This creamy pesto chicken fettuccine is one of my favorite quick and easy week night dinners. It requires so little prep that it basically cooks itself.
How to make chicken pesto fettuccine (in under 20 minutes)
This recipe for quick creamy chicken pesto pasta is a God-send when you are really short on time. I love that on week nights when we both have to work late, or days with after school activities I can whip this up for dinner in under 20 minutes. Also as a bonus the whole family loves this recipe!
The recipe uses precooked chicken (hello leftovers!), and pre-made pesto for a delicious and easy weeknight meal that is on the table in under 20 minutes.
Scroll down for the printable card for this creamy chicken pesto pasta recipe, or read on for all the details.
Fettuccine is a type of pasta that is long and flat, and it’s perfect for soaking up the creamy pesto sauce. The recipe below uses dried fettuccine, which takes around 1-2 minutes to cook.
You can fresh fettuccine if you prefer, though note that the cooking time for fresh pasta is much shorter, so you should prepare the other ingredients ahead of cooking the pasta.
I use store-bought fresh pesto, or if you grow your own basil at home try making homemade pesto (for a simple recipe see: how to make pesto with fresh basil).
Use heavy cream, or half and half.
Using pre-cooked chicken is what makes this recipe so quick. Chicken breast or chicken thighs will work. If we are having grilled chicken earlier in the week I just cook a bit extra. Or, if I don’t have any to hand I will just quickly air fry a chicken breast >> air fryer chicken breast.
Baby spinach adds flavor and texture to this dish, and helps to offset the richness of the sauce. Also, its packed full of nutrients. You could substitute kale, or arugula/rocket for a bit of a kick.
Toasted pinenuts really contribute to the flavor of the dish. Don’t skip them unless you really have to. No pinenuts in the pantry? You could substitute chopped walnuts or pecans, or flaked almonds.
Parmesan (to serve)
Optional, but delicious, some freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Parmesan powder to top the finished dish.
Lightly toast the pine nuts in a pan (no oil required). Once they are golden brown and smell toasty, remove them from the pan and gently crush them with the flat of a knife or the back of a wooden spoon.
Cook the fettuccine in boiling water according to the instructions on the pack – around 11 minutes for dry fettuccine. (Note, if using fresh fettuccine, prepare the other ingredients before cooking it).
While the fettuccine is cooking, roughly chop the baby spinach leaves, and shred or chop the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces.
Place the pesto and cream into a jar and shake to mix well (or mix together in a small bowl).
When the fettuccine is cooked, drain and return to the pot. Add the creamy pesto sauce, the chicken, and the chopped baby spinach to the cooked pasta. Mix well to coat the pasta with the sauce.
Serve topped with crushed toasted pinenuts and Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Creamy Chicken Pesto Fettuccine
- 1 tbsp pinenuts
- 4 oz fettuccini dried or fresh
- 3 oz basil pesto
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 8 oz cooked chicken
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese optional
- Lightly toast the pine nuts in a pan (3-4 minutes), remove from heat and crush with the flat of a knife.
- Cook the fettuccine in boiling water according to the instructions on the pack (approx 11 minutes).
- While the fettuccine is cooking, roughly chop the baby spinach leaves. Shred or chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Add pesto and cream to a jar and shake to mix well.
- When the fettuccine is cooked, drain and return to the pot.
- Add the creamy pesto sauce, the chicken and chopped baby spinach to the fettuccine. Mix well.
- Serve topped with crushed pinenuts.
Nutrition information is an estimate and provided for informational purposes only.
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