This basil pesto and chicken baked pasta is creamy, dreamy and just simply delightful! It was one of the OG’s on my site that I dug out of the archives, polished up and it’s coming back with vengeance!
Creamy layers of a homemade white sauce, paired with basil pesto and shredded chicken, this pasta recipe will instantly turn into a family favourite after just one bite!
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Basil pesto is made from 4 basic ingredients, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts. Some varieties also use parmesan cheese, black pepper, even kale! There are a TON of different varieties and different types of pestos available in the supermarket today. Feel free to find your favourite flavour of pesto and substitute that in this recipe, too!
Pesto is generally made with whole, fresh ingredients. Although it does contain a fair amount of extra virgin olive oil, it is generally pretty healthy, enjoyed in moderation.
Basil pesto can be used in SO MANY THINGS!!! It is great when enjoyed as a spread on a sandwich, in a pasta salad, or incorporated into a pasta sauce (like this recipe), or it's even good on eggs!
Ingredients you’ll need
- Shredded chicken breast
- Pasta such as bow tie, penne, rigatoni, or medium shells all work great!
- All purpose flour
- Chicken or vegetable stock
- Basil pesto
- Parmesan and cheddar cheese
- Red pepper flakes, salt and pepper
To make this pasta dairy free;
- substitute the cream for a heavy coconut milk or coconut cream.
- Use ¼ cup nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan cheese in the sauce.
- Top with a dairy free cheese of your choice or skip the cheese on top entirely.
To make this pasta vegan;
- eliminate the shredded chicken and replace with cubed tofu.
- Use ghee in place of the butter.
- Make sure to use vegetable stock.
- Eliminate the parmesan cheese and replace with ¼ cup of nutritional yeast.
- Use coconut cream instead of dairy cream.
- Skip the cheese on top (or use a vegan cheese of your choice)
Ok, let’s make some pasta!
First things first, preheat your oven to 375°F and grab a large oven safe skillet.
In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente. While the pasta is cooking, this is a good time to prepare the sauce.
(Although, if you wanted to prepare the noodles ahead of time then run cold water over the cooked noodles to stop the cooking while you are getting the sauce ready and set aside)
Making the sauce
Place a large oven safe skillet over medium heat and melt the butter.
After the butter has melted add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds, careful not to burn the garlic!
Sprinkle the flour over top of the butter and garlic mixture and stir until it has fully incorporated with the butter. It will be clumpy at this stage, this is called a roux.
Cook the roux for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Switch to a whisk and whisking constantly, pour the stock into the skillet. Continue whisking until everything has come together and the sauce has begun to thicken and boil.
Boil the sauce over medium heat, stirring regularly for 5-8 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
Remove the sauce from the heat and add the cream, basil pesto, parmesan cheese, and red chili flakes, stirring until completely combined. Season to your taste with salt and pepper.
Next, add the shredded chicken and cooked pasta to the sauce in the skillet.
Stir well to completely coat the pasta and chicken with the sauce.
Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes until the pasta is bubbly and the cheese is melted. Top with diced scallions and serve.
Don't have an oven safe skillet?
No worries! Prepare the sauce in a regular deep skillet on the stovetop and transfer the sauce, shredded chicken and pasta noodles to a 9” x 13” baking dish. You may have to increase the baking time by 5 minutes or so to account for the fact that the dish will not be preheated when you put it in the oven.
Storing the Leftovers
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and enjoy within 3 days. Reheat the pasta in a skillet over medium-low heat or in the microwave until heated throughly.
Freezer Meal Option
Wait, you can make this a freezer meal? YES!!!
To make this creamy basil pesto pasta a freezer meal, prepare as stated in the directions above, but do not bake.
Combine the prepared sauce with the shredded chicken and cooked pasta and place in a freezer AND oven safe container, like a glass baking dish or aluminum pan. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top, label and freeze. Use within 3 months.
To cook: Preheat the oven to 375°F and cook from frozen for 60-75 minutes until the pasta is bubbly and browned on the top.
WHEW! Well there you have it, this pasta is actually a super versatile recipe that can be prepared in many different ways to suit you and your families needs AND it can be made into a freezer meal!
We put a lot of work into our recipes, so we would love to know if you tried this creamy basil pesto chicken pasta recipe and how it turned out for you!
More Easy Pasta Recipes
If you have any questions about this recipe, I would be happy to answer them in the comments down below! To get a hold of us, you can shoot us an email or leave a comment down below! We can also be found on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
- 2 Chicken Breasts, cooked and shredded
- 500 grams Pasta of choice
- 6 cups Water
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 5-6 cloves Garlic, minced
- 3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
- 3 cups Stock, chicken or vegetable
- 1 cup Cream
- ½ cup Basil Pesto
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 1 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 2 Scallions, diced
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente. While the pasta is cooking, this is a good time to prepare the sauce. (Although, if you wanted to prepare the noodles ahead of time then run cold water over the cooked noodles to stop the cooking while you are getting the sauce ready and set aside)
- Place a large oven safe skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. After the butter has melted add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Sprinkle the flour over top of the butter and garlic mixture and stir until it has fully incorporated with the butter. It will be clumpy at this stage. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Whisking constantly, pour in the stock. Continue whisking until everything has come together and the sauce has begun to boil.
- Boil over medium heat, stirring regularly for 5-8 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Remove from heat and add the cream, basil pesto, parmesan cheese, and red chili flakes. Stir until completely combined and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the shredded chicken and cooked pasta to the sauce and stir well to combine.
- Top with cheddar cheese and bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and the cheese is melted.
- Top with diced scallions and serve.
If you don't have an oven safe skillet, prepare the sauce in a regular deep skillet on the stovetop and transfer the sauce, shredded chicken and pasta noodles to a 9” x 13” baking dish.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 674Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 704mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 32g
Please Note- The nutritional information provided is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator and it will vary based on the ingredients that you use.
This recipe and post were updated on February 16, 2021.