Chicken Pesto Pasta- An Easy Weeknight Dinner

After being out of town a few weeks ago, having missed our beloved Sunday farmers' market and forgotten to go to the grocery when we landed, I decided to play a little game for dinner that I like to call "what the heck do I have in the refrigerator". Ever played this game before? I seem to do it often.

I love cooking and while I may appear to be pretty good about planning meals ahead of time, what I've actually gotten skilled at is keeping my pantry and refrigerator well stocked with foods that will last us for weeks, even months. So, whenever I think I don't have anything to cook, I in fact have plenty of amazing -- and easy -- choices right at my fingertips.

Anyway, back to my most recent dinnertime game. How did I "win" it that night? I grabbed some cheese from the fridge, some pasta from the pantry, some pesto and chicken from the freezer and got to work. By the time the suitcases were unpacked and the laundry was in the washing machine, the pesto and chicken were defrosted and dinner was moments away.

This Chicken Pesto Pasta is one of those meals that's seriously fast. It's even faster if you buy rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, but at times like these, I'm all about what I've got on hand. Remember, the whole point of this game is to not have to get back in the car to head to the market!

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Chicken Pesto Pasta- An Easy Weeknight Dinner (6)

Prep Time: 0 mins Cook Time: 10 mins

egg free

nut free


  • 1 pound rotini pasta (you can also use shells, campanelle or elbow macaroni)
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Drain pasta and add back to the pot.

3. Mix in the pesto, chicken, parmesan, mozzarella cheese, and salt, and serve.

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Hi, I’m Catherine. Mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. I create simple, healthy recipes the whole family will love.

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  • Burning Windmill

    I always have a jar of pesto in the fridge, you never know when you might need it! Makes anything posh and tasty in seconds!

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Pesto is my favorite go-to topping when I'm short on time. On fish, chicken, egg pesto melt, pizza and more!

      leave a comment

  • Alicia

    You hardly need a recipe for this, but thanks for the reminder. My kids haven't even woken up yet, and already lunch is handled! Thank you for the inspiration.

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  • Chris B

    I was wondering what the extra 1/2 cup of mozzarella and salt are used for?

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    • Catherine

      Oops! I corrected it. Everything gets mixed together at the end after the pasta is drained!

      leave a comment

  • Kendall

    Looks yummy!

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  • Christin

    With the 2 cups of cheese and the super flavourful pesto, isn't the extra 1 teaspoon of salt a bit much? I know that everyone has different tastes but I don't think I've ever added that much salt to a non-baking dish before, especially if I was feeding children. Is it regular table salt that you use?

    I'm not doubting that the recipe could taste fantastic, I just tend to cook with much less, or even no salt if at all possible.

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  • Lucie

    I bet if you add some cherry tomatoes, this would make a fantastic cold summer pasta salad!

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  • Stephanie

    Made this for my daughter and I. It was tasty. I think next time I will throw in some chopped zucchini!

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  • Katherine

    Does anyone have any suggestions for tasty store-bought pesto. I love making my own, but basil isn't always available where I live, or it's $2.00 for a few stalks, not really enough to make pesto!

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    • Lorie

      Hi Katherine. Not sure if you have a Trader Joe's near by but I highly recommend their pesto. It's in a jar near the dry pasta and canned tomatoes. It is the best jar pesto I've tasted.

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    • Catherine

      I love Trader Joe's for almost everything! You can also make other types of pesto!

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    • Joanne

      I make a similar dish for my uber picky 14 month old. Instead of basil; which is tough to find sometimes in the winter time, I use 1 cup of toasted pine nuts, 2 cups cooked chicken, 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 garlic gloves, 1/4 cup grated parmasen cheese and 6 sundried tomatoes (in oil). I stick all of these ingredients in the food processor and put it on cooked rotini and he loves it warm or cold.!

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  • Melissa

    This dish was a hit tonight! My very picky 3 year old loved it!

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