This creamy pesto pasta is loaded with Italian-seasoned chicken and coated in a three cheese creamy pesto sauce. It's fast, easy, and perfect for busy weeknights when you want filling comfort food.
Looking for the perfect pasta night recipe? This creamy pesto pasta with chicken fits the bill! The pockets in the pasta soak up all the three cheese creamy sauce, and the chicken is so well seasoned and perfectly pan seared.
Want something a little lighter? Our chicken pesto hearts of palm pasta is perfect!
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken breast- You can also use chicken breast tenderloins or chicken thighs. Use whatever you have on hand or prefer. You'll be cutting it into small chunks anyway, so the shape and size don't matter.
- Short pasta- We use penne or fusilli.
- Asiago cheese
- White cheddar cheese- Get a good-quality white cheddar cheese. It makes all the difference!
- Parmesan cheese- Get fresh parmesan cheese, not the fake unrefrigerated stuff in the canisters.
- Heavy whipping cream
- Pesto- You can make your own or buy it. Costco's Kirkland Pesto is a great option. If you want to make your own, we love our vegan spinach pesto.
- Other ingredients- olive oil, salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, paprika, and red pepper flakes
See recipe card for amounts.
Step 1: Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain it and set aside.
Step 2: Add raw chicken, olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes to a large mixing bowl. Mix until everything is combined and the chicken is evenly coated.
Step 3: Add olive oil to a large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 8 minutes. The internal temperature should be 165°F. Once the chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the pan and set it aside.
Step 4: Turn the heat to medium-low. In the same pan you cooked the chicken in, add the cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, about 3 minutes, then add the asiago, parmesan, white cheddar, and a dash of pepper. Let the cheese melt, then add the pesto. Let it simmer and thicken for a couple of minutes, until it reaches your desired consistency.
Step 5: Add the cooked pasta and chicken to the sauce and stir to combine. Then serve!
Frequently asked questions
We tested this recipe with whole milk instead of cream, and the sauce just wasn't the same. It tasted great, but the creaminess just wasn't there. We don't recommend it.
You can! Any short pasta would work well.
Store the leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat, put the leftover pasta in a saucepan over medium heat with a little bit of extra cream and heat until warm. You can also reheat it in the microwave with a little bit of extra cream and cheese for about a minute.