30-minutes, 2-ingredients, and one pan is all you need to make this pesto chicken recipe. Chicken Pesto is loaded with juicy chicken, and either homemade basil pesto or store bought, for a quick and delicious meal.
This chicken recipe can be made into a complete one-sheet meal. Just throw some tomatoes or vegetables onto the same baking sheet to round out the dish. Think zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus or bell peppers.
If utilizing store bought sauce, you only need one other ingredient: chicken! This is truly a 2-ingredient recipe. Of course a little salt and pepper over the top never hurts.
If making your own sauce, in addition to chicken, you’ll need: basil, pine nuts, quality olive oil, parmesan cheese, lemon and salt. It’s imperative you use high quality basil, olive oil and parmesan cheese when making.
The basil sauce is the star of this chicken dish, so pick a brand you enjoy! Brands we enjoy: Costco, Trader Joe’s or DeLallo’s.
If you’re looking to make your own homemade basil pesto, we have a great recipe for ya! It’s no longer a 2-ingredient chicken recipe, but worth the effort if you can swing it.
How to Make
Making this chicken pesto recipe is a short and sweet process. The recipe card below details the exact steps, however we wanted to provide a few step-by-step photos for those who prefer visuals vs written instructions.
Prep the Chicken – Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and gently pound with a meat hammer to thin. You want them as equal in thickness as possible.
Season the Chicken – Coat each chicken breast with pesto. You’ll reserve half of the sauce to serve with the cooked chicken.
Bake the Chicken – Transfer the chicken breasts to the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes at 350°F. Add the tomatoes, or your favorite veggie, and cook until the chicken reaches 165°F.
Chicken Pesto Bake
This pesto baked chicken recipe can be made with a few different cuts of chicken, including:
To make with chicken thighs, just cook until meat thermometer registers between 165°F and 185°F. Tip – cooking your thighs to 185°F will break down the collagen leading to a more tender bite.
Bone-in Chicken Breasts
Looking to save money? Bone-in chicken breast is the best way to go. The only edit is to the baking time as it will take longer to cook. Bake it for 45-50 minutes, until an instant read thermometer registers 165°F.
While boneless skinless chicken breasts are our favorite, chicken tenders will also work. The only edit is to the baking time as they won’t take as long to cook. Bake it for 15-20 minutes, until an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Chicken tenders vary wildly in size. The bigger the tender, the longer it will take to cook.
Pesto Mozarella Chicken
Add either a slice of fresh mozzarella or shredded mozzarella to the top of the chicken for the final 5 minutes of baking time. Keep your eyes on it as cheese tends to burn quickly.
Creamy Pesto Chicken
Mix a 1/2 cup of pesto with 4 oz of cream cheese before you coat the chicken with it.
Grilled Chicken With Pesto
Prefer to break out the grill? Full instructions are in the recipe card. It’s actually quicker to make this on the grill than it is to bake!!
Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe
This chicken is a great addition to pasta. Full recipe to come!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making:
- Pound the chicken breasts with a meat hammer for even thickness. This ensures even cooking.
- If your kitchen isn’t stocked with a meat hammer, have no fear. Just grab a heavy rolling pin or heavy skillet to use as a meat hammer instead.
- Pat dry the chicken with paper towels before coating with the sauce.
- Don’t love tomatoes? Replace them with bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, etc. Use whatever you love and adjust the final cooking time as needed.
- Thicker chicken breasts will require up to 45 minutes of cook time. Keep cooking until the internal temperature reaches 165° F-185° F. Make sure to use a digital thermometer to ensure accuracy.
- This recipe will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Just keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Side Dish Ideas
Our favorite side dish is grilled tomatoes (cherry tomatoes to be exact) and rice. Here are a few other options that would pair well.
Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, or Pinot Gris
- 4 Skinless and Boneless Chicken Breasts (*Note 1 & 2)
- Salt, To Taste
- Black Pepper, To Taste
- 1 cup Pesto Sauce, Store Bought or Homemade (*Note 3)
- 16 oz Cherry Tomatoes, Zucchini or Bell Peppers (*Note 4)
PREP THE CHICKEN:
- Pound chicken to even thinness with a meat mallet. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Coat each chicken breast with approx. 2 tbsp of pesto. (Reserve the balance of the pesto sauce to serve with the cooked chicken).
BAKE THE CHICKEN:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
- Transfer the chicken breasts to the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and place the tomatoes around the chicken.
- Transfer the baking dish back to the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165° F. Thicker breasts will require a bit more time.
- Remove from the oven and serve with extra pesto.
GRILL THE CHICKEN:
- Pre-heat an outdoor grill over medium-high heat.
- Cook the breasts and tomatoes for 5-6 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165° F.
- Remove from the grill and serve with extra pesto.
- Pre-heat a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the breasts for 5-6 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.
- Add the tomatoes and flip every few minutes, until soft.
- Transfer the chicken and tomatoes to individual plates and serve with extra pesto.