Instant Pot Chicken Pesto Pasta

6 servings
30 min

Ready in just under 30 minutes, the Instant Pot does all the work for you when making this Instant Pot Chicken Pesto Pasta!

What Do We Need?

Instant Pot– We need an Instant Pot! Lots of companies are making their own version of the Instant Pot now because they have become so popular. This is the one I have and it works great! Make sure you read the instructions and are comfortable using an Instant Pot because it’s a little more complicated that other small appliances. Once you figure it out though, it’s a piece of cake!

Pasta- I used whole wheat pasta here. You can use regular pasta if you prefer. Start with 4 minutes and if you need more time you can add more at the end. The Instant Pot takes about 15 minutes to go from off to pressurized, so to avoid mushy pasta, don’t go more than five minutes under pressure. If you have a favorite gluten free pasta feel free to use that! It should be about the same amount of time, only five minutes for gluten free pasta.

Pesto- I’ve included the recipe to my Spinach and Walnut Pesto. I found that pesto is an amazing way to get my kids to eat their vegetables. If you don’t want to make your own or don’t have time to, use whatever pesto you have on hand.

Chicken– Chicken breast is my go to choice when making dinner. Feel free to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs though. That would be delicious as well and would not dry out since there’s a little more fat in chicken thighs.

How To Make The Recipe

Set your Instant Pot to sauté and add the olive oil. Then, add in the diced chicken breast. You want them cubed a little smaller than one inch in size. The chicken should be bite sized so it’s easy to eat. Let that cook for about five minutes, until the chicken is just browned.

When the chicken is browned, add the garlic. I do not add garlic to my pesto because I find it’s a little too pungent for my kids. If you add the garlic when you add the chicken you run the risk of burning the garlic, which would not be good. So we add the garlic when the chicken is almost done.

Add the box of uncooked pasta and cover it with four cups of chicken broth. Do not stir the pasta and chicken broth. Close the lid and set the pressure to “high” for five minutes.

Once the five minutes is up, manually release the steam by pressing the pressure release knob on top. Be very careful because the steam is incredibly hot and can easily burn you.

When the pressure is released, open the lid and add the parmesan cheese, a handful of spinach, and the zest of a lemon. Mix everything together and serve immediately.

How to Make Homemade Pesto

Homemade pesto is so easy to make and it is so much cheaper than buying it at the store! It is also an amazing way to sneak veggies into kids. Use spinach, kale, or even carrot greens to pesto for added nutrition. Here, I used spinach.

For this recipe, I made a spinach and walnut pesto. I used one cup of basil, two cups of spinach, 1/2 cup of walnuts, 1/2 cup of parmesan, and 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Put everything into a food processor and process it up. If you find it’s a little too thick still, add more extra virgin olive oil. Don’t add too much though, because once the olive oil goes in, it doesn’t come out! Place it in a Ball jar and top it with just enough olive oil to make sure no pesto is exposed to the air. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks as long as no part of the pesto is exposed to the air.

Pesto usually has garlic and lemon in it. I find that I get more lemon flavor if I add zest right before serving. It really brings up that lemon flavor. Adding raw garlic to the pesto is too much for my kids. They tell me it’s “spicy”. To get that garlic flavor, I cook it in whatever I am making like I did for this recipe. If I am eating the pesto raw, I either use ground garlic or I leave the garlic out completely. If you are a fan of raw garlic, feel free to add it when you are processing everything in the food processor.

Questions about this Recipe

Can you bulk this recipe up in any way?

I am all about bulking up dinners as much as I can in order to get the most out of these dinners. Add mushrooms, zucchini, or broccoli to this to make it even more full of nutrients. Just make sure your Instant Pot is big enough to hold all your extra veggies. Mine is not, but there are lots of Instant Pots that are big and can hold all the extra goodness.

Can you make this vegetarian?

Yes! Leave out the chicken and use vegetable broth instead. You can add white beans as a vegetarian protein instead of the chicken if you wanted. I wouldn’t sure tofu in this recipe because I think it would fall apart in the Instant Pot. I haven’t tried it out, so if you do, let me know!

Do I have to make my own pesto?

Definitely not! I added a Spinach and Walnut Pesto recipe here because it’s a family favorite. There are tons of different pesto’s out there, feel free to use whatever is your family favorite. Sun dried tomato pesto would be awesome here too!

Other Recipes to Try

Did you give this recipe a try? I’d love to hear from you! Give me a shout on Instagram or Facebook and let me know (@Lynnswayoflife) !

  • Homemade Bolognese
  • Instant Pot Hummus
  • Irish Soda Bread
  • Veggie Loaded Shepherd’s Pie

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Instant Pot Chicken Pesto Pasta
Recipe details
  • 6  servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 20 Minutes Total time: 30 min
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  • 1 lb Chicken Breast Cut into cubes
  • 4 Garlic Cloves Minced
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Box Whole Wheat Pasta
  • 1/2 cup Pesto
  • 1 cup Spinach
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • 1 Lemon, Zested
Spinach and Walnut Pesto
  • 1 cup Basil leaves
  • 2 cups Spinach
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Set your Instant Pot to "Saute".
Add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and diced chicken breast. Cook until the chicken is just browned.
Add the minced garlic and allow that to cook for one minute.
Add the pasta and chicken broth. Do not stir.
Cover the Instant Pot and set it to High Pressure for 5 minutes.
Once the 5 minutes is up, release the pressure via manual release. Please be careful as the steam is very hot coming out.
Once the pressure is released, open the lid and add the pesto, zested lemon, and parmesan cheese. Stir everything to combine and serve immediately.
Spinach and Walnut Pesto
Add everything to a food processor and process for two minutes. If the pesto is too thick, add some more extra virgin olive oil. Place in a mason jar in the refrigerator. Top the jar with a little more extra virgin olive oil. This will prevent the pesto from going bad in the refrigerator.
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