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Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

5 from 4 votes
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This decadent skillet creamy chicken pesto pasta is the perfect easy-to-make comfort food that your whole family will love. Healthy, satisfying, and incredibly filling, this is a great recipe to keep on hand for when you next make pesto!

Don’t forget to make your own Italian Seasoning to use in your cream chicken pesto pasta! You could also try making your own Basil Pesto for this recipe!

Table of Contents
  1. Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta
  2. Do You Have To Use Penne Or Can You Use Other Pasta Shapes?
  3. How To Create A Richer Sauce
  4. What To Do If You Can’t Find Half And Half Cream
  5. Can You Substitute Other Proteins In Place Of Chicken?
  6. Pin this recipe to your PASTA & DINNERS RECIPE Board and Remember to FOLLOW ME ON PINTEREST!
  7. Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe
creamy chicken pesto pasta in a bowl with fresh basil leaves on top

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

Instead of the simple, quick meal of a heaping helping of pesto pasta, why not change things up a bit and make it into a complete and well-rounded meal with some well-seasoned and perfectly cooked chicken?

This recipe should produce a creamy, satisfying, and herbaceous pasta that is strangely filling despite being so super simple to make.

creamy chicken pesto pasta ingredients in small clear bowls

Do You Have To Use Penne Or Can You Use Other Pasta Shapes?

The choice of pasta shapes is always something that confuses new home cooks. Unless you are just grabbing the first thing you see off of the store shelves, there are seemingly endless varieties of pasta shapes out there for you to choose from.

This recipe has you use penne pasta, the good, classic tubular-shaped pasta, but do you have to only use that?

Well, since there are basically infinite types of pasta out there, why not play around a bit?

Use whatever shape of pasta you want for this recipe, though keep in mind that you want a type of pasta that holds into the sauce really well.

Penne has that little tube that can trap some sauce inside of it, so stick to shapes like that, or ones with tons of rough surface area so that they cling onto the sauce.

creamy chicken pesto pasta noodles and chicken in the sauce unmixed

How To Create A Richer Sauce

This recipe should produce a really nice blend of textures, with both a creamy, rich sauce and super flavorful chicken interspersed with chicken.

However, if you are looking for a bit more of a richer sauce, you might want to adjust the ratios of the ingredients to ensure you get the final dish you want.

To increase the richness of this pasta dish, add some more pesto to the whole thing, as the more pesto you add, the more intensely flavored and rich it will be.

To produce a slightly thinner texture, ideally to end up with a little bit of extra sauce on the bottom of your bowl to be mopped up with bread, add a tiny splash of the pasta cooking water to the mix to help thin everything out.

creamy chicken pesto pasta in a large pan

What To Do If You Can’t Find Half And Half Cream

Half and half is a super important step in this recipe in ensuring that you end up with a super thick, luxurious sauce that helps coat all of your pasta and chicken completely.

However, if you live outside of North America, you probably have no idea what half and half even is, to begin with.

Well, half and half is exactly what the name implies; it is half whole milk and half cream. This makes it basically halfway in creaminess between milk and cream and is a great ingredient to have on hand when you want to enrich a sauce, but still provides a good amount of liquid.

If you live in the UK or Europe, you could probably get away with adding single cream, which is a cream with a lower fat content.

Or, failing that, make your own half and half by mixing together equal parts cream and the highest fat percentage cream you can find!

creamy chicken pesto pasta in two white bowls garnished with basil leaves

Can You Substitute Other Proteins In Place Of Chicken?

This recipe uses chicken to provide both the tender mouthful of perfectly cooked meat, as well as the protein necessary to make this a complete meal.

For those not a fan of chicken, however, you could always go for something a little different instead.

  • Salmon

While definitely a lot pricier than some simple chicken, a good cut of salmon can work really well in this dish. So long as you cook it gently and ensure it doesn’t get incinerated, it can add a ton of fresh, tender fishiness and turn this pesto pasta into something completely different and utterly delicious.

  • Tofu

For those that want to avoid any kind of meat or fish, some good, semi-firm tofu would be a great way to still get some protein in this dish.

  • Bacon

Though this option utterly lacks that tender, complete mouth feel of something like chicken or tofu, some crumbly, crispy bacon would make for a really tasty pasta dish, even if it is a lot more fat!

Looking for more delicious Pasta recipes? Try these out:

Easy Chicken Florentine

How to Make Spaghetti Aglio E Olio

Linguine Alfredo

Happy Cooking

Love,

Karlynn

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Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

This decadent skillet creamy chicken pesto pasta is an easy to make comfort food that your whole family will love.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Course
Dinner
Cuisine
Italian
Servings
4
Calories
466
Author
Karlynn Johnston

Ingredients
 

  • one 10 ounce box penne pasta ( 283 grams box)

Seasoned Chicken Breast

  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 large boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces

Pesto Sauce

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half cream
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup basil pesto more to taste if desired
  • fresh torn basil leaves for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • Season the chicken breast with the Italian seasoning and salt and pepper as desired.
  • Heat a large capacity deep sided skillet over medium heat and olive oil, then add the seasoned chicken breast. Cook until chicken is no longer pink, browning all sides. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  • Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and melt the butter. Add in the garlic and saute until browned and fragrant. Sprinkle the flour over top and stir, cooking until the flour is golden and smells nutty, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Slowly pour in the chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze and whisking into the broth.
  • Add the half & half and bring to a low simmer over medium heat. Stir in the cheese and pesto, stirring and cooking until slightly thickened.
  • Add in the cooked pasta and chicken and stir until everything is covered in the sauce.
  • Remove from the heat and plate, garnish with fresh chopped basil.

Recipe Notes

  • Adjust the pesto amount to your personal tastes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 466kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 35g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 0.4g, Cholesterol: 109mg, Sodium: 895mg, Potassium: 446mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1172IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 212mg, Iron: 1mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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