Chicken Pesto Pasta

Fire up the grill and make easy Chicken Pesto Pasta! This pasta recipe, which is amazing as a weeknight dinner or the perfect entertaining dish, is elegant and easy to make. Makes 6 servings.

Overhead image of a white bowl holding Chicken Pesto Pasta, surrounded by ingredients

Friends, it’s FREAKY FRIDAY—one of my favorite recipe-driven collaborations that I participate in every quarter—and I am so, so so excited about today’s dish and who I was paired with.

Lisa from Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish is a mama of three (!!!) who finds joy in cooking affordable, healthy meals and instilling a love in cooking in others. Her goal is to take the mystery out of cooking while keeping her readers within budget with the ultimate goal of inspiring others to get into the kitchen and to get cooking!

I love her mission and her website because it’s an amazing resource, especially for a busy mama like myself.

In true Freaky Friday fashion, I had the hardest time deciding what dish I would cook from Lisa’s blog because she has so many delicious recipes!

These Meatball Sub Sliders sound like the perfect dish to serve for a weeknight dinner or when entertaining. This Italian Cucumber Pasta Salad is summertime perfection in a bowl!

Her White Chocolate Blueberry Crisp is another summertime dish that sounds fabulous right about now.

However, I ended up choosing her Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta as my recipe for this round of Freaky Friday.

Why? I love a good grilled chicken dish, we’ve been eating more pasta these days because the kids adore it (and so do we)… and this one just sounded AMAZINGLY flavorful.

Turns out, it hit the nail on the head for all three!

More family dinner recipes that are easy to make: Salmon Niçoise SaladBeef Taco Pasta SaladSlow Cooker Chicken Tortellini SoupSouthwestern Breakfast Burrito Bowls Cajun Chicken AlfredoTortellini Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Spinach

Looking for a Valentine’s Day recipe, but don’t know where to begin? Check out my Valentine’s Day recipe index.

Freaky Friday Spring 2020 Banner with Asparagus and text

So What IS Freaky Friday?

It’s an old-fashioned blog hop.

A blog hop, for those of y’all who haven’t been around the blogosphere for as long as I have, which is to say for-freaking-ever, is a collaboration between bloggers where everyone has a post to share and you link to one another in your posts as they go live.

Everyone is secretly assigned another blogger, who we make a recipe from. We make the recipe, photograph it like it was our own, write a post about it and share it on the selected Friday in the hopes that we help YOU (yes, you, dear reader!) discover new recipes and new bloggers to follow!

For previous Freaky Friday exchanges, I’ve made Shortbread Brown Butter CookiesBoozy Bacon Pretzel Peanut Butter BarsInstant Pot Macaroni and CheeseCherry Bourbon Slush , Halloween Peanut Butter Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies and a Valentine’s Day Dessert Board.

Take A Look At All Of Our 2020 Freaky Friday Spring Recipes:

Ingredients in bowls and platters are laid out on a marble background before cooking

What you’ll need to make this Chicken Pesto Pasta recipe

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Now, for this pasta recipe, you have the option of using homemade basil pesto (like my recipe right here) or you can purchase some from the store.

I had wanted to make my own pesto, but the reality of the situation we are living in right now made it to where I could not get my hands on enough basil. I ended up purchasing some jarred pesto from the grocery, and it was lovely!

That said, if you have enough basil, please consider making your own pesto! The color alone makes it stand out!

A collage of six images showing how to grill chicken

How to make Chicken Pesto Pasta

Cook the chicken

Preheat your grill. If you don’t have a grill, you can preheat your oven to 400°F or heat a grill pan on the stovetop over medium heat.

While the grill/pan/oven preheat, season the chicken. The amount of seasoning this recipe calls for seems like a lot, but I promise you that the flavors are worth it.

Grill/cook the chicken until cooked through. On our grill, it took about 4-5 minutes per side.

The cooking time is dependent on the thickness of the chicken breasts. If they’re thicker, they will need more time, and if they’re thinner, they will cook faster.

Let the chicken cool for 10 minutes before slicing into thin pieces using a sharp knife.

Collage of four images showing how to put together the pesto salad with chicken

Prepare the pasta salad

On the stovetop, cook your pasta. I recommend reading the notes on the box/container of the pasta and taking 1-2 minutes off the total cook time to ensure your pasta is al dente, meaning it’s got a little bite to it still.

When the pasta is almost done cooking, scoop some of the pasta water into a bowl and reserve for later. We’ll use this if our pasta appears to be dry when everything is tossed together.

Drain the pasta, and toss into a large bowl.

Add the chicken, pesto sauce and cheese. Toss with tongs until both the chicken and pasta are coated with the pesto. You can add a little bit of the pasta water here if it feels a little dry.

Finish with lots of fresh cracked pepper, more parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts. Enjoy warm or at room temperature!

A platter holds the Chicken Pesto Pasta, before serving

Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

Pasta is a classic entertaining dish for a reason! It’s easy to make, easy to store and easy for everyone to enjoy.

One of the things I love about this recipe from Lisa is that it can easily be made in pieces and in advance.

Here’s how I recommend making it work if you’re serving this at a gathering this summer:

  • Grill the chicken early. Since this dish can be served warm or at room temperature, I suggest doing this in advance so that all you have to do is toss the final ingredients together.
  • Make the pesto in advance, too. Or get the jarred kind. No judgment either way!
  • Serve in the bowl you toss the ingredients together in. This chicken pesto pasta recipe is easy to put together in one dish, so save yourself from washing more dishes by mixing the final dish in a pretty bowl. 😉

A fork holds a bite of Chicken Pesto Pasta, from above

Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t have a grill. Can I cook the chicken in another way?

Of course! Bake the chicken in the oven or sear it in a skillet. It will work any way you cook it, so long as you cook the chicken all the way through.

How will I know the chicken is done?

Take its temperature with an instant read meat thermometer! Gently stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken and let it read. We’re looking for a temperature of 160°F to pull these off the grill because they will continue cooking for a few minutes when off the grill. (We want the internal temperature to reach 165°F.)

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Yes, you can. This chicken pesto pasta recipe is fantastic with short cut pastas like rotini and farfalle because they are easily coated in the sauce, but also very easy to eat at an event.

How do I toast the pine nuts?

Place them on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until browned. Keep an eye on them because all ovens run at different temperatures and pine nuts can burn easily.

A bowl of Chicken Pesto Pasta, from the side

Quick tips for making this Chicken Pesto Pasta recipe

  • We love grilling the chicken because it’s the summertime, but you can cook the chicken however you’d like.
  • Chicken Pesto Pasta shortcuts: Use jarred basil pesto AND shred a rotisserie chicken from the store to speed up this quick dish.
  • To elevate the serving of this pasta recipe, serve with toasted pine nuts and extra grated parmesan cheese.
  • If you want to make this dish fancier, add fresh spinach or sun-dried tomatoes to the pasta for extra punches of flavor and color!

A bowl of Chicken Pesto Pasta from the side, with Pinterest text

Overhead image of a white bowl holding Chicken Pesto Pasta, surrounded by ingredients
Yield: 6 servings

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Fire up the grill and make Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta! This pasta dish, which is amazing as a weeknight dinner or the perfect entertaining dish, is elegant and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (about 1 lb.)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ¾ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, fresh cracked if possible
  • 16 oz. farfalle, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
  • ½ cup parmesan, grated
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts for garnish, if desired

Instructions

  1. Preheat the grill to 400°F.
  2. Season the chicken with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper while the grill heats.
  3. Cook the chicken until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side. The cook time will depend on the thickness of the chicken breasts. If they’re thicker, they will need longer. Thinner, they’ll need less time.
  4. When the chicken’s internal temperature is 165°F, remove from the grill, and let rest on a plate for 10 minutes.
  5. Cut the chicken into thin slices using a sharp knife.
  6. In a large bowl, combine pasta, chicken, pesto and cheese.
  7. Mix well, until chicken and pasta are well coated with the pesto, adding a small amount of the pasta water if it seems dry.
  8. Finish by adding lots of fresh cracked pepper and additional parmesan cheese.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

I don’t have a grill. Can I cook the chicken in another way?

Of course! Bake the chicken in the oven or sear it in a skillet. It will work any way you cook it, so long as you cook the chicken all the way through.

How will I know the chicken is done?

Take its temperature with an instant read meat thermometer! Gently stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken and let it read. We’re looking for a temperature of 160°F to pull these off the grill because they will continue cooking for a few minutes when off the grill. (We want the internal temperature to reach 165°F.)

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Yes, you can. Short cut pastas like rotini and farfalle are good for this because they are easily coated in the sauce, but also very easy to eat at an event.

How do I toast the pine nuts?

Place them on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until browned. Keep an eye on them because all ovens run at different temperatures and pine nuts can burn easily.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6 servings

Serving Size:

1 serving

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 476Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 568mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 25g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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12 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you chose this recipe! It is a big time favorite of my family’s and it has been for years. Your version looks absolutely perfect and mouthwatering good!

    1. Aww, that makes me so happy to hear, Lisa! My family is going to be loving this from here out because it was so delicious. Thank you for sharing the original! I’m glad you approve of my choice. 🙂

  2. Erin – as always you have knocked it out of the park with this recipe! We are HUGE pesto fans, and you can bet that this beautiful meal will be on our table really soon!!

    1. Aww, Michaela. Thank you so much! I hope that y’all enjoy this as much as we did because wow… there were NO leftovers!

    1. Thanks, Sheila! There’s something so comforting and wonderful about a simple, flavorful combo like this. Glad you enjoy it, too!

  3. Mouth watering pasta dish! I love the flavors and the grilled chicken over top! I need to make this one! Thinking once we get our Jersey tomatoes this summer that would be a nice addition to the dish too!

    1. Thanks so much, Angela! You absolutely should add the Jersey tomatoes to this this summer for some extra flavors. I bet that would be AMAZING.

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