This easy recipe for Pesto Chicken Gnocchi is full of flavor, but uses just a few simple ingredients! Ready in just 20 minutes, this gnocchi dinner recipe is perfect for weeknights or busy weekends. Flavorful pesto comes together with tender, chewy gnocchi and perfectly seasoned chicken for a meal you won't soon forget!
Gnocchi has recently become a staple in my home, and I can't say I've ever been more excited to try new recipes and flavors. I've been testing out lots of different things lately, and recently I shared with you my recipe for Baked Feta Gnocchi (based off of the popular baked feta pasta recipe). Today I'm sharing with you its sister dish: Pesto Chicken Gnocchi.
This one dish meal is flavorful, simple to make, and ready in just 20 minutes. This makes it a great option for busy weeknights, or just whenever you want to get dinner on the table fairly quickly. It also reheats well, making it a great option for meal prep. All around, it's a yummy and simple dish to make, and I'll be making it AGAIN and AGAIN. I love using store bought refrigerated pesto, but homemade is an extra special addition and highly recommended.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's an easy 20 minute dinner idea that takes just 15 minutes of active cooking time.
- A great way to use leftover pesto, especially if you've been growing homemade basil and have made a big batch recently.
- A flavorful and simple gnocchi meal that uses just a few simple ingredients.
- Cutting 2 chicken breasts into 4 pieces stretches a small amount of meat over 4 portions.
- Chicken breasts: You will need approximately 1 pound of chicken breasts (2 large breasts) split into cutlets widthwise. These thinner breasts will cook quickly, making for an easy dinner in less time.
- Basil pesto: Both homemade pesto and store bought work well for this recipe. If you're going for store bought, I recommend purchasing a fresh pesto that is kept refrigerated rather than the bottled versions.
- Gnocchi: Either packaged or homemade gnocchi will work fine. I like to keep a package of gnocchi on hand in my pantry, as they cook quickly and taste great.
- Cherry Tomatoes: These are optional, but I love the bright color and flavor they add to this pesto chicken gnocchi recipe. About a cup, halved, is the perfect amount.
- Olive oil: I highly recommend you make no substitutions here. Olive oil is the classic choice for pesto, and it compliments the flavors of tomatoes, gnocchi, and basil perfectly. Extra virgin preferred.
How to Make Pesto Chicken with Gnocchi
- Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and add it to a large bowl.
- Add in the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt and ground black pepper.
- Stir the seasonings and oil together to combine.
- Add the chicken cutlets to the oil and seasoning mixture and toss well to coat the chicken breasts.
Cooking the Chicken
5. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, and add in the remaining olive oil. Heat until the oil shimmers. Then, add the chicken breasts in a single layer.
6. Cook for 5 minutes, and then flip to the other side. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
7. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the thickest part of each piece reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF. Remove each chicken piece from the skillet once it is cooked through.
8. After all of the chicken pieces have cooked through, add your halved cherry tomatoes to the skillet, and toss to coat. Cook just until blistered, shaking or stirring the pan often, about 1-2 minutes.
Adding in the Pesto
9. Add the cherry tomatoes to a large bowl and set aside.
10. Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and cut into slices approximately ½" wide. Add the slices into the same bowl as the cherry tomatoes.
11. Add in ¼ cup of the prepared basil pesto.
12. Stir to coat the chicken and tomatoes.
Adding in the Gnocchi
13. Set the bowl of chicken, pesto, and tomatoes aside and cook the gnocchi according to the package directions.
14. Drain the gnocchi in a colander set over the sink, and add it to the chicken, pesto, and tomato mixture.
15. Add the remaining ½ cup of prepared pesto to the bowl.
16. Stir to coat the gnocchi with the pesto, and until all of the chicken and tomatoes are evenly distributed. Serve and enjoy!
- Packaged gnocchi will cook in about 3-5 minutes. Add the gnocchi to boiling, salted water. As they cook, they will float to the surface of the water. Use a slotted spoon to remove them as they rise to the surface, placing them in a colander in a clean sink.
- You can use store bought OR homemade pesto to make this easy recipe. If you go for store bought pesto, I recommend purchasing it in the refrigerated section versus the shelf stable kind. It just has more fresh flavor, and the taste is comparable to homemade.
- Cutting chicken breasts into cutlets is my go-to trick for quick and easy dinners. The cutlets cook easily and quickly, taking just 4-5 minutes per side.
- Charring the cherry tomatoes is an optional step. In fact, you can totally leave the cherry tomatoes out if you don't have any on hand. I just happened to love the pop of color and additional fresh flavor they add, and so they are optional, but recommended.
Variations and Substitutions
Dairy Free: Substitute the pesto for a vegan or dairy free pesto, and verify the ingredients of your packaged gnocchi to ensure no parmesan cheese is added. Most brands don't have cheese added, but it's a good idea to double check if you need to eat dairy free.
Gluten Free: Use a gluten free gnocchi in place of the traditional gnocchi used in the recipe. Gluten free gnocchi is easy to find and is a fine substitute for the traditional version.
With Sundried Tomato: Omit the cherry tomatoes, and instead use 3-4 sundried tomatoes that have been preserved in oil. Chop or slice before adding to the chicken and pesto mixture.
Gnocchi pairs with a variety of traditional Italian sauces well. Pesto, marinara, rose, and vodka sauce. They also pair very well with creamy sauces like Alfredo. The ridges of the gnocchi pasta hold onto sauce very well, and so they make a great option for a variety of traditional and modern sauces.
Pesto goes well with any type of pasta, including gnocchi, penne, linguine, farfalle and more! It also pairs really well with lighter proteins like chicken and fish, and creamy cheeses for an easy appetizer.
Some good side dishes for chicken pesto include garden salad, steamed veggies, parmesan roasted asparagus, roasted potatoes, bruschetta, panzanella salad, garlic bread, crostini, and pretty much anything that goes with Italian flavors like basil, pasta, and olive oil!
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut in half widthwise)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ¾ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¾ cup prepared basil pesto
- 1 (500g/16oz) package gnocchi
- Boiling salted water
- Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a medium size bowl. Add in the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Cut your chicken breast into halves widthwise, making 4 thinner pieces in total (also know as cutlets).
- Add the chicken cutlets to the bowl, and toss to coat the chicken breasts with the oil and seasoning mixture.
- Heat a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat.
- Once the olive oil is shiny, add the seasoned chicken in a single layer. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn to cook the other side.
- Cook your chicken for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until the thickest part of each chicken piece reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF.
- Remove the cooked chicken breasts from the skillet and place them on a plate. Set aside.
- Add the cherry tomatoes to the hot skillet, and toss to coat the tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan often.
- Add the tomatoes to a large bowl and set aside.
- Cut your cooked chicken breasts into slices or bite-sized pieces and add them to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add in ¼ cup of the pesto and stir to combine.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
- Add the gnocchi to the boiling water, and cook for 3-5 minutes, removing the gnocchi as they float to the surface of the water. Place in a collander set over the sink. Gnocchi float as they cook through, so you know they are done when they are floating.
- Add the cooked gnocchi to the bowl with the chicken and cherry tomato halves. Add in the remaining ½ cup of pesto, and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately, garnished with fresh basil or grated parmesan cheese, if desired.
Cooking Gnocchi: Packaged gnocchi will cook in about 3-5 minutes. Add the gnocchi to boiling, salted water. As they cook, they will float to the surface of the water. Use a slotted spoon to remove them as they rise to the surface, placing them in a colander in a clean sink.
Pesto: You can use store bought OR homemade pesto to make this easy recipe. If you go for store bought pesto, I recommend purchasing it in the refrigerated section versus the shelf stable kind. It just has more fresh flavor, and the taste is comparable to homemade.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 535Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 448mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 26g
Nutrition information is an estimate only.
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