Quick and easy Chicken Pesto Pasta combines golden brown chicken pieces with fresh sauteed mushrooms and spinach, tomatoes, and penne pasta all tossed in creamy pesto sauce. With so much flavor and ease, it is one of our favorite pasta recipes. This recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes with the help of already-prepared pesto sauce.
How to make Chicken Pesto Pasta
First, heat a little olive oil and butter in a large skillet or large pan over medium-high heat. Then add the chicken and brown on both sides until cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover it to keep it warm. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the penne and cook al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water and then drain well in a colander.
Heat a little more olive oil and butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms start to brown. Then add the spinach and cook until it is wilted stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the heavy cream stirring to combine. Let it reduce for just 1-2 minutes then add the pesto sauce and stir to combine.
Add the cooked chicken and pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to enhance flavor and help the sauce and pasta stick together. Top with chopped tomatoes and fresh basil ribbons. For best results serve promptly.
Helpful recipe tips
- Cut the boneless skinless chicken breasts into uniform bite-sized pieces. If necessary pound the thick part of the chicken with a meat mallet.
- Any sun-ripened tomatoes will work including grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Use what is in season and what tastes great.
- You can use several different short pasta shapes in this recipe such as small shell, penne, rigatoni, elbow, fusilli, or cavatelli.
- Other veggies to consider adding are sweet yellow onions, zucchini, asparagus, or bell peppers.
- This recipe calls for already prepared pesto sauce but if time permits fresh pesto sauce made with fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, sautéed garlic, and fresh Parmesan Cheese is even better.
- Other protein choices include beef steak, pork, shrimp, and smoked sausage.
- The pasta water is full of starchy goodness. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water to add flavor and thicken the sauce. It helps the pasta and sauce bind together.
- Top the pasta with fresh basil and a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes. See below for how to cut basil ribbons.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave at reduced power or on the stovetop on low.
- Freeze this pasta in a sturdy freezer container or zipper freezer bag for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating in the microwave at reduced power or on the stovetop on low.
Why save pasta water
Pasta water is simply the water that the pasta is cooked in. Try to make a habit of pulling 1/2-1 cup of pasta water every time you make a pasta dish. The salty starchy water adds flavor, helps the sauce bind to the pasta, and thickens the sauce.
How to cut basil ribbons
To start gently wash and thoroughly dry the basil. Basil does not have to be dry to cut it into ribbons but it is much easier to sprinkle on the top of a dish when it is dry. Then simply stack the leaves on top of each other and gently roll them into a cylinder cigar shape. Now using a sharp knife slice them extra thin. Try to slice and add basil ribbons right before serving when they are at their peak.
More chicken pasta recipes to try!
Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe
A deliciously easy and flavor-packed Chicken Pesto Pasta made with chicken breasts, mushrooms, spinach, and penne pasta all drenched in creamy pesto sauce. In less than 30 minutes you too can make this tasty pasta dish.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- Category: main meal pasta
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 ¼ lbs boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- 8 ounces white button mushrooms
- 8 ounces chopped baby spinach
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup basil pesto
- 1 cup sliced tomatoes
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Fresh basil, chopped
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides until cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover it to keep it warm.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the penne pasta and cook al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 3/4 cup of pasta water and then drain well in a colander.
- Heat the remaining olive oil and butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms start to brown. Add the spinach and cook until it is wilted while stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the heavy cream stirring to combine. Reduce for just 1-2 minutes then add the pesto sauce and stir to combine.
- Add the cooked chicken and pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water to enhance flavor and help the sauce and pasta stick together. Top with chopped tomatoes and fresh basil ribbons. For best results serve promptly. More pasta water can be added if reheating.
Keywords: pesto chicken pasta, pesto pasta with chicken, chicken pasta with pesto recipe
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I love this recipe! Perfect weeknight meal!
Such rich flavors, really classed up dinner. And those basil ribbons were so fun to make!
Pesto is my absolute favorite so I knew I was going to love this! The sauce was amazing and I love the addition of mushrooms!
Thanks! I love pesto too!
My Chicken Pesto Pasta turned out delicious! My family is so happy and it’ll be on rotation from now on. Thanks so much for the recipe!
The pleasure is all mine, Ana!
super tasty and easy to make busy weeknight meal . this Chicken Pesto Pasta was an instant hit at home
My family loved this dish! I can’t wait to make it again and again! Incredibly delicious!
This is such a hearty meal! I love, LOVE the flavors!
Such a great recipe! My family really enjoyed this!
One of my favorite chicken pesto pasta recipes! Can’t wait to make this again!
Thanks, Juliane! So glad that you liked it!