Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli

$5.01 recipe / $1.25 serving

I’m all about the quick skillet meals this week because, let’s face it, when you’re in the home stretch towards Thanksgiving, you don’t really want to cook anything… but you still gotta eat.

This quick skillet combines the vibrant flavors of basil pesto with tangy cream cheese to make a rich sauce that smothers the pasta, chicken, and broccoli. The pesto provides all the garlic and herbal flavor needed, so there’s no need to even dice an onion, mince garlic, or measure out herbs and spices—it’s already in the sauce! The whole dish cooks very quickly so you can have this one on the dinner table in about 30 minutes.

If you’re not into cream cheese, you can make this dish simply by substituting the chicken broth and cream cheese with a little half an half (1/2 cup or so). Just pour the half and half right into the skillet with the pesto and whisk until smooth. The sauce will be a little thinner, but it will have a distinctly creamy (and not so tangy) flavor. You may want to add an extra pinch of salt to make up for the chicken broth.

This can also easily be made vegetarian. Use a little extra broccoli, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and you’re good to go!

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli

4.8 from 42 reviews
Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Total Cost: $5.10
Cost Per Serving: $1.25
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. bow tie pasta $0.63
  • 8 oz. frozen broccoli florets $1.15
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1 large (3/4 lb.) chicken breast** $1.50
  • ⅓ cup basil pesto $1.00
  • ½ cup chicken broth** $0.07
  • 4 oz. cream cheese $0.50
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once it reaches a full boil, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes). Once the pasta is tender, add the frozen broccoli florets to the water with the pasta and continue to cook for 60 seconds. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, thinly slice the chicken breast. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the sliced chicken, and sauté until it is no longer pink (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the pesto and chicken broth to the skillet. Stir to combine and allow it to come up to a simmer. Add the cream cheese in chunks and whisk it into the hot liquid until a smooth sauce forms.
  4. Add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir to coat it in the cream sauce.
Notes
** I buy my chicken breasts in value packs when they are on sale and freeze them for later use. The chicken broth is made from Better Than Bouillon brand soup base, which is less expensive than canned or boxed broths.

 

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli

 

Step by Step Photos

Boil Pasta

First, cook 8 oz. of pasta according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes, or until tender).

Frozen Broccoli

Once the pasta is tender, add 8 oz. of frozen broccoli to the pot of boiling water and continue to cook for 60 seconds. It’s okay if the frozen broccoli cools the water so much that it stops boiling. The hot water will thaw the broccoli just enough. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.

Slice Chicken Breast

Meanwhile, slice one chicken breast (3/4 lb.) into very thin strips. I usually slice the breast across the grain and then lay each slice on their side and slice the thickness in half, too. And then if the pieces are long, I’ll cut the length in half. You want a lot of little pieces.

Cook Chicken

Cook the chicken breast in a large skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until it is no longer pink.

Pesto

This is the pesto that I use. It is usually stocked in the pasta aisle and it is usually at least a dollar less per jar than any other brand. This is a national brand and I’ve seen it in several stores, so be sure to check to see if it’s available in your area. It’s a very good price!

Pesto and Broth

Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and 1/3 cup pesto to the skillet with the chicken and then stir until they’re combined.

Cream Cheese

Let the broth/pesto mixture heat up and then add 4 oz. cream cheese in chunks (this is actually only 2 oz., I decided to add more after I took the photo). Whisk the cream cheese into the hot liquid until it forms a creamy sauce.

Creamy Pesto Sauce

The cream cheese will look a little chunky as you begin to whisk it in, but keep whisking and it will eventually create a nice creamy sauce.

Pasta and Broccoli

Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir until it is all coated in the creamy pesto sauce.

Creamy Pesto Pasta Close

And that’s that! So easy! If you like ranch flavored foods, I think this tangy, garlicky sauce almost tastes ranch-like. So yum!

80 Comments

  1. Mariam says:

    I just made this last night – it was so delicious! I’m allergic to nuts so I can rarely eat pesto but that brand of pesto sauce you recommended does not have any nuts!! So pleased that I could finally enjoy a pesto dish and it tasted so great.

  2. Jimmy says:

    Made this dish tonight. It was really good! Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  3. Tiffini says:

    This dish was AWESOME! I added sun-dried tomatoes to it. I had to stop one of my kids from going back for thirds. I’m taking leftovers to my sister tomorrow given that I called her and talked about how delicious it was. This is a keeper and will definitely be added to our dinner rotation.

  4. Sabriena says:

    I made this tonight and it was delicious! I used Kranksy sausage instead of chicken and peas instead of broccoli but oh man..this is going in the dinner rotation. My 4 year old absolutely loved it also.

  5. Jenny says:

    Great recipe! All of my picky eaters were very happy, and so was I.

  6. Annie says:

    We made this last night with zoodles instead of pasta and it was SO good. It was so good that it was hard for us to split it into 4 servings instead of eating the whole thing! (We’re a family of 2.) We managed to do it and I couldn’t wait so I ate my 2nd serving today for lunch and it was just as good after being reheated on the stovetop.

    One note: We did use the whole package of cream cheese instead of half. I think it was totally worth it. It made it almost like a pesto alfredo, consistency-wise.

    Thanks for the killer recipe Beth, and for your awesome website!

  7. Bobbie says:

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was awesome! Thank you so much for this site I’ve been using it a lot since I’ve been living on my own in college and having to cook for myself. Can’t wait for new recipes!

  8. Chris says:

    Doubled the recipe, ate it happily for three days.

  9. Beth says:

    This is great! I added frozen peas with the broccoli, and fresh cherry tomatoes and basil at the end. On leftovers, I add a squeeze of lemon for freshness. For me, the key is the cream cheese and pesto together — I never thought of doing this and it’s delicious. This is now a standard in our household. Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe.

  10. Kathy says:

    By far the best tasting and easiest basil pesto pasta recipe out there. This one is a keeper! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Cristi-Lael says:

    Made this tonight and got a thumbs up from my whole family, even the picky 6 year old! Score!

  12. Nora says:

    I love this flippin’ recipe. Dead easy, super quick and cheap–of course! Tonight I made it with some fresh broccoli that was about to go bad and a bag of frozen shredded chicken made for some of your other recipes. I was standing in the kitchen for probably two minutes total and spent the other ten minutes on my computer, waiting for the cooking to finish. An amazing recipe and the one I always recommend to people new to BB.

  13. Ellorie says:

    Excellent recipe – I substituted salmon for chicken and added some frozen peas as well as a few cloves of garlic, sprinkles of chili pepper, and a lemon’s worth of zest and juice.

    Tasted amazing :)

  14. Kelly says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it is DELICIOUS!! Thank you so much for great recipes that save me some green!

  15. Sophie Wolford says:

    First of all, this recipe was so tasty…..in the words of my 5 year old son, after finishing his plate and have been given the okay to go get a dessert, “Nah. I want more of the pasta instead! It’s YUMMY!”. If a 5 year old passes over dessert to eat more pesto pasta, it’s really good! ;-)

    Secondly, this made enough for my family of 4 to eat AND have leftovers for my fiance for dinner tomorrow.

    Great recipe! Thank you for sharing it with everyone!

  16. Chelsea says:

    Didn’t have any chicken thawed out, so I just went without and added extra broccoli like you suggested. Absolutely loved it.

  17. Nandini says:

    This was so good Beth! And just so easy. Can’t wait to try your other recipes. Will keep you posted :)

  18. This recipe is so easy and very tasty. This one is a keeper!!
    Thanks!!

  19. adriana marin says:

    Hello I just found this page yesterday night and found this delicious recipe had everything in my regrigerator and recently finished cooking this pasta now I just have to wait for my husband to come home to try this definitely going to be using you’re recipes from now on

  20. Chrissy says:

    Great recipe! Simple and delicious. I added some cherry tomatoes to the mix at the end and they were a nice addition. Thanks for another great one!

  21. Emilie says:

    Super recipe. While it is super easy, it was great to have step-by-step pictures, since I am a novice cook. I would recommend using low-fat cream cheese and I’ve added some mushrooms and onions as well. Thank you!

  22. Rachel says:

    Trying this tonight with fresh roasted asparagus -finally on sale-and spicy chicken sausage. Thanks for the inspiration!

  23. Fritzwilliam Grant says:

    A really tasty dish, thanks!

  24. Emilie says:

    I’m a very novice cook so I’m always looking for easy recipes. This went really well and it tastes great!

  25. Whitney B says:

    This is so quick and easy! Thanks for sharing!

  26. Lisa says:

    I made this tonight, and it was delicious! My husband stuffed himself with it, and I still have leftovers for me tomorrow. :)

  27. Thank you for another delicious, easy recipe. I used fresh broccoli florets and stem pieces sliced about 1/2″. Cooked it for the last 3 minutes with the pasta. Cut down on the amount of olive oil to save “some” calories without losing too much flavor. The dish was scrumptious. My pasta crazed son loved it too.

  28. Yum, yum, yum! Made this last night for dinner. Doubled the recipe, threw the chicken and pesto (I keep homemade cubes in the freezer) in the crockpot on low for four hours, added lowfat cream cheese, fresh garlic, four heads of roasted fresh broccoli and a box of Barilla Veggie Pasta. Five stars from husband and I for comfort food!

  29. I made this last night as an alternative to eating out and my boyfriend LOVED it!! So did I, for that matter. I made 1.5x of this recipe (that is, I made one and half times what the original called for) and it did take a little longer for the sauce to reduce down. It was also a little salty, but nothing a little additional cream cheese couldn’t fix! So if you’re 1.5x the recipe, be warned you may have to put in 2x the cream cheese or reduce sodium elsewhere.

  30. Is it wrong that this dish is so delish I made it twice in one week? The second time was for guests who later texted asking for the recipe. (And I’ve heard since they can’t stop talking aobut “the pasta dinner”)
    Served it p with Cesar salad, Italian bread and olive oil for dipping. Such a simple and satisfying dinner!
    I’ve lost track of how many of your recipes I’ve made so far, but each and everyone of them is a hit!

  31. Michael says:

    Definitely delicious! Seasoning the chicken with a little salt and pepper definitely goes a long way (especially the pepper). I’m not huge on super creamy, alfredo-esque dishes but this one is a keeper! Fresh herby taste was the best part. Thank you!

  32. Tiffany says:

    Made this tonight and it was delicious! Such an easy recipe, too. My picky three-year-old gobbled it up. We put it on the “make again” list. I noticed a comment above that stated that he/she hasn’t liked any of your recipes…I have tried several and they are all in my dinner rotation now. Love your site :)

  33. Lyndsay says:

    I made a few tweaks to this and it was still very good. I used penne pasta, subbed the broccoli for kale, ommited the chicken broth for pasta water, and used a generous amount of fresh lemon juice and red pepper flakes for some heat.

  34. Julia says:

    I’m going to try this today since we’re iced in. How many will this serve and can I freeze leftovers? Thank you.

    • This one serves about four. It should freeze okay, although sometimes cream sauces separate a bit upon thawing (I ate mine quickly, so I didn’t end up freezing any!) :)

  35. Lauren B. says:

    I made this for my husband and he said it was his favorite homemade dish he’s ever had! Thank you!!!

  36. Single dad says:

    Was able to find the pesto at a local grocery so I it. Was very good and my 9 year old son liked it as well. Thanks for sharing!!!

  37. Kelly says:

    So delicious and EASY! I modified a bit because I had wedges of laughing cow cheese (I used 6 cheese wedges, a bit of extra broth, and 1/2 cup of the pesto to make more sauce, because I had 1.5lbs of chicken and a 12oz bag of broccoli).

    Just FYI with those amounts of ingredients that I used, it makes 4 BIG portions for around 600 calories each!

  38. We make a similar dish we jokingly call “Perfect poultry pesto pasta”… lol. I just add a jar of whatever alfredo sauce is on sale to the pesto and do everything else exactly the same. (I’m cooking for 7, so my quantities are about double yours.) It turns out creamy and delicious, and not quite as tangy as cream cheese does… and still quite inexpensive.

  39. Jon J says:

    is this good for leftovers for the next day?

  40. Rachel says:

    To make it vegetarian, should I just heat the vegetable broth in a separate skillet and then add the pesto and cream cheese? This looks delicious and I’m looking forward to trying it.

    • You can just use one skillet. Heat the vegetable broth in the skillet, then whisk in the pesto and cream cheese. After they’re incorporated, add the pasta and broccoli.

  41. paintedpinup says:

    I made this tonight for this first time and it was a hit in my house. thanks for your great recipe can’t wait to try more.

  42. kittaywhiskers says:

    Oh, I forgot to rate it. :)

  43. kittaywhiskers says:

    I can barely boil water and I tried making this for my family tonight. It is part of my new year’s resolution to cook more (so my daughter doesn’t grow up on tv dinners) and this was AMAZING. Usually I overcook chicken/meat and I think because of adding the broth directly to the pan it was nice and juicy. Thank you so much for helping a failed cook like me make something tasty for once. I will definitely be trying more of your recipes.

  44. Kristen says:

    Made this for a last minute gathering among friends and was great! Very simple and FAST!! I deglazed with wine rather than stock and was still delicious!!

  45. I tried this recipe last night and LOVED it! It was simple and fun to make– not to mention QUICK (for once — most recipes usually take way longer than specified). I thought it was yummy enough for such a quick and cheap fix – I will definitely make this again! YUM. I also love pesto — and cutting the chicken super thin made it very tender and easy to cook. I also like that I only had a few dishes and utensils to clean after.

  46. This is now the 4th recipe I have tried on here. This was very disappointing. Believe it or not – this is maybe the 2nd negative review I have ever written about anything online and I’ve been cooking from online sites for years. While I admire you and give you kudos for your bravery at the attempt, I have to say I found this and the other dishes to completely lack flavor (not to mention some aren’t the healthiest options). Even more still, I am shocked at the number of people (and your allowance of) who rate your recipes when they clearly state in the comments “it looks good” but, they have never actually made it. I’d like my money back. A pizza at whole foods on a Friday would have cost less. Though I did find this recipe bland, my review is more so a complete review of all recipes I tried from the site (I hate to be mean but, I feel compelled to speak out on this one). You may choose to delete this but, hopefully you consider it as a means for a change. In my opinion, for what it’s worth, this site would be more aptly named base recipe bytes. Add your own flavor.

    • Flavor says:

      Considering all the positive reviews, have you considered the fact that you just have bad taste in food? You’d like your money back? The recipe is free. At no point are they advertised as super healthy either. Nice comment just to link to your own lame blog.

  47. Sarah says:

    Hi! Loved this recipe!! I found it salty , do you have an tricks I am going to look for a low sodium chicken broth next time, have you ever seen a low sodium pesto?

    • I haven’t seen any low sodium pesto, but I wish there was! The pesto I use is pretty salty, too. Low sodium chicken broth should definitely help.

  48. Hector says:

    Out of cream cheese. Do u think a fat free sour cream or Greek yogurt can work for a replacement?

    • I think I would try the greek yogurt, although it is a bit more sour than cream cheese. It will be decidedly less creamy, though.

  49. Christina says:

    Fantastic! I dont eat chicken so i subbed mushrooms, artichoke, and sun dried tomatoes in its place! So easy and sooo good!

    • Sarah says:

      Hi,

      What step did you sub the mushrooms and artichoke in? Or how did you cook it? I am like a newborn in the cooking world. Adding those sound delicious but I am not sure when/how to!

  50. AgathoN says:

    Looks good! Going to try it right now. Had to look up “half an half” though. ;)

    greetings from europe

  51. Enybe says:

    Another easy delicious recipe! Thank you. I made my own pesto which allowed me to use some basil I had that was going to endup going bad on me. It’s so nice not to waste any food!

    We used whole wheat penne that we had on hand.

  52. Janette says:

    I just made this and I am so happy with the end result. It tastes so delicious and I can’t wait to try it again with shrimp instead of the chicken. I doubled all of the ingredients and it still came out perfectly

  53. Just Kathy says:

    I’m so happy to find your site! I think I’ve pinned most of your recipes at this point. Have made one and it was both easy and outstanding in flavor! Thanks for all the great ideas : ) Couldn’t help but notice the bicycle link. Are you a biker too?

    • Bicycle link? Was it an ad? Google tailors the ads to whoever is looking at the page, so if you’re a biker it will definitely show you some bicycle ads. ;)

  54. Teresa says:

    Yum! I made and froze a ton of pesto this summer so I must try this. But I may end up subbing green beans for broccoli because I also froze a ton of those! Won’t be the same but should still be good.

  55. Lyndsay says:

    I made a few tweaks to this, but it still turned out delicious! I used kale instead of broccoli, opted out of the chicken broth and added beau monde seasoning to the chicken.

  56. Jenn says:

    Like the previous comment, we too made this using leftover turkey. Absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing.

  57. Dominique says:

    Neat, I just made something like this with leftover turkey! I even use the same pesto!

  58. Mike says:

    I really liked this, it was a great quick pasta dish. Thanksgiving may have been last month up here in Canuck-land but you still gotta appreciate a simple dish.

    Though I have enough pesto and cream cheese leftover to make another batch, and I’m wondering if I just made the sauce on its own (pesto, broth, and cream cheese) would it freeze well for future use?

  59. Perfect for a fast week day meal.

  60. Michael. S says:

    What a great recipe, keeping this in my recipe book!

  61. emily says:

    Hey Beth, my boyfriend and I love your recipes! We’ve made 6 so far and have shared them with friends. You’ve made a very busy semester a lot more affordably delicious. Me and my boyfriend joke that you are our new best friend (maybe a little creepy of us)…and we are curious- where do you live? He says you must be in NY and I said somewhere in the midwest.

  62. Andrea says:

    This recipe could not have come at a better time! It’s perfect for this week. Just made it, and can’t wait to not have to cook again until thanksgiving!

  63. I love brpccoli with pasta and this sounds soo good with the pesto and creamy sauce. I have tried the Classico pesto and it is super good. Trader Joe’s also has a delicious pesto that is great, too!

  64. Yum. I usually make this pesto & cream cheese pasta with prawns and spinach instead of chicken and broccoli. You should try it as I will defo try yours. :)

  65. Christine M says:

    Ok, thank you!

  66. Christine M says:

    Do you think it would be good without the pesto? I don’t have any on hand. Thanks!

    • No, it probably will be very different. The pesto is where all of the flavor comes from in this dish (it has the garlic, herbs, parmesan, and more). I would definitely wait until you have some pesto available.

  67. mandy says:

    SO YUM! will give this one a try, veg style! i used to HATE pesto, but i love it now, and that’s the brand i use. if i use fresh broccoli (as it’s running relatively cheap these days and i’ve got some stocked up), how would you recommend using it?

    • Just chop it into florets then let it cook a little longer in the boiling pasta water (until it’s to your desired tenderness). :)

      • mandy says:

        i thought that might be the solution, but wasn’t positive. thanks for clearing it up! will probably try this this week, as my grocery store has cream cheese BOGO, and i have the other stuff! thanks beth!!!!

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