Thursday, July 29, 2021

Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe (Instant Pot)

Pesto chicken pasta is quick and easy but doesn’t skimp out on flavor! Make this one pot meal in 20 minutes with simple, fresh ingredients.

Tender bites of meat, perfectly cooked noodles, and a creamy sauce ‌create a dish that boasts a beautiful symphony of Italian flavors.

Whip out this recipe for dinner on a busy weeknight or make a meatless version as a side dish for any of your grilled favorites.

Check out my other instant pot recipes, including savory pork chops with gravy and extra creamy mac and cheese!

Or, try some different takes on pesto chicken pasta like this chilled potluck pleaser or one that includes tortellini and tomatoes.

Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe (Instant Pot) forkful

Pesto Chicken Pasta - Ingredient Notes

  • Noodles - Use any long, thin variety like spaghetti, fettuccine, or angel hair.
  • Poultry - I like to use tenders to cut down on prep time. Feel free to substitute boneless, skinless breast or thigh meat if you prefer.
  • Basil pesto - The classic herbal flavors really shine in this dish, but a sun-dried tomato version would also be delicious. Our homemade Basil Pesto is amazing in this recipe.
  • Water - Don’t forget this! It’s absolutely crucial to ensure that both the meat and spaghetti are thoroughly cooked.
  • Bullion cubes - These really enhance the other herb flavors in the dish. If you prefer, replace these and the water with broth or stock instead.
pesto chicken pasta ingredients on a marble board

Serving Suggestions
This chicken pesto pasta ‌can be a bit heavy, so pair it with lighter sides like green salad, roasted veggies, or seasonal fruit.

It’s also delicious with focaccia or your favorite crusty bread for soaking up any extra sauce!

Kitchen‌ ‌Tools‌ ‌You‌ ‌Will‌ ‌Need‌ ‌
  • Instant Pot - This is the one I use, but any electric pressure cooker will work for this pesto pasta chicken recipe.
  • Box Grater - As much as I love buying bagged shreds because it’s easier, freshly grated cheese melts down so much smoother and tastes better too.
  • Heat resistant spoon or spatula - Perfect for cooking, stirring, and serving.
chicken pesto pasta in the instant pot

FAQ‌ ‌-‌ ‌Common‌ ‌Recipe‌ ‌Questions‌

Can I make this pesto pasta chicken recipe on the stovetop instead?
Absolutely! To do this, you will need to cook the noodles and sauce separately.
  1. Boil spaghetti in a large pot of salted water. Drain and set aside when done.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Saute the meat with salt and bullion cubes until it is no longer pink.
  3. Stir in the half and half and cream cheese until the mixture starts to thicken.
  4. Add the cheese and pesto, then continue stirring until melted and smooth.
  5. Pour the sauce over the noodles, garnish, and enjoy!
pesto pasta chicken recipe spoonful in the instant pot

How long will chicken pesto pasta last in the refrigerator?
Leftovers will stay fresh in a sealed container for up to one week.

Reheat on the stove or in the microwave with a splash of milk and extra cheese as needed. Be sure to stir frequently to ensure it is evenly heated throughout.

Can I use homemade pesto for chicken pasta?
Of course! If you don’t have your own recipe, simply combine the following ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  • fresh basil
  • pine nuts
  • Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • garlic
  • sea salt

pesto chicken pasta on a plate

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Yield: 4-6
Author: Donna Elick
Pesto Chicken  Pasta Recipe (Instant Pot)

Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe (Instant Pot)

Pesto chicken pasta is quick and easy but doesn’t skimp out on flavor! Make this one pot meal in 20 minutes with simple, fresh ingredients.
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 6 MinTotal time: 16 Min


  • 8 ounces chicken tenderloin, cut into 1” cubes
  • 16 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1 cup basil pesto (use our homemade pesto)
  • 4 cups water


  1. Using the sauté function on your instant pot, melt your butter.
  2. Add the water, half and half, salt, and chicken bouillon cubes to the melted butter and give a quick stir.
  3. To your water mixture, add your pasta, cubed chicken, and cubed cream cheese. Gently mix/push down on these ingredients until they are fully submerged in the liquid.
  4. Place the lid on your pressure cooker and pressure cook your pasta mixture on high for 6 minutes.
  5. Perform a quick release.
  6. Once your quick release is finished, open your instant pot and add your mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and pesto. Stir until homogeneous.
  7. Garnish your pasta with extra salt, some olive oil, or some fresh basil, serve, and enjoy!

Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe (Instant Pot) closeup

Originally published July 2021

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