Tres Quesos Chicken Pasta

Tres Quesos Chicken Pasta

Pasta de Pollo con Tres Quesos
8 to 10 servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: ancho chiles, cheese, chicken, cotija cheese, Muenster cheese, Oaxaca cheese, pasta, pati's mexican table, queso anejo
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Tres Quesos Chicken Pasta recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 6, Episode 12 "Cheesy"


  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt, plus more for salting the water
  • To taste freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup cubed Oaxaca cheese
  • 1 cup cubed asadero or muenster cheese
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso añejo or cotija, for garnish

To Prepare

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.
  • In a medium bowl combine the garlic, chili powder, oregano, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add chicken to the bowl and toss until chicken is coated in the rub.
  • Once the water is boiling, cook the spaghetti until al dente, or according to package instructions. Strain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • In a large casserole set over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the oil. Once it melts, add the chicken and cook until all sides are browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and continue to brown for another 30 seconds.
  • Pour in the milk and cream, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to remove browned bits. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water – or more if desired. Let the liquids come to a simmer and reduce until they begin to thicken.
  • Add the Oaxaca and muenster cheese, saving the cojita for the topping. Once the cheese is slightly melted, take off the heat and stir in pasta. Stir until the pasta is completely coated and the cheese is melted. Serve hot. Garnish with a sprinkle of cilantro and cotija cheese.

42 comments on “Tres Quesos Chicken Pasta

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  1. I saw your show on this chicken pasta. It looks fantastic. I will be making it in the near future when I get the ingredients.
    Love your show, the food you cook, recipes, and how you present everything with love, and (forgive me) sex appeal. You really know how to turn people on to your food. Sincerely.

    1. Of course Jennifer, if you cannot find Oaxaca or Asadero, go for Mozzarella, Quesadilla or Gouda. If you don’t have Cotija, you can sprinkle Feta or Queso Fresco. Enjoy!

  2. I saw this show on PBS this past week and I thought this sounds so easy. I was wondering, do you think I could add some vegetables to this dish? Maybe spaghetti squash? or even broccoli?

  3. Buenas noches Pati y yo hare esta receta pronto y que que saldra deliciosa. Me encantan todas tus recetas y tu programa en Create. It make me miss my amazing country Mexico. I will love if you could do a section on other parts of Mexico, like Monterrey and Chihuahua, they have amazing recipes to and traditions. Dios te bendiga a ti y tu familia y que a Alan se encuentre bien en la Universidad.

    1. Mil gracias, Ivonne! I hope to do explore those areas of Mexico soon…and my new season will explore Sinaloa.

  4. This is the best pasta ever! I love your show, my son and I watch it all the time! He loves to cook in the kitchen with me just like your boys! Thank you for the cook books and the show and for inspiring a Nebraska farm girl to cook real Mexican food! You are the best!

    1. Beyond happy to hear you are inspired to get in the kitchen and have some fun kitchen adventures with your boys, Kelli! I hope you have many more.

  5. Mmmm I just made this. It was so good. I made it exactly as the recipe said to. The whole family loved it. Even the picky ones. Thanks Pati.

  6. Hola Pati,

    I just saw your show for the first time ever accidentally on PBS. I love Mexican food and never managed to find the same food here in the US like I did in Mexico City where I spent a good deal of time in the early 80s!

    Anyways, now I will follow your website and other sources…

    One question, do you think Tres Quesos could be made in advance? What is the best way to re heat it? I find Chicken in the US to be so bland and chicken breasts get hard and tasteless quite easily….

    1. This is best eaten just made…but it can be made in advance and reheated either on the stove top covered or in the oven, Shireen.

  7. This was easy to make, and turned out so well. I used mozzarella, muenster and feta cheese. So satisfying, and plenty of leftovers for the next day!

  8. We made this dish for a special New Year’s meal. Everyone loved it. It combined the best of cheese with a bit of heat.
    I was wondering if there are weight measurements for the cheese and the chicken. Our version was great, but the ratio of those ingredients to the noodles seemed a little off. Also, would it be possible to use half and half instead of heavy cream?
    I think we’ll make this plate a tradition every year. ¡Muy rico! Gracias, Pati!

    1. I’m so glad everyone enjoyed it! I don’t have weight measurements…but you can add more or less of the chicken and cheese to meet your tastes (I like it really cheesy) And half and half will work too!

  9. Just made this tonight and it was delicious. Thank you for the recipe. Of course we could enjoy this more often if we had the metabolism and calorie burning make-up of your young boys!

  10. It’s good — but way too much heat. I didn’t have ancho chili powder but used chipotle chili powder instead. Is there something I can do to lower the heat?

  11. This is delicious! It is not easy to find recipes my whole family likes but everyone loved it! My kids asked me to send the leftovers in their lunches to school the next day. I used muenster for the asadero cheese, but otherwise followed the recipe as written. My husband and I like a little more heat than our kids do, so we sprinkled some red pepper flakes on. But this is definitely becoming a regular in our family.

  12. Yum! I would love to try this pasta after watching you and your sweet Sammy cook this. I wonder if I can find Oaxaca cheese where I live…