Chicken Pesto Mac and Cheese
Chicken Pesto Mac and Cheese ~ simple ONE POT recipe for creamy, silky macaroni and cheese and tender bites of chicken infused with the garden-fresh flavors of pesto.
If mac and cheese is on the menu, chances are good I’ll order it, especially if it’s a specialty type, like Truffle, Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese or this Chicken Pesto Mac and Cheese.
That said, I still eat mac and cheese from the blue box like a 5-year-old because anyway you serve it, it combines two all-time favorites, cheese and pasta.
There are still certain stands for mac and cheese: taste and creaminess.
If you caught my Baked Mostaccioli post recently you know I went on a mom-daughter weekend that included lots of really great food, wine and company.
We stumbled on a really unique, over-the-top delicious restaurant, Taste that specializes in small plates and pretty much made camp there.
Their Chicken Pesto Mac and Cheese was the inspiration for this recipe. Tender bites of seasoned chicken and macaroni blended in a creamy, silky cheese sauce infused with the bright, garden flavors of pesto.
You can make your own Pesto or sub in your favorite brand from the grocery store. Either way it gives this dish tons of bold, fresh flavor.
I not only wanted to match the creaminess of the restaurant version but I also wanted mine to be a one-pot recipe. Whether you have school-age kids or not, from now until the end of December is a busy time. We can all use a one-pot, easy cleanup, comforting meal.
Chicken Pesto Mac and Cheese Ingredients:
- olive oil
- chicken breast cut in bite size pieces
- milk (full fat)
- chicken stock
- uncooked elbow macaroni
- mozzarella cheese
- sharp cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- dry mustard
- pesto (homemade or store-bought)
Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a deep skillet over medium-high heat and add the bite-size pieces of chicken. Season with salt and pepper, sear on both sides and cook completely through.
Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
In the same skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat then whisk in the flour and cook for three minutes. Don’t short-change the cooking time. You want to get rid of the floury taste which is just there to thick the sauce.
Slowly add the milk, whisking over medium heat and scraping up any brown bits remaining from the chicken.
When it’s completely combined and bubbly add the water, chicken stock, dry mustard and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.
Add the UNCOOKED macaroni to the sauce, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Continue cooking for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the pasta is al dente.
Remove the skillet from the heat source before adding the cheese or the cheese may get lumpy and not melt properly.
Remove the skillet from the heat and slowly add the cheeses a little at a time, combining thoroughly. Fold in the pesto and chicken, taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Serve right away.
If you a fan of pesto and macaroni and cheese, this is the dish for you. I hope you’ll try it. It does not disappoint.
If you tried this Chicken Pesto Mac and Cheese recipe or any other on the blog, I’d love to hear from you with a comment or star rating.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 boneless chicken breast cut in bite size pieces
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk full fat
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
- 2 1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 cup pesto homemade or store-bought + OPTIONAL extra pesto for garnish/serving
- Add the olive oil to a deep skillet over medium-high heat and once it’s hot, add the bite-size pieces of chicken. Season with salt and pepper and allow the chicken to sear, cooking completely through then remove from the skillet.
- In the same skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat then whisk in the flour and cook for 3 minutes.
- Slowly add the milk, whisking over medium heat and scraping up any brown bits remaining from the chicken.
- When it’s completely combined and bubbly, add the water, stock, dry mustard and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.
- Pour in the UNCOOKED macaroni to the sauce, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and allow the pasta to gently cook stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
- Remove the skillet from the heat source and slowly add the cheeses a little at a time, combining thoroughly then fold in the pesto and chicken. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.