If you need a quick weeknight dinner, here it is! Our Pesto Chicken Pasta comes together in about 25 minutes, and is full of great flavors.
This quick recipe features sautéed chicken, hearty pasta, and the sweetness of cherry tomatoes that provide a wonderful contrast to the herby basil. It’s the perfect combination!
This one kind of falls in the middle. It’s not heavy like some creamy dishes, but it still has a touch of decadence.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Big Flavors: The combination of aromatic basil pesto, sweet cherry tomatoes and nutty pine nuts creates a dish that’s bursting with flavor.
- Easy Factor: This recipe is incredibly straightforward and can be prepared in no time, making it a perfect for busy weeknight dinners. It’s a hassle-free way to enjoy a gourmet-style meal at home.
- Versatile and Adaptable: You can easily customize this dish. We’ll give you plenty of variations later in the post.
For a complete list, along with exact measurements, see the recipe card at the end of the post. Here are the main things you’re going to need to make pesto chicken pasta:
- Basil Pesto Sauce – The key flavor component. We have a great Pesto alla Genovese recipe, but you can use store bought too.
- Pasta – The base of the dish. We like short shapes like bowties, rotini or penne, but long shapes like spaghetti will work as well.
- Chicken – Chicken thighs offer more flavor and juiciness, while breasts are leaner. Your choice, but we prefer thighs.
- Crushed Red Pepper – We like it for a touch of heat, but you can skip it if you wish.
- Parmesan Cheese – Freshly grated, please. You could also use other hard cheeses like asiago for a different flavor profile.
- Cherry Tomatoes – Add sweetness and juiciness. Grape tomatoes are suitable substitutes.
- Pine Nuts – Bring a buttery crunch to the dish. For enhanced flavor, you can give them a quick dry toast in a skillet.
How to Make Pesto Chicken Pasta
1. Boil pasta in salted water according to package to al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken with a little salt and pepper, then add to the pan and sauté until no longer pink. Add garlic and continue cooking until the chicken is starting to brown up.
3. Add in pesto sauce and crushed red pepper. Mix well and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Stir in cooked pasta along with cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese.
5. Garnish with pine nuts and serve immediately.
- Creamy Pesto Pasta: For a creamy version, mix in a splash of heavy cream at the end. This adds a luxurious richness to the dish.
- Add More Veggies: You can bulk up this dish, and add more nutrients, with additional vegetables. Think mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, bell peppers, zucchini or peas.
- More Protein Variety: Add some shrimp or Italian sausage into the mix. Both go great here.
- Sun-Dried Tomato Addition: Mix in sun-dried tomatoes for a tangy, sweet flavor that pairs wonderfully with the pesto.
- Make it a Bake: After tossing everything together, sprinkle with cheese (like mozzarella and/or parmesan), and bake until bubbly and golden.
Leftovers and Storage
This chicken pesto pasta is great as leftovers for the next few days. Store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Reheat leftovers in the microwave or on stovetop over medium heat, with a splash of water or olive oil if it has dried out.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Pasta Cooking: Cook the pasta al dente according to the package instructions. Al dente pasta, which is slightly firm to the bite, holds up better when mixed with the sauce and other ingredients.
- Quality of Pesto: The pesto is a key component of this dish. If possible, use a high-quality store-bought pesto or make your own.
- Garlic Tip: If you’re a garlic lover, don’t hesitate to add an extra clove or two. Garlic adds a lovely depth of flavor that complements the pesto beautifully.
- Tomatoes: Add the cherry tomatoes towards the end of the cooking process to maintain their shape and a slight burst in texture. Overcooking them can make them too mushy.
- Cheese Quality: Use freshly grated Parmesan cheese for the best flavor. Pre-grated cheeses often contain anti-caking agents and don’t melt as smoothly.
We think you’re going to love our pesto chicken pasta. Whether it’s a cozy family dinner or a special occasion, this recipe promises to deliver comfort, taste, and satisfaction in every bite.
Pin or bookmark this easy recipe so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you.
For more easy weeknight dinners, check out our hand picked collection of Dinner Ideas for Tonight. Until next time…
Pesto Chicken Pasta, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 8oz pasta (any short shape like bowties or penne)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 cup basil pesto sauce
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- Boil pasta in salted water according to package to al dente. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken with a little salt and pepper, then add to the pan and sauté until no longer pink. Add garlic and continue cooking until the chicken is starting to brown up.
- Add in pesto sauce and crushed red pepper. Mix well and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir in cooked pasta along with cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese.
- Garnish with pine nuts and serve immediately.
- For freshest flavor, make our homemade Pesto Sauce.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 685Total Fat 45gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 33gCholesterol 146mgSodium 755mgCarbohydrates 29gFiber 3gSugar 7gProtein 43g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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