A Spicy Perspective

Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe – Our easy homemade basil pesto recipe adds fresh and bright summer flavor to chicken pasta for a simple, satisfying weeknight meal your family will love. Plus it’s a perfect stress-free make-ahead dish!

homemade basil pesto chicken pasta

When you think of fresh summer flavors, you certainly think of pesto, right? Right.

Bright, bold pesto adds herbaceous earthiness to nearly any dish. Typically made with aromatic basil, pine nuts, and a hint of citrus, it absolutely screams summer.

We love incorporating homemade basil pesto in a variety of our family’s seasonal meal plans, like weekend favorites Healthy Pesto Chicken Kebabs with Cool Quinoa Pilaf and Pesto Pizza with Burrata Prosciutto and Microgreens recipe.

For an unbelievably quick, refreshing, and utterly delicious summer weeknight dinner that’s ready in less than 30 minutes, you’ve got to try this Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta!

best pesto chicken pasta

The Best Homemade Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe

Basil pesto is positively the star of this otherwise simple chicken pasta dish.

I mean, aren’t pasta dishes with chicken a pretty common combination for any busy household? There are so many ways to jazz up these staples with great flavors and textures, but adding homemade pesto is probably my favorite. I just love the light, zesty, familiar yet still exciting taste of a perfect Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta!

Not only is this a great recipe for summer because it includes seasonal ingredients, chicken pasta with pesto is actually meant to be served at room temperature or cold. It’s so wonderfully refreshing and filling, without being too heavy.

chicken pasta with homemade basil pesto

What Ingredients You Need

Every home chef needs to have a basic homemade pesto recipe on hand. Try this easy version of classic basil pesto for your go-to version!

Here’s what you need to make the Best Basil Pesto from scratch:

  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Pine nuts
  • Pecorino or parmesan cheese
  • Garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

PRO TIP: You can turn this traditional basil pesto into a brilliant creamy pesto sauce by adding ½ – 1 cup of heavy cream at the end.

It’s important to mention, people tend to want to overdo the garlic in pesto. Typically the more garlic the better, but that’s not necessarily the case for this recipe. Because the garlic is raw, it can have a really sharp flavor that does not complement the sweet basil. One raw clove is plenty!

To make the Chicken Pasta portion of this recipe, all you need is:

  • Small pasta, such as ziti, fusilli, or gemelli
  • Shredded cooked chicken

This is a terrific quick recipe to include in a weeknight meal plan. It’s perfect for using chicken breasts cooked during your weekly meal prep session, or leftovers from a previous roasted chicken dinner.

how to make pesto with basil, pine nuts, and garlic

How To Make Homemade Basil Pesto

It is so incredibly easy to make fresh pesto from scratch in only a few minutes! Here’s how:

  1. Set out a food processor. Place the basil leaves, pine nuts, pecorino cheese, garlic clove, and lemon juice in the food processor. Cover and pulse until finely ground.
  2. Then add in the olive oil, salt, and ground pepper. Pulse again until a smooth, thick pesto sauce is formed.
  3. Taste, then salt and pepper more as needed.

This basil pesto will keep well for up to 4-5 days total in the fridge when stored in an airtight container. It is great for making a day or so ahead of the complete chicken pasta dish.

pesto from scratch

Easy Homemade Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

Once you’ve got your pesto made from scratch, on hand, the rest of this dish comes together very quickly.

First, set a large pot of salted water over high heat, and set out a mixing bowl. Once boiling, stir the pasta into the water and cook according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta – do not rinse! – and place in the mixing bowl.

Then, gently combine the shredded cooked chicken in with the pasta. Set aside and allow the pasta to cool a bit, so that you don’t wind up cooking the fresh, raw pesto.

pasta, chicken, and pesto

Once the pasta is no longer hot, stir in the basil pesto, one-half cup at a time, until it is as saucy as you like.

Get the Complete (Printable) Homemade Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe Below. Enjoy!

homemade basil pesto recipe

Top this Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta with a bit of extra shaved pecorino or parmesan cheese for even more delicious flavor.

You can serve at room temperature; or, if not enjoying immediately, cover and chill until you are ready to eat.

Pesto is best when fresh, but does still taste amazing after several days.
Therefore this is a great make-ahead up to 4 days in advance. Keep in the fridge in a sealed container and serve cold.

We hope you love making this fun, delicious summer dish as an easy weeknight meal or a yummy side at your next potluck!

easy weeknight dinner

Looking for More Scrumptious Summer Pasta Recipes?

Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Our easy homemade basil pesto recipe adds fresh and bright summer flavor to chicken pasta for a simple, satisfying weeknight meal your family will love!
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

For the Homemade Pesto:

For the Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta:

  • 1 pound small pasta ziti, fusilli, or gemelli
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Instructions

For the Basil Pesto:

  • Set out a food processor. Place the basil leaves, pine nuts, pecorino cheese, garlic clove, and lemon juice in the food processor. Cover and pulse until finely ground.
  • Then add in the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper. Pulse again until a smooth, thick pesto sauce is formed. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed.

For the Pesto Chicken Pasta:

  • Set a large pot of salted water over high heat, and set out a mixing bowl. Once the water is boiling, stir the pasta into the water. Cook to al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and place in the bowl.
  • Stir in the shredded cooked chicken. Allow the temperature of the pasta to come down a little, as to not cook the pesto. Once the pasta is warm (not hot) stir in the pesto, one half cup at a time, until it is as saucy as you like.
  • Serve at room temperature, or cold. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Video

Notes

Pesto is best when fresh, but does still taste amazing after several days. Therefore this is a great make-ahead up to 4 days in advance.
Pro Tip: Turn this classic basil pesto into a brilliant creamy pesto sauce by adding
½-1 cup of heavy creamy at the end.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 551kcal, Carbohydrates: 59g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 139mg, Potassium: 267mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 487IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 131mg, Iron: 2mg
Course: dinner, Lunch, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian

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4 comments on “Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta”

  1. This is so delicious- and the pesto is just right on so many things! Definitely will be making more often!

  2. Made this last night, it was absolutely perfect!

  3. This quickly became a favorite at my house!! Yummy!

  4. Yum! My daughter loves anything pesto! I can’t wait to make this for the family! It looks so delicious!