Meet me at the intersection of creamy comfort food and fabulously fresh for a big, cheesy, and (yes!) healthy serving of Chicken Pesto Pasta.

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

This recipe is sponsored by DeLallo.

This creamy pasta bake combines whole wheat pasta noodles, golden sautéed chicken, and bright, bursting cherry tomatoes in a vibrant pesto sauce. It’s hearty, filling, and cozy, the way you’d expect a chicken pesto pasta bake to be.

It’s also unexpectedly fresh. A bright basil pesto sauce infuses the pasta with light and sunny flavor. Cherry tomatoes—which taste good year-round but are especially delicious right now—and spinach add healthy servings of veggies. A final sprinkle of herbs lifts the pasta right off of your plate.

I recently served this creamy chicken pesto pasta bake at a party I hosted for girlfriends. We dubbed the occasion a “Pasta Party” and imbibed in all things summery and Italian. It was a blast.

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. I assembled the chicken pesto pasta with tomatoes entirely the night before and stored it in my fridge. Then, the day of the party, all I had to do was pop it into the oven and bake.

I was less stressed, and my girlfriends loved the recipe. Everyone remarked how its flavor was light, yet it still left them feeling truly satisfied.

And, the little that we had leftover? It reheated like a dream for our dinner the next night.

Whether you need a healthy, ultra tasty dinner option to feed a crowd, want leftovers to enjoy the rest of the week, or are looking for meals you can make in advance, this chicken pesto pasta is a fantastic choice.

Tasty chicken pesto pasta bake in a baking dish served with tomatoes

How to Make Chicken Pesto Pasta with Tomatoes

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. DeLallo whole wheat pasta is my go-to. Unlike other whole wheat pasta brands I’ve tried, the texture of the pasta is spot-on al dente and its flavor is so mild, even the pickiest eaters won’t notice it is whole wheat.

Tasty whole wheat penne rigate pasta and pesto sauce for making this creamy chicken pesto pasta recipe

In addition to preferring DeLallo whole wheat pasta for its superior texture and flavor, I also love how many shapes it comes in! The best pastas for pesto have some kind of edges or texture so that the pesto clings to it. Penne, gemelli, and fusilli are all fantastic choices for pesto, and DeLallo offers all three in whole wheat. I opted for penne, which we always have on hand.

  • Prepared Pesto Sauce. A fantastic store-bought shortcut to keep the recipe easy-breezy! I used DeLallo Simply Pesto Traditional Basil. Its flavor is fresh, pure, and tastes homemade.
  • Chicken. Chicken is a meat that goes well with pesto, because its mild flavor lets the pesto shine. Italian sausage goes well with pesto also, so if you decide to make this recipe later on and want to vary it up, sausage is a great choice. I recommend choosing chicken or turkey sausage to keep the recipe lean and healthy.
  • Mozzarella. No 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. A sprinkle of Parmesan 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 to the pesto sauce. It makes the pesto pasta sauce rich and creamy without adding fat and provides protein.
  • Frozen Spinach. Sneak healthy addition #2. Spinach is ultra mild and its green color is camouflaged by the pesto, so even picky eaters won’t suspect it.
  • Fresh Basil. A lively addition to give the pasta additional freshness.

The Recipe Steps

  • First, bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Be sure the water is very well salted (like the ocean!) to give the pasta great flavor. Add the pasta, and cook until al dente. When you drain the pasta, be sure to reserve some of the starchy cooking liquid (we’ll need it in a minute). To save yourself a dish, pour the drained pasta right back into the pot you used to cook it.
  • While the water boils, dice the chicken, then saute it until golden brown and fully cooked through. Set it aside.

Tasty creamy pesto for chicken pesto pasta recipe that's low in calories

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the pesto and Greek yogurt.
  • Next, add the spinach. You’ll need to break the spinach up a bit with a fork. Try not to eat the entire bowl of pesto sauce right this second (you’ll be tempted).

Creamy, tasty pesto in a mixing bowl for making chicken pesto pasta bake

  • Add the creamy yogurt pesto mixture to the pot with the pasta and stir gently to coat. The pesto sauce will be thick, so splash in that handy reserved pasta water as needed to thin it.
  • Add the chicken, cherry tomatoes, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir until everything is nicely mixed.
  • Layer half of the chicken pesto pasta mixture into a lightly greased 9×13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle on the cheese and basil, spoon in the rest of the pasta, then add more cheese on top.
  • Bake the chicken pesto pasta at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. It will be melty, cheesy, and your kitchen will smell irresistible. Sprinkle with more basil and more cheese, then serve!

Creamy and tasty chicken pesto pasta recipe in a baking dish with tomatoes

Make Ahead Tips + How to Store and Reheat

This Chicken Pesto Pasta is a meal-prep dream. It’s also freezer friendly and excellent leftover.

  • 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 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 degrees F until hot in the center or microwave gently until warm.

Tasty chicken pesto pasta in a baking dish that's a creamy recipe

And now, some fun party pictures!

In addition to the chicken pesto pasta, I set up a build-your-own bruschetta bar and arranged lots of my favorite DeLallo antipasti items too. And, since too much is never enough, I added a cheese plate (easy!) and charcuterie. For a fresh option, I served my Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad (which I also prepped a day ahead).

The pasta was the hearty main, and my friends had a blast trying all of the different bruschetta toppings. We’re already talking about making the Pasta Party a summer (and maybe winter!) tradition.

Girls gathering for a pasta party

I know you’re going to love this healthy Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake as much as my gal pals and I did. It’s comfort food at its freshest and finest!

Looking for more fresh, healthy pasta recipes that are great for parties? Try my friend Sonia’s Vodka Sauce Pasta, this Skillet Lasagna, and my favorite healthy Turkey Bolognese.

Chicken pesto pasta bake in a white baking dish

Chicken Pesto Pasta

4.94 from 16 votes
Rich and creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake with tomatoes, whole wheat noodles, bright pesto, and Greek yogurt. Healthy, freezer friendly, and flavor packed!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 50 mins

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 DeLallo Whole Wheat Pasta penne rigate, rigatoni, fusilli, or similarly shaped pasta
  • 1 6.35 ounce jar DeLallo Simply Pesto Traditional Pesto flavor
  • 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 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9x13-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.

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 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 degrees 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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I am sharing this post in partnership with DeLallo. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to create quality content for you!

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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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48 Comments

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    1. Thank you, Suzanne! Sodium content can vary so much based on the brands of ingredients used. I recommend using an online calculator like MyFitnessPal, which you can customize based on the ingredients you have to get a more accurate number. I hope this helps!

  1. I have not tried this recipe yet, but was wondering if you could give me an approximate mesurement of how much chicken you used. I am wanting to make it even easier by using rotisserie chicken we get from Sam’s. They are delicious, inexpensive for the size and have convenience written all over the container. I can’t wait to make this!

    1. Hi Linda! I used 1 and 1/4 pounds of chicken for this recipe, so you could use the same amount of rotisserie chicken meat. You can also skip the step where you cook the chicken since yours will already be done. I hope this helps and that you love the recipe!

  2. This sounds delicious, Erin! Would be lovely over the Christmas holidays, too! Great that you can make it ahead of time. Love the photos of your Girl’s Night! Looks like everyone was having a super time!

  3. Yum!!! I made this last night and it both smelled and tasted delicious! And I love the healthy additions of Greek yogurt and frozen spinach – genius! Yet another reason I love this blog!

  4. I took this to work with me for lunch and the first bite was like magic after a hard day’s work this really allowed me to enjoy my day for awhile, absolutely scrumptious!5 stars

  5. We made this last night with 2 pints of cherry tomatoes from our garden and WOW! This was a delicious meal and so easy! Have you ever made this with fresh spinach? Just wondering. I think this is the 7th recipe of yours we have made. #fans-forever5 stars

    1. I’m so happy to hear this was a hit, Kim! Thank you for taking the time to share this incredibly kind review! I have not tried this recipe with fresh spinach, but I believe it would turn out nicely. If you decide to try it, Id love to hear how it goes!

  6. Hi Erin,

    Thanks for this recipe. It was so delicious! I made only a few changes. I used fresh spinach, homemade pesto, and added mushrooms. My husband who doesn’t normally request I save recipes asked me specifically to save this one. Thanks again!

    1. Annita,I am gearing up to make this recipe because all of Erin’s recipes are sooooo good. Like you I will be using homemade pesto and wondered how much you used?

      By the way, Erin, you have changed my life with your tip about using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream . Every bit as delicious! I make your stroganoff all the time! Now I will have another “sour cream” recipe. Yay!!!

      Oh, and my husband teased me because I got tears in my eyes when I watched you on GMA last weekend. It was like seeing my daughter and I felt so proud of you!!!

  7. I made this without chicken and used a high protein pasta.  I added roasted broccoli, & Brussels sprouts and onions.  The sauce was delish.  Looking forward to making this with chicken.  It’s nice that this is such a versatile dish!  Thank you!5 stars

  8. This looks delicious, I can’t wait to try it! If I wanted to make this vegetarian, would you suggest just eliminating the chicken altogether or is there anything I could substitute instead?

    1. Hi Mitali! You can leave it out or if you’d like some protein, try swapping drained and rinsed white beans, such as cannelli or great northern. I hope you love the recipe!

  9. I just made this on a weeknight. We loved it. I doubled the recipe. I think it would taste better with sun dried tomatoes vs fresh cherry tomatoes.  My family wasn’t a big fan of the tomatoes. Everything else tasted great!4 stars

  10. One of our favorite Well Plated recipes! Easy, creamy and tasted delicious! I’ve made this for my husband, and group of friends and is a big crowd pleaser! I love the healthy addition of the Greek yogurt – I personally never cooked with it and now I’m finding ways to add it to everything! 5 stars

  11. My husband loves my baked ziti, but that is so predictable (and let’s face it, HEAVY). I made this for our Valentine’s Day dinner, as written, except that I possibly doubled the pesto/yogurt sauce – I don’t measure things, so hard to say. This dish was absolutely fantastic. Greek yogurt and pesto might now be my favorite new sauce. Thank you for this fantastic, relatively healthy, oh so green and fresh alternative to baked ziti!5 stars

  12. We really enjoyed this for dinner tonight. It was pretty quick to prepare. I ended up using Wegman’s  fresh pesto and tried to use about 7 ounces of it. Next time I will cook it covered so the cherry tomatoes cook a bit more. I ended up covering with foil for the last 10 minutes. That works too. The cherry tomatoes are a must because the sweetness really elevates the dish. Thank you for all of your tasty recipes. I really like to make the quinoa bakes as well. 5 stars

  13. This is so good!!! I added feta and used fresh spinach. I think next time I might add peppers and zucchini. Thank you! 5 stars

  14. Excellent recipe. Made it for the second time yesterday. Forgot to keep the water in which the pasta was cooked in, so as a remedy I used chicken broth. Really tasty.5 stars

  15. Hi! Any suggestions you would make to substitute the greek yogurt with? I don’t have any on hand.

    1. Hi Megan! I haven’t tried it myself, but I think you could use plain, unsweetened regular yogurt instead. I hope this helps!

      1. Hi Erin! I actually made it last night and used regular sour cream and it was delicious! I also used some fresh mozzarella on top and it was great. Awesome recipe!5 stars

  16. I made this last night for dinner and it was absolutely delicious. I will definitely be making this again. It was plate licking good!!!!5 stars