Pesto Gnocchi with Chicken
Dinner | Published Apr 10, 2023 | Updated Apr 10, 2023 | By Tawnie
The fragrance of sweet, fresh basil immediately fills the house when you start making homemade pesto for my Pesto Gnocchi.
The homemade pesto gently coats each pillowy, dumpling-like potato pasta and snugs up to moist and tender chicken breasts swimming in a light and creamy pesto filled sauce.
This pesto pasta and sheet pan pesto salmon are a few other reader favorite pesto recipes!
I am always looking for a meal that you just want to snuggle up to. My Pesto Gnocchi with Chicken definitely answers the call for cozy and comforting food but also feels light and refreshing at the same time.
Table of contents
The great thing about this recipe is that it is never out-of-season. It’s great year round, and works for any dinner whether is is a casual weeknight dinner, or sitting down for an elegant meal with friends. Pick a night this week, and treat yourself to comfort with my Pesto Gnocchi.
Reasons Why You Will Love My Pesto Gnocchi
- It makes a beautiful presentation on your table!
- Easy 40 minute weeknight meal.
- So flavorful and it pairs well with a chilled bottle of Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio
- It’s a complete meal, no need for additional sides
- No need to pre-boil the gnocchi, it cooks right in the sauce!
For the ingredient measurements and entire recipe, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the blog post where the recipe card is located.
- Pesto: I have a really delicious pesto recipe in the recipe card below. OR you can buy your favorite store-bought pesto to streamline this recipe.
- Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts work well here since we’re slicing in half and pounding until 1-inch thick.
- Heavy cream: The heavy cream helps make this a delectable meal. I haven’t made it using half and half or any other substitutions.
- Chicken broth: a little chicken broth is used to deglaze the pan after the chicken browns and some for the sauce is necessary as well.
- Cherry tomatoes: the cherry tomatoes pop and blister and compliment the pesto and chicken perfectly.
- Gnocchi: Light and airy potato gnocchi paired with pesto…is there anything better?! Okay maybe this Creamy Gnocchi but I’d happily take both!
Step by Step Directions
For the full recipe instructions, scroll down to the bottom of the blog post to the recipe card.
- Slice the chicken breasts in half, and pound until 1/2-inch thick.
- Coat chicken in flour mixture.
- Brown chicken on each side.
- Cook onions and tomatoes until tomatoes are blistered.
- Add broth and heavy cream, bring to a simmer.
- Stir in the pesto and gnocchi.
- Add the chicken back in and bake 10 minutes.
- Slice chicken, serve with Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, more pesto, etc.
Expert Tips and Variations
- To save time, prep the pesto the day before! Or if you are short on time, you can always use store bought pesto. If you make the pesto in advance, drizzle olive oil over the top of the pesto to keep it fresh, then wrap in an air tight container and store in the refrigerator.
- Don’t skip pounding the chicken. It not only gives you a thinner serving, but it helps tenderize the chicken too. You also might find chicken cutlets at the store, and you shouldn’t have to pound those, so you will save some prep time.
- For a more veggie packed meal you can add mushrooms, spinach, or small broccoli florettes. Just add the spinach when you add the chicken back into the dish.
- To add a little pit of heat to the Pesto Gnocchi sprinkle red pepper flakes into the pesto.
- Gnocchi cooks quicker than pasta so there is no need to worry if it is done once you add it to the chicken put it into the over for the last 10 minutes of cook time.
Yes you can. Just remember to pound the chicken to tenderize it , to make it thinner. You probably won’t have to slice the thighs in half, unless they seem thick!
I recommend it. Deglazing is important to get those bits of food off of the bottom of your pan and added to the sauce to make it even more flavorful.
I love the gnocchi in this recipe because you don’t have to pre-boil the gnocchi. I personally haven’t tested this, but you can always try ravioli or mini-tortellini. You do not need to pre-boil these pastas but you may need to extend the baking time.
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Pesto Gnocchi with Chicken
For the pesto
- 2 large bunches fresh basil (~2-3 cups, stems discarded)
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1/3 heaping cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
For the chicken gnocchi
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half and pounded to about 1-inch thick pieces
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- pinch of pepper
- 1/2 white onion, diced small
- 10 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 16 oz. package gnocchi
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Make the pesto: (You can also use store-bought pesto if preferred 😊) In a food processor, blend all ingredients for the pesto, except the olive oil, together until smooth. Then, slowly stream in the olive oil. Add more olive oil if needed to get desired consistency and adjust any seasonings to your preference. Set aside.
- Slice chicken in half. Place chicken on a cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pound with a rolling pin or meat tenderizer tool until 1/2-inch thick.
- Combine the flour and seasonings in a shallow bowl and coat the chicken in flour mixture all over.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium high heat in a large oven safe skillet. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the chicken and cook ~3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove chicken to a plate.
- Deglaze the pan with a small splash chicken broth to pick up any browned bits and add the remaining tablespoon olive oil.
- Over medium heat, cook the onions and cherry tomatoes until the tomatoes begin to pop and blister, about 6-7 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally so the onions don't burn.
- Add the broth and heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Stir in the gnocchi and ½ cup of the pesto. Nestle the chicken back into pan. Spoon a bit of the sauce over the chicken. Bake, uncovered, for 10-12 min or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Slice the chicken then return to the pan. Spoon more sauce over the tops of chicken, garnish with black pepper, fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. Serve with remaining pesto or save leftover pesto for another use. Enjoy!
- Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2-3 days in an air-tight container.
- Reheat in the microwave in 30 second increments, adding more cream as needed to thin out the sauce. Or on the stovetop until warmed through.
- Serve with bread or a side salad.
Hi, I’m Tawnie!
Welcome to my tiny “korner” on the Internet! I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who loves cookies as much as kale. (OK, maybe I like cookies a little bit more but shh, don’t tell anyone). I am so glad you’re here! Follow along for hassle free, realistic and approachable recipes.More about Tawnie