Classic Kiwi Chicken Pesto Pasta

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Chicken pesto pasta is a beloved dish in New Zealand, offering a quick and flavorful weeknight dinner. This recipe combines juicy chicken, creamy pesto, and al dente pasta for a satisfying and crowd-pleasing meal. It’s perfect for busy families or anyone who wants a delicious and easy meal without spending hours in the kitchen.


One Pot Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe - Budget Bytes
One Pot Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe – Budget Bytes

For the Chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • For the Pasta:
  • 250g dried pasta (penne, fusilli, or your favorite shape)
  • 1 cup pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Optional Additions:
  • 1/2 cup chopped baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted pine nuts

  • Directions:

    1. Prep the Chicken: Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Season them generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (if using). Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
    2. Cook the Chicken: Add the chicken breasts to the hot skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside to rest for a few minutes.
    3. Cook the Pasta: While the chicken rests, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions for al dente.
    4. Assemble the Dish: While the pasta cooks, shred or slice the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces. Drain the pasta, reserving a little bit of the pasta water (about 1/4 cup).
    5. Combine Everything: Return the pasta to the pot along with the pesto, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and reserved pasta water. Toss everything together until well combined and the sauce is warmed through.
    6. Serve and Enjoy: Divide the pasta amongst plates and top each serving with a piece of cooked chicken. Garnish with fresh basil leaves (if using) and extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

    Nutritional Facts (per serving):

    This recipe yields approximately 4 servings. Here’s a rough estimate of the nutritional information per serving:

    Calories: 500-600 (depending on the type of pesto used)

  • Fat: 25-30g
  • Protein: 30-40g
  • Carbs: 40-50g

  • Please note: This is just an estimate, and the actual nutritional content will vary depending on the specific ingredients you use.


    Chicken pesto pasta is a versatile dish that can be easily customized to your taste preferences. It’s a satisfying meal that’s perfect for any night of the week.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

    1. Can I use a different type of pasta?

    Absolutely! Penne, fusilli, farfalle, and rotini all work well with this recipe. You can use any type of pasta you like.

    2. What if I don’t have pesto?

    No problem! You can make a simple pesto by blending together fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. There are also plenty of delicious pre-made pesto options available at most supermarkets.

    3. Can I make this recipe vegetarian?

    Sure! Simply omit the chicken and add in some extra vegetables like chopped broccoli, roasted red peppers, or zucchini.

    4. How can I make this dish more filling?

    Adding some chopped spinach or crumbled feta cheese can boost the protein and nutrient content of this recipe.

    5. How can I store leftover chicken pesto pasta?