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This creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta is the colorful pasta of your dreams! It combines whole wheat pasta noodles, golden sautéed chicken, and bright, bursting cherry tomatoes in a luscious and vibrant pesto sauce.

Tasty and creamy chicken pesto pasta with tomatoes in a baking dish with tomatoes

Why You’ll Love This Easy, Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe

  • Pesto. Pesto. Pesto! Say it three times, it’s THAT good. Pesto goes exceptionally well with pasta (as seen in this classic Pesto Pasta and Pesto Pasta Salad). Whether you use my homemade Basil Pesto recipe or store-bought pesto, this recipe is going to be delicious.
  • It’s Hearty and Healthy. It’s filling and cozy, the way you’d expect a chicken pesto pasta bake (or a Chicken Alfredo Bake) to be. It’s also unexpectedly fresh and nutritious, thanks to veggies, whole wheat pasta, chicken, and Greek yogurt.
  • It Can Be Made in Advance. Because pasta bake recipes like this one can be prepared entirely in advance, they’re fabulous not only for busy weeknights (meal prep win!) but for entertaining too. Assemble this pesto pasta with veggies entirely the night before and store it in the fridge. Then when you are ready to serve, all you need to do is pop it into the oven and bake.
Two DeLallo ingredients on a kitchen towel

5 Star Review

“This is one pasta casserole you will make again and again! The combination of flavors, and the fact that the sauce is lightened up with yogurt, makes this a favorite in my home. It also freezes well for future quick dinners :) Sooooo delicious!”

— Jill —

How to Make Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

The Ingredients

  • Whole Wheat Pasta. One of my absolute favorite ways to instantly make any recipe healthier without a scrap of extra work is to use a whole grain option instead of white. Whole grains are higher in fiber, protein, and nutrients.

Which Pasta is Best with Pesto?

The best pasta for pesto has some kind of edges or texture so that the pesto clings to it. Gemelli, fusilli, and penne pasta are all fantastic choices for pesto.

  • Pesto Sauce. If using store-bought, choose one that’s fresh, pure, and tastes homemade.
  • Chicken. Chicken is a meat that goes well with pesto pasta, because its mild flavor lets the pesto shine.
  • Mozzarella. No chicken pesto pasta bake would be complete without some nice, melty Italian cheese. For an elevated flavor, try swapping fontina, smoked provolone, or a mix of cheeses.
  • Parmesan. A sprinkle on top is the finishing touch.
  • Cherry Tomatoes. A classic, perfect pairing with pesto. Their color makes the pasta beautiful too.
  • Greek Yogurt. My sneak healthy addition that keeps this a creamy chicken pesto pasta bake with no cream.
  • Frozen Spinach. Sneak healthy addition #2. Spinach is ultra mild and its green color is camouflaged by the pesto, so picky eaters won’t suspect it.
  • Fresh Basil. A lively addition to give the pasta additional freshness.

The Directions

  1. Saute the Chicken. Make sure it’s cooked through.
  2. Cook the Pasta. Reserve some of the pasta water.
Yogurt and pesto being stirred together
  1. Prepare the Sauce. Combine the pesto and Greek yogurt.
Creamy mixture in a mixing bowl with spinach
  1. Add the Rest of the Sauce Ingredients. Start with the spinach.
  2. Layer the Pasta and Cheese. Alternate between the two in the baking dish.
  3. Bake. Cook chicken pesto pasta at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with more basil and cheese. ENJOY!

Recipe Variations

  • Vegetarian Pesto Pasta. For a vegetarian pesto pasta dish, omit the chicken or add white beans like in this Cavatelli and Broccoli.
  • Gluten Free Pesto Pasta. Swap gluten free pasta noodles for the regular noodles.
  • Chicken Pesto Pasta with Bacon. For a creamy chicken bacon pesto pasta, add crumbled Air Fryer Bacon or Baked Bacon in the Oven.
  • Chicken Pesto Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes. Make this recipe as directed, swapping in a sun-dried tomato pesto instead of a basil pesto. You can also simply swap the cherry tomatoes in this recipe for sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Garlic Chicken Pesto Pasta. Use my post for How to Roast Garlic, and add roasted garlic with the chicken and tomatoes.
Easy creamy chicken pesto pasta recipe in a baking dish with tomatoes

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Place the baked pasta in an airtight storage container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. You can freeze chicken pesto pasta, either before or after baking. Place your desired amount into a freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Meal Plan Tip

Assemble the entire chicken pesto pasta bake in advance and refrigerate unbaked for up to 1 day. When ready to bake, let it come to room temperature, then bake as directed just before serving.

Best pesto pasta recipe in a baking dish

What to Serve with Chicken Pesto Pasta

Easy chicken pesto pasta bake in a dish

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t Overcook the Chicken. Watch your chicken closely while it’s sauteeing to ensure it doesn’t overcook. Since the chicken will cook a little more in the oven, you don’t want it to be too done already.
  • Use Good-Quality Pesto. To ensure this is the best pesto pasta recipe, use a good-quality pesto that you enjoy. This pesto pasta relies on the pesto for flavor, so the quality matters. You can make a homemade version or use a store-bought variety you enjoy.
  • Remove Excess Moisture. Both the spinach and tomatoes can harbor excess moisture that will make this chicken pesto pasta bake watery. Before adding these ingredients to the dish, make sure you’ve removed as much water as possible.

Chicken Pesto Pasta

4.74 from 84 votes
This creamy chicken pesto pasta with tomatoes, noodles and Mozzarella in a rich pesto sauce is a delicious dinner you'll make all summer!

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 50 minutes

Servings: 10 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound whole wheat pasta penne rigate, rigatoni, fusilli, or similarly shaped pasta
  • 1 (6.35-ounce) jar basil pesto or homemade Basil Pesto
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach thawed with as much of the liquid squeezed out as possible.
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes halved (or 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes of choice. If the tomatoes are very liquidy, blot away the excess liquid first)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese or a blend of mozzarella and provolone
  • ¼ cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves roughly chopped, divided
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the diced chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté the chicken until golden on all sides and fully cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  • In a large stockpot of boiling, generously salted water, cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, then drain. Return pasta to the stockpot.
  • While the pasta cooks, in a small bowl, whisk together the pesto and Greek yogurt until evenly combined.
  • Stir in the spinach, breaking it up as needed and stirring until evenly combined.
  • To the stockpot with the pasta, add the pesto/Greek yogurt mixture. Gently stir to coat the noodles in the pesto mixture. If the sauce is too thick, splash in some of the pasta water. It should be a little saucy.
  • Add the cooked chicken, cherry tomatoes, and red pepper flakes. Gently toss to combine.
  • Pour half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 cup mozzarella and half of the basil. Layer the remaining half of the pasta over the top, spreading it into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and sprinkle immediately with the Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve warm.

Video

Notes

  • TO MAKE AHEAD: Assemble the entire chicken pesto pasta in advance and refrigerate unbaked for up to 1 day. When ready to bake, let it come to room temperature, then bake as directed just before serving.
  • TO STORE: Place the baked chicken pesto pasta in an airtight storage container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • TO FREEZE: You can freeze individual portions or large quantities of this chicken pesto pasta, either before or after baking. Place your desired amount into a freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • TO REHEAT: Defrost chicken pesto pasta in the refrigerator overnight. Then, either bake at 375°F until hot in the center or microwave gently until warm.
  • TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE: Swap gluten free pasta noodles.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 10)Calories: 300kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 25gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 47mgPotassium: 459mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 613IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 156mgIron: 1mg

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Wine Should I Serve with Pesto Pasta?

Serve this chicken pesto mozzarella pasta with Sauvignon Blanc or Chianti.

Can I Use Chicken Thighs?

Yes, you can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. The thighs may take longer to cook, so make sure to check them for doneness before removing them from the skillet.

What Other Meats Go Well with Pesto?

Italian sausage goes well with pesto and is a great alternative to the chicken in this recipe. I recommend choosing chicken or turkey sausage to keep the recipe lean and healthy. Pesto pasta with shrimp would also be delicious!

More Delicious Pasta Recipes

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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4.74 from 84 votes (44 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




110 Comments

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  1. Love it,I can make with heathly ingredients so my man and my other son can eat it to,I’ll be making this again and again! THANK YOU ERIN!5 stars

  2. I don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment unless I’ve actually made the recipe. Having said that I am easily seduced by color in any dish. This fits the bill for that, and I do intend to try this, so I’m leaving this comment with full disclosure- I have not tried this recipe but it sure looks delish and it’s at the top of my list for recipe trials. I still have frozen cubes of garlic scape pesto and that’s why I’m posting my intent to try, rather than after the fact. I’m a fan of garlic scape pesto, having tried it 2 seasons back, I’m sold. Thanks for this potential for delish eating!

  3. This recipe is delicious!! I made it to your recipe except I left out the tomatoes and I used less pasta to make it less carbs. I will be making this again!
    We love your recipes!5 stars

  4. I am very confident the calorie/macronutrient information in here is incorrect. Specifically, I believe you may have omitted the pesto from the calculation. By your count there are only 70 grams of fat total in the entire recipe. The jar of pesto alone is 100 grams of fat. Could this be calculated again and updated?

    1. Hi Jared, the nutritional information is not always completely accurate and can vary depending on ingredients and brands of ingredients used. When in doubt I would double check with a free source like myfitnesspal.com. Hope this helps!

  5. This may be our favorite recipe from Well Plated, and we have tried a lot of them. The recipe was easy to follow and prep time was easy, fun, and fast. Creamy, cheesy, fresh deliciousness. We used homemade pesto (measured the frozen cubes to use the amount called for in the recipe) and our own end of season cherry tomatoes. We used fresh chicken sausage (instead of the cubed chicken) and used fresh spinach (instead of the frozen). In the oven it went, fingers crossed. Turned out perfect! Already looking forward to making this again and again.5 stars

  6. This is a great recipe!! I have relied on your recipes for as long as I can remember, but only now starting to finally leave reviews. I make 1C of pesto (used hemp seeds rather than pine nuts so kids can take leftovers to school for lunch). It turns out well but I am just wondering if that is about the same amount in the jar? Thanks again for your great recipes! You make this process of meal planning something to look forward to.5 stars

    1. Sue, this review means so much and is so helpful, thank you!!! If you can find an 8-ounce jar of pesto, that will be the same amount. Thanks again for your kind words.

  7. My family loved this recipe. It’s a great weeknight staple type of recipe. I served it with a green salad and a side of roasted broccoli. Thanks for yet another terrific recipe!5 stars

  8. As someone previously stated, this calorie count is entirely off. I know you addressed this in the comments, but you should really suggest an edit on this website as the actual calorie count would be nearly DOUBLE what is listed by my calculations. It came out good but I had to half the pesto and the pasta to save calories.

    1. Hi Colleen! For each recipe, I estimate to the best of my ability based on the information available in the calculators themselves. These numbers are meant to be a guide, not a statement of fact. Many elements can cause the dish I make at home to vary nutritionally from the iteration you create, including brands of ingredients, measuring styles, and final serving size. Further, the accuracy is limited by the information available in the My Fitness Pal and Wordpress Recipe Maker databases. I am not a registered dietician and am providing this information as a service only.

  9. This was SO good! I used already cooked shredded chicken to save time and dried basil. We also added more pesto. Such a tasty, easy dish; definitely adding into it our rotation! Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  10. I made this using green lentil protein pasta, cooking it for about 6 minutes. Then what I thought was mozzerella in my fridge was finely shredded parmesan so used that but only about 1/2 cup and less of the grated parmesan. I didn’t have greek yogurt so used Fage. I did have to add pasta water. I also subbed sundried tomatoes for the cherry tomatoes. Delicious!!! It’s now on my go to list! Great for family gatherings and potlucks too!5 stars

  11. Absolutely loved this recipe. I added a small amount of extra sauce but I love how fresh and creamy the sauce turned out. I subbed the frozen spinach with fresh chopped spinach and it was absolutely delicious. Will definitely be making this again. 😋5 stars

  12. Everyone loved this dish! It was easy and very flavorful. I substituted frozen spinach w/ fresh sautéed spinach. Will definitely make again.5 stars

  13. Greetings from the UK thanks for the fabulous recipe… couple of questions do you have a metric conversion button for your recipes? Does your cookbook have metric measurements? Many thanks.5 stars

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Nina! Unfortunately, I’m not able to provide metric measurements at this time. There are several online conversion sites—one good one is from King Arthur! Here’s the link: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/ingredient-weight-chart.

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