Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

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Chicken, Pesto and Pasta – what’s not to love? Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells is going to be a great additions to your weeknight menu rotation. It feels like a fancy meal without being a ton of extra work. The stuffing of the shells does take a little bit of time, but not all that much. You could also get the family involved to make it go faster.

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

For the mozzarella cheese chunk that goes inside the shell with the chicken, you have a few options. In the recipe I list mozzarella cheese sticks (basically string cheese). You can also use Baby Bells. Or you could use the fresh mozzarella that comes in small balls. You just want to make sure the cheese chunk doesn’t take up more than a third of the shell – as it’s a pesto chicken dish, not just a cheese dish.

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

I like to bake these in two separate smaller baking dishes (8×8 or 9×9) instead of one bigger 13×9. This makes it easier for them to cook through evenly. Also it make leftovers easier (should there be any). Since it starts in a smaller dish, you might be able to just wrap it up and place in the fridge. When you use a bigger dish, the outer shells get crispy while the inner shells don’t heat all the way through. So it’s really up to you what vessel you want to use.

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

This recipe for creamy pesto sauce is going to be one that you want to hang on to, because you can use it in so many ways – pesto grilled cheese, pesto burgers, pesto lasagna, pesto on steak…the list keeps going and going. You might be wondering what gives with the kale – it’s really just to add more volume to the sauce without changing the flavor too much and you get the extra nutrients – so it’s win-win. I know pine nuts can be spendy and also sometime hard to find. If you aren’t able to locate them or just want to sub out for a more budget friendly option – go for shelled pistachios or cashews. Both have similar flavor and texture to pine nuts.

Now Let’s Get Cookin’!

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Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

A delicious homemade creamy pesto sauce with garlic chicken and lots of cheese stuffed into jumbo shells!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword baked pasta, basil, Chicken, chicken and pasta, creamy pesto, Pasta, pasta dishes, pesto, pinenuts
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 6

Equipment

  • 2 8×8 or 9×9 Baking dishes

Ingredients

  • 3 lb Jumbo Shells
  • 2 lb Chicken Thighs boneless, skinless
  • 1 qt Chicken Broth
  • 4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 6 Mozzarella Cheese Sticks cut into ½-in chunks
  • 2 cups Mozzarella Cheese shredded
  • ½ cup Oil

For the Creamy Pesto

  • 2 cups Fresh Basil stems removed
  • 1 cup Fresh Kale rough chopped
  • 1 cup Pinenuts
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • ½ cup Oil
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese grated
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat Oven to 375degF. Start water boiling for pasta.
  • In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, add chicken, garlic and broth. Bring to boil and cook for 15 minutes. Remove chicken to mixing bowl and shred.
  • Once water is boiling, add jumbo shells and cook as directed on package. Drain in colander and rinse with cool water. Then toss in oil (this helps prevent sticking).
  • Add pesto ingredients to food processer. Blitz until creamy.
  • Add ¾ of pesto to shredded chicken and toss to coat.
  • Place a chunk of cheese into a cooked shell and add a portion of pesto chicken. Line up in baking dish and repeat with remaining shells. Spoon remaining sauce over top of shells and then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Estelle Forrest’s self-published first cookbook – Homemade on a Weeknight: A Family Cookbook – was created after a lot of playing around in the kitchen. You can purchase your own copy here:

AVAILABLE IN PRINT OR KINDLE eBOOK VERSIONS

Estelle self-published a second cookbook – Burgers on a Weeknight – recently. It has over 60 delicious burger creations! You can purchase your own copy here:

AVAILABLE IN PRINT OR KINDLE eBOOK VERSIONS

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Published by Estelle Forrest

I am a lot of things – wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, friend, business owner, volunteer, and a home chef. I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of my adult life and plan to stay forever – while traveling a lot. I am currently running a General Contracting business with my husband out of our home. Between us we have 6 kids in our blended family, 4 of which live with us full-time. We are a highly active family during the week – sports, bands, dance classes – as well as on the weekend – camping, hiking, car shows, and concerts. We like to go go go, but when it comes to dinnertime, we mostly like to dine-in! I love to create things with my hands and have probably tried almost every craft out there at least once or twice. Cooking is a huge part of my life. No matter what anyone says – you can taste the difference in the food if it was made with love. Some of the simplest meals can be elevated so much when they are cooked with care. Pouring love into the meals I create brings a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction, not only to me, but to the people I care about.

4 thoughts on “Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

  1. Cindy – Owner of Reinvented Delaware, a reinventing and repurposing home decor business located in Milford, Delaware. My husband and I work together to bring our customers farmhouse style home decor by using reclaimed and vintage style pieces that we find at auctions, estates sales and yard sales.
    Cindy says:

    I’m excited to tell you this post will be featured in this week’s Tuesday Turn About Link Party! Pinned! Great job and it looks yummy!

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