Bursting with tomato and basil pesto flavor, this quick and easy pesto chicken pasta recipe is sure to become a new family favorite.
Twenty years ago, when I was a newlywed and had my very own kitchen for the first time, I spent a great deal of time trying out new recipes to find new things that Ricky liked. One of my most successful finds in this area was a little paperback cookbook brochure up at the checkout counter. Just about every recipe I tried became a favorite. I tweaked them a bit to fit our own tastes and then passed them on for Mama to try. When they got rave reviews from both of us, I knew I had a winner.
This pesto chicken pasta is one of those recipes. The original version was a bit more complicated but things tend to get streamlined and simplified in my kitchen. I don’t have time for fussy dishes and the easy version of this has been a favorite for two decades. I also usually have all of the ingredients on hand and just need to grab some pesto, which gives it another tick of approval.
Now, when I say this is a quick and easy pesto chicken pasta recipe, I mean it. It will be on the table in under 30 minutes. All you need to do is brown the chicken and then let it simmer in the delicious pasta sauce, which includes diced and crushed tomatoes, pesto, and minced garlic cloves. While that simmers, cook your pasta, and hey presto, dinner is served! How good does that sound?
The delicious combination of tomatoes, pesto, and tender chicken makes this one-pan chicken pesto pasta a firm favorite in our household. I hope your family enjoys it as well. Let’s get cooking!
- Boneless skinless chicken breast or chicken tenders
- Petite diced tomatoes (undrained)
- Crushed tomatoes (undrained)
- Pesto sauce
- Minced garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- Pasta of your choice (my daughter loves bowtie pasta)
- Parmesan cheese (totally optional)
How To Make Pesto Chicken Pasta
Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add chicken and cook, turning as needed, until brown on both sides.
It doesn’t have to be fully cooked at this point.
If you’re using chicken breasts, I personally slice them after browning them. This makes the serving sizes more balanced for my family. Not everyone eats an entire chicken breast at one meal so slicing it up makes it easier for me to portion out. You don’t have to do this unless you just want to.
Return chicken pieces to the pan. Add garlic, tomatoes, pesto sauce, salt, and pepper.
Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until chicken is fully done and no longer pink in the center.
Oh goodness, gracious! Look at that delicious sauce covering up all the wonderful chicken!
To serve, place chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins over hot fresh cooked pasta and spoon sauce over.
Garnish with parmesan cheese.
Enjoy your fresh and flavorful family-pleasing meal of pesto chicken pasta!
- Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days and quickly reheat in the microwave.
- You can also freeze leftovers for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating in the microwave.
- To keep this on the low-carb side, use zero-carb pasta or have this dish without any pasta at all. The chicken and sauce are enough on their own to satisfy.
- Other pasta varieties to use include penne pasta or rotini. You can also use gluten-free pasta.
- If you’d like to add a touch of heat, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
- For extra tomato flavor, add 1/3 cup of sundried tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes.
- Add a garnish of chopped fresh basil or chopped fresh parsley. Another delicious garnish is toasted pine nuts.
- Want to add some veggies to your pesto pasta? Opt for broccoli florets, diced pumpkin, or baby spinach leaves. Just let the dish simmer until the veggies are tender.
- If you like, substitute the chicken for leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken and this recipe will be even quicker!
What is in pesto?
I dearly love Pesto. I usually pick up a jar at Aldi. If you’ve never bought it before it is basically basil, garlic, cheese, and some olive oil. You can find it near the spaghetti sauce at pretty much any grocery store. As far as flavor goes, it packs a delicious punch!
How do you make creamy pesto chicken pasta?
For creamy chicken pesto pasta, omit one of the cans of tomatoes and add 3/4 cup of heavy cream or half and half instead. Bring that sauce to a boil quickly so it thickens before simmering.
What do you serve with chicken pesto pasta?
This meal is perfect as the main meal as is, but you can also serve it with garlic bread or a simple side salad.
Check out these other easy pasta recipes:
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 1.5 pounds of boneless skinless chicken tenders
- 1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes, undrained
- 1/2 cup pesto sauce
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- freshly cooked pasta of your choice
- grated parmesan cheese, optional
- In a large skillet, place the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook until brown on both sides, flipping as needed. Chicken does not have to be done in the center.1-2 tbsp olive oil, 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Add both cans of tomatoes with juice, pesto sauce, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir together and reduce heat to medium-low, cooking until chicken is no longer pink in the center and sauce is heated through.1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained, 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes, undrained, 1/2 cup pesto sauce, 1 tbsp minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste
- Spoon chicken and sauce over freshly cooked pasta. Garnish with parmesan cheese if you like. Enjoy!freshly cooked pasta of your choice, grated parmesan cheese, optional
Next time you’re tempted to fight fire with fire, remember the fire department uses water.