This Chicken Pesto Pasta recipe is basically a no-recipe recipe, but we’re going to give you a recipe anyway, because it’s so yummy. Seriously, you can probably guess from the recipe name how to make this one-pot recipe, but there are a few tricks to making this super yummy, so we’re going to share a full recipe for a delicious chicken pesto pasta meal at home.
One winter night my family was craving something fresh yet light. You know, it’s cold outside, but let’s eat something that isn’t goulash. That type of thing. Since it was cold outside, I didn’t really want to leave my house to grab extra ingredients, so I started trying to decide what I could make from the chicken in my refrigerator, plus pantry and freezer ingredients.
Since we were feeling something in that “fresh” category, I started looking for ingredients that are green. In fact, I made a game of it and made my two year old daughter help find “things that are green.” We found jarred pesto, frozen peas, and frozen broccoli. In addition to the chicken and the mounds of pasta we have, I decided I could make something delicious: chicken pesto pasta.
I started throwing things in the Dutch oven and in about 30 minutes, dinner was ready. We sat down to eat, and we were not disappointed by how delicious this dish was. It was even great left over (more below on that), so we got two delicious meals AND only got one dish dirty. Winning!
Hopefully you’re excited to try this chicken pesto pasta, but we do want to share a few more explanatory comments and try to answer questions you may have about the recipe first. Check out these answers, or scroll down to the ingredients and directions to get cooking!
What type of pasta should I use for my chicken pesto pasta?
We used gemelli pasta because I had some and it’s fun. The pesto sticks really well to the twists in this pasta so it’s also quite practical. Other pasta shapes that would work equally well for this recipe include:
If you need a little help remembering all the different shapes of pasta, that’s okay, we can’t remember them all either. We love this Pasta Shapes Dictionary as a handy resource for remembering what the different shapes are and what they’re all good for!
What type of chicken should I use for this recipe?
We wrote this recipe using plain boneless skinless chicken breasts. They’re everywhere, affordable and work perfectly well for this recipe. However, there are a few other types of chicken that you could use. Here are some ideas:
- If you’re shopping at LGCM (and why wouldn’t you?), you can use one of our marinated chicken breasts such as the Garlic Parmesan, Italian Romano or Lemon Pepper to bring even more flavor to this recipe.
- If you have chicken breast tenders on hand, they are even easier to cut into perfectly shaped pieces for this recipe.
- Finally, if you’re a dark meat chicken fan, boneless skinless chicken thighs would also work well for your chicken pesto pasta. They’ll take a bit longer to sear, but you’ll have a deeper, richer flavor in the finished dish!
Can I use homemade pesto?
Of course you could! We aren’t in a bountiful time of the year when I cooked this, but using fresh, homemade pesto would definitely take this recipe to a new level. If you find yourself with an abundance of basil, this chicken pesto pasta will definitely help use it up.
Here’s a link to our favorite pesto recipe.
Do you have any ideas on variations for this recipe?
Since I made my chicken pesto pasta out of what I had available in the pantry and freezer, I kept it pretty simple. However, we definitely could have added more vegetables to this recipe if we wanted. Ideas would include:
- Cauliflower florets added with the broccoli.
- Small diced carrots added with the peas.
- Sautéing onions and / or garlic with the chicken for a bit of flavor boost.
This chicken pesto pasta recipe would also make an excellent shrimp and chicken pesto pasta if you’re a fan of shrimp! If you’d like to add shrimp to this dish, you can purchase your favorite cooked shrimp and add them in the last five minutes of cooking to warm them through.
Is this chicken pesto pasta good left over?
My wife and I both enjoyed this dish as a cold lunch the next day and it was delicious! The pesto flavor really sunk into the pasta and it was a perfect little pasta salad for lunch. You can also enjoy this reheated by adding the leftovers to a microwave safe dish with a tablespoon of water and microwaving for 2 – 3 minutes until it’s warmed through. This will be good in the refrigerator for 3 days, no problem.
That’s all we have to share about our chicken pesto pasta, but if you have more questions or comments, feel free to leave us a comment below. We hope you enjoy this recipe, we’ll see you soon at Lake Geneva Country Meats!
PS – if you love chicken and pesto, you have to check out our chicken pesto bake recipe!
- 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (would be great with our marinated chicken, see note above)
- 2 tsp Cavender’s Greek Seasoning (or your favorite chicken seasoning)
- 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 can Chicken Broth (14.5 oz)
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 cup Pasta (uncooked, gemelli, see note above)
- 2 cup Broccoli (florets, fresh)
- 1 cup Peas (frozen)
- 1/3 cup Pesto
Cut the chicken breast into 1-inch pieces and season with Cavender’s.
We like the balanced, light flavors for chicken, but you can use any lemon-pepper or similar poultry seasoning that you have in your pantry.
Add vegetable oil to a large Dutch oven or similar pot and heat to medium high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and brown on all sides. Once browned, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
We used our 6 qt. Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven for this dish because it’s big enough for everything to fit, versatile to brown the chicken and cook the noodles, and easy to clean up!
Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and uncooked pasta to the Dutch oven. Stir together, mixing up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan into the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover the Dutch oven and let cook for 10 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients except the pesto and stir together. Continue simmering with the lid on for about 10 – 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and pasta is tender. Once cooked, add the pesto and stir to combine. Enjoy!