Chicken pesto pasta

When you’re short of time and everyone’s hungry, pasta is the quickest way to get dinner on the table. This chicken pesto pasta will tick all the boxes – fast and really delicious. Tender chicken coated in creamy basil pesto sauce, parmesan and pine nuts.

To make life a little simpler, I always have some homemade pesto in the fridge. It adds instant flavour to pasta sauces, stirred into soups or to make the best mozzarella and pesto toasted sandwiches. A good store-bought pesto will do but making your own is really easy and the flavour, infinitely better. It’s also a good way of using up herbs. Often I’ll add mint, spinach and flat leaf parsley to my pestos. If I don’t have pine nuts on hand, I might throw in some almonds or walnuts. If you need a good pesto recipe, this is my favourite. When making pesto, remember to pour a little extra virgin olive oil over the top to keep the pesto from spoiling.

Chicken pesto pastaChicken pesto pastaChicken pesto pasta

Chicken pesto pasta with parmesan and pine nuts

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
10 free range, skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into strips
zest and juice of 1 lemon
pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
1/4 cup basil pesto
250ml single cream
350g pasta
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, for serving
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve
baby basil leaves

Heat the olive oil in a wide-based pan. Season the chicken with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Add the lemon zest, juice, chilli and basil pesto. Turn to coat the chicken in the pesto. Add the cream and half of the parmesan cheese. Simmer for about 4 minutes until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened.

Cook the pasta in plenty of well-salted, boiling water. Before draining the pasta, reserve  1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the cooked pasta and tip into the sauce. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce down if necessary. Serve with toasted pine nuts, parmesan and basil leaves.


More quick and easy pastas

Spinach and chickpea pasta

Bowtie spinach and chickpea pasta


Lemon cream mushroom tagliatelle pasta


11 Comments. Leave new

  • This is it Di. Everyone is just going for seconds. I will definitely make it again soon.

  • Dianne Bibby
    6 May 2015 7:23 pm

    That was quick Habi. Glad you had enough for a second round!

  • This was divine!! And so quick… Love anything with basil pesto 🙂 This will become a regular, even the fussy 2 year old gobbled it all up!

  • Dianne Bibby
    25 June 2015 3:14 pm

    You’re right Michelle, fast, simple and yum all in one. Anything with pesto and we’re sold!

  • Jacqui Crosby
    18 July 2015 4:03 pm

    Loved it!! Delicious and so quick and easy! Thanks this is sure to be a regular

  • Dianne Bibby
    18 July 2015 6:04 pm

    If you’re a pesto fan then this recipe is a real crowd pleaser. It’s even better if you make it with a punchy rocket and walnut pesto. (Recipe in the archives) Enjoy!

  • Your site is becoming my, “go to” for delicious dinner ideas. I have tried three of your dishes so far, and all have been winners. Thanks.

  • Dianne Bibby
    13 April 2016 7:42 pm

    Ah Ruby! So good to hear. I hope there’ll be plenty more after this one. The pesto pasta is my daughter’s absolute favourite.

  • Marie-Anne Duarte
    15 August 2020 12:18 pm

    I made the Chicken pesto pasta for dinner last night. It was delectable!!! Thank you Di. You are always my go-to when searching for inspiration on what to cook, bake and make 🙂

  • Dianne Bibby
    17 August 2020 5:44 pm

    So glad you liked it Marie. This is my daughter’s favourite pasta. So handy when you need a quick and easy midweek supper.

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