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Texas Chicken Spaghetti Recipe

Texans love their food, especially when it comes to Italian cuisine.

Chicken Spaghetti is one such classic dish that’s been around since the 1960s.

Although the exact origins of this Texan favorite aren’t known, its popularity has grown over time.

This Texas-style pasta dish can be cooked with or without meat.

It’s also served with cheese on top, but many people prefer just the spicy tomato sauce.

If you want to make sure your guests get as much chili flavor as possible, you should use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts.

The thick bones from the thighs will provide more depth to the sauce.

What Is The Origin Of Texas Chicken Spaghetti?

There isn’t any definitive answer for where Chicken Spaghetti originated.

However, there are multiple theories about how this dish came to be.

One claim is that the recipe was created by an employee at the Original Bob Evans restaurant chain in Houston, Texas.

Since then, Bob Evans restaurants have become famous for serving authentic Texan dishes like fried steak sandwiches and Texas BBQ ribs.

This particular restaurant serves several variations of Chicken Spaghetti, including jalapeño chicken spaghetti and garlic herb chicken spaghetti.

Another theory suggests that Chicken Spaghetti was invented by a chef named George Washington Carver.

He worked in St. Louis, Missouri during the 1930s and 40s.

His most notable invention was peanut butter which he developed after experimenting with different types of nuts.

Carver later moved to Dallas, Texas and started working at the Southern Hotel.

One day, his boss asked him to prepare a meal using leftover spaghetti noodles.

According to some sources, Carver added chicken and tomatoes to the mix.

Others say that Carver used canned spaghetti in place of fresh spaghetti noodles.

It wasn’t long before word spread about the new concoction, so Carver changed the name from “chicken spaghetti” to “Texas spaghetti.”

Some believe that this change happened because Carver wanted to emphasize Texas’ strong southern roots.

Other claims suggest that Carver simply liked the way the dish sounded.

Either way, Chicken Spaghetti became very popular among Texans and eventually caught on across the country.

texas chicken spaghetti recipe

What Are The Traditional Ingredients In Texas Chicken Spaghetti?

Chicken Spaghetti recipes don’t vary too much across different regions in America.

You may have heard of some variations, like adding onions or garlic to the mix, but these changes are usually minimal compared to how similar chicken spaghetti dishes taste across states.

  • Sauce – This is where most of the differences lie between Texan and non-Texan versions of chicken spaghetti. Some sauces contain only tomatoes while others include other vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, or peppers. When choosing a type of sauce to go along with your noodles, remember that the thicker the better for this particular dish. You want all of the flavors and spices to permeate throughout the sauce so they’re evenly distributed.
  • Noodles – There are two kinds of noodles used in chicken spaghetti: spaghetti and linguini. Both types are long strands of dough extruded through holes in a mold. They both come in various shapes and sizes depending on what region of the country you’re cooking them in.
  • Cheese – You can add any kind of cheese to this dish, though mozzarella works best because it melts easily and doesn’t become overly greasy. Cheese adds an extra layer of flavor and texture to the finished product, which makes it perfect for dipping into the sauce.

How Do You Make Texas Chicken Spaghetti?

The key to making delicious Texan chicken spaghetti is using high quality tomatoes and other fresh ingredients.

Here’s how to cook up some good ol’ Texas chicken spaghetti!

  • First off, choose a large pot for cooking the chicken. You don’t want any splatter while you’re stirring the sauce.
  • Next, chop up all your vegetables before adding them into the pot. This includes onion, garlic, green pepper, celery, and carrots.
  • After chopping everything, add olive oil to the pot. Stir well so that all the veggies get coated evenly. Let simmer until they start to soften.
  • Add the diced chicken thighs to the pan along with your chopped tomatoes. Cook on medium heat until the chicken starts to brown slightly.
  • Once the chicken is fully cooked, stir the contents of the pot frequently to avoid burning anything.
  • When the chicken is almost done, add the water, wine, salt, and spices (cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano, basil). Turn down the flame, cover the pot, and let the mixture simmer.
  • If there’s not enough liquid left after adding the herbs and spices, add a little bit of stock (or vegetable broth) to keep things juicy.
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What Is The History Of Texas Chicken Spaghetti?

Chicken Spaghetti is not an authentic Italian dish, nor does it have any relation to the original spaghetti bolognese.

However, it was inspired by Bolognese sauces, which are often used for making lasagna.

The first recipes for Chicken Spaghetti date back to 1962.

That same year, the Houston Chronicle published an article about how the dish originated at the popular restaurant chain, Chili’s.

One of the chefs there allegedly came up with the name “chicken spaghetti” after he put together some leftover chicken breast and spaghetti noodles.

He then added tomatoes and spices to create a flavorful sauce.

This version became so successful that Chili’s restaurants started printing off copies of the recipe.

In 1969, another popular Texan restaurant called Dickey’s Barbecue Pit got hold of the recipe.

They changed it slightly by using ground beef instead of chicken and adding cornbread to the sauce.

At the end of the 1970s, they released a new version of the dish with the addition of sliced onions and green peppers.

In 1984, Dickey’s introduced the dish’s signature red sauce with jalapeños and cayenne pepper.

Today, Texans swear by this particular rendition of Chicken Spaghetti.

Who Created Texas Chicken Spaghetti?

The first recorded mention of this dish was back in 1965 in an article by WFAA TV News.

In the article, chef Joe Baccus said he got his inspiration for the dish while working at a restaurant called “Joe & Mabel’s” in Dallas, TX.

He claims that they used to serve it there to his grandmother who loved it so much she named him after the dish!

As for how it came about, there are several different versions of the story floating around.

Some say it originated from another famous eatery called “Papa John’s Pizza” in Houston, TX.

Others claim that it was invented in San Antonio, TX, which would explain why it became popular among Texans.

If it wasn’t for these two cities, then the next best place could be New Orleans, LA.

Here, chicken spaghetti was supposedly introduced as part of a special meal prepared by Chef Paul Prudhomme during the 1987 Super Bowl game between the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos.

This story only adds to the mystery surrounding the origin of this dish.

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What Is The Most Popular Texas Chicken Spaghetti Recipe?

Most Texans agree that there isn’t a better way to cook chicken than by simmering it for hours until tender.

Then they add spices like paprika and cayenne pepper before tossing it all into a creamy tomato sauce.

This mixture gets mixed together with long strands of egg noodles (or angel hair) and topped off with grated Parmesan cheese.

And that’s how the famous dish was born.

As far back as the 1990s, restaurants across the United States started serving up this tasty meal.

One of those places is The Original Ninfa’s on Westheimer Road in Houston, TX.

In fact, it’s even appeared on an episode of Food Network show Throwdown!

With only two ingredients, there’s no need to go through any elaborate cooking process.

All you have to do is boil water, put in the chicken, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, after which you mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

The Original Ninfa’s serves up other Texan favorites too.

For instance, the restaurant uses the same method for making Texas Chili, and the menu includes dishes like Enchiladas Verdes, Fajitas, and Tacos al Pastor.

If you don’t live near Houston, you might not find these items anywhere else, so if you’re looking for something similar try out another place nearby.

What Are Some Alternative Texas Chicken Spaghetti Recipes?

Chicken Spaghetti is often paired with other dishes, like salads, tacos, pizza, nachos, etc.

You can even add fresh vegetables to the mix if you wish to keep things healthy.

This recipe for Tex Mex Chicken Pasta Salad uses shredded rotisserie chicken and tortilla chips instead of the traditional pasta noodles.

You can also take advantage of leftover ingredients by adding them to the sauce.

For example, you could toss chopped onions into the pan before simmering everything together.

Or add canned corn after draining the pasta so that it remains juicy.

If you have any leftovers, don’t throw out those delicious sauces!

They’re perfect for dipping bread sticks, crackers, or veggies into.

Here’s how to store your homemade sauces in case you need them later.

Another option is to cook extra chicken thighs (or whole chickens) and freeze them in batches for another meal.

That way, you won’t run out of chicken every night during cold months.

How Do You Serve Texas Chicken Spaghetti?

Chicken Spaghetti is usually eaten during football season, particularly Super Bowl Sunday.

Texans love going out to eat after games because they feel like celebrating by eating something delicious.

For those who don’t have TV access at home, restaurants often offer happy hour specials where you can enjoy a drink while getting food.

The best way to cook this dish is using an electric frying pan.

You can go ahead and cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces if you wish.

Just make sure not to overcook them so they won’t dry out too quickly!

You may also choose to grill the chicken before cooking it in the oven.

This will take longer than directly frying the chicken.

However, it’ll give you a great smoky flavor which goes well with the other ingredients in the sauce.

When making this dish, remember to keep a close eye on the temperature of the oil.

You don’t want to burn the tomatoes either.

So, turn down the heat whenever necessary to prevent any mishaps.

Cooking the spaghetti takes no time at all.

Once the sauce is ready, you need only add the noodles to the skillet and stir until everything gets coated evenly.

When you’re done stirring, remove the spaghetti from the pan and toss it with salt.

Then, place it back in the hot sauce and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

What Are Some Common Side Dishes For Texas Chicken Spaghetti?

The main ingredient in this classic dish is chicken.

You could cook up any kind of meat you like, but most people choose white meat because it cooks faster than dark meat.

This means you don’t need to spend so long cooking the chicken before serving it.

So if you have leftover roast beef sitting around, try using it!

A lot of people add bacon into the mix too.

Some even go as far as adding pork rinds.

But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t swap them out for another type of crunchy topping.

Think about something salty like corn chips or pretzels, or perhaps a savory cracker.

You might think that this dish would be best eaten cold, but actually, it tastes better hot.

That’s because the tomatoes contain lots of liquid which helps create a rich, smooth taste.

As soon as it cools down, however, the texture becomes slightly less appealing.

There’s nothing wrong with eating this at room temperature though.

If you want to make certain that everyone gets an equal amount of sauce, you may want to consider cutting back on the portion sizes.

However, if you keep portions small enough, then nobody will feel left out.

Another option is to make two different types of sauces – one with peppers and onions, and the other without.

Then you could let everyone decide what they want to eat.

What Are Some Tips For Making The Perfect Texas Chicken Spaghetti?

Chicken spaghetti is easy enough to prepare at home, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind while cooking.

First off, don’t add any additional salt to the sauce – the tomatoes already have plenty of sodium.

You may also like to omit the garlic if you think it might overpower the flavors in the sauce.

Lastly, try not to overcook the pasta so that it doesn’t become mushy.

That way, all those rich flavors will remain intact.

The key thing to remember about preparing this Texan favorite is to cook the chicken first.

Then, once it’s done, toss it into a warm pan with the rest of the ingredients before adding them to the pot.

Letting everything cool down in between steps makes it easier to mix the ingredients together.

If you’re new to the world of Texan comfort foods, consider trying out these other recipes:

  • Slow Cooker Shrimp & Grits
  • Crispy Fried Okra Recipe
  • Chili Cheese Dip
  • Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe
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Texas Chicken Spaghetti Recipe

Chicken Spaghetti is one such classic dish that’s been around since the 1960s
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Texas Chicken Spaghetti Recipe
Servings: 4
Calories: 439kcal


  • 1 Oven


  • 1 package uncooked spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pepper
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can mushroom soup
  • 1 can chicken soup
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 package Velveeta
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • Minced fresh parsley optional


  • the oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta as directed on the package.
  • Onion and pepper are added when the butter in the Dutch oven has melted over medium heat. Cook and stir 5-7 minutes or until tender. Chop tomatoes after draining the liquid from cooked tomatoes. Add the soups, tomatoes, and optional sugar.
  • Spaghetti should be drained before being combined with Velveeta, chicken, and any reserved liquid, if prefered. Transfer to a 13x9x2-inch oiled baking dish. 20 minutes of baking while covered. Bake uncovered for a another 5–10 minutes, or until bubbling. Add some parsley, if desired.



Calories: 439kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 1474mg | Potassium: 631mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 716IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 4mg
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