Parmesan Pesto Chicken Penne — EASY, ready in 20 minutes, and every piece of tender chicken and pasta is coated in fresh pesto sauce and parmesan cheese!! Great for easy weeknight dinners, planned leftovers, or for parties because it feeds a crowd!!
Easiest Pesto Parmesan Chicken Pasta
Both pesto and parmesan cheese coat every bite of juicy chicken and al dente penne pasta in this easy recipe that’s ready in 20 minutes.
This is great comfort food, but also has a spring and summery feel from the tomatoes and basil. The best of both worlds!
This chicken pesto pasta is perfect for planned leftovers and you can freeze them, too. Or bring it to your next potluck or picnic, or serve it at a party you’re hosting. It’s a guaranteed family-favorite.
What’s in the Pesto Chicken Penne?
To make the chicken penne pasta, you’ll need:
- Penne pasta
- Olive oil
- Chicken breasts
- Italian seasoning
- Basil pesto
- Cherry tomatoes
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh basil
How to Make Pesto Chicken Penne
Boil the pasta, and while that’s going sauté chicken that’s seasoned with Italian seasoning and perfumed with a bit of garlic.
Transfer the cooked chicken into the drained pasta pot and add pesto, parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, and serve it right up. So fast and and easy and it feeds a crowd!
Do I Have to Use Penne?
Nope! I used penne pasta but you could use rotini, ziti, small shells, or your favorite small-shaped pasta.
Can I Use Store-Bought Pesto?
I do think there is nothing better than homemade pesto because you just cannot beat the aroma and flavor of fresh basil, and it only takes five minutes to make. And in a dish where pesto is the star of the show, that’s another reason to make your own.
But if you don’t want to, you can use store bought prepared pesto. No shame.
Just note that prepared pesto tends to be pretty salty, like almost all prepared condiments, salsas, mustards, etc. which are loaded with sodium. You likely won’t need to add any extra salt to this dish whatsoever, especially since parmesan cheese is salty, too.
Tips for Making Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta
For the best flavor and texture, I recommend buying a block of Parmesan cheese and grating it yourself. At the very least, avoid the powdery stuff in a shaker canister.
With both the pesto and the parmesan, add to taste. I gave the measurements I used and that my daughter adored, but you can always go lighter-handed at first, and add more either pesto or parmesan, to taste.
We love making this as a basil pesto chicken pasta, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use another type of pesto. Sun-dried tomato besto would also work well, I imagine!
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Pesto Parmesan Chicken and Pasta
- 12 ounces penne pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 to 1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-size pieces
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 to 3 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
- ¾ to 1 cup about 7 ounces prepared pesto (use store bought or follow this scratch recipe)
- 1 ½ to 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, or to taste
- kosher salt, as needed
- freshly ground black pepper, as needed
- fresh basil, optional for garnishing
- Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot; drain and set aside.
- While pasta cooks, to a large skillet add the olive oil, chicken, evenly season with Italian seasoning, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until chicken is done and cooked through; stir and flip frequently for even cooking.
- Add the garlic, stir to combine, and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Add the chicken and all cooking juices to the pot with the drained pasta.
- Add 3/4 cup pesto, tomatoes, and stir to combine. If desired, add additional pesto to taste.
- Add the parmesan, stir to combine, and taste. As needed, add salt and pepper. If you are using prepared pesto, you may likely not need any additional salt since most is pretty salty.
- Optionally garnish with fresh basil and serve immediately.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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