Slow Cooker Chicken Pesto Pasta

Easy slow cooker chicken pesto pasta recipe, homemade with simple ingredients with just 10 minutes of prep time. Rich and creamy. Packed with parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, basil pesto and shredded chicken.

This recipe is so heavy in the flavor department that people just can’t get enough of it! It’s just as delicious as this Slow Cooker American Goulash.

Slow Cooker Chicken Pesto Pasta with Tongs

How to make chicken pesto pasta from scratch in slow cooker?

  1. Prepare chicken –Place the chicken in the crockpot and add salt, pepper, pesto sauce and mix well.
  2. Add butter- It should be thinly sliced and not melted.
  3. Cover and cook- For 5 hours.
  4. Shred chicken– With 2 forks.
  5. Mix in remaining ingredients – This includes all the cheeses and boiled pasta.
  6. Cover and cook again – For another 15 minutes until cheese is fully melted.
  7. Enjoy – Mix in cherry tomatoes and garnish with fresh herbs and dig in!

What sides to serve with creamy pesto pasta recipe?

Salad is a wonderful side. Try a simple green salad, chopped salad, cucumber salad or even tomato salad. Make sure the vinaigrette or dressing is light and does not have a strong flavor.

Bread is always a popular side dish. Try garlic bread, cheesy bread sticks, dinner rolls, naan.

You can also serve this alongside soup. Tomato soup or roasted red pepper soup is always a good choice. You’ll want to stick with either a heavy broth-based soup, or a soup that isn’t chunky, which will compliment the hearty pasta well.

Italian roasted vegetables also taste really good with this dish.

Variations

Make it a vegetarian basil pesto pasta – Omit the the chicken, and you can have a delicious vegetarian style pasta instead. Add some broth for added flavor. You can also add frozen veggies.

Shrimp pesto pasta – Omit the chicken, reduce the cooking time, and add shrimp for a seafood pasta.

Make it even more creamy – Add 1/4 cup heavy cream when you add the cheeses. This will give your pasta a creamier texture and taste.

Make it healthier – Use low fat cheeses, replace regular pasta with whole wheat pasta and reduce amount of butter.

Make it spicy – Mix in crushed red peppers or freshly diced jalapenos to give it a spicy kick.

Add garlic – Add 2 cloves finely minced garlic. You can also use roasted garlic for a stronger flavor.

Use a different pesto– I used basil pesto but you can also use avocado pesto, red pesto, broccoli pesto.

Use other cheeses- I used a combination of parmesan, mozzarella and cream cheese but you can also use pepper jack, goat cheese, blue cheese, gouda, feta or anything else you like. The overall flavor of this dish will change based on your cheese choices.

Use other tomatoes- Replace cherry tomatoes with sun dried tomatoes or use a combination of both.

Garnish options– Fresh herbs like parsley, basil, chives and shredded cheese like mozzarella or parmesan.

Bowl of Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken, Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes

Storage

Refrigerate– In a sealed container for up to 2 days.

Freeze– This is not recommended since pasta and all the cheeses don’t thaw well.

Reheat– In the microwave.

Tips and Techniques

How to thicken pasta? If, for some reason, your pasta ends up too thin, simply cook it uncovered a little longer until some of the liquid has steamed off. You can also discard some of the excess liquid. Pasta will also thicken over time as it absorbs more liquid/sauce.

How to make pasta thinner? If your pasta is too thick or you just prefer it thinner, simply add a bit of of broth or water or milk to the mixture.

Can you use whole wheat pasta? Yes, you can but the cooking time may vary (it takes a bit longer).

What kind of pasta to use? Penne is my preferred pasta of choice for this dish. However, you can use any type of pasta your heart desires. Other short style pastas would substitute nicely. 

Make ahead instructions – Simply cook this dish up to a day in advance. Then, store it in an airtight container until it’s ready to be heated in the microwave and served. You may need to add a splash of broth, water or milk to thin it out a bit and prevent it from being clumpy.

Use unsalted butter- Because it prevents this meal from becoming too salty.

Store-bought/Jarred Pesto vs. Homemade pesto– Either can be used. If you are using sore-bought, make sure it’s high quality for the best flavor.

Slow Cooker Chicken Pesto Pasta

Easy slow cooker chicken pesto pasta recipe, homemade with simple ingredients with just 10 minutes of prep time. Packed with cheese, basil pesto, shredded chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Chicken breast
  • Salt, To taste
  • Pepper, To taste
  • 1 cup Pesto , Homemade or Store-bought
  • 1/4 cup Butter, Unsalted, Sliced
  • 1/3 cup Cream cheese, Full fat
  • 1 pound Rotini pasta, Boiled in salted water, Drained
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, Shredded, Full fat
  • 3/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, Shredded, Full fat
  • 1 cup Cherry tomatoes, Sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp Basil, Fresh, Roughly chopped, For garnish
  • 1 tbsp Parsley, Fresh, Roughly chopped, For garnish

Instructions

  • In a slow cooker (6 quart or larger), add the chicken.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper.
  • Pour pesto sauce and mix until combined.
  • Place slices of butter on top of the chicken.
  • Cover and cook on Low heat for 5 hours.
  • Then, use 2 forks to shred chicken.
  • Add cream cheese and mix until melted.
  • Add boiled pasta, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and mix until combined.
  • Cover and cook on Low heat for 15 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.
  • Mix in cherry tomatoes.
  • Garnish with fresh basil and parsley. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Read all my tips above.
  • Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days and reheated in the microwave. 

Nutrition

Calories: 526kcal, Carbohydrates: 46g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 75mg, Sodium: 558mg, Potassium: 398mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1188IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 168mg, Iron: 1mg

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