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A square image of pesto chicken pasta

Easy Chicken Pesto Pasta

The easiest Chicken Pesto Pasta made with a lemony green pesto made with fresh herbs, cheese and garlic and grilled chicken breasts. Toss with your favorite short noodles for a super quick and delicious weeknight meal!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 571kcal


  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh garlic
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup olive oil plus additional as needed
  • Lemon juice to taste (if desired)
  • 8 ounces dry pasta such as rotini or penne
  • 3 cups cubed grilled chicken
  • Lemon wedges to serve


  • In the container of blender or food processor, pulse walnuts, garlic, basil, arugula, parsley, Parmesan, lemon zest, salt, and red pepper flakes until finely chopped. 
  • With machine running, gradually add 1 cup olive oil until mixture is smooth and just a little chunky, adding additional oil as needed to make a thick paste. Add lemon juice, if using; pulse to combine.
  • If not using immediately, spoon pesto into a small jar, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top, and cover tightly.
  • Prepare pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta.
  • Return drained pasta to dry pan; add cubed chicken and desired amount of pesto. Stir to combine, adding pasta water as needed to help pesto coat pasta. Squeeze with additional lemon, or serve with lemon wedges.


  • I used grilled chicken breasts for this recipe but you can use any leftover cooked chicken in this recipe. Turkey or ham will also work well.
  • Make sure to reserve the starchy pasta water to emulsify the pesto sauce this adds a ton of flavor and helps stretch the sauce further.
  • Because pesto oxidizes fairly quickly I recommend using it the same day you make it as it doesn't keep very well.
  • Leftover pesto pasta can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days and eaten cold as it is or in salads. This won't freeze well.


Calories: 571kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 1144mg | Potassium: 599mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1865IU | Vitamin C: 24.7mg | Calcium: 178mg | Iron: 3.6mg