Learn how to make a Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta meal in under 30 minutes with this simple recipe! Creamy, cheesy and full of flavor, this dish will quickly be a new favorite!
Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinner
Dinnertime can be stressful when time is limited, which is why I always have recipes like this in my back pocket. It’s super simple to make and that creamy pesto sauce is to die for!
It was a little bit on accident the way this chicken pesto pasta came to be. I had a bunch nut-free pesto leftover from recipe testing and didn’t want it to go to waste. My husband orders pesto in his pasta all the time at Italian restaurants so I thought I’d pull together a few of his favorite things into one dish and it was magic.
The entire family raved about it, plus it only took me 30 minutes to make! That’s the best kind of win.
Creamy Pesto Sauce
I went back and forth deciding how to make the creamy pesto sauce for this chicken pasta dish. Alfredo style seemed too heavy, so I decided to make a sort of bechamel.
- Melt some butter in a deep skillet or saute pan, then whisk in flour. Let it cook for a few minutes until it’s like a thick paste and golden in color.
- Pour in chicken broth and milk or cream. Nonfat milk will cut some calories but a cream or even half and half will make it so smooth and creamy. Let the sauce simmer for several minutes until it’s thick. Don’t boil it or it could scorch. You just want a nice simmer with bubbles coming to the top.
- Remove from the heat and stir in pesto sauce and cheese.
How to Make Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Cook chicken on the stovetop with some garlic and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper and set aside on a plate. Use the same skillet to make the creamy pesto sauce.
- Cook your favorite pasta according to the package directions. Drain the water and set it aside with the chicken.
- Combine the chicken, pasta, and sauce together in the skillet. Serve chicken pesto pasta garnished with fresh chopped basil.
Serving Suggestions and Variations
With chicken, pasta, and a creamy pesto sauce, this is a pretty heavy meal. I like to serve it with a simple garden salad on the side. If I’m feeding a larger crowd, I’ll whip up a loaf of garlic bread, too.
Another option is to add some veggies to the pesto pasta. Fresh spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, yellow squash, mushrooms, or cherry tomatoes would all be fantastic in this dish.
What to do with Leftovers
Leftover chicken pesto pasta will be good up to 4 days in the fridge if properly stored in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 4 months and thaw in the fridge when you are ready to eat. I recommend reheating on the stove, at a low heat and adding a little bit of milk to help keep it from drying out.
More pasta recipes
Looking for some more easy pasta recipes to add to your recipe box? Try these:
- One Pot Pizza Pasta
- Bruschetta Chicken Pasta
- Creamy Garlic Penne Pasta with Chicken
- Pesto Chicken Florentine
Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta
- ½ pound penne pasta about 2 1/2 cups dry (half of a one pound box)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite-sized chunks
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup half and half or all milk/cream
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 cup freshly shredded Mozzarella
- ½ cup fresh basil pesto or more, to taste
- Fresh basil for garnish, if desired
- Boil pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and olive oil, then add minced garlic, italian seasoning and diced chicken breast. Season with salt and pepper and cook until chicken is no longer pink, stirring chicken a couple of times to brown on all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate and discard any liquid in the skillet.
- Return skillet to the stove over medium heat and melt butter. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, about 3 minutes.
- Whisk in chicken broth and half & half and bring to a boil. If it begins to boil too rapidly, turn the heat down a little. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in pesto and cheeses. Add the pasta and chicken and stir to coat. Garnish with fresh chopped basil and fresh cracked black pepper.