Chicken pesto pasta is a beloved dish that combines tender chicken, aromatic pesto sauce, and perfectly cooked pasta. It's a favorite among home cooks and foodies because of its rich flavors and simple preparation. In this guide, we'll walk you through the process of creating this delectable dish from scratch.

chicken pesto pasta

Ingredients Needed

Before we dive into the cooking process, let's gather all the ingredients you'll need:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lb pasta of your choice (penne, fettuccine, or spaghetti work well)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (for cooking the chicken)
  • Optional: cherry tomatoes, extra grated Parmesan, and fresh basil for garnish

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

1. Preparing the Pesto Sauce

To make a delicious pesto sauce, follow these steps:

  1. Blend Ingredients: In a food processor, combine the fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese, and garlic cloves.
  2. Mix: Pulse the mixture until it’s finely ground.
  3. Add Olive Oil: While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil until the pesto reaches a smooth consistency.
  4. Season: Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Cooking the Chicken

Next, let's prepare the chicken:

  1. Season: Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. Heat Oil: In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook Chicken: Add the chicken breasts to the skillet and cook for about 6-7 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and fully cooked through.
  4. Slice: Once cooked, remove from the skillet and let rest for a few minutes before slicing into thin strips.

3. Cooking the Pasta

While the chicken is cooking, prepare your pasta:

  1. Boil Water: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Cook Pasta: Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente.
  3. Drain: Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of pasta water for later use.

4. Combining the Ingredients

Now it's time to bring everything together:

  1. Mix Pasta and Pesto: In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta with the pesto sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a little of the reserved pasta water to achieve your desired consistency.
  2. Add Chicken: Add the sliced chicken to the pasta and toss to combine, ensuring every strand of pasta is well-coated with pesto sauce.

Serving Suggestions

For an appealing presentation and enhanced flavors:

  1. Garnish: Top the pasta with halved cherry tomatoes, extra-grated Parmesan, and fresh basil leaves.
  2. Serve: Serve the chicken pesto pasta immediately while it's still warm.


Chicken pesto pasta is not only delicious but also incredibly versatile and simple to prepare. Whether you're cooking for a weeknight dinner or entertaining guests, this dish is sure to impress. Give it a try at home and enjoy the rich, savory flavors that make this recipe a favorite among pasta lovers and foodies alike.

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