Chicken Pesto Pasta – The combination of freshly-made basil pesto, filling pasta, and tender chicken. Treat your family with this quick and tasty dinner!
This Chicken Pesto Pasta recipe is one of my favorite ways to eat pasta. Homemade pesto sauce adds a ton of flavor and aroma, making this dish hard to resist and easy to make.
That’s right, it’s EASY to make pesto from scratch. Using freshly made pesto makes a world of difference, so don’t try to use the store-bought stuff. It just won’t work. The good news is the other two main ingredients (pasta and chicken) require minimum prep. Let’s talk a bit more about those ingredients, shall we?
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About the Pasta
While I am using spaghetti in this Chicken Pesto Pasta recipe, you are free to use any kind of pasta you like. Fettuccine, penne, fusilli, rigatoni, ziti, angel hair, tagliatelle, and orecchiette would all work here.
About The Chicken
I am using Rotisserie chicken in this recipe because it’s very tasty and a convenient option. That said, you can also buy chicken breast meat (or boneless chicken thighs), cut them into bite-sized pieces, and fry them in a small amount of olive oil, seasoned with your favorite chicken seasoning.
About the Basil Pesto
Basil Pesto is made with the following ingredients:
- Fresh Basil. You can also use some fresh kale leaves, or baby spinach if you are going for a milder flavor (50:50 ratio).
- Pine Nuts. Pine nuts can be substituted with toasted cashews or walnuts successfully.
- Parmigiano Reggiano. The better the quality, the better the taste.
- Olive Oil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is recommended for the best flavor.
- Salt & Pepper.
Interesting read: The Many Benefits of Pesto Sauce
You can also use this Creamy Pesto Sauce instead.
How to Make Chicken Pesto Pasta
1.Cook the pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water according to package instructions to your desired doneness. Reserve about ⅓ cup of cooking water.
2. While the pasta is cooking, make the basil pesto. Place the basil leaves, toasted pine nuts, and garlic into a food processor and pulse several times. Add the remaining ingredients and process until very smooth. Set aside.
3. Pull the meat from the rotisserie chicken and shred.
4. Combine the hot pasta, pesto sauce, shredded chicken, and about ¼ cup of reserved pasta water (or more, if needed). Garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately.
How to store Chicken Pesto Pasta?
Store it in the refrigerator, covered with a tight lid for up to 3 days.
How to Reheat Chicken Pesto Pasta?
Warm up the leftover pasta on the stove, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.
Can I make it creamy?
Yes, add ⅓ cup of warm heavy cream, instead of the hot water in step 4.
More Easy Pasta Dinner recipes to try:
- Chicken and Shrimp Pasta
- Chicken Angel Hair Pasta
- Salmon Pasta with Spinach
- Shrimp Fettuccine
- Chermoula Sauce
Chicken Pesto Pasta
For Basil Pesto:
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves packed
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese about 2 ounces
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts can sub for cashews or walnuts
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt more to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper more to taste
For the Pasta:
- 16 oz. spaghetti or your favorite pasta (1 package)
- 1 small rotisserie chicken
- grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pine nuts to garnish
- Cook the pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water according to package instructions to your desired doneness. Reserve about ⅓ cup of cooking water.
- While the pasta is cooking, make the basil pesto. Place the basil leaves, toasted pine nuts, and garlic into a food processor and pulse several times. Add the remaining ingredients and process until very smooth. Set aside.
- Pull the meat from the rotisserie chicken and shred.
- Combine the hot pasta, pesto sauce, shredded chicken, and about ¼ cup of reserved pasta water (or more, if needed). Garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately.
Tania Sheff says
Thank you! 🙂
Nancy Perine says
Hi there! I had so much fun wandering around your blog site. The Chicken Pesto Pasta caught my eye. I had a Rotisserie chicken just begging to be used and I always have pine nuts on hand. Love them! I sauteed them in butter.We have an herb garden down behind our condo, so fresh basil is in abundance. I used grated parmesan cheese 'cause that's what I had in the refrig. and pulsed everything in the food processor. I boiled angel hair pasta and after draining it well, mixed it with warm heavy cream (as you suggested). This dish turned out great and was a big hit. Thanks for sharing!
Aloha, Nancy On Maui
Tania Sheff says
Hi Nancy! Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I am glad you liked this recipe. It's simple and filling. Glad to hear you have a herb garden. We also grow herbs and some veggies in the backyard. We are actually hoping to move to a house with more land in about two years, so we can grow our own food. 🙂
Best of luck to you and thanks for stopping by!
This was excellent! I loved how easy it was too!
Thank you so much, Trudy!