*Images have recently been updated, as well as some recipe notes. Please let me know if you have any questions! I’m glad everyone’s loving this recipe as much as our family does. 🙂
This is one of my all-time favorite dinners and I’m really excited to share it with you!
Orzo has become one of my new favorite ingredients to cook with. For those of you that may not be familiar with it yet, it’s in the pasta family, but it’s very small and resembles rice more than actual noodles. It’s so versatile and super easy to cook up.
So how does this wonderful dish come together? It’s pretty simple!
Start by cooking your chicken. Place the chicken in a dish and drizzle a tablespoon of cooking oil on top. (I use avocado or olive oil, normally.) Mix the chicken with the oil, and then add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika and Italian seasoning. Rub the seasoning into the chicken and make sure everything is evenly coated.
Add the other tablespoon of oil to a large skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Carefully add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on how thick your chicken is. Cook until it’s browned on the outside and no longer pink on the inside. (The internal temperature should be 165 degrees. I use a meat thermometer, like this one, that helps me so much when I’m making chicken!) Once it’s done, place the chicken on a plate and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook orzo according to package instructions.
Once orzo is done, drain it really well and then return it to the same pot. Add the chopped spinach and toss it with the orzo. Allow it to sit for a minute, so that the heat from the orzo helps cook down the spinach.
While that sits, you can start making the sauce. In the same skillet you used to cook the chicken, turn the heat to medium and add the garlic. Let it cook for just about a minute or so, stirring frequently.
Then, add the heavy cream, Parmesan, and pesto to the pan. Stir frequently and once the sauce starts to bubble and boil, turn the heat to low and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until everything is really well incorporated. Stir often while it’s cooking.
Once it’s done, turn off the heat and leave it there. Get your chicken, cut it into small pieces (or leave as larger ones, if you want) and add it to the pot of pasta. Then, pour the pesto sauce on top and mix it all together! Serve immediately and sprinkle with some additional Parmesan on top.
**I feel like you can change this up in so many ways. I think next time I might try adding bacon to it instead of chicken. You could also add some of your favorites veggies, like zucchini or toss some diced avocados with the dish right before you serve it.
Creamy Pesto Chicken & Spinach Orzo Dinner
Easy chicken dinner with TONS of flavor! This dish really comes together because of a super simple creamy pesto sauce that everything gets tossed with.
- 1-1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 cups orzo (uncooked)
- 2 cups spinach chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup pesto
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Place chicken in a large dish. Drizzle with one tablespoon of cooking oil. Sprinkle chicken with seasonings and rub them in. Make sure everything is evenly coated on the chicken.
In a large skillet, add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and turn heat to medium-high. Once oil is warm, carefully add the chicken and cook until chicken is browned and no loner pink inside (approx. 2-3 minutes per side). Place cooked chicken on a plate and set aside.
In a large pot, boil water and cook orzo according to package. Once it's done, drain well and return it to the same pot. Do not rinse the orzo.
Add the chopped spinach to the orzo. Mix it together and let it sit for a minute, so that the heat from the pasta begins to cook down the spinach. While that sits, begin the sauce.
In the same skillet used to cook the chicken, add the garlic and cook over medium heat for about a minute.
Then, add the heavy cream, pesto, and Parmesan cheese to the pan. Mix it all together and cook over medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently during this process. When done, turn off heat and leave it there.
Grab the plate of chicken and chop into smaller pieces. (You could also leave them as is, if you want.)
Then, add the chicken to the pot with the orzo.
Pour pesto sauce on top and mix everything together. Serve immediately and top with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
*I use a basil pesto and any brand works! I typically use the Kirkland brand from Costco. It's cheaper than the grocery store brands and it's delicious.
This is one of the best chicken & pasta recipes I have tried. My husband loved it! I froze my fresh basil pesto in cubes this summer, and I used two of those. It was delicious. Thank you for this amazing recipe!
I’m so glad you liked it! That makes me so happy! And that’s such a good idea to save your pesto in an ice cube tray. Thank you for sharing that tip! 🙂
I make this chicken pesto recipe often and my family loves it! It’s easy to substitute frozen for fresh spinach if you don’t have it on hand. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! That’s an awesome tip about the spinach. And thank you so much for your taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it!