Pesto Chicken and Pasta in one Pot

Have you seen the videos where they make an entire pasta dish in one pot? You know the ones I’m talking about – they are all over Tik-Tok and Instagram Reels.

Someone starts with an empty pan and adds in dry spaghetti, then some veggies, and maybe a protein source. They dump a can of sauce on it and cover it before putting it in the oven. In the last shot, they pull off the lid to reveal a perfectly cooked meal with no hassle.

Well, I wanted to recreate a vegetarian version of the one-pot pasta method.

So I did.

I’ll be honest, it’s not the most beautiful dish I’ve ever created, but when both my wife and kid say that they want me to make this again after the first bite, I know I have made a winner.

One Pot Pesto Chicken and Pasta Ingredients.
One-Pot Pesto Chicken and Pasta Ingredients. I used regular dry pasta – nothing special.
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The Inspiration

For this dish, I wanted a creamy, pasta with pesto. But the catch was that I had to make it without boiling the water and cooking the pasta separately. A one-dish dish if you will.

I couldn’t find any vegetarian version of this so I took a chance and decided to give it a shot, and boy did it come out amazing! The taste is incredible.

It was so VERY easy to make, with standard ingredients that I already had in my pantry.

The pasta was one of the cheaper kinds at my grocery store. It wasn’t gluten-free, or a fast-cooking variety. Just regular old dry pasta. The kind you normally cook in salted water for 8-10 minutes and drain and then mix with your favorite sauce.

I just cooked it with the veggie chicken and some vegetables. It took a bit longer, but I didn’t have as many dishes.

The only issue is that it really isn’t that pretty. But when it tastes this good, who cares!

Add the Dry pasta and other ingredients right into a big pot.
Add the Dry pasta and other ingredients right into a big pot.

What I love about this dish

I love the fact that you can just add pesto to pasta and it comes out delicious. Everytime! Of course, the authentic way is to boil the pasta separately, and then add the pesto to the warm noodles after they have cooked and been drained, but this one-pot method works really well, and it still tastes delicious.

I also like to use a generous amount of pesto for my pasta dishes. I think it is possible to use too little, and if you ask me you can never have too much!

After the pasta, chicken and veggies had cooked for about 20 minutes, and most of the water was absorbed into the pasta. It was perfectly cooked al-dente!

Next, I turned to make the sauce, which was an entire block of cream cheese and a whole jar of pesto.

I mixed it in using the heat from the pasta to dissolve the cream cheese into a creamy rich sauce that covered the Rotini noodles both on the inside and outside. I could have added extra spices at this time (chili flakes would have been amazing).

Stir to Combine
Stir to Combine

How much water should I add?

This is where it gets tricky, but the more I thought about it, the easier it actually became.

We don’t want the noodles to be too dry, or mushy, so the proper amount of liquid is pretty much essential for one-pot pasta.

This is where I decided to start small and add more if needed. If I added too much from the start I knew I couldn’t go back and remove it. But if I started with less, and needed to add more liquid, that could easily be done.

Fortunately, I got it right on the first try. I added 4 cups of regular water to 1 bag of pasta. I brought everything up to a boil first using high heat on the stove. Then once it started boiling, I reduced the flame down to medium-low and let it simmer for 20 minutes, leaving it covered. Stirring and checking every 5 minutes.

To check I would remove a noodle and test it to see if it was cooked. I pinched it and took a bite to see if the texture was just right. I kept cooking until it was, which didn’t take that long.

Then I added the sauce, and leafy greens at the end. Yum!

Add Arugula at the end because it cooks very fast.
Add Arugula at the end because it cooks very fast.

Substitutions and alterations

Now that you know the basic method to make pasta in a different way, it is completely possible to go a bit crazy.

You could use any kind of noodle you wanted – macaroni, spaghetti, linguini, spiral. I don’t think it matters!

This would be a great dish to add extra veggies into for the kiddos. I got 2 in this one – red bell peppers, and rocket (a type of leafy green similar to spinach).

You could put in tomatoes, or zuchinni, or a squash – whatever was in season, or you had in your fridge.

Instead of pesto, you could use a marinara sauce! Or even a simple butter and cheese.

It is all up to you!

The next time I make this, I’ll be adding more herbs and trying to make it look nicer, I don’t think there is a way to mess up the flavors.

  • Gluten Free option – Use gluten free noodles – you may need to adjust the amount of water or cooking time because of this, but just start with less water and add more if you need to.
  • Vegan Option – Instead of Cream cheese, you could use vegan cheese or even coconut milk to add richeness.
  • Carnivore Option – Replace the Gardein Meatless Chick’n with the protein of your choice.

Goes with

Leftovers and freezing

Since there are only 3 people in the family and this was way more food than we could eat in one sitting. There was about half left when we were done, so I divided that into two groups, and put into storage containers.

The first went into the fridge, and the other into the freezer.

I had some the next day for lunch. Just popped it in the microwave for 2 minutes and it was still just as yummy! I figure it will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

As for the freezer, we decided to have it again about 3 weeks later. After taking it out of the freezer we put it in the microwave and first defrosted it and then cooked it. The texture was a little bit more mushy (probably from the thaw cycle) but It tasted just fine!

This would be a great recipe to meal prep, and store for the week!

One Pot Pesto Chicken and Pasta
One Pot Pesto Chicken and Pasta
Creamy Gardein Vegetarian Chicken with Pesto

Pesto Chicken and Pasta in one Pot

This is a super fast dinner that only requires chopping one vegetable, and of couse one pot to cook everything in. I was skeptical if cooling pasta in one pot would work, but I can tell yo that it does, and it works, and it tastes delicious!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4 People


  • 1 Box Pasta
  • 4 C Water
  • 1 pkg Gardein Chick'n Strips 10 oz
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper Strips
  • 1 Block Cream Cheese
  • 1 jar Pesto
  • 2 C Arugula
  • ΒΌ C Parmesian Cheese Grated
  • 1 Lemon Zested


  • Using one LARGE pot
  • Add entire box of pasta
  • Add the entire bag of Gardein Chick'n Strips
  • Add sliced Bell Pepper
  • Add 4 C water
  • Cover with Lid and bring to a boil
  • Once the water is boiling reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occassionally
  • Once almost all the water has been absorbed, add the Cream Cheese, and Pesto. Stir to combine and coat everything.
  • Turn off heat, and stir in the arugula
  • Serve with Parmesian, and Enjoy!
Keyword Hidden Vegetables, One Pot, vegetarian
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