1-Pot Rasta Pasta Recipe

Rasta pasta is a famous Jamaican pasta dish that is spicy, creamy, and often made all in 1 pot. The recipe was born in Jamaica from the mind of Chef Lorraine Washington, starting out as a hearty fettuccine and tomato sauce dish topped with nutty-sweet ackee. The fettuccine resembling dreadlocks, and the combination of colors reflecting the Jamaican flag, the pasta was aptly named for its Rastafarian qualities. The pasta was added to Chef Washington's menu for years, and also made its way west, where it evolved into a pseudo-alfredo dish with jerk flavoring. The idea remained the same — red, yellow, and green elements, often bell peppers, over pasta with traditional Jamaican flavoring. Like Chef Washington's version, it's easy to throw it together for a hearty meal (via Jamaica Gleaner).

In this recipe shared by developer Michelle McGlinn, this rasta pasta is made with jerk-marinated chicken, bell peppers, heavy cream, and rotini pasta. The jerk marinade is made from scratch with a variety of spices, a few super-hot peppers, and a squeeze of orange and lime juice. It's perfect for a weeknight dinner, and sure to please a hungry crowd, especially one that loves a little heat. 

Gather your rasta pasta ingredients

Don't let the ingredient list scare you — it's mostly common spices, and they can all be substituted for a store-bought Jamaican jerk seasoning, if you prefer it. To make your own, you'll need cumin, paprika, thyme, onion powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ground clove, salt, and pepper. For the whole marinade, you'll also need lime juice, orange juice (fresh is best), olive oil, garlic, and Scotch bonnet peppers. If Scotch bonnet peppers aren't available near you, swap for their close cousin, habanero. 

Use cubed breast or thigh chicken meat, or swap for shrimp. For the rest of the dish, you'll just need red, yellow, green, or orange bell peppers, butter, broth or water, rotini (or otherwise medium-sized pasta), heavy whipping cream, cream cheese, and Parmesan.

Marinade the chicken

Whisk together the oil, citrus juices, minced garlic, and sliced Scotch bonnets. Add all the spices, including salt and pepper to taste, combine well, then add the cubed chicken, and stir until fully coated. You can leave the chicken directly in the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap or transfer to a Ziploc bag — just make sure the chicken is fully coated. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 8 hours — try throwing this together before work, so it can be ready when you come home. Try the same marinade with shrimp instead, but don't marinate for any longer than 30 minutes.

Brown the chicken

Heat up a deep skillet over medium. You'll want something pretty deep, so if you don't have anything that can hold all the pasta, use a Dutch oven instead. Transfer the chicken directly from the marinade into the hot skillet, cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side. You won't need to heat any oil for this, since the chicken is already coated with it from the marinade. Once you remove the chicken from the skillet, melt some butter to cook the peppers in.

Soften the peppers, and cook the pasta

Before boiling the pasta, soften the sliced peppers by sautéeing them in the butter. Once the peppers are soft, pour in the broth, and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring the broth to a boil, then add in the pasta, and cook for 9 to 10 minutes. The rotini will expand while it cooks, and absorb all that extra liquid. Anything leftover will turn into the sauce.

Add the cheese, and serve the pasta

Stir the heavy cream into the pot, and bring it to a simmer. Add the cream cheese into the mix, then sprinkle in the Parmesan for extra cheesy flavor. 

Stir the cooked chicken back into the pot, infusing the creamy sauce with the Jamaican seasoning. Serve immediately as-is, or top with green onions and parsley. This dish has it all, but to make it a full meal, serve it alongside a crisp green salad, steamed carrots, or even a big pot of collard greens.

Store any leftover rasta pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To reheat, microwave or gently reheat on the stove, adding heavy cream, if needed.

1-Pot Rasta Pasta Recipe
4.9 from 17 ratings
This rasta pasta recipe is a delicious dish that has everything you need — chicken, pasta, veggies, and lots of spice.
Prep Time
Cook Time
rasta pasta in a bowl
Total time: 50 minutes
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Juice from ½ orange
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ red bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 4 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
  • 2 cups rotini, or similarly-sized pasta
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Optional Ingredients
  • chopped green onions
  • chopped parsley
  1. In a bowl, combine chicken, olive oil, lime and orange juice, garlic, Scotch bonnet peppers, and spices. Mix together until the chicken is completely coated, then store in the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
  2. When ready to cook, add chicken to a deep skillet or pot. Cook the chicken until browned on each side, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet.
  3. Melt the butter in the skillet, then add the bell peppers. Sautée until soft, then add the stock, and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the rotini, and stir to avoid sticking. Cook until al dente, about 9 to 10 minutes.
  5. Add the heavy cream and cream cheese, and simmer until thickened. Add the Parmesan, and stir to melt, then add the chicken back into the pot. Stir to combine.
  6. Season to taste, and serve immediately.
Calories per Serving 907
Total Fat 52.5 g
Saturated Fat 22.9 g
Trans Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 191.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 63.5 g
Dietary Fiber 5.6 g
Total Sugars 12.3 g
Sodium 939.5 mg
Protein 46.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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