Olive Garden Smoked Mozzarella Chicken and Penne Pasta

The following is a post from Tiffany at Eat at Home:

Recently, my husband and I went out on a date. We left our 4 kids home with a $5 pizza. Is there a better, more freeing feeling in the world? We wandered a bookstore, actually had a conversation and shared dinner at Olive Garden.

I ordered Smoked Mozzarella Chicken. It was delicious and I knew the kids would love it too, but the cost for 6 of us to eat at Olive Garden? No way. My meal was part of a 3-course special, which included salad and a tiny dessert. The cost was $12.95. Times that by 6 = Too much!

So I set about recreating this at home. I was able to make this recipe for well under $2 per serving.

Before we get to the recipe, I do want to be honest about the Smoked Mozzarella. I could not find any. I checked two stores, including Kroger, which has a nice selection of specialty cheeses. If you can find it, Smoked Mozzarella will make the dish taste much more like Olive Garden's. I decided to substitute Smoked Provolone slices. It's affordable and easily available. It doesn't pack quite the smokey punch that the specialty cheese does, but it is a good substitute.

Here's what you'll need to make this copy-cat recipe. You'll also need white wine and butter, which didn't make it into the photo.

Chicken and Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken tenders
  • 3 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2-3 Tbs. olive oil for cooking chicken

Pasta Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups half & half, warmed
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 3-4 slices smoked provolone, cut in thin strips or 1/2 cup shredded Smoked Mozzarella
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish


  1. Marinate the chicken in lemon juice and garlic for an hour in the fridge.
  2. Heat water for pasta and cook pasta. While it cooks, do remaining steps of recipe.
  3. Heat 2-3 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook till done. Remove from pan.
  4. Add 3 Tbs. butter to same skillet. Cook garlic in butter 2-3 minutes. Add chopped red pepper. Cook several minutes till pepper is tender-crisp. Remove from pan.
  5. Whisk in wine, cooking a minute. Whisk in half & half.
  6. Stir in Parmesan and Asiago cheese. Turn heat down to simmer, stirring to let the cheese melt.
  7. Drain cooked pasta. Combine pasta with sauce and red peppers. Top with cooked chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, Provolone or Smoked Mozzarella and parsley.

Serves 6-8 people.

Do you love Olive Garden dishes? Try this Smoked Mozzarella Chicken and Penne Pasta and you'll swear the dinner mints are around the corner!

Find MORE Recipes HERE

by Savings Lifestyle: Tiffany on February 09, 2012


  • Becca @ Crumbs and Chaos - February 09, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

    This looks delicious! Pasta is one of our favorite meals and so much more cost effective to make at home.

  • Brittnie Foley - February 12, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

    What kind of white wine???

    • Savings Lifestyle: Andrea - February 12, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

      Brittnie, any white wine will do. Something that you would drink is always the best type to cook with.

  • Kewain {nolabellesoiree} - February 14, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

    Your recipe seems much healthier, lighter and fresher than Olive’s. I like the smoked chicken but the dish was so greasy!!

  • Stephanie - July 10, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

    I love this recipe. I had to modify it a bit because I couldn’t find the smoked mozz or the asiago but I added regular fresh mozz and provolone as well as fresh parm. So amazing! I made this for my new boyfriend and he thinks I’m some sort of amazing chef! I’ve never cooked with cooking wine before but it was delicious and easy to make. I will be making this again and again!

    Highly recommend it!

  • Cynthia - July 31, 2012 @ 12:12 am

    Hello im really excited about trying this recipe but im not sure on how much pasta to cook.
    Also can I use fresh lemon juice to marinate the chicken?
    And last im not a wine drinker so I have no idea about what kind to look for. Can someone plese recommend a brand or something to guide me? Please


    • Savings Lifestyle: Andrea - July 31, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

      Cynthia, you could use fresh lemon juice for sure! And, I would search for a pinot noir or a riesling to cook with. Usually I just use whatever I have on hand. HTH!

  • chrissdenice - August 02, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

    so we have to buy the chicken and just to put the chicken into the lemon ? right

  • V - January 03, 2013 @ 12:18 am


  • Erica - January 05, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

    How much pasta does it call for? You didnt say. Sounds great and looks easy enough to make :-)

    • Savings Lifestyle: Andrea - January 06, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

      Hi Erica! One box of penne should do!

      • Erica - January 12, 2013 @ 9:51 am

        Thank you!! Trying this out tonight! Sorry for the late reply! Will let you know how it turned out. I couldn’t find smoked anything..so I am using Mozzarella and Asiago -plain. Thanks for posting a much easier, healthier dish! :-)

  • Nancy - January 13, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

    I couldn’t find smoked mozzarella either, but realized that I had some liquid smoke that I add to barbecue sauce sometimes and tried mixing about 1/2 to 3/4 of a teaspoon to my shredded mozzarella— it was the taste I was looking for to duplicate Olive Garden’s dish. Got rave reviews from everyone who tasted the above recipe.

    • Lois - March 03, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

      I make this at home, too. We have smoked mozzarella here, but to save and for convenience I added some hickory smoke seasoning to the white sauce. Here’s my version:

      Lois’s Olive Garden photo Smokey Mozzarella Chicken (I haven’t tried OG’s yet, just liked the picture)

      In skillet cook chicken bite size pieces in some olive oil.
      Add juliennedred peppers.
      Meanwhile cook penne pasta.

      Meanwhile make a white sauce (butter, flour, milk, bay leaf), add a small dash each white wine and hickory smoke flavoring.
      Mix sauce with chicken, peppers, and pasta. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella Serve with a salad.

    • Paula Hepp - July 18, 2016 @ 11:48 am

      I make this all the time, my husband & daughter LOVE it, I find smoked mozerella @ meujer it is in a chest by the deli with other cheese!!!! It’s around $6 but worth it. If it molds a little between use just slice that section off and keep using. I do!!!

  • Marian K - January 16, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

    I love smoked mozzarella! I live in San Jose CA and you can find it at Whole Foods (in the deli and specialty cheese section), Safeway and Lucky (sometimes). It is also great (sliced) on sandwiches.

  • Carleen A - March 01, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

    I found smoked mozzarella at Whole Foods. I’m trying this dish this weekend–it tasted great at the restaurant. I’m not a fan of asiago cheese though–it really is in it? Surprising that I liked it then!

  • Lois - March 03, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

    I use regular mozarella with hickory smoked flavoring to save money and for convenience. Here’s my version. (I haven’t tasted OG’s yet, just got inspired by the ad.)

    In skillet cook chicken bite size pieces in some olive oil.
    Add red peppers.
    Cook penne pasta.

    Meanwhile make a white sauce (butter, flour, milk, bay leaf), when thickened add a small dash each white wine and hickory smoke flavoring.
    Mix all together. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella

    Serve with a salad. Definitely a restaurant quality meal for a lot less.

  • Acappellla - April 09, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

    I just made this because my friend brought me this dish from Olive Garden and man it was impressive!

    Thanks for this recipe! I made a few changes and used shrimp and crab for the meat since I had some still packaged in my freezer. The sauce didn’t come out smooth possibly because I had to use hard cheese and grate it for asaigio cheese & the mozarrella. I added a half tsp of liquid smoke for the flavor with just a bit of cornstarch.

    It turned out great!! Thanks so much!!

  • Olive garden employee - May 05, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

    You don’t need smoked mozzarella it liquid smoke in a bottle. You can usually find it in the spice isle.

  • Netty - September 16, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

    I bought smoked mozzarella from Central Market, the flagship store of HEB in Texas.

  • Ray - October 18, 2013 @ 6:50 am

    I don’t mean any disrespect but for a family of 6 @ $12.95/per head for a 3 coarse meal really isn’t that expensive for family restaurant meal. I’ve heard that at Olive Garden the servers are limited to only 3 tables each, not to mention the unlimited bread/soup/salad they are responsible for preparing. There is always some promotion there “never ending pasta bowl” which translates to waiters doing 3 times as much work for the same tip, not to mention they can’t turn tables because American gluttony is to stay there stuffing your face for multiple hours until you box up you last serving and are rolled out the door. Or you get an “entree to take home” ?? I love it but I don’t really understand because regardless I would have still gone there for lunch and bought the same thing only this time I got twice the amount of food for the same price. I love me some OG but I feel bad for their employees. They should get paid a higher wage or people should be tipping 30% for the great service and deal they’re sure to receive

    • Savings Lifestyle: Andrea - October 19, 2013 @ 11:00 am

      Ray, some people don’t have the extra money for their entire family to go out to eat. This is a great alternative for getting restaurant flavors at home to feed a large family. Plus, I personally want to know what’s going into my food and you can’t do that whatsoever with restaurant meals.

  • Bestgoogaaever - November 14, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

    I found it believe it or not in Sonora where I live lol it was at Safeway Marketplace. I almost missed it and the girl even stated they did not have it. However I thought with this mountain of exotic cheeses they must have it. WaLa, They only had three chunks to sale but I found it. Can’t wait to make it tonight!

  • Adeline - November 26, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    Yes! Finally someone wrotes about olive garden nutrition.

  • Sherri S - December 16, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

    I haven’t made this yet, but it seems to be missing a thickening ingredient. Flour or something else to pull/bind the butter, cream and cheese together.

  • Lisa B - April 07, 2015 @ 12:43 pm

    Thank you so much for this recipe!! I made it last night and it was delicious! I did find smoked mozzarella at Walmart and Hy-Vee. I used ziti pasta. I thought that was what is used at Olive Garden, but the noodles were a bit large. Now I can make my favorite dish at home. Thanks!

  • Steve - April 19, 2016 @ 6:26 pm


    I love the smoked mozzarella chicken at Olive Garden (I order it last Saturday)

    I’ll try your recipe, but at OG, the chicken is very very tender, and with a little crust.

    How can I do that?


    • Savings Lifestyle: Andrea - June 15, 2016 @ 12:43 pm

      Steve, you can always try to use panko crumbs to make a light crust. That always seems to work for me!

  • Shereeta Bailey - October 14, 2016 @ 3:39 pm

    Whole Foods has smoked mozzarella

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