This Creamy Baked Pesto Pasta with Chicken Meatballs is the perfect weeknight meal. Loaded with juicy, tender chicken meatballs, creamy pesto pasta and fresh herbs, you’re going to love this recipe.

If you love pesto try my One Pan Creamy Pesto Chicken, it’s easy to make and loaded with flavor. Another simple dinner recipe is my Creamy Garlic Chicken.

Creamy Baked Pesto Pasta with Chicken Meatballs – Healthyish Foods

About Smart Chicken

For this recipe, be sure to use Smart Chicken’s ground chicken. If your local grocer doesn’t carry their ground chicken, you can make homemade ground chicken by buzzing up two of their chicken breasts in the food processor.

If you’re new here, Smart Chicken is the reason I started eating chicken again after 9 years. Organic Smart Chickens are exclusively fed a certified organic, certified non-GMO diet, and are never given antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products. The program is certified humane by HFAC (Humane Farm Animal Care) and every chicken is free to roam, with access to outdoor pastures. Smart Chicken is USDA Process Verified as pure air chilled, without added water and are hand-trimmed for your convenience.

**This post is sponsored by Smart Chicken. While I was compensated for my time, all opinions are my own.**

Creamy Baked Pesto Pasta with Chicken Meatballs – Healthyish Foods

Frequently Asked Questions FAQ’s

Can I use whipped cream cheese? Yes! Whipped cream cheese actually melts faster and more easily than block cream cheese. However, either will work. If using whipped cream cheese use 1/2 cup.

Should I salt my pasta water? Yes, but do not go overboard. You are using the pasta water to make the sauce and you do not want the pasta water to be too salty! Make sure you are tasting this dish as you go and seasoning accordingly.

What pesto did you use? I used Delallo brand store-bought pesto and it worked perfectly.

How to Make Creamy Baked Pesto Pasta with Chicken Meatballs

Boil the Pasta

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Boil a pot of water and cook the pasta according to the package. Al dente is best as the pasta will continue to cook in the oven. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water and drain the remaining water using a colander. Set the pasta aside. Use this easy clip on colander or try my favorite pasta pot with built in colander.

Combine the Meatballs

In a mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, egg, extra virgin olive oil, Italian breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese, dried oregano, dried parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Mix until well combined then form the mixture into meatballs. I was able to get 25 meatballs.

Pan Fry the Meatballs

Heat a neutral oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. I used avocado oil. Shallow fry the meatballs until they are golden brown on all sides. Place them on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Make the Sauce

Next, heat a 3.5-quart oven-safe saucepan over medium high heat. Add butter and sauté the diced shallots and minced garlic. Once the shallots are soft, add the pesto and ½ – ¾ cup pasta water. Mix well.

Next, add cream cheese and whisk until everything is well combined. If the sauce gets too thick, add more pasta water. Turn off the heat on the sauce. You do not want it to get too thick as the pasta will absorb a lot of the moisture. Taste and season accordingly. Handy spatulas here.

Assemble the Dish

Next, add the cooked pasta into the saucepan with the creamy pesto sauce. Top with the grated parmesan cheese and mix well. Nestle the meatballs into the saucy pasta. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese, red pepper flakes, cracked black pepper and parsley.

Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure doneness. Serve hot.

Creamy Baked Pesto Pasta with Chicken Meatballs – Healthyish Foods

How to Store

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to four days. When reheating, add a touch of chicken broth or water to the pan or microwaveable container. This will help reconstitute the sauce making it creamy again. Reheat until warmed through.

If you love pesto try my One Pan Creamy Pesto Chicken, it’s easy to make and loaded with flavor. Another simple dinner recipe is my Creamy Garlic Chicken.

Creamy Baked Pesto Pasta with Chicken Meatballs – Healthyish Foods

Creamy Baked Pesto Pasta with Chicken Meatballs

This creamy baked pesto pasta with chicken meatballs is the perfect weeknight meal. Loaded with juicy, tender chicken meatballs, creamy pesto pasta and fresh herbs, you’re going to love this recipe.
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Ingredients

Pasta and Sauce

  • 8 ounces pasta, cooked al dente
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup shallots, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced, 2-3 cloves
  • ¼ cup pesto, store bought is fine, I use Delallo Foods
  • ½ – ¾ cup pasta water
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 cup if using whipped cream cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • few turns cracked black pepper, to taste
  • pinch red pepper flakes, to taste
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella, for the top of the dish
  • fresh basil, as garnish when serving

Chicken Meatballs

Equipment

  • 1 pasta pot
  • 1 colander
  • 1 skillet
  • 1 oven safe saucepan with lid

Instructions 

How to Make Creamy Baked Pesto Pasta with Chicken Meatballs

    Boil the Pasta

    • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Boil a pot of water and cook the pasta according to the package. Al dente is best as the pasta will continue to cook in the oven. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water and drain the remaining water using a colander. Set the pasta aside.

    Combine the Meatballs

    • In a mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, egg, extra virgin olive oil, Italian breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese, dried oregano, dried parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Mix until well combined then form the mixture into meatballs. I was able to get 25 meatballs.

    Pan Fry the Meatballs

    • Heat a neutral oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. I used avocado oil. Shallow fry the meatballs until they are golden brown on all sides. Place them on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

    Make the Sauce

    • Next, heat a 3.5-quart oven-safe saucepan over medium high heat. Add butter and sauté the diced shallots and minced garlic. Once the shallots are soft, add the pesto and ½ – ¾ cup pasta water. Mix well.
      Next, add cream cheese and whisk until everything is well combined. If the sauce gets too thick, add more pasta water. Turn off the heat on the sauce. You do not want it to get too thick as the pasta will absorb a lot of the moisture. Taste and season accordingly.

    Assemble the Dish

    • Next, add the cooked pasta into the saucepan with the creamy pesto sauce. Top with the grated parmesan cheese and mix well. Nestle the meatballs into the saucy pasta. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese, red pepper flakes, cracked black pepper and parsley.
      Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure doneness. Serve hot.

    Notes

    Frequently Asked Questions FAQ’s

    Can I use whipped cream cheese? Yes! Whipped cream cheese actually melts faster and more easily than block cream cheese. However, either will work. If using whipped cream cheese use 1/2 cup.
    Should I salt my pasta water? Yes, but do not go overboard. You are using the pasta water to make the sauce and you do not want the pasta water to be too salty! Make sure you are tasting this dish as you go and seasoning accordingly.
    What pesto did you use? I used Delallo brand store-bought pesto and it worked perfectly.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1serving, Calories: 531kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 37g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 173mg, Sodium: 1323mg, Potassium: 821mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1216IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 333mg, Iron: 3mg