What Meat Goes with Pesto Pasta? (11 Best Meats)

Figuring out what meats go with pesto pasta can be tricky.

But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

In this post, I’ll share 11 of the best meats to pair with pesto pasta.

So whether you’re looking for a classic pairing or something new and exciting, you’re sure to find the perfect option for your next meal.

See Also: What Salad Goes With Pesto Pasta? 10 Best Salads

What Meat Goes with Pesto Pasta

What Meat Goes with Pesto Pasta?

There are many options when it comes to what meat goes with pesto pasta. You can go for a classic like chicken, or something more unique like shrimp. Other popular choices include sausage, ground beef, and even lamb.

But with so many different types of meat out there, it can be tough to decide which one to choose.

Here are a few things you should consider when deciding what meat to serve with pesto pasta:

  • The Type Of Pesto: There are many different types of pesto, from the traditional basil pesto to more unique options like sun-dried tomato or arugula pesto. The type of pesto you’re using will play a big role in determining what kind of meat goes well with it. For example, a richer and more robust pesto like sun-dried tomato would pair well with a heartier meat like chicken or sausage, while a lighter and brighter pesto like basil would be better suited for something like shrimp or fish.
  • The Other Ingredients In Your Dish: In addition to the type of pesto, you’ll also want to consider what other ingredients are in your dish. If you’re making a simple pasta with just pesto and noodles, you’ll want to choose a protein that pairs well with those flavors. But if you’re adding in other ingredients like vegetables or cheese, you’ll want to make sure the meat you choose complements those flavors as well.
  • Your Personal Preferences: Of course, the most important thing to consider is your own personal preferences! If there’s a certain type of meat that you love and think would taste great with pesto pasta, go for it! Ultimately, the best way to figure out what works best is through trial and error. So don’t be afraid to experiment until you find your perfect match.
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Here are 11 of the best meats to pair with pesto pasta:

1. Chicken

Chicken Meat

Chicken is one of the leanest, most versatile proteins out there, which is why it pairs so well with pesto pasta.

You can use chicken in a variety of ways with this dish – grilled, roasted, or even diced and sauteed.

If you’re looking to add a little more flavor to your dish, try incorporating some different herbs and spices into your chicken before cooking it.

This will help give the dish an extra zing that takes it from good to great.

2. Shrimp


Shrimp is one of the most popular kinds of seafood, and it goes great with pesto pasta.

You can either add the shrimp to the pasta dish, or you can cook the shrimp separately and add it on top of the pasta.

If you want to add more flavor to the dish, you can also cook the shrimp in a garlic sauce.

3. Salmon


Salmon is a meat that anybody can cook and it goes great with pesto pasta.

You can either bake, fry, or grill the salmon; each method will give the salmon a different flavor.

If you want to add some extra flavor to the salmon, try marinating it in a lemon juice, garlic, and dill mixture for at least an hour before cooking.

Another way to incorporate the salmon into your pesto pasta is by adding some smoked salmon into your homemade pesto sauce.

4. Prosciutto


Why not add some salty, savory prosciutto to your pesto pasta dish?

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This Italian ham pairs beautifully with the creamy, fragrant basil pesto sauce.

You can add it in as-is, or fry it up and add it as a topping.

For something different, try wrapping thin slices of prosciutto around chicken breast or fish before cooking.

The salty meat will infuse flavor into the protein as it cooks.

5. Sausage


Sausages come in tons of different flavors, so it’s easy to find one that will go well with your pesto pasta.

I like to use a spicy sausage because it really kicks up the flavor of the dish.

If you’re looking for something a little different, you could also try using chicken or lamb sausage.

Just be sure to cook it thoroughly before adding it to the pasta.

6. Beef


Beef is a meat that most people are familiar with, and it goes well with a variety of different flavors.

Beef is a good option because it has a bold flavor that can hold its own against the pesto.

There are many different ways to incorporate beef into your pesto pasta dish.

You could add ground beef to the sauce, or use beef tenderloin or steak strips as a topping for the pasta.

No matter how you choose to incorporate it, beef is a good option for pesto pasta.

7. Lamb


If you’re looking for something a little different, lamb is a great option.

It has a rich flavor that pairs well with the pesto, and there are a number of ways to incorporate it into your dish.

You could try pan-searing some lamb chops and serving them on top of the pasta, or adding ground lamb to the sauce itself.

For something really unique, you could even try making a lamb-based pesto!

8. Duck


Duck has a strong flavor, closer to red meat than chicken, but with a more delicate texture.

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It pairs well with robust sauces like pesto, as well as sweet and sour flavors.

When cooking duck breast, always score the skin first.

This will help render out the fat and prevent the skin from curling up.

For a different twist on pesto pasta, try incorporating some chopped duck into the sauce itself.

9. Turkey


Turkey has a rich taste – similar to chicken, but with a more robust flavor.

This makes it a great option for dishes like pesto pasta, where you want the meat to be a star player.

There are many different ways to cook turkey, so feel free to experiment.

Some of my favorite methods are roasting, grilling, and smoking.

10. Venison


Venison is a festive-tasting meat that pairs well with the rich, creamy flavors of pesto pasta.

You could try serving it with a side of roasted vegetables, or even incorporating the meat into the pasta dish itself.

11. Pancetta


Pancetta is another kind of Italian bacon that is made from pork belly.

It is salt cured and then typically rolled into a log shape.

Pancetta can be eaten raw, but is more commonly cooked.

It has a salty, savory flavor that goes well with other strong flavors like pesto.

Ways to Incorporate Pancetta Into Your Dish:

  • Cut it into small pieces and sauté it with your vegetables before adding the pasta.
  • Or, dice it up and add it to the pesto sauce itself.
what meat to serve with pesto pasta

What Meat Goes with Pesto Pasta? (11 Best Meats)

There are tons of different meats that go great with pesto pasta.
In this post, we'll share 11 of the best meats to pair with this delicious dish.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 11 minutes
Course Meat
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 389 kcal


  • Chicken
  • Shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Prosciutto
  • Sausage
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Duck
  • Turkey
  • Venison
  • Pancetta


  • Pick your favorite kind of meat from this post to serve with your pesto pasta dish.
  • Prepare the rest of your meal.
  • Enjoy in no time!
Keyword What Meat Goes with Pesto Pasta