Make this creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta recipe in just 20 minutes with simple ingredients! Tender chicken, pasta, and spinach in a garlic pesto cream sauce. So easy and full of great flavor!
If you're looking for a flavor-packed easy weeknight dinner, then you've got to try this creamy chicken pesto pasta!
We love that it's really easy to make in just 20 minutes, but it's rammed with great flavors.
The garlic pesto cream sauce is out-of-this-world-good. It's poured over cooked pasta (use any type you like) and tender chunks of sauteed chicken. It's also layered with spinach and grated parmesan.
So easy, so tasty and perfect for a quick weekday dinner that the whole family will love!
Serve it up with some garlic bread for a full meal!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
This creamy chicken pesto pasta comes together in just 20 minutes!
You only need a few simple everyday ingredients.
The great taste makes it a perfect family dinner.
You can use any pasta shapes you like - I used fusilli, but we've also made it with penne, bows, and even tortellini.
- Chicken Breasts: You'll need boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe.
- Pasta: We used fussilli twists, but many other shapes of pasta work well too. Try penne, bows, shells, etc...
- Heavy cream: for the base of the creamy pesto sauce.
- Pesto: We use basil pesto, but you can use other flavors if you prefer. Or try making your own pesto.
- Spinach: For added healthy greens in this dish.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic, finely minced gives the cheesy cream sauce tons of savory flavor
- Parmesan cheese: adds an extra layer of salty cheese flavor to this recipe.
- Butter and Oil: for sauteeing the chicken and flavor.
See the recipe card for the full method and quantities.
Wondering how to make this creamy chicken pesto pasta recipe? It's easy!
Just follow this step-by-step photo tutorial. Then, scroll down for the recipe card for the full ingredients list and recipe method.
Prep the chicken: Cut the chicken breasts into chunks or slices. Season it with the salt and pepper and set aside.
Pasta: Boil the pasta according to the directions on the packet. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
Sautee the chicken: Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and fry until golden and cooked through (internal temperature reaches 165F). Set the chicken aside.
Make the base of the sauce: Reduce the heat to medium/low and add the butter to the pan and let it melt. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Next, add the flavors: Stir in the heavy cream, pesto, and 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the chicken to the pan and allow the sauce to simmer for 3 minutes.
Finish the dish: Stir in the cooked pasta, spinach and parmesan, and heat for 2 minutes.
- You can swap the chicken breasts for boneless skinless chicken thighs, shrimp, turkey etc...
- Try using a red sundried tomato pesto for a different flavor profile.
- Use any shape of pasta you prefer.
- Spicy - add chili pepper flakes while cooking for a bit of heat in this creamy chicken pesto pasta.
- Deluxe - Add a glug of truffle oil or a little grated pecorino cheese instead of parmesan.
- Kid friendly - Serve the spinach on the side if your kids don't like it mixed in.
Storage and Freezing
Storage: You can store this dish in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a pan on the stove.
Freezing: This pasta dish is not freezer friendly.
Food Safety Tips
- Before cooking, be sure to wash your hands and countertops.
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that has touched raw meat.
- Always wash your hands after touching raw meat.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Keep those pot/pan handles turned in away from the front of the stove.
- When cooking at high temperatures, use oils with a high smoking point, to avoid harmful compounds.
- Put foods in the fridge or freezer within 2 hours of cooking. Reduce this to within 1 hour if it is 90 degrees or hotter outside.
Cook to safe temperatures:
To ensure food is cooked through, it's best to use a food thermometer. Be aware that you can’t always tell by looking.
- Beef, Pork, Lamb: 145 °F
- Fish: 145 °F
- Ground Beef, Ground Pork, Ground Lamb: 160 °F
- Turkey, Chicken, Duck: 165 °F
Tomato salad, green salad, garlic bread, dinner rolls, antipasto, crudites (raw veggies and dip).
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Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta
- Large skillet
- 1 pound pasta (any shape you like)
- 2 boneless (skinless chicken breasts (1.5 pounds))
- ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons pesto
- 2 cups spinach
- 3 tablespoons grated parmesan
- Cut the chicken breasts into slices. Season with the salt and pepper and set aside.
- Boil the pasta according to the directions on the packet. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for approximately 7 minutes, stirring often until golden and cooked through (internal temperature reaches 165F). Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. No need to clean out the skillet.
- Reduce the heat to medium/low and add the butter to the pan and let it melt. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the heavy cream, pesto and 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the chicken to the pan and allow the sauce to simmer for 3 minutes.
- Stir in the cooked pasta, spinach and parmesan, and heat for 2 minutes.
- Serve warm.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.