4-Ingredient Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe: What's Not to Love About This 20-Minute Recipe? by Ann Marie Patitucci

4-Ingredient Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe: What's Not to Love About This 20-Minute Recipe?

Basil pesto chicken spaghetti is one of my all-time favorite dinners for several reasons. Here are four top reasons why this pasta recipe is in my recipe rotation:

  1. It’s absolutely delicious. I love pasta (I’m Italian, after all), chicken is my favorite protein and I’m obsessed with pesto. What’s not to love?
  2. This spaghetti recipe is so easy to make!
  3. It’s on the table in 20 minutes. I so appreciate a recipe that doesn’t keep me in the kitchen for hours, especially on hectic work and school nights.
  4. This pesto pasta recipe is versatile. Use pesto to taste. If you’d like a meatless Monday, skip the chicken. Love pine nuts or cashews? Add them! Want to add vegetables? Add tomatoes!

Cuisine: Italian 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 pound (16 ounces) penne or spaghetti (or your favorite pasta)
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1 cup plus 8 tablespoons basil pesto (homemade pesto or store-bought pesto)
  • grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Boil the pasta in salted water to al dente. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
  2. While the pasta boils, spread pesto on chicken fillets (all sides, about 2 tablespoons of pesto per chicken breast). Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cook chicken in a skillet over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes each side or until completely cooked through. Transfer to a warm plate. Cut the chicken into pieces, if desired.
  3. Add pesto mixture to the cooked pasta with 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Toss over low heat until well combined. Divide pasta among serving bowls. 

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Penne Pasta $1 & Up
Pasta $1 & Up
Basil Pesto $3 & Up
Pine Nuts $4 & Up
Cashews $4 & Up

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Donna John
Great recipe! I made pesto pasta with chicken all the time. Made two batches of homemade pesto this week. Used one and froze one. Got more basil almost ready to be cut now again. Love growing basil!
So simple and so yummy. 😍
Elisa Schmitz
I love every single thing about this recipe, Ann Marie Patitucci . Never met a pesto pasta I didn't like!

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