Introduction to Chicken Riggies

Welcome to your new favorite comforting chicken pasta dinner- Chicken Riggies. This dish hails from Central New York and is filled with tender chicken in a creamy and slightly spicy tomato sauce.

chicken riggies

Chicken Riggies is a classic dish hailing from the Utica-Rome area of Central New York. This beloved regional specialty combines tender chicken, rigatoni pasta, and a spicy cream sauce, all coming together to form a hearty, comforting meal.

Known for its robust flavors and adaptability, Chicken Riggies is a perfect example of how simple ingredients can create a deeply satisfying dish.

What Makes Chicken Riggies So Great?

The allure of Chicken Riggies lies in its delightful combination of creamy, spicy, and savory elements. The dish masterfully balances these textures and flavors, creating a culinary experience that is both indulgent and comforting. Velveted chicken ensures tenderness, the pasta provides a satisfying bite, and the sauce, with its blend of tomatoes, cream, and peppers, envelops everything in a warm, spicy embrace.


What Kitchen Items Do You Need to Make Chicken Riggies?

To make Chicken Riggies, you’ll need several kitchen essentials:

  • A large pot for boiling the pasta.
  • A Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot for the sauce and chicken.
  • A sharp knife and cutting board for chopping ingredients.
  • Measuring spoons and cups for ingredient accuracy.
  • A wooden spoon or spatula for stirring.
  • A colander for draining the pasta.

These tools help streamline the cooking process and ensure that each component is prepared correctly.

What Ingredients Are Needed for This Recipe?

The ingredients for Chicken Riggies are specific and crucial for capturing the authentic flavor of the dish:

  • 1 lb rigatoni: The base of the dish, perfect for holding onto the creamy sauce.
  • 1½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breast: Sliced and velveted for tenderness.
  • 2 tsp cornstarch: Helps in velveting the chicken, making it tender.
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil: Used throughout the cooking process.
  • 1 medium white onion, diced: Adds sweetness and depth.
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced: Provides a mild, sweet flavor.
  • ½ cup hot cherry peppers, chopped: Infuses the dish with its signature heat.
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced: Lays down a flavorful garlic base.
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning: Enhances the dish with classic herbs.
  • 2 tsp chicken bouillon: Deepens the savory notes.
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt, plus more to taste: For seasoning.
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed: Adds a mild spice.
  • ½ cup white wine or sherry: Deglazes the pot and adds complexity.
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes: The tomato base of the sauce.
  • ½ cup chicken broth: Thins and enriches the sauce.
  • 1 cup Parmesan, freshly grated: Brings a salty, cheesy element.
  • ½ cup heavy cream: Adds richness and ties the sauce together.

How to Make Chicken Riggies

The process for making Chicken Riggies can be broken down into detailed steps:

  1. Velvet the Chicken
    • Slice the chicken breast against the grain into pieces. Season with salt and pepper and let sit.
    • Mix in cornstarch and a teaspoon of oil; let it marinate.
    • In a Dutch oven, sear the chicken briefly in hot oil, then remove and set aside.
  2. Build Your Sauce
    • In the same pot, sauté onions, bell peppers, and cherry peppers.
    • Add garlic, Italian seasoning, and deglaze with white wine.
    • Stir in chicken bouillon, crushed tomatoes, and chicken broth; bring to a simmer.
    • Cook the rigatoni in salted boiling water to al dente, then drain.
  3. Combine and Finish
    • Add the chicken back to the sauce, allowing it to cook through.
    • Stir in the heavy cream and then the cooked rigatoni.
    • Mix in grated Parmesan, adjusting the seasoning and sauce consistency with pasta water if necessary.

What Is the History Behind This Recipe?

Originating from Central New York, Chicken Riggies reflects the region’s Italian American culinary roots. The dish showcases local flavors and cooking techniques passed down through generations, becoming a symbol of community and tradition in Utica and beyond.

How Can I Switch Up Chicken Riggies to Make It Different?

Alter the heat level, swap the cream for a lighter substitute, or add vegetables like mushrooms or spinach to diversify the dish’s profile. These tweaks can tailor Chicken Riggies to various tastes and dietary needs.

How Should I Store Chicken Riggies?

Cool the dish completely before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to three days. For longer storage, freeze it for up to two months. Reheat on the stove, adding a touch of water or broth to loosen the sauce.

Whether you’re cooking for a casual dinner or a festive gathering, Chicken Riggies offers a taste of New York’s rich culinary heritage.

chicken riggies sitting in a bowl with a fork.

Chicken Riggies

Author: Maddy & JD – Them Bites
Welcome to your new favorite comforting chicken pasta dinner- Chicken Riggies. This dish hails from Central New York and is filled with tender chicken in a creamy and slightly spicy tomato sauce.
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Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 606 kcal


  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tsp
  • 1 medium white onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • ½ cup hot cherry peppers chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp chicken bouillon
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper plus more
  • ½ cup white wine or sherry
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup Parmesan freshly grated
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Recipe Instructions

Velvet the Chicken

  • Slice chicken breast against the grain into 1 – 2 inch long pieces about ½ inch thick. Add the chicken slices to a medium bowl with 2 tbsp of water. Season with salt and 1 tsp pepper. Set aside for 5 – 10 minutes so liquid is absorbed.
  • Add 1 tsp of oil and the cornstarch to the chicken. Mix well. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Using a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat. When oil is hot add the chicken and sear for roughly 20 seconds until opaque. Remove from pot. (It will finish cooking in the sauce later).

Build your Sauce

  • Leave the pot on medium high heat and add another tbsp of olive oil. Add in your onions, bell peppers, and cherry peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 3 – 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  • Add in your Italian seasoning, chicken bouillon, and white wine. Allow white wine to simmer and cook off for 3 minutes. Then add chicken broth and crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a steady simmer. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes while you cook your pasta.
  • Bring another pot of water to a boil and heavily salt. Add rigatoni and cook until barely al dente. Reserve a cup of pasta water in case you need it. Drain pasta.
  • Add the chicken into your sauce and stir. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Next add in heavy cream and rigatoni. Stir to combine and add cheese. Add in pasta water if needed.


Calories: 606kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 41gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 732mgPotassium: 690mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1092IUVitamin C: 28mgCalcium: 253mgIron: 2mg
Keyword chicken riggies
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