Instant Pot Pesto Chicken Pasta is a delicious weeknight meal that combines the bright basil and garlic flavor of pesto with easy to cook chicken and pasta. The entire meal made in your Instant Pot in a little more than 30 minutes makes this a perfect weeknight recipe!
If you are new to using an Instant Pot, then the idea of cooking pasta in a pressure cooker may sound crazy. I thought the same thing the first time I tried, but after that first experience, I was hooked.
My Instant Pot has become a beloved kitchen appliance and is used more often than not for our weeknight meals. And I’m all about those easy diced chicken recipes.
I love chicken, pasta, and pesto — so of course, the combination makes sense to me. Making a yummy dish like this Instant Pot chicken pasta where I don’t have to stand over the stove the whole time makes it even better!
Ingredients in Instant Pot Pesto Chicken Pasta
This Instant Pot chicken and pasta with pesto is a cinch to make and only requires a handful of ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Olive oil
- Chicken breasts
- Italian seasoning
- Garlic powder
- Low-sodium chicken broth
- Cavatappi pasta
- Pesto sauce
- Shredded Parmesan cheese
Can I use homemade pesto for this Instant Pot chicken?
Admittedly, I may have a slight obsession with pesto. It is just so good! So, yes, I can say a homemade pesto works great for this recipe. In fact, I would have to recommend my easy basil pesto recipe if you have the time and want to go that route. Just know it isn’t necessary and that there are tons of amazing jar pesto options in the grocery store.
Do you know what pairs great with this chicken and pesto pasta? This delicious cheesy garlic bread!
Can I use chicken thighs instead of breasts?
Absolutely! You can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. Just make sure you choose boneless skinless for convenience.
Chicken thighs are a great option if you prefer dark meat but still want a healthier option. They also offer a depth of flavor that you don’t typically find in boneless skinless chicken breasts.
How to Make Instant Pot Pesto Chicken Pasta
This Instant Pot chicken pasta comes together in about 30 minutes. Here are the basic steps:
Set the Instant Pot to ‘saute’ setting. Once pot is hot, add olive oil. Then, add cubed chicken and season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.
Sauté chicken until starts to brown.
Press the ‘cancel’ button on Instant Pot. Add the chicken broth and pasta to pot and stir.
Cover, place into lock position and make sure the valve is in the ‘sealing’ position. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
When timer goes off, turn off the Instant Pot and do a quick release.
Remove the lid and stir in the pesto until combined. Top with shredded Parmesan.
How Long to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot
For this recipe, the cavatappi pasta will need to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Then, the Instant Pot needs to do a quick release.
What’s the best pasta for this Instant Pot pasta recipe?
While I love using my Instant Pot for pasta recipes, I do have to say a thicker pasta works best. Especially if you are cooking meat alongside it. You don’t want overdone mushy pasta, so using something like a good rigatoni, penne, cavatappi, or even an elbow macaroni is best.
You also want to consider how well the sauce will cling to the pasta. For this recipe, that is why I prefer a pasta that has some ridges or texture that will hold the sauce and really allow it to coat the pasta.
Tips for Making Pasta in the Instant Pot
- You can cook pretty much any pasta in the Instant Pot, but thicker pastas work best in my experience. Keep that in mind if making any substitutions!
- I prefer cooking the pasta in chicken broth because it has much more flavor than just water.
- Note that the Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to come to pressure before it actually begins cooking the pasta.
Looking for more pesto recipes? I’ve got you covered!
- Basil Pesto Pasta with Broccoli and Mushrooms
- Easy Basil Pesto
- Pesto Chicken Noodle Soup
- Shaved Asparagus Pesto Salad
- Pesto Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas
Instant Pot Pesto Chicken Pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 3½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound uncooked cavatappi pasta *
- 1 cup jarred pesto sauce or this basil pesto sauce
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Set Instant Pot to 'saute' setting. Once pot is hot, add olive oil. Then add cubed chicken and season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.
- Sauté chicken until starts to brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Press the 'cancel' button on Instant Pot. Add chicken broth and pasta to pot and stir. Cover, place into lock position and make sure the valve is in the 'sealing' position. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. **The IP will take 15 minutes to come to pressure and then will cook for 5 minutes**
- When timer goes off, turn off the Instant Pot and do a quick release.
- Remove lid and stir in pesto until combined. Top with shredded cheese.