer until the pasta is al dente (cooked but still firm).
- Add the cream and cheese. Warm the cream before you add it to the pot with the pasta. Cold cream in hot sauce will curdle! Lower the heat, then stir the cream into the pot along with grated parmesan.
- Rest. Once the cheese is melted, take the pot off the heat and let the pasta rest, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.
Tips for Success
Here are my tips for the best Rasta pasta:
- Adapt the spice level by adjusting the amount of jerk seasoning to taste.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. Different pasta has different cooking times. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, and try your best to not overcook it, as it may become mushy.
- Use leftover roasted chicken or even leftover turkey. Sautéed shrimp is great, too. If you’re making this recipe with chicken that’s already cooked, I recommend adding it in at the end so that it can warm up.
Make This Pasta Recipe Your Own
Like any home-cooked pasta recipe, your Jamaican Rasta pasta can be customized any way that you’d like. Try these easy variation ideas:
- Make vegetarian Rasta pasta. Leave out the chicken and use vegetable broth instead. You can replace the chicken with mushrooms, chickpeas, or another veggie.
- To make this chicken pasta dairy-free, substitute coconut milk in place of heavy cream. Or, make a tomato-based broth using canned diced tomatoes.
- Use another protein, like shrimp or steak. You may need to adapt the cooking times accordingly.
- In place of yellow onions, add chopped green onions for even more color.
What to Serve With Rasta Pasta
We serve our Rasta pasta sprinkled with crushed red peppers and extra parmesan. It’s a Jamaican-Italian meal on its own, or we’ll pair it with a spinach salad or arugula salad for a fresh side of greens. Of course, you can never go wrong with a slice of crusty Dutch oven bread for sopping up the extra sauce. In the summertime, this island-inspired dish is a perfect match with a bay breeze cocktail or a refreshing Aperol spritz.
Storing & Reheating Leftovers
- Fridge. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat individual pasta servings in the microwave, or larger quantities in a saucepan on the stovetop until it’s warmed through. You can add a splash of cream, water, or broth to help loosen up the sauce if needed.
- Freezer. I don’t usually recommend freezing recipes that contain dairy, as there’s a chance that the cream will split once thawed. It can also impact the texture of the cooked peppers.
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into very thin slices (boneless skinless chicken thighs may be substituted)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning, more to taste (we use 1 ½ tablespoons and it is spicy but not too hot)
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 8 ounces pasta (see note)
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Red pepper flakes, for garnish if desired
- Heat a large straight sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper. When pan is hot, add olive oil and chicken. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until lightly browned but not cooked all the way through.
- Add onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Add garlic and jerk seasoning and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until garlic is fragrant.
- Add chicken broth and pasta. Stir well to combine, bring to a boil, and push down pasta so it is submerged in broth.
- Reduce heat to medium, maintaining a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until pasta is al dente, about 15 minutes (refer to package directions).
- Warm cream slightly in microwave (about 30 seconds).
- Reduce heat to low; stir in cream and parmesan cheese. Once parmesan has melted and sauce has thickened slightly, turn off heat and cover for at least 5 minutes.
- Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with red pepper flakes, if desired.
- We recommend a short pasta such as ziti (as pictured), farfalle, rotini, or penne.
- Leftover pasta should be refrigerated promptly in a covered container. It will keep for 3 days.
- You can adjust the spice level of the dish by adding more or less jerk seasoning, depending on your preference.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.