Chicken Pesto Pasta with Veggies is a well-rounded meal that comes together in 30 minutes, thanks to smart tricks that streamline the cooking process.

Closeup on a pesto chicken pasta recipe made with penne pasta, asparagus and broccoli.

Pesto Pasta with Chicken

I’ve been on a mission the past few years to publish the recipes that my family and I really love and actually eat for dinner, and often. They might not always be the fanciest, but they’re tried and true!

Often, for the sheer ease of it, our weeknight meals are a protein, a carb and a few veggies, all mixed together. There’s no better way to do that than with a pasta dish.

Salmon pasta (with lots of spinach stirred in) exemplifies this cooking philosophy well, and there’s also this comforting Pesto Chicken Pasta recipe.

It comes together quickly, and it’s packed with veggie goodness like broccoli and asparagus, as well as delicious goodies like Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and little balls of mozzarella cheese. I hope you love it as much as we do.

Why You’ll Love this Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe

  • It comes together in 30 minutes, thanks to smart tricks like cooking the veggies in the pasta water.
  • With a combination of protein from the chicken, carbohydrates from the pasta, and a variety of vitamins from the vegetables, it’s a well-rounded meal that will keep you nourished and satisfied.
  • It’s a great way to sneak in some extra veggies for picky eaters.
Ingredients on a white surface, including chicken, asparagus, peas, penne pasta, broccoli, pine nuts, pesto, basil, mozzarella cheese balls, garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil.

Veggie Pesto Pasta Ingredients

  • pasta – just about any variety will do, more on this in the FAQ below.
  • asparagus – cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces for easy eating.
  • broccoli – cut into small florets to make it bite-sized.
  • olive oil – for cooking the chicken in the skillet.
  • chicken – my family prefers boneless skinless chicken thighs for this pesto chicken pasta recipe, since they have so much flavor, but you can use diced breast or tenderloins instead.
  • peas – I use frozen green peas that I thaw at room temperature while I prep the rest of my ingredients.
  • garlic – adds depth of flavor to just about any pasta dish.
  • basil pesto – homemade if you’re into that, but store bought is fine.
  • lemon zest – this adds a brightness that I like in this veggie pesto pasta.
  • Parmesan cheese – we’re tossing grated Parm in with the pasta, and then garnishing the finished dish with a bit of shaved Parm, but you can use all grated or all shaved, it really doesn’t matter.
  • mozzarella cheese – fresh mozzarella, not the shredded kind in a bag. I bought “pearl sized” small balls of fresh mozzarella. You could also buy a bigger hunk and dice it up. Either way!
  • salt and pepper – seasons the entire dish so that it tastes its best.
  • pine nuts – since pesto is traditionally made with ground pine nuts, adding extra whole pine nuts kind of reinforces that pesto goodness.
  • fresh basil – optional, but I like the fresh leaves for garnish.

How to Make Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Asparagus and broccoli being chopped on a wooden cutting board.

1. CHOP. Cut the asparagus crosswise into 1 to 2-inch pieces, and cut the broccoli into small florets.

A saucepot filled penne pasta, broccoli and asparagus in water.

2. BOIL. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, according to package instructions for al dente. Add the asparagus and broccoli to the pot in the last 1 minute of pasta cooking time. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain everything and set it aside.

A stainless steel skillet filled with chopped cooked chicken and green peas.

3. SAUTE. While the pasta is cooking, heat some oil in a large high-sided skillet and cook the chicken until it is golden brown and cooked through. Add the peas and garlic and cook for another minute.

A stainless steel skillet filled with a pasta and vegetable mixture topped with pesto, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese.

4. TOSS. Add the pesto, lemon zest, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, pasta, broccoli, asparagus and 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to the skillet with the chicken and toss until everything is well combined. Adjust consistency with additional pasta water if sauce is too thick.

A stainless steel skillet filled with a pesto pasta with chicken and vegetable mixture, topped with mozzarella cheese balls.

5. FINISH. Remove the pasta from the heat and fold in the mozzarella pearls. Serve garnished with pine nuts, basil leaves and additional shaved Parmesan.

A chicken pesto pasta recipe garnished on a large oval platter.

How to Make Pesto Pasta with Veggies ahead of time

If you’d like to meal prep this pesto pasta with chicken to have a dinner ready for a busy weeknight, I suggest turning it into a baked pasta dish!

Follow the recipe card below, but after you fold in the mozzarella pearls, transfer the mixture to a baking dish coated in nonstick cooking spray.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until everything is warmed through. Serve garnished with pine nuts, basil leaves and additional shaved Parmesan.

Veggie pesto pasta with chicken in a speckled bowl.

Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe Variations & Substitutions

  • VEGETARIAN – Omit the chicken and add extra veggies like mushrooms, zucchini or halved cherry tomatoes. Because Parmesan cheese is often not vegetarian, you would also need to use makes suer to use a vegetarian Parmesan.
  • GLUTEN FREE – Use a gluten-free pasta (and double check the label on any store-bought pesto) to make this recipe suitable for those with gluten sensitivies.
  • DAIRY FREE – Skip the cheeses (and double check the label on any store-bought pesto) or use dairy-free alternatives.

Pesto Veggie Pasta Home Chef Tips

  • For the best flavor, toast the pine nuts before adding them to this dish.
  • The best prepared basil pesto from the grocery store is usually located near the refrigerated pasta like tortellini and ravioli (not the shelf stable jar of pesto in the boxed pasta aisle).
  • I most often buy the Buitoni brand, which is made with basil, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Rana brand is also good for pesto veggie pasta.
A wooden spoon lifting a scoop of pesto pasta with veggies off of a platter.

How to serve Pesto Pasta with Veggies

Truly, this is a whole, satisfying meal all in one dish. You don’t need a vegetable side dish, because there are so many veggies in the pasta itself.

Serve this chicken pesto pasta recipe with garlic bread or easy yeast rolls for mopping up any extra pesto.

Pesto pasta with chicken and vegetables in a speckled bowl.

How to store Pesto Veggie Pasta

Cool leftovers to room temperature and then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat leftovers in a skillet over low heat with a splash of water or chicken broth.

Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe FAQs

What pasta is best for pesto?

I’ve used penne for this pesto pasta with veggies, but this is one of those instances where literally almost any type of pasta will work. Any short shape like shells or elbows is great. Or a medium shape like rigatoni or cavatappi or bowties. Even spaghetti or fettuccine. 

And you can use regular or whole wheat, or even an alternative pasta like chickpea or lentil pasta. Whatever you have in your cupboard is what you should use!

What thickens pesto?

The nuts and cheese in pesto contribute to its thick texture. If you’ve made homemade pesto and found that it’s too thin, you can add more nuts or cheese to thicken it to your desired consistency.

How do you moisten pesto pasta?

Reserve more pasta water than you think you’ll need. Adjust the sauciness of this pesto chicken pasta recipe by adding splashes of pasta water until it’s the consistency you desire.

A fork lifting a bite of a pesto chicken pasta recipe out of a bowl.
A noodle, poultry and vegetable recipe in a speckled bowl.
A pesto chicken pasta recipe in a speckled bowl.

Chicken Pesto Pasta with Veggies

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Chicken Pesto Pasta with Veggies is a well-rounded meal that comes together in 30 minutes, thanks to smart tricks that streamline the cooking process.


  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 cup asparagus spears, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 cup small broccoli florets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 3/4 cup prepared basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pearl size fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, for serving
  • Fresh basil leaves, for serving
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Heat large pot of salted water to boiling over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Add asparagus and broccoli to pot during last 1 minute of pasta cooking time (or last 2 minutes for softer cooked vegetables). Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain everything and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown and almost cooked through, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and peas; cook 1 minute.
  3. Add pesto, grated Parmesan, lemon zest, salt, pepper, pasta, asparagus, broccoli and 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water to skillet; toss until well combined. Thin with additional pasta water if sauce is too thick.
  4. Remove from heat; fold in mozzarella cheese. Serve immediately, garnished with pine nuts, basil leaves and shaved Parmesan.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 731Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 160mgSodium: 981mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 7gSugar: 7gProtein: 49g

This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. Nutrition information does not include any optional ingredients or toppings. You should calculate the nutrition information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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