This easy copycat Olive Garden chicken scampi recipe is perfect for cooking at home with the kids. The recipe is written for beginner cooks and is a great way to get your kids to cook.
Buttered noodles have always been my kids' favorite pasta dish since they were very little.
When you want to encourage your picky eaters to try something new, building off a dish they love gives them a safe place to start.
This easy copycat Olive Garden chicken scampi has a garlic butter pasta base with tender chicken and savory bell peppers on top.
My kids loved it because the pasta felt very familiar, they love chicken tenderloins, and the bell peppers are bright and colorful but easy to spot and nudge to the side if it is just too much.
You could always serve it with the elements dished separately and not touching, too.
This was the main meal in our Italian dinner menu for kids. I hope your kids love it, too!
You only need a few things to make the chicken scampi at home:
- A box of thin spaghetti
- Red and yellow bell peppers
- Red onion
- Chicken breast tenderloins
- Minced garlic
- Chicken broth
- Heavy Cream
Everything else you likely have in your pantry right now but check the recipe card for quantities and printable instructions.
Tips for Cooking with Kids
This chicken scampi recipe is written in the same style as the recipes in my cookbook for kids.
The Ultimate Kids' Cookbook puts your kids in charge in the kitchen with you as their assistant.
I recommend these two simple tricks for having fun in the kitchen with your little chefs:
- Wait for Them to Ask: Put your kids in charge and let them ask you to do assistant tasks.
- Set Expectations for Safety: There are several steps to cooking this dish you will feel better about helping with. Try to wait for them to ask for help in general, but it is ok to let them know the specific steps you think you would best do yourself before they begin.
Finish the Menu
These delicious Italian recipes would help round out the full meal:
Copycat Olive Garden Chicken Scampi
- 1 (16 oz) package of thin spaghetti
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- ½ red onion
- 1 pound chicken breast tenderloins
- Salt & pepper
- 4 tablespoon flour divided
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 tablespoon butter divided
- 2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 lemon
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Fill a large pasta pot with water ⅔ full. Set it over a burner on medium-high heat to bring it to a boil. When the water is boiling, add a big pinch or two of salt to the water and then add the pasta to the pot. Cook the pasta for the shortest time listed on the package, stirring occasionally. Have an adult help you drain the pasta and set it aside.
- While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the veggies. Wash and dry the peppers. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds and stem. Lay the peppers skin side down on your cutting board and cut them into thin strips. A butterknife should work for this, but if you have trouble ask your parents which knife to use. Set the peppers aside in a bowl.
- Cut the top and bottom of the red onion off. Then, with a flat side down on the cutting board, cut the onion in half. Peel off the outer layer of the onion and discard it. Cut the onion into thin slices. If you have trouble, ask an adult for help.
- Place the chicken in a plastic ziptop baggie. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper into the bag. Add 2 tablespoon of flour to the bag and seal it shut. Toss the chicken around in the flour until it is evenly coated. Set the chicken aside.
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoon butter to the pan. Using a pair of long tongs, shake off the excess flour from each chicken tenderloin and add it to the skillet in a single layer. Cook the chicken for 4 minutes and then flip it over and cook another 4 minutes on the other side. Use the tongs to transfer the chicken to a clean dinner plate and cover it with aluminum foil.
- Add 2 tablespoon butter to the pan and melt it. Add the prepared veggies and stir them in the butter. Cook them for 3 - 5 minutes until they are softened. Use a slotted spoon to remove the veggies from the pan and add them to the plate with the chicken.
- Add the garlic to the pan and stir for 30 seconds. Add the remaining 2 tablespoon of flour to the pan and whisk it into the butter for 20 - 30 seconds.
- Pour in the chicken broth and whisk it into the flour. Add the red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- Wash and dry the lemon. Cut it in half with your butter knife. Squeeze the juice into the skillet and stir it in with a spoon. Add the heavy cream and stir it into the sauce.
- Add the peppers and chicken back to the pan. Stir them into the sauce and let them warm up again for 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add the pasta to the pan and use the tongs to gently toss the pasta in the sauce. Cover the skillet and let the pasta heat through for 2 minutes.
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