Creamy Pesto Chicken Casserole

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This creamy pesto chicken casserole is the perfect comfort food for a busy night because it can be prepped in just 20 minutes. Al dente penne pasta is tossed with Alfredo sauce, pesto, tomatoes, and spinach and baked with a crispy breadcrumb topping.

A blue baking dish filled with alfredo pesto pasta and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs. A slotted spoon has scooped out a serving.

Does your family like pesto sauce? It is one of my kids' favorite pasta sauces.

Using our favorite prepared pesto, this creamy pesto chicken casserole was a huge hit across the board.

My family all loved how deliciously cheesy the pasta dish is, I loved that it mixes in both tomatoes and fresh baby spinach so that the rich sauce doesn't completely overpower the recipe.

But the best part?? It only takes 20 minutes to prep this dinner (some of that is just boiling the noodles!) and I can have the kitchen all cleaned up by the time the baking dish comes out of the oven.

I made this on a lazy Sunday afternoon but it could just as easily fit a busy weeknight.

The red and green veggies mixed in would also make this a super-easy Christmas recipe to serve during the holidays.

Jump to:

Why This is the Best Recipe

This easy dinner has all the elements of a total winner for kids. Chicken, pasta, pesto?? But if you're not sold yet, just know that this is the best creamy chicken pesto pasta recipe because:

  1. Super Fast to Prep: The whole meal can be made so quickly with my shortcut tips.
  2. Filled with Flavor: The pasta is very creamy but has the perfect balance of flavor with the spinach and tomatoes.
  3. Kid-Friendly: They won't be able to resist the tender noodles and crispy topping!
  4. Comfort Food Classic: Weeknights can be tough, your family will love coming to the dinner table when this is on the menu.


The ingredients to make the pasta casserole are on the counter.

This easy pasta casserole only needs a few ingredients:

  • Pasta: I use a short pasta like penne but farfalle, rigatoni, or corkscrews/rotini would work too.
  • Rotisserie Chicken: This is one of my favorite quick-dinner shortcuts. But if you have leftover baked chicken breasts you need to use up, toss them in instead.
  • Prepared Pesto: I always buy the big jar at Costco but any brand of pesto or even homemade would work, too.
  • Alfredo Sauce: You can use the jar like I did or take a few extra minutes to make my easy homemade alfredo sauce instead.
  • Baby Spinach
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • Shredded Mozzarella
  • Milk
  • Panko Bread Crumbs: I love the crunch these give to the pasta but regular Italian style bread crumbs could work just fine.
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil

How to Make a Perfect Pasta Casserole

As popular as homemade pasta casseroles are, many home cooks make a few mistakes that result in a dinner that has completely lost both texture and flavor.

You can easily avoid that by following these easy tips:

Don't Overcook the Pasta

The biggest mistake with most pasta-based casserole recipes is that the instructions lead to overdone, mushy noodles.

The key to a totally delicious pasta bake your family will love is to boil the pasta for LESS time than is required on the package instructions.

This recipe has a very moist sauce that the pasta will continue to absorb while baking. To avoid the mushy noodles, be sure to boil the pasta for 2 minutes less than the lowest time recommended on the box.

If you plan to toss the pasta in the sauce ahead of time and bake later, cook for 3 minutes less since the pasta will continue to absorb the liquid as it sits.

Use These Easy Shortcuts

This can be an easy 20-minute dinner if you plan ahead and use these easy shortcuts.

All the ingredients are in the mixing bowl ready to be stirred together.

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Rotisserie Chicken or Leftover Chicken

Use a shredded rotisserie chicken to make this easy recipe.

Or plan ahead and make a big pan of baked chicken breasts and leave a few extra for this meal on a different night.

Prepared Pesto & Aflredo Sauces

I love making both pesto and alfredo sauce from scratch, but that would be a lot of work for what is supposed to be a very easy weeknight dinner.

My family loves the prepared pesto from Costco but any packaged pesto will work perfectly in this recipe.

I picked up a jar of prepared alfredo sauce from the store near the jarred tomato sauces. You could also use the refrigerated alfredo sauces if you prefer.

But if you have the time and you feel best about feeding your family from-scratch food, I totally understand.

Feel free to use a homemade pesto and homemade alfredo sauce. My alfredo recipe can be made in advance to save time.

Pre-Washed Baby Spinach and Canned Tomatoes

These easy vegetables will add a dose of nutrition and flavor and are a grab-and-go ingredient you can simply dump into the mix.

No washing or chopping required!

Pre-Shredded Cheese

Just grab the bag of shredded cheese, no need to grate your own mozzarella!

Pre-Boil the Pasta

Are you really in a rush? You can actually turn this into 5-minute prep dinner if you pre boil the pasta the night before as long as you are extra careful about cooking it for less time than required as noted above.

Toss the pasta in the olive oil so it doesn't stick together while it sits in an airtight container in the fridge.

Then just dump it into the mixing bowl and bake the next night!

Assemble the Pasta Casserole

The alfredo sauce and pesto sauce have been added to the mixing bowl.

Once all the ingredients are prepped, it is just truly a matter of mixing it all together!

Stir everything together in a big mixing bowl and transfer to a baking dish.

Top with the breadcrumbs and bake.

The chicken pesto casserole is in a blue baking dish ready to be topped with bread crumbs.

Baking Instructions

The finished casserole is out of the oven and has a golden brown top.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the chicken pesto pasta for 30 - 35 minutes or until the entire casserole is bubbling hot and the top is a toasted golden brown.

Serving Suggestions

The baking dish is next to a white plate with a serving of the chicken pasta casserole.

This is a very rich, hearty dish. You won't need a lot more to go with it for a comforting and delicious dinner.

Here are some easy side dish ideas to round out your dinner:

  • Add some fresh baked garlic bread (from your freezer or the bakery)
  • Toss together a simple green Caesar salad.
  • Slice some fresh tomatoes and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar or serve my easy marinated tomatoes.
  • And if you really love tomatoes and want to boost them in this recipe, you could spoon my roasted cherry tomatoes over the top or serve them on the side and let each diner mix them in as desired.

More Pesto Recipes

If you are looking for more easy recipes to use up that jar of prepared pesto sauce, you won't want to miss these easy and delicious dinner ideas:

📖 Recipe

A blue baking dish filled with alfredo pesto pasta and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs. A slotted spoon has scooped out a serving.

Pesto Chicken Casserole

4.56 from 29 votes
This rich and creamy pesto chicken casserole can be prepared in just 20 minutes for an easy weeknight dinner. Simple enough for a weeknight, but festive enough to serve for the holidays.
TOTAL TIME 55 minutes
PREP TIME 20 minutes
COOK TIME 35 minutes
YIELD 8 servings


  • 1 (16 oz) box of penne pasta
  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 (15 oz) jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Set a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook the penne pasta for 2 minutes less than the shortest time listed on the package. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, add the chicken, spinach, drained tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese to a very large mixing bowl. Pour the Alfredo sauce, pesto, and milk over the top and stir gently to combine.
  • In a small mixing bowl, add the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Stir together with a fork until everything is evenly combined and the bread crumbs are coated in oil. Set aside.
  • Add the drained pasta to the mixing bowl and gently stir together with the chicken mixture until everything is evenly coated in sauce.
  • Pour the chicken mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth out to an even layer. Sprinkle the reserved bread crumb mixture evenly over the top.
  • Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until everything is bubbly hot and the bread crumbs are toasted.

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