Chicken & Bacon Creamy Pesto Pasta (Tortellini)

Pasta lovers, this one is for you! This easy creamy chicken and bacon pesto pasta recipe is serious pasta, wine, and Netflix night material. A great recipe perfect for busy weeknights, that the whole family will love. It’s a cheesy, creamy white wine reduction, pesto-loving, comfort food winner. I normally serve it on its own, but if we’ve got a few around for dinner, it’s a great way to feed a group. I just add a simple salad and homemade garlic bread to the side.

Pesto + Chicken + Wine + Creamy Sauce… Does pasta get any better?

Put on your pj’s and pour that glass of wine, it’s pasta night!

A frypan of creamy chicken and bacon pesto pasta (tortellini) topped with parmesan cheese.

What you need to make this creamy chicken and bacon pesto pasta recipe

  • White wine – I use whatever is on hand. There is normally a bottle in our fridge, so I just use that. Just remember to always pour a glass for yourself at the same time. Because Pasta + Wine is what food dreams are made of!


  • Grana Padano – Always look for good parmesan at your local cheese store. I normally use grana padano or reggiano. Be sure to buy a block and grate it yourself as opposed to pre-grated parmesan cheese. So much more flavor!


  • Homemade or store-bought Pesto – Do you make your own homemade pesto? No? Unless I have an abundance of basil leaves from the garden, me neither! Roza’s makes the BEST basil pesto in Australia. They make quite a few different pesto versions (like nut and dairy-free pesto) if you feel like experimenting or have dietary requirements. FYI making your own homemade basil pesto is super easy and you should definitely give it a go! It’s just blitzing pine nuts, basil leaves, parmesan, and extra virgin olive oil in a food processor until it forms a paste. Personally, I make my own fresh pesto sauce quite chunky and drizzle it over just picked, ripe tomatoes from the garden in Summer!


  • Pantry staples – extra virgin olive oil, thickened or heavy cream, sea salt, pepper


  • Meats – bacon rashers, chicken thighs. If you’re short on time or have a leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge, feel free to substitute it with the chicken thighs.


  • Vegetables – onion


  • Pasta. I use Rana three cheese tortellini for this creamy pesto sauce. Because well, more cheese is always a good idea! Obviously, feel free to substitute for your favorite pasta shape and cook to the package directions. I’ve made this creamy pesto pasta sauce recipe with so many different types of pasta over the years. While I usually stick to penne or tortellini, feel free to substitute with your favorite wheat or gluten-free pasta. Want to take it up a notch in the homemade stakes? Why not make the pasta from scratch?

The details

  1. In a large skillet, saute the onion in oil for 3 minutes over medium heat.


  2. Add the bacon. Cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the chicken and seal the meat. No need to cook through, the chicken will continue to cook in the sauce.


  3. Add cream and white wine. Stir till combined on medium heat, then simmer for 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.


  4. When the sauce is starting to thicken, cook your chosen pasta according to the packet’s instructions in a large pot of salted water. I generally work on roughly 100g of pasta per person, so for this recipe, I cooked 500g of pasta


  5. Add pesto to the creamy chicken sauce and gently stir through.


  6. Add cooked pasta to the sauce with a couple of teaspoons of pasta water and mix thoroughly. Finish with a good sprinkle of freshly grated quality parmesan, a swirl of pesto, fresh basil (if you have some on hand) and season with a pinch of salt flakes & freshly ground pepper.

Essential equipment

A good heavy-based frypan, Dutch oven, or shallow casserole pan is essential to make this creamy pesto tortellini. Because you are going to simmer the sauce for a while, a heavy-based pan will stop the cream from sticking and burning to the base. I cook this recipe in my Le Creuset 30cm shallow casserole.

A pasta pot or large saucepan to cook the pasta in as well as a cooks knife and chopping board.

A quick word on pasta

When buying dry pasta from the store, there’s pasta, and there’s pasta. Many supermarket kinds of pasta are dried at high temperatures, effectively par cooking the pasta and making it really hard to get a perfect al dente pasta. Seek out those who stock pasta that is air-dried. You will not only notice the superior difference in taste, but the pasta itself is far better for you. I usually make Creamy pesto chicken pasta with either spaghetti or Rana tortellini (available from Woolworths). Pick your fave pasta and substitute even quantities. I’ve made this pasta with spaghetti, ravioli, penne, and orecchiette. All make delicious creamy pesto pasta!

Tips for a good Creamy Pesto Tortellini

  • To cut down on the carbs a bit (or bulk out the recipe to feed an extra person), throw in your favorite steamed green veggies and toss through, just before serving. Steamed peas, broccolini, and English spinach work a treat. And, as a Mum, I always try to sneak in added greens when no one is watching! Cherry tomatoes are another great addition.

  • Never be afraid to season a dish. Seasoning is the key to enhancing flavor!

  • When cooking pasta from a packet, I like the cook my pasta a few minutes less than the packet states. Firstly, because I like al-dente pasta and secondly because the pasta will continue cooking when it’s added to the sauce.

What sort of wine do I cook with?

Anything on the drier white side seems to work well when cooking creamy pasta sauces. I tend to ALWAYS have an open bottle in the fridge and they’ve never failed me. Stay away from the sweeter white wines (like a reisling) with this recipe, they never seem to work for me, flavour-wise.

Can I make the sauce ahead of time?

Yes, I do this all the time if I’m at home and working the next day! It’s a great idea. If you’re short on time, the cream sauce base can easily be made the day before. Just omit the chicken and cook until just before you add the pesto. Let it cool and pop into the fridge until required. When you’re ready to cook, pan-fry the chicken til cooked through in a frypan, then add the sauce and reheat. When it’s all warmed up and looking good, add the pesto and serve. BTW… When reheating the pre-made sauce, I usually add a tablespoon or two of additional thickened cream to the pan.

The pre-made sauce will last a couple of days in the fridge in an airtight container

Looking for a comforting pasta dish? Here are a few to try…

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cast iron frypan full of creamy pesto chicken tortellini with a spoonful eaten out of it.

Chicken and Bacon Creamy Pesto Pasta (Tortellini)

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  • Author: Emma Lee
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

This creamy pesto tortellini is serious pasta, wine, and Netflix night material. It’s a cheesy, creamy white wine reduction, pesto-loving, comfort food winner. Put on your pj’s and pour that glass of wine, it’s pasta night!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 onion sliced thinly
  • 500g chicken thigh fillets – cut each though into 6 pieces
  • 180g bacon – cut into a rough 1cm dice
  • 250ml white wine
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 500g pasta
  • 3 tbsp basil pesto + extra pesto to finish
  • freshly grated parmesan 
  • sea salt flakes & pepper to season

Instructions

  1. In a large frypan, saute the onion in oil for 3 minutes on medium heat.
  2. Add the bacon. Cook till for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the chicken and seal the meat. No need to cook through, the chicken will continue to cook in the sauce.
  3. Add cream and white wine. Stir till combined on medium heat, then simmer for 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  4. When the sauce is starting to thicken, cook your chosen pasta according to the packet’s instructions. I generally work on roughly 100g pasta per person, so for this recipe, I cooked 500g pasta
  5. Add pesto to the creamy chicken sauce and gently stir through.
  6. Add cooked pasta to the sauce and mix thorough.
  7. Finish with a good sprinkle of freshly grated quality parmesan, a swirl or pesto, and season with salt flakes & freshly ground pepper.

Notes

Garnish with fresh basil leaves (optional)

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 1412
  • Sugar: 5.1 g
  • Sodium: 1202.7 mg
  • Fat: 53.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 96.9 g
  • Protein: 116.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 371.4 mg

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4 Comments

  1. Hello everyone. I made this today! I am glutonous and added alot more ingredients. Over all, it is delicious. I included way too much dairy, though. The wine really comes through. 🙂
    Thank you for this recipe. I will be making alot more of them.

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