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Fresh chicken pesto pasta

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Tender penne tossed with creamy, herby pesto sauce and topped with perfectly seasoned, grilled chicken. This dish makes any weeknight meal special! With its divine taste and minimal prep time, everything about this chicken pesto pasta is a major win!
Course dinner, Entree
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 509kcal
Author Imma


  • ½ pound (228g) penne pasta, about 2½ cups
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (2g) Italian seasoning
  • 1-2 tablespoons (15-30ml) olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (1 tablespoon minced)
  • ½ cup (52g) onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon (1g) thyme, minced
  • 2 tablespoons (15g) butter
  • 3 tablespoons (25g) flour
  • cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup half-and-half, or all milk or cream
  • ½ cup Parmesan, freshly grated
  • ½ cup pesto, or more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon pepper flakes
  • Fresh basil, for garnish if desired


  • Boil pasta according to package instructions or al dente. Drain water, reserving about a cup. Set aside.
  • Salt chicken breast, then season with Italian seasoning. Alterrnatively, use just salt and pepper.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat until hot, and then add the chicken, brown for 4-5 minutes on each side to ensure even brownness. Gently remove the chicken and set it aside.
  • Add butter to the same skillet over medium heat until melted, then add onions, garlic, and thyme. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or just until the onions wilt.
  • Whisk in flour, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook for about a minute .
  • Pour in heavy cream and add chicken, broth, and cream while whisking. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes (or until the sauce has reduced and thickened).
  • Add pesto, parmesan cheese, and pepper flakes (optional).
  • Follow with the cooked pasta and stir to coat. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water. Remove from the heat.
  • Serve topped with chicken breast and garnish with fresh chopped basil.


  • While you can use any pasta, I’ve found short pasta, such as penne, fusilli, or bowtie, work best since they are bite-sized and hold the creamy sauce better than others.
  • Although the recipe calls for cooking raw chicken breasts, leftover cooked chicken or even store-bought rotisserie chicken are great time-saving options. Just cut it up into bite-sized pieces and throw it into the pasta until heated!
  • If you don’t rinse the pasta after cooking, the increased stickiness helps your pasta soak up more of that delectable sauce!
  • Please keep in mind that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.


Serving: 250g | Calories: 509kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 293mg | Potassium: 440mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 651IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 270mg | Iron: 3mg