This delicious Pesto Chicken Pasta dish is perfect for busy weeknights. It can be ready in just 20 minutes. With gluten free & low carb options.
This updated recipe was originally published in June 2015
Usually, I love to cook. So does my husband. Recently I've found though, that making dinner is more of a chore than pleasure.
The only time I really enjoy cooking dinner is when Konrad and I are cooking together. Which is a total 180-change from our first few years of marriage.
Back then, we both loved cooking. We were also quite opinionated about how things should be done a certain way, which was usually not in sync with the other's opinion. Needless to say, cooking together resulted in tension more often than not, and we had to agree on taking turns instead.
Changes in Dinner-Making Habits
A few years later and a little more wisdom gained, I can totally relinquish my way of doing things, if it means that I get help in the kitchen.
It is probably because I am already cooking for work (aka this blog) and running after my 11-months-old all day long. Thus, I am not looking forward to cooking supper anymore.
Once dinner time comes around - and Konrad is working late again - I just want something that's quick and easy.
Pesto Chicken Pasta Is Perfect For Quick Deliciousness
On those days, recipes like this Pesto Chicken Pasta are a major win in my books. In just 20 minutes I can have a fairly balanced meal with carbs, protein and greens on the table.
The greens come from my homemade pesto which is made from spinach. For even better balance, definitely add a salad or other veggies on the side if you have the time.
How to Make Pesto Chicken Pasta
All kinds of different pasta or noodles work in this recipe. In the pictures here I use regular wheat pasta in fusilli shape.
I also really like bow tie pasta in this dish. But of course you can use any shape of pasta that you prefer. It would also work fabulously with angel hair or penne.
Other times I use (homemade) whole wheat pasta or gluten free pasta (made from brown rice or chickpeas). Vegetable pasta, like zoodles also are a great option.
The reason I like chicken as the protein in this quick dinner recipe is that I often stock frozen chicken breasts in the freezer. Of course, it takes some planning to defrost meat in the fridge overnight (or longer).
But even if you didn't plan ahead, studies have found that thin cuts of meat (like chicken breast) can safely be thawed in warm/hot water, in as little as 10 minutes. Bacteria growth isn't a risk in this short amount of time.
And by keep the water at/under 140°F the meat doesn't start cooking yet and so doesn't negatively affect the texture/taste of the meat.
Just be sure the chicken is in a waterproof silicon or ziplock bag so that it isn't in direct contact with the water.
Store-bought or Homemade Pesto
I almost always have pesto in the fridge. I use it for so many things. If it isn't pasta sauce, then I use it as a base for dips or salad dressings even.
Whenever I run out or low on my homemade versions, I try to pick up a jar of Costco's pesto on my grocery run.
This pasta dish is equally amazing with homemade or store-bought pesto. Here are 3 different and equally amazing recipes for homemade pesto:
Gluten free, low carb, and other modifications
I have a gluten-free version of this recipe made with grain-free chickpea & lentil pasta!
To make a low carb version you can use spiralized zucchini zoodles instead of pasta. It's still super delicious. Or check out this low carb pesto chicken spaghetti squash
You can also make this dish paleo with the above mentioned zoodles or spaghetti squash instead of pasta. And be sure to use dairy-free pesto, like this vegan pesto here.
Original Images from 2015:
20-Minute Pesto Chicken Pasta
- 8 ounces dry pasta* I used fusilli
- 1 chicken breast cut into thin strips
- salt + pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup pesto
- chopped almonds and feta crumbles for garnish
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, add dry pasta and cook until al dente.
- Cut chicken breast into small strips. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet, add chicken strips and sear until fully cooked.
- Add ¼ cup of the pasta water to the skillet with the chicken. Drain pasta, then add to chicken together with pesto and stir everything until fully combined.
- Serve hot and garnish with chopped almonds and feta crumbles.
Other Pasta Recipes
If you love pasta recipes, check out these other delicious dishes?
Jacquee | I Sugar Coat It!
Sounds a little like K and I, but have always loved being in the kitchen together! AND this is right up my alley. I am not a huge fan of red sauce, so I tend to go for a little oil and fresh herbs, or a pesto. Loving this!
I am glad Konrad and I found some cooking peace as well 🙂
Gotta love a nutritious dinner that is quick and easy to create and serve up!
Totally! I mean, I love to cook but sometimes it just has to be quick
I would make this. We always go to the default marina sauce with our pasta and I think we need to branch out to pesto... thanks for the recipe. 🙂
That's exactly how I grew up! Pasta and red sauce was my comfort food. Unfortunately, my husband didn't grow up the same way and somehow doesn't like tomato sauce (or maybe it's the Italian spices). So I had to come up with other quick meal ideas