pesto pasta topped with chicken, tomatoes and basil with a wooden spoon in a cast iron skillet

Easy Pesto Pasta

Looking for an inexpensive meal that will tickle your taste buds? Try Easy Pesto Pasta which goes from skillet to table in less than 30 minutes!

This is the type of pasta you can add anything to…or nothing at all. Heck, you can empty your entire refrigerator in the skillet if you want, but I only added grilled chicken and tomatoes. This pasta is delicious with nothing but pesto added, so either way, it’s a win-win situation.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Except for the penne which is boiled ahead of time, Easy Pesto Pasta is made and served in the same skillet, which allows for easy cleanup. It’s also a versatile dish, allowing you to add stir-ins if you wish.

This dish comes together quickly, and is very economical, especially if you serve it without any additions.

If you’re looking for a vegetarian recipe, you’ll love the burst of flavor that basil pesto provides. It makes any type of pasta come alive!

Easy Ingredient List

  • penne pasta
  • whole milk
  • cream cheese
  • basil pesto
  • shredded parmesan
  • garlic salt
  • pepper

Stir-Ins

  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • cocktail tomatoes
  • grilled chicken
  • baby basil leaves
  • fresh vegetables such as spinach or broccoli
  • marinated artichokes

How To Make Easy Pesto Pasta

Bring penne pasta to a boil for 6 minutes. Drain and keep warm.

Pour milk into a skillet and slowly bring it up to medium heat. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add pesto and parmesan, stirring constantly until sauce is thickened.

Season sauce with garlic salt and pepper. Add drained pasta to the skillet, stir well over medium low heat until pasta is tender. Stir in optional ingredients if desired, or eat as is! Garnish with extra parmesan cheese.

How To Make Basil Pesto Sauce

If you’re in a hurry, jarred pesto is fine to use in this recipe. However, pesto is simple and fun to make if you have the ingredients and about 10 minutes to spare. Plus, it’s to die for when it’s made fresh from your kitchen!

Want to learn how to make your own basil pesto? Visit my recipe entitled Basil Pesto Sauce for step by step instructions.

Can I Substitute Types of Pasta?

Any type of pasta is delicious with basil pesto sauce. I’ve made it with spaghetti, cavatappi, ziti, farfalle, and fettuccine. I bet it’s really good spooned over ravioli too.

This dish is so yummy, I like to call it ‘summer in a skillet’ because it will remind you of easy days with bold summer flavors.

More Pasta To Love

If you’re crazy about pasta like I am, try my other recipes that are sure to please your entire family…

Print
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pesto pasta in a skillet with a wooden spoon and fresh basil in the background

Easy Pesto Pasta


  • Author: Debi ~ QuicheMyGrits
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Looking for an inexpensive meal that will tickle your taste buds? Try Easy Pesto Pasta which goes from skillet to table in less than 30 minutes. 


Scale

Ingredients

PESTO PASTA

  • 8 oz. penne pasta, boiled and drained
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • dash of garlic salt
  • dash of pepper

STIR INS (optional)

  • 2 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cocktail tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grilled chicken, diced
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh vegetables such as spinach or broccoli
  • 1/4 cup marinated artichokes, drained

Instructions

  1. Bring penne to a boil for 5 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Pour milk into a skillet and slowly bring it up to medium heat.
  3. Add cream cheese and stir until melted.
  4. Add pesto and parmesan, stirring constantly until sauce is thickened. 
  5. Season sauce with garlic salt and pepper.
  6. Add drained pasta to the skillet, stirring well over medium low heat until pasta is tender.
  7. Stir in optional ingredients if desired.
  8. Garnish with extra parmesan cheese. 

Notes

Save the water from the pasta to thin the sauce if it becomes too thick. 

  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Skillet
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: pesto, pasta, basil pesto, basil, skillet, creamy basil pasta, penne, tomatoes, fresh basil, skillet meals, easy pasta dinners

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4 Comments

  1. This look delicious. I’ve never thought about making my own pesto but now I can!

  2. This is sooo good. Like the Mediterranean chicken pizza I love from our local restaurant. Easy, too! Thanks Debi

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