Because a one pan pasta recipe is where it’s at friends – One Pan Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake. This is the type of comfort food I love. All made in one pan – the pasta cooks in the sauce – it’s flavourful and about to become a favourite at your house too.

Top down view of pasta bake in a white enamel pan on a wooden board, with grey tea towel next to it.

I’m a carbaholic. There, I said it. I want all the carbs – summer, winter, rain or shine – so meals like this happen often in our house. From mac and cheese to beef stroganoff served over a big plate of pasta, this is my happy place. It’s one of those dishes we eat until every last morsel, even if that means dinner or lunch 3 days in a row (since there is only 2 of us).

I created this creamy chicken pasta bake recipe years ago while I was testing ways to use my Sun dried Tomato Pesto, the result was this rich and vibrant pasta bake. It gets it’s bright colour from both the pesto and red capsicum (bell pepper) which is mixed through the pasta.

It’s all at once cheesy, creamy, hearty and rich in flavour but you want to know the best bit? This is all made in one pan, including cooking the pasta, making it easy and relatively quick to prep. No need to cook the pasta in a separate saucepan and no need to drain it through a colander – I’m all about saving time in the kitchen – or maybe I’m all about getting dinner as soon as possible. Whichever!

To keep this truly one pan, make sure to use a pan that can go from the stove to oven. This one is enamel coated cast-iron but any pan that can go from stove to oven will work perfectly well. Make sure it has room for a good 8 cups worth of deliciousness and a heavier based pan like a cast-iron skillet will work best as it better distributes the heat.

Pasta bake in a grey bowl, sitting on a dark grey napkin. A fork is holding a piece above the bowl and the pan in the backgroundAnother great benefit of pasta bakes is the ability to sneak in extra veg. I keep this one quite simple but you could add in things like mushroom, spinach or grated zucchini or carrot to it.

Tips and FAQs

  • What cheese to use for pasta bake? This recipe calls for gouda since I love it’s combination of creaminess and flavour and it’s ability to be smooth and gooey when melted. A good cheddar will work, or you could even use a combination of mozzarella for meltiness and add extra parmesan for flavour as mozzarella can be quite bland.
  • Which pasta to use for pasta bake? A pasta with ‘body’ will work best for pasta bakes. I love spirals because the sauce gets in all the grooves, so every mouthful is rich flavour. Penne or macaroni would work too. These sorts of pastas help everything mix together evenly and keep the pasta bake looking full in the baking dish.
  • Can I use pesto from the shop? You can use store-bought but I urge you to make your own tomato pesto. It’s quick and easy and you’ll have some left to enjoy on crostini or mixed through cream cheese as a dip. If you do use store-bought, make sure to taste test before this goes into the oven as all pestos with have different levels of salt in them.
  • Can I reheat this pasta bake? You can reheat it but it may become a little dry (as the pasta will continue to absorb any moisture the longer it sits) but just add a little stock or water when reheating it to keep it creamy.

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Close up of a pan of pesto pasta bake with a scoop already removed. A grey tea towel sit next to it.

Very little can beat a comforting pasta bake recipe, especially when it’s loaded with flavour like this One Pan Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake. Easy and delicious, your family will love this recipe.

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A white pan filled with creamy red pasta bake. A grey tea towel sits next to it. A wooden spoon on top.

One Pan Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake

5 from 2 votes
Want hearty comfort food that’s quick and easy? This One Pan Chicken Pesto Pasta Bake is your answer and soon to be family favourite. All made in one pan, this recipe is rich, creamy and easy on the washing up.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ medium red onion, sliced
  • 2 large chicken breasts, skinless, sliced (700g / 24oz)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 large red capsicum, diced
  • 250 g dry spiral pasta (3 level cups)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (250ml / 8.8oz)
  • 1 ¼ cup water (310ml)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup sundried tomato pesto
  • 1 cup thickenened cream (heavy cream)
  • 1 cup lightly packed, grated gouda (or mozzarella or other creamy good melting cheese) (120g / 4.2oz)
  • ¼ cup not packed, finely grated Parmesan

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / 170C fan forced.
  • Using a large pan that can go from the stove-top to the oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.
  • Saute the onion, 2-3 minutes, until translucent.
  • Add the sliced chicken and remaining oil and cook, stirring regularly until almost cooked through (another 3-4 minutes).
  • Add the garlic and capsicum and saute, stirring for 1 minute.
  • Add the pasta, stock, water, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until pasta is almost cooked through (it should still have bit of bite but not taste raw)
  • Stir through the pesto and cream, and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir through 1/3 cup of gouda, then top the pasta with remaining gouda and parmesan.
  • Bake, uncovered for 15-20 minutes until starting to turn golden on top.

Notes

  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon.
  2. Don't used dried parmesan. Make sure to use the real thing - it makes a huge difference to flavour.
  3. You can use any pasta with 'body' like spirals, penne or macaroni.
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A white pan filled with creamy red pasta bake. A grey tea towel sits next to it.