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Pesto-Chicken Penne Casseroles Recipe

Pesto-Chicken Penne Casseroles Recipe

Creamy, flavorful and so easy to fix, this meal-in-one will wow family and friends. Get ready for recipe requests for this easy chicken casserole! —Laura Kayser, Ankeny, Iowa
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Bake: 40 min. YIELD:12 servings


  • 1 package (16 ounces) penne pasta
  • 6 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 jar (15 ounces) Alfredo sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 jar (8.1 ounces) prepared pesto
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • 1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the chicken, cheese blend, spinach, tomatoes, Alfredo sauce, milk and pesto. Drain pasta and add to chicken mixture; toss to coat.
  • 2. Transfer to two greased 8-in. square baking dishes. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil; sprinkle over casseroles.
  • 3. Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. Cover and bake the remaining casserole at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly.
  • 4. To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until bubbly. Yield: 2 casseroles (6 servings each).

Nutritional Facts

1-1/3 cup: 612 calories, 30g fat (13g saturated fat), 111mg cholesterol, 829mg sodium, 41g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 3g fiber), 42g protein.

Reviews for Pesto-Chicken Penne Casseroles

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PrplMonky5 User ID: 6612040 243184
Reviewed Feb. 4, 2016

"Like other's said, this is delicious. After reading the reviews and then first trying it, I was a little disappointed. But after several more bites, I realized this is definitely a keeper. I cut this recipe in half, cooked the chicken beforehand, and as another reviewer suggested, used (undrained) petite diced tomatoes instead of crushed. I actually measured out the ounces instead of estimating "oh, this looks like about half a jar of pesto". I was able to get half of this recipe into a 9.5x9.5 dish, but it was near the top. Not sure how anyone could fit half of this in an 8x8. Secondly, a couple minutes before it was to be "done", I turned on the broiler, waited a few minutes, and stuck the dish back in, uncovered. That gave the bread crumb topping a little bit more crunch (not much, but some). For me and my husband, half of this recipe was WAYYYY more than enough. There are a lot of leftovers, but I'm not really upset about that :)"

athom73 User ID: 8703258 242024
Reviewed Jan. 18, 2016

"Very easy to assemble, especially when you use the chicken from a ready made rotisserie chicken. The only down side is that I found it a bit bland. It needs some salt and pepper added to the mixture."

doreensanzone User ID: 1270959 237514
Reviewed Nov. 16, 2015

"Superb! It was delicious the first time, and I just used the second casserole tonight. I defrosted it longer than recommended and it still took about 80-90 minutes to heat up, but it was just wonderful once it was reheated. This would be great for company or to bring to a potluck."

jpmcatsx3 User ID: 5098913 230157
Reviewed Jul. 25, 2015

"I made this and my family loved it. I made it on the stove top instead of in the oven. I also added peas and mushrooms but I made the sauce according to the recipe and it was delicious!"

luigimon User ID: 1692040 227907
Reviewed Jun. 14, 2015

"Excellent casserole! It's just me, so I was going to halve it, but then decided to share it with a friend and just made one casserole in a 9x13 pan. It was a big casserole!!!! More than filled the pan! I think next time, I will halve it and then bake it in a 2-1/2 quart baking dish. Loved the flavor of the pesto!!"

krysfielder User ID: 5728656 227548
Reviewed Jun. 6, 2015


HDMom08 User ID: 1383653 227088
Reviewed May. 28, 2015

"Easy and really tasty. It got my husband to eat spinach! Huge!"

17sebenedict User ID: 7951529 223254
Reviewed Mar. 21, 2015

"A delicious recipe! I used bow tie pasta instead of penne to have a cuter look lol! I will for sure be making this again!"

PatsCookin User ID: 2406774 222483
Reviewed Mar. 10, 2015

"This was really good and so quick to make. I didn't have crushed tomatoes so I used a 14 1/2 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes and that worked fine. We eat small portions so this made 3 8-x-8 casseroles for us. I lined my casserole with plastic wrap, a sheet going in each direction and extending beyond the sides, filled the casserole and then brought the extended pieces up to wrap the casserole ingredients. Finally, I wrapped it all in aluminum foil and labeled it for the freezer. To prepare, unwrap it and put it in a casserole the night before it is to be served and thaw in the fridge overnight. It takes up less room in the freezer and frees the casserole to use in the meantime."

Djwittle User ID: 4687772 220751
Reviewed Feb. 17, 2015

"This was easy to make and very tasty. All of the ingredients are readily available unlike some other recipes that I have tried. I didn't have 2% milk, so I used 1% and it turned out fine. Love that the recipe includes another night's meal. I did have to cook it longer than stated, and took the cover off for the last 10 minutes hoping to crisp up the breadcrumbs which didn't happen. This was the only thing about the recipe that I didn't like as they were somewhat soggy. I might try mixing the breadcrumbs with butter next time to see if that will help."

Sheena_Pallante User ID: 8038998 216999
Reviewed Jan. 5, 2015

"This is my husband's absolute favorite dish that I make! What makes this recipe even better is that it makes 2 casseroles so that you can freeze one and have it later and it still tastes just as good. Amazing recipe!!!"

cookmama300 User ID: 1059070 215013
Reviewed Dec. 15, 2014

"It was very tasty but I added onion for more flavor. I used homemade pesto and to save time I used canned chicken. I like that it makes a double batch that you can freeze. I divided it and froze three 2 serving portions."

carlyhol User ID: 7087888 110162
Reviewed Nov. 23, 2014

"Loved it! Followed the recipe and it filled two nine inch cake pans to freeze and one smaller dish with enough for my husband and I. He is not a huge fan of Italian flavors, but he said it was good. I left the Parmesan cheese out of the topping and just did bread crumbs since I felt like there was enough cheese in the dish already."

mommabearjoy User ID: 6291822 176486
Reviewed Nov. 18, 2014

"Awsome ! My daughter and son in law are vegetarians so i made one with half the meat and the other meatless. Everyone loved it !"

meg1042 User ID: 7900035 121110
Reviewed Nov. 12, 2014

"My picky husband loved this! Next time, I might not add as much pesto as they recommend."

neenks User ID: 7999370 176485
Reviewed Sep. 23, 2014

"This dish is fantastic. I have made it for company time and again, never no leftovers. Everyone asks for the recipe. It is still delicious after it has been frozen, seems the flavors have more chance to meld. This is a keeper in my recipe box"

dewflop User ID: 216755 146628
Reviewed Sep. 2, 2014

"It was just way too garlicky for us. I followed the recipe to a "tee" as I always do when I am trying a recipe for the first time. We just didn't care for it."

Demetrius9686 User ID: 7963226 188684
Reviewed Sep. 1, 2014

"This turned out awesome! I left out the pesto (due to allergies) and bread crumbs (personal preference) and it still turned out great! I will definitely be making this one again!"

kaskren User ID: 1292799 121109
Reviewed Aug. 19, 2014

"It's not easy to please a family of 5... all of them! They all liked it and asked to make it again. I pretty much followed the recipe with some slight measuring alterations (like not measuring :-)) It was easy to put together so it is a quick busy night meal."

randcbruns User ID: 828588 128792
Reviewed Aug. 15, 2014

"This casserole was a HUGE with my boys. Makes enough for a few meals. The combination of the pesto and alfredo sauce is very nice. Will be making this again and again."

goldhelix User ID: 7845206 186977
Reviewed Aug. 12, 2014

"I just made this for the first time. This was a hit! Time saver: I cooked and cubed the chicken the night before, so the next day when I needed to serve it, it was a snap to cook the pasta and toss everything else together. It made much more than I expected, so I split it into 3 casseroles. I loved how the spinach didn't get too soft. My variations: I used low-fat Italian cheese, 4 c. fresh baby organic spinach instead of 3 (it could have used more if you love the greens), and put tomato slices in a layer on the top, just under the crumb topping. Then I removed the lid for the last 10 minutes of baking. I didn't know if it required basil pesto or tomato, but I went with basil and it was great.

Next time I will try to lighten it up-- it was very cheesy so I'll cut the cheese back and substitute unsweetened almond milk for the 2% milk. I'll also use 5 c spinach instead of 3. It would make a great pot luck entree, with plenty enough to reserve 1 casserole for home."

khegeman User ID: 2379383 171626
Reviewed Jul. 29, 2014

"Excellent. The only thin I did different was to add a can of tomatoe sauce, giving it a creamy tomatoe sauce flavor."

chlohan User ID: 7876070 118046
Reviewed Jul. 7, 2014

"really really good. The seasoning is perfect. The only problem is that it doesn't hold together very well when you scoop it out of the pan. Nevertheless, I am a huge fan of this recipe and will make it again. I followed the instructions exactly."

LFonti User ID: 5855206 186975
Reviewed Jun. 10, 2014

"Great dish!! I love that you can freeze one for another time or to give to someone."

afsmw516 User ID: 2244662 187982
Reviewed Apr. 15, 2014

"Tastes just like something you'd order at an Italian restaurant! I froze one for a few months and had it last night, following surgery last week: yum!"

Worshipguy User ID: 6391761 128791
Reviewed Mar. 10, 2014

"Great casserole! I wasn't sure about the spinach, but the whole thing was fantastic! I loved having the extra one just waiting in the freezer."

JKvigne User ID: 6814027 146627
Reviewed Mar. 7, 2014

"It was great! The whole family loved it."

vj221979 User ID: 5329286 188671
Reviewed Feb. 2, 2014

"Very good!"

sd20 User ID: 5560294 176484
Reviewed Dec. 9, 2013

"I cut the recipe in half and used a 7x11 dish. Perfect size for 4 adults."

mombom User ID: 3131641 110160
Reviewed Nov. 9, 2013

"This was delicious! It is now one of my 8 year old's favorite meals! The house smelled amazing while this was cooking. I love that we have another one waiting for us in the freezer! It tasted like something you could be served in a restaurant. Definitely a great meal for when company is coming over!"

tcarver User ID: 5663692 176476
Reviewed Oct. 17, 2013

"This was a very east and wonderful dish."

chin-chilla User ID: 2872569 187981
Reviewed Sep. 12, 2013

"This was pretty tasty!"

wendy2992 User ID: 3955599 190312
Reviewed Sep. 3, 2013

"My family has been telling every one about this meal they loved it very much!!"

mary_lance User ID: 3129302 118044
Reviewed Aug. 20, 2013

"My whole family loved this recipe! It has great flavor and was still fantastic out of the freezer."

AENesko User ID: 5375438 171603
Reviewed Aug. 16, 2013


MY REVIEW User ID: 92755 171624
Reviewed Aug. 14, 2013


Archies User ID: 5661360 107532
Reviewed Jul. 18, 2013

"Halved the amount of cheese mentioned in this recipe."

MY REVIEW User ID: 5326454 118043
Reviewed Mar. 7, 2013

"So so good!!! I made my own alfredo sauce and it turned out amazing!"

Sprowl User ID: 29186 190310
Reviewed Feb. 27, 2013

"two thumbs up!!!"

germanycook User ID: 6411056 171599
Reviewed Feb. 20, 2013

"Excellent casserole - I was looking for something to put in the freezer for when my baby comes, and this was perfect! It made 4 8x8 dishes.... the assembly/cooking of each ingredient did take some time but it was SO good, totally worth it. It didn't taste 'canned' at all. I used broccoli instead of spinach, and made my own alfredo sauce."

cj_snyder14 User ID: 7075668 188670
Reviewed Feb. 8, 2013

"This recipe was by far one of the best I've made. It was very creamy and extremely flavorful. It calls for simple ingredients and it was easy to put together. My husband raved about it and has already requested that I make it again, which I certainly will!"

slperry114 User ID: 3335093 171582
Reviewed Jan. 9, 2013

"I discovered is dish about 3 months ago and decided I would have it for dinner. I froze one dish and forgot about it until last night. True to it's word, it tasted just as good as the first time I cooked it.

My only recommendation is that if you do decide to freeze a dish, place wax paper on top and then cover with aluminum foil. The helps preserve the texture better."

rudylenak User ID: 3071215 176474
Reviewed Jan. 8, 2013


Lollybert User ID: 6732176 104447
Reviewed Sep. 19, 2012

"INCREDIBLE! My husbands HATES spinach and ate TWO helpings of this. The combination of flavors was perfection. I could eat this everyday and be a happy camper."

Amy the Midwife User ID: 2816815 171539
Reviewed Aug. 29, 2012

"I only had 3 cups of the Italian cheese and it was PLENTY rich enough. Definitely makes more than 2 8x8" pans. I used a 13x9 plus a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Friends and family really liked it!"

cmelick User ID: 2233685 104445
Reviewed Aug. 1, 2012

"Great recipe......everyone wanted the recipe !!!!!!!"

cmelick User ID: 2233685 104443
Reviewed Aug. 1, 2012

"Great recipe......everyone wanted the recipe !!!!!"

termur User ID: 6163645 110158
Reviewed Jul. 10, 2012

"This was one of the best recipes I have tasted!"

fabricpixie User ID: 2936582 171621
Reviewed Jun. 7, 2012

"This is great but because of hubby's sodium-restricted diet I had to make changes, using homemade ingredients instead of cans/jars, added broccoli and more spinach too.

This is gonna be wonderful for when I host Bunco nite!"

ekatiakarpova User ID: 6312133 171537
Reviewed Apr. 24, 2012

"It is very tasty!!!! I didn`t have Italian Cheese blend so I have used Mozzarella and Med Cheeder blend."

chocoloco User ID: 1876593 146617
Reviewed Feb. 29, 2012

"This made a huge 9x13 casserole, fed three men, four women and two children. This was a definate crowd pleaser!"

WhitneyR User ID: 5277252 104437
Reviewed Jan. 14, 2012

"Everyone in my family loves this dish! I spend a Sunday afternoon on it. I double the recipe, make homemade pesto, homemade alfredo sauce and use fresh chopped tomatoes. We have one for dinner that night and three in the freezer! You have to space them out though, because it is loaded with calories and fat."

gastoncty User ID: 1897065 110156
Reviewed Jan. 3, 2012

"Made today and it tastes great. However, I have a problem with the amount indicated as two 8-inch square pans. My recipe filled one 9 X 12-inch pan PLUS two 8-inch square pans. I froze the square pans and baked the other. More to share, yummy."

jennywrenn User ID: 6222896 171534
Reviewed Dec. 16, 2011

"I would definitely make this again! I love how it makes 2 - one for now, one for later. Tastes especially good with garlic bread."

mtorres3 User ID: 1346747 211612
Reviewed Oct. 27, 2011

"I can see why this was rated so is excellent! However, it probably isn't one dish I will make too often, just for special occasions. Thanks for the recipe though."

proverbs169 User ID: 6182300 104431
Reviewed Sep. 28, 2011

"Our family loved this recipe, it was very good, the ingredients went so well with each other, we will be making this again!"

kheuer728 User ID: 5810232 211611
Reviewed Sep. 18, 2011

"This was delicious!! I used rotisserie chicken to make it a little easier. I also used Light Alfredo sauce and thought it was still very creamy. I will definitely make this again!"

oliv2646 User ID: 4897981 190903
Reviewed Aug. 31, 2011

"I made this dish for a group of 60, and I got rave reviews! It did require some time, and I had help, but I will definitely make this again for my family soon."

ABRFosterMom User ID: 2321265 146607
Reviewed Aug. 9, 2011

"While time consuming, this was so worth it. I used homemade Alfredo sauce and home made pesto. I made this just as stated, except I added maybe 1tsp or so of fresh ground black pepper. This is definitely a company-worthy dish. I so admire people who dream up recipes like this! This is outstanding!!!! WOW!!"

megantaylor User ID: 3272338 171522
Reviewed Jul. 6, 2011

"very easy to make"

ssmith604 User ID: 4905785 110155
Reviewed Jun. 26, 2011

"This casserole is just as good from the freezer and is excellent for potlucks!"

jessicadarracott User ID: 5619289 121108
Reviewed May. 30, 2011

"This recipe is perfect just the way it is, although my husband prefers it with more spinach added. A little extra cheese doesn't hurt either. We can't go more than 2 weeks without making this one! Totally addicting."

millsapm User ID: 1794642 121106
Reviewed May. 1, 2011

"Very good, the 2nd one may have even been better... guess the flavors had a chance to meld more? Anyhow, served to the fam while in-laws were visiting and got compliments from everyone!"

lynnincanadian User ID: 5499642 190188
Reviewed Apr. 6, 2011

"This dish has affectionately became known as "that stuff". There are never any leftovers"

Summerjean22 User ID: 5917839 171619
Reviewed Apr. 5, 2011

"This was so amazing!! My husband and I think it tastes just like Macaroni Grill's penne Rustica! The only thing I did different is saute some fresh garlic in some olive oil and then mixed in the alfredo. Again AMAZING!!!"

scrapo User ID: 2908723 171618
Reviewed Mar. 23, 2011

"Great. Although next time I think I would try to make my own pesto to use and alfredo sauce. I accidentally forgot to buy the tomatoes at the store so I just chopped up some fresh tomatoes & red pepper, roasted them in the oven and added them. I also used a rotiserre chix to save on time. Used a mix of whole wheat and white pasta."

jonesy85 User ID: 5812465 128790
Reviewed Feb. 11, 2011

"This was amazing , everyone in the family loved it and I loved that it made extra to freeze..Will make it again.."

shelley tiffany User ID: 1306446 171511
Reviewed Feb. 2, 2011

"This was delicious! My whole family loved it. It tasted like a dish you'd find in a nice Italian restaurant."

billandconnier User ID: 3946938 171477
Reviewed Jan. 29, 2011

"I used broccoli(didn't have spinach on hand). YUMMY!!!"

kkseavy User ID: 5586489 128789
Reviewed Nov. 9, 2010

"the first time i tasted this recipe, the words OLIVE GARDEN popped in my head! i have never had a meal that tastes like it was delivered from a high end resturant and served as it was home made!!! this is my familys new favorite recipe. we ate the first casserole until it was gone and had the 2nd one for dinner then next night! i cant believe how easy it is and the reward is a meal you cant stop eating."

elephantlaw User ID: 2032369 128788
Reviewed Nov. 8, 2010

"A friend made this for our family when we had our second child. Everyone loved it!"

1courage User ID: 2493338 187980
Reviewed Nov. 6, 2010

"My family loved this. I used leftover alfredo sauce from dinner the night before which made this quick and easy to make! I will definitely be making thin one again."

mommamcd User ID: 2735075 171476
Reviewed Oct. 14, 2010

"Delicious! Even my picky son loved it.

Calorie and Fat content are a bummer though."

cookincrockett User ID: 2642909 146606
Reviewed Oct. 2, 2010

"Very good!!! My family loved it. Will definetly make it again."

leighanntedrow User ID: 4364383 118041
Reviewed Oct. 1, 2010

"My husband loved it. I cut the recipe in half to try for the first time, so I have not tried it in the freezer. Next time I will make certainly make the full recipe and freeze. For my family of three, I think I will split into 3 casseroles; eat one, and two to freeze."

tiroberts User ID: 1714658 211610
Reviewed Jul. 20, 2010

"Yum! I used an envelope packet of pesto instead of the jar & added bacon bits the 2nd time I made it. It's now a family favorite & I love having an extra to use later."

JDSpackman User ID: 4928206 176472
Reviewed Jul. 6, 2010

"This recipe is easy to throw together and ends up being a time-saver. We ate the first casserole right after I made it and the second one a month later. We thought the frozen casserole was even better than the fresh one!"

daduk User ID: 1648289 118040
Reviewed Jun. 17, 2010

"I made this dish last night for dinner and it was very tasty. I was not disappointed by the various ingredients used in this dish, as they all worked very well together. Also nice because it makes an extra meal. Thanks for the recipe."

pkinneberg User ID: 1085653 187978
Reviewed Jun. 3, 2010

"I loved it!!! I used spinach from my garden and homemade pesto from my garden basil."

lydstew User ID: 2677354 187975
Reviewed Jun. 3, 2010

"This is one of the best casseroles I have had in a while! I even used whole wheat pasta and it tasted great! What a great way to get that spinach in, too! It's just creamy and delicious! I think it was the perfect amount of pesto too- sometimes I feel like pesto can be a bit overpowering, but I thought this was just right- gave it just the right flavor! It makes a nice big batch, so this is a great one for company! When I have dishes like this, I wonder why I ever go out to eat at Italian restaurants-- sometimes it really can be created in your own kitchen!"

sandcarp User ID: 1048936 107514
Reviewed May. 15, 2010

"This dish was very good and tasted just as good the second day. My only complaint is it is very high in fat and calories so you may not want to have it very often."

jrosenburg User ID: 3246039 146605
Reviewed May. 5, 2010

"I made this for the staff at our school and they absolutely LOVED it. I've been asked for the recipe over and over. I however, didn't use the whole can of tomatoes only about half."

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Wine Pairings

Full-Bodied White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a full-bodied white wine such as Chardonnay or Viognier.