Instant Pot Pesto Chicken Pasta loaded with lots of pesto flavor, perfectly cooked pasta & juicy chicken with a dash of cream. Make this chicken pesto pasta instant pot recipe for an easy weeknight dinner. Kids love it too!
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Instant Pot Chicken Pesto Pasta
Pesto Chicken Pasta instant pot recipe is just so easy, budget friendly, one pot meal that your whole family will love, including picky eaters. You can use fresh basil pesto or store bought pesto, either way it will be delicious!
Creamy pesto chicken pasta instant pot recipe is super versatile. You can make it with cream or without, we love it with a splash of cream always and a bit of grated parmesan and cherry tomatoes. So yum, so comforting dinner.
Find the Ingredients with actual measurements at the bottom of the post. The list below is just a reference.
To make Instant Pot creamy pesto chicken and pasta you’ll need:-
- Pasta: We used Rotini pasta. You can use any regular pasta like penne, fusilli, or farfalle. If using gluten free pasta I will increase the cook time by 2 mins followed by natural release.
- Chicken: You can use dice boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs. We use chicken breasts.
- Basil Pesto: Use either fresh homemade basil pesto or store bought basil pesto. We took the short cut route and used store bought.
- Cherry Tomatoes: The cherry tomatoes add a little bit of tang and sweetness to the dish & elevates the flavor so much. Highly recommended. You don’t need much.
- Broccoli: Blanched fresh broccoli florets. You can also use thawed frozen broccoli florets.
- Aromatics: Yellow onion and garlic.
- Seasonings: Paprika, Italian seasoning, crushed black pepper, thyme and salt according to your personal taste preference.
- Flavor enhancer: Better than Bouillon chicken base. This stuff is just so GOOD! Stir this in warm water to form an instant flavorful homemade chicken stock. You won’t go back to store bought chicken stock again!
- Liquid: Warm water stirred with better than bouillon chicken base. A terrific flavor enhancer in a pinch.
- Dairy: Heavy whipping cream and finely grated parmesan cheese. We made a creamy pesto chicken pasta. You can skip the cream and use the grated parmesan as a garnish.
Tips & Tricks
- Best flavor secret: Season the chicken & saute it first. This will help lock the juices and keep the chicken juicy & tender even after being pressure cooked. This will also boost the flavor of the dish manifold.
- Non-mushy pasta: Cook the pasta not more than 3 mins & a quick release is a must! Serve immediately for best al dente pasta. Cooked pasta soaks up sauces at an accelerated rate, so the more the pasta is allowed to rest in the sauces the more it will turn soft and reduce the sauce quantity.
- No Burn ever: Deglaze the pot really well with the help of a spatula. This will loosen all stuck food particles & prevent the burn.
- Best Pesto flavor: DO NOT pressure cook pesto, add it once the pressure cooking cycle is over. You’ll have the best easy instant pot chicken pesto pasta ever.
- Crisp broccoli & non mushy cherry tomatoes: Blanch the broccoli florets, drain & add them at the end. Blanching the broccoli helps pop the vibrant green color & cooks down the broccoli just right keeping it crisp. Add the cherry tomatoes at the end, mix & serve. The residual heat will tenderize the skin of the tomatoes & they won’t completely disappear in the sauce.
- Prevent curdled sauce: DO NOT pressure cook heavy cream & parmesan cheese. It’ll curdle. Add them after the pressure cooking cycle is over. You’ll have the best creamy pesto chicken pasta ever!
How to make Instant Pot Pesto Chicken Pasta?
Find the detailed step by step recipe along with measurements + Video at the bottom of the post.
Step #1 Saute chicken & aromatics
- Season chicken: Season the chicken cubes with paprika, thyme, Italian seasoning, black pepper and salt. Rub well to coat the chicken. You don’t need to marinate.
- Saute chicken: Heat oil in the instant pot on SAUTE mode kept at HIGH heat and saute the chicken until the edges begin to turn golden. Set them aside.
- Saute aromatics: In the same pot add the chopped onion & garlic & saute for 2 mins. This will help release the flavor from the garlic.
Step #2 Deglaze pot & layer pasta
- Deglaze pot: Pour the liquid and deglaze the pot really well by scraping the sides and the bottom of the pot with the help of a spatula. This will help loosen any stuck food particles and prevent the BURN error! Do not rush this step!
- Layer Pasta: Now, add the pasta and layer them in a single layer. Do not mix or stir. Just press them down gently with the help of a spatula to coat them in the liquid.
Step #3 Pressure Cook
- Layer chicken: Throw in the sauteed chicken on top of the pasta in a single layer. DO NOT mix or stir.
- Pressure cook: Pressure cook on HIGH for just 3 mins followed by a quick release. Open the lid carefully and give everything in the pot a good stir. Turn off the instant pot.
Step #3 Make creamy chicken pesto pasta
- Make the creamy pesto pasta sauce: Now. add the pesto and the slightly warm heavy whipping cream. Stir to mix well. You can add about ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese and stir again to mix well. This will give you a rich creamy sauce. To keep things light we skipped adding the parmesan in the sauce and added it as a garnish in individual bowls.
- Add the veggies: Now, add the blanched broccoli florets and halved cherry tomatoes and stir to mix well. A delicious healthy pot of slightly creamy instant pot pesto chicken pasta is ready. The residual heat will wilt the outer skin of the cherry tomatoes.
What goes with chicken pesto pasta?
Chicken Pesto pasta makes a filling and healthy dinner as such. However, you can serve a side of the following:
- Diced Zucchini or summer squash roasted or baked.
- A light cold salad.
- Air fried or Instant Pot Asparagus.
- Kalamata olives.
How long can you store pesto chicken pasta in the fridge?
You can store pesto chicken pasta for 3 days in the fridge in airtight containers. The pasta will soak up the sauce and won’t remain al dente when sored in the fridge. Do follow the reheating directions shared below.
Can you freeze chicken pesto pasta?
Yes, you can freeze chicken pesto pasta for upto 2 months. Store it in individual heavy duty freeze safe containers for best result. Follow the reheating directions shared below.
How to reheat?
Fridge: The pasta soaks up the sauces and turns soft when stored in the fridge. To bring back the right creamy consistency splash a few teaspoons water or heavy whipping cream mix with a spoon and than reheat in the microwave oven until hot or warm. The pasta won’t remain al dente.
Freezer: Thaw the instant pot pesto chicken pasta overnight in the fridge and follow the reheating directions shared above.
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Watch Recipe Video
- ½ pound Rotini Pasta (**you can also use farfalle, penne or farfalle pasta. 8 ounce or 227 grams.)
- 1.5 pounds chicken (**use chicken breast or thighs diced into ½ inch cubes.)
- 1 cup onion (**use yellow onion roughly chopped.)
- 1 tsp garlic (**minced.)
- ½ tsp Paprika (**not smoked.)
- ½ tsp Thyme
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 small head Broccoli (**made into florets. About 2 cups. Use blanched broccoli. How to blanch in NOTES below.)
- ¾ cup cherry tomatoes (**halved.)
- ½ cup pesto (**store bought or homemade. You can use more or less according to your personal taste preference. )
- 2 tbsp olive oil (**use extra light or light olive oil.)
- salt (**according to your personal taste preference.)
- 2 cups Water (**slightly warm.)
- 2 tsp Better Than Bouillon (**chicken base stirred in the warm water to form a flavor packed instant chicken stock.)
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream (**slightly warm. Use the microwave oven.)
- ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese (**finely grated. We used it as a garnish. But you can add it along with the heavy cream to make the sauce more creamy.)
- Season chicken & Saute: Seasong the chicken pieces with ingredients mentioned above in the "Seasonings for chicken" section. Rub the chicken well. Set the instant pot on SAUTE & set it on HIGH heat, add oil. When the oil becomes moderately hot gently release the seasoned chicken and saute until the pieces turn golden around the edges. Set them aside.
- Saute aromatics: In the same pot add the chopped onion and minced garlic and saute for about 2 minute.
- Deglaze pot: Now, stir the better the bouillon chicken base in 2 cups warm water to form an instant flavorful homemade chicken stock and pour this into the instant pot. Deglaze the pot very well by scarpping the sides & the bottom of the pot with the help of a spatula. This will help loosen any stuck food particles and prevent the BURN error. Cancel the SAUTE function.
- Layer Pasta and chicken: Add the seasonings – ½ teaspoon each paprika, Italian seasoning & thyme. Stir to mix well. Now, add the uncooked pasta, DO NOT stir or mix, press the pasta down gently with a spatula so that they get a nice coat of the liquid. Now, transfer back the sauteed chicken and layer them on top of the pasta. DO NOT mix or stir.
- Pressure cook: Secure the lid of the instant pot, seal the valve and PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for just 3 mins. Once, the cooking cycle is over the instant pot will begin to beep. Immediately perform a quick pressure release by moving the valve from the sealing to the venting position. Open the lid carefully when the metal pin on top of the lid drops. Give everything a good stir. Hit the keep warm mode and set it on normal.
- Make creamy pesto sauce: Now add the basil pesto and slightly warm heavy whipping cream (** read NOTES below). Stir everything in the pot to mix well. Now, at this point you can add ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese if you prefer extra creamy sauce. We have used the parm as a garnish in this recipe. You can so a taste test now and add some salt if you feel like, this will help pop the flavor. Add salt according to your personal taste preference.
- Add veggies & serve: Now, add the blanched broccoli florets (**read NOTES below) and the halved cherry tomatoes. Stir everything in the pot to mix well. Turn off the instant pot. The residual heat will wilt the outer skin of the cherry tomatoes and you'll love the flavor. Serve immediately and garnish individual serving with grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Enjoy.
- Best Pasta : Rotini, Fusilli, Penne or Farfalle.
- Best chicken: Use either boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs. Dice them into ½ inch cubes.
- Al dente Pasta: Today’s recipe.
- Soft Pasta: Add 2-3 more mins.
- Ultra creamy sauce: Add ¼ cup grated parmesan along with the heavy cream and stir to mix well until the cheese completely dissolves to form a creamy sauce. We kept things light and used the parm cheese only as a garnish.
- Consistency: Today’s recipe is lightly creamy. However, it’s super customizable if you prefer ultra-creamy sauce do as mentioned in point no. 5 above. You can also add more cream or milk to make the pesto pasta saucy.
- Best Pesto: You can use either homemade basil pesto or any good quality store-bought basil pesto.
- Best pesto quantity: If you prefer a strong pesto flavor, add about ¾ cup pesto. We prefer a moderate pesto flavor and hence, used ½ cup pesto. If you prefer milder pesto flavor add ¼ cup first, do a test taste and then add more if you feel like it.
- How to blanch broccoli: Cut fresh broccoli florets and submerge them in hot water, cover and allow them to rest for 10-15 mins. This will help pop the bright color of the broccoli.