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12 Types of Meat that Go Well with Pesto Pasta

Pesto pasta is a staple in any American household.

It’s easy to make, and it tastes great.

But sometimes, when you’re looking for a little variety, you want to try something new.

That’s why we’ve created this list of 12 types of meat that go well with pesto pasta.

what meat goes with pesto pasta

We hope it helps you find the right kind of meat for your next pesto pasta dish!

12 Types of Meat that Go Well with Pesto Pasta

Pesto Pasta

Pesto pasta is a delicious, easy-to-make dish that can be enjoyed by anyone.

But what if you don’t have the right meat to go with it?

If you’re looking to make pesto pasta, you need to know what kinds of meat will go best with it.

So, what meat goes with pesto pasta?

The meat that goes best with pesto pasta is chicken. It has a savory flavor, and the pesto sauce helps to cut through the richness of the meat. Pesto has a sharp taste that can be overwhelming if you eat too much at once, so it’s best to pair it with something milder like chicken.

Keep reading for more options!

1. Chicken


Pesto pasta is a great way to make chicken more interesting.

The pesto adds a little bit of spice and helps cut through the heaviness of chicken breast, making it a delicious choice for the main course.

Chicken also goes great with pesto because it’s mild enough that you won’t overpower its flavor with too much pesto.

You’ll want to use about 1/4 cup of pesto per pound of chicken if you’re going to be cooking it in the oven or on the stovetop, and up to 1/2 cup if you’re going to be grilling or roasting it outdoors.

2. Steak


Steak is another great choice for pairing with pesto pasta because it’s flavorful and hearty enough that it can stand up to the added flavor of the sauce without being overpowered by it.

A pound of steak will go well with about 1/2 cup or more of pesto, depending on how much steak you’re making, but if you’re using ground beef instead then 1/4 cup will probably be enough (unless you’re making meatballs).

3. Tuna


Tuna is a type of fish that is commonly used in pesto pasta.

The reason for this is because tuna has a creamy taste and texture with a mild flavor. It also has a tender texture which makes it easy to cook.

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4. Pork

Pork Slices

Pork is another type of meat that goes well with pesto pasta since it has a sweet taste but still retains its savory properties.

This makes it easy to pair with other ingredients such as basil pesto sauce or tomatoes since they have different flavors as well (e.g., spicy).

5. Beef


Beef pairs well with pesto because it’s juicy, has a striated texture, and is generally tender.

The pine nuts and cheese in the pesto offset the beef’s flavor nicely.

However, if you’re using lean beef (like ground beef), be sure to add some olive oil to your dish so that the meat doesn’t dry out when cooking.

6. Duck Breast

Duck Breast

Duck breast has a stronger flavor than chicken or turkey breasts, which means that it pairs well with pesto pasta because you don’t need as much sauce for them to be moist and flavorful.

In addition, duck breast pairs well with red wine vinegar or balsamic vinaigrette rather than olive oil—this will help balance out its rich flavor!

7. Veal


Veal is one of our favorite meats because it’s so tender, but it also has a rich flavor profile that works beautifully with pesto pasta.

Veal has an earthy taste that goes well with the nutty, slightly sweet sauce on your pasta, and will help it stand out even more.

If you’re looking for a more subtle flavor profile in your pesto pasta, then veal is definitely the way to go.

8. Ham


Like veal, ham has a mild flavor and can easily be combined with pesto.

But ham also has a slight sweetness to its taste that pairs nicely with this dish.

Ham is often used in sandwiches and salads but can also be found in soups and other meals that call for meat as an ingredient.

9. Turkey


Turkey is a great option for pesto pasta because it’s got a rich, earthy flavor that pairs well with the basil and garlic in the pesto.

It’s also a bit gamier than chicken, so if you’re looking to add some extra flavor to your meal, this is your meat.

If you’re starting out with a store-bought sauce, try mixing in some ground turkey for an extra boost of flavor.

10. Crab


Crab has a soft texture that goes well with the creaminess of pesto pasta.

It’s also got a sweet and salty taste that works well when paired with other rich flavors like pumpkin or butternut squash—which just so happens to be another great pairing for pesto pasta!

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11. Shrimp


Shrimp is a great choice for pesto pasta because it has a mild, buttery flavor that pairs well with the nutty taste of pesto.

The sweetness of the shrimp also helps to balance the salty flavor of the pesto.

If you’re not sure how much to use, start with one pound per person and go from there.

12. Lobster


Lobster is another great option. It has a sweeter, less ‘fishy’ taste than crab, making it ideal for this dish.

If you’re using fresh lobster meat, make sure to cook it with care—overcooking will leave your sauce watery and bland!

You can also use frozen lobster meat or canned meat in this dish as well—just be sure to check the label on the can before buying it because some brands have added salt or preservatives that aren’t necessary for cooking purposes (and may even change the flavor).

How to Pick the Right Kind of Meat to Use in Your Pesto Pasta


Pesto pasta is a classic Italian dish that’s as delicious as it is simple. But there’s one thing that can spoil your pesto pasta: using the wrong kind of meat.

It’s important to use a high-quality meat for your pesto, because it will impart a lot of flavor into the sauce.

If you use an inexpensive cut of meat, it won’t have enough flavor and texture to stand up against the pesto sauce.

So how do you pick the right kind of meat?

Here are some things to consider:

1. What Kind of Meat Do You Like Best?

If you have a favorite kind of meat, then it’s probably best to stick with it.

But if you’re open to new things and want to try something new, then try adding some other types of meat into your pesto pasta.

2. What Kind of Pasta Are You Using?

The second thing to consider is what kind of pasta are you using?

This will help you determine how much meat you need for your recipe.

For example, if you’re making a spaghetti dish with pesto sauce and pine nuts on top, then it would be better to use ground beef rather than steak because ground beef has more fat content which means that it won’t dry out as quickly when cooked; whereas steak would dry out much faster than ground beef would when cooked over low heat for an extended period of time (such as hours).

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3. How Much Time Do You Have?

If you’re trying to make this for a quick dinner after work or school, opt for ground beef or chicken breast that’s been cooked ahead of time so you can just heat it up in the pan when it’s time to eat.

4. How Much Money Do You Want to Spend?

If you’re looking for something cheap, then ground beef or sausage is probably your best bet.

However, if money isn’t an issue, then consider adding some prosciutto or pancetta for a more complex flavor profile!

Pesto Pasta

12 Types of Meat that Go Well with Pesto Pasta

Pesto pasta is great, but it's not the only way to make a delicious dish.
If you're looking for something new and different, try using meat as part of your pesto pasta recipe.
Meat makes pesto pasta even more hearty and satisfying than traditional recipes. It adds a lot of flavor to the dish, too!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 344 kcal


  • Chicken
  • Steak
  • Tuna
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Duck Breast
  • Veal
  • Ham
  • Turkey
  • Crab
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster


  • Pick your favorite kind of meat from this list to use with your pasta meal.
  • Prepare the rest of your dish.
  • Be ready to munch in no time!
Keyword what meat goes with pesto pasta


  • Jenny Hunter

    Jenny is a passionate entrepreneur and home chef who loves helping people. She is the proud owner of, an online platform for those who want to learn about and explore the delicious world of food. Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations. Jenny is a firm believer in the power of food to bring people together, and she is always looking for ways to expand her reach and share her love of cooking with a larger audience. She is an active member of the food blogging community, and she is passionate about helping others discover their own culinary talents.