In this pesto chicken recipe, the chicken is smothered in a homemade creamy basil pesto and oven-baked until it is fully cooked, tender on the inside, and golden brown on the outside. Bursting with basil pesto flavor, the creamy sauce will delight your taste buds.
Our creamy pesto chicken is the perfect oven-baked midweek meal, as it is ready in just 35 minutes.
Is This Recipe Healthy?
Yes, this pesto chicken recipe is modified to be as healthy as possible.
In addition to calories, sodium and saturated fats are substances whose levels must be carefully considered. For main dishes like this one, we aim to keep the calories around 500, the sodium below 600 mg, and the saturated fats below 11 g. Details are available in our food philosophy.
In addition, we strive to include a variety of food groups in our recipes so that you receive an assortment of micronutrients. The chicken in this recipe, for instance, is served with cooked chickpeas and cherry tomatoes.
Ingredients You'll Need
1. Chicken Breast
Instead of paying extra for chicken cutlets, you can buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts and slice them in half horizontally to create thinner pieces. This helps the chicken cook fast and evenly without drying out, and it’s a terrific way to serve more people.
Cherry tomatoes provide vibrant color and texture to the dish, and chickpeas are an excellent source of vegan protein. You can use any veggie you have on hand, such as asparagus, broccoli, or green beans.
3. Pesto Sauce
The pesto sauce is the main flavor-maker in this recipe. You can use store-bought pesto to save time in the kitchen but nothing beats homemade pesto bursting with freshly herbed flavor. Here’s what you need to make a creamy pesto sauce at home:
Basil: This aromatic herb is the basis of our pesto recipe. You can mellow out the pesto by substituting half of the basil with fresh spinach leaves. The resulting sauce will retain its vibrant green color, and the basil flavor will still be discernible, but not as strong.
Garlic and Shallots: It goes without saying that garlic and shallots will give homemade pesto a wonderful boost of flavor. Use roasted garlic if you find raw garlic to be excessively pungent.
Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan imparts a little saltiness and aids in pesto’s cohesiveness. You may use any hard cheese with an Italian flavor, such as Pecorino Romano, Asiago, or Grana Padano.
Pine Nuts: Pine nuts give pesto structure and a subtle nutty taste. If you can’t buy pine nuts, substitute walnuts, pistachios, or almonds.
Olive Oil: Oil is the primary liquid in this pesto and contributes to a creamy, rich texture.
Lemon Juice: A squeeze of fresh lemon juice livens up the dish, allowing the other ingredients to shine.
Salt and Pepper: To taste and complement the sauce’s flavor.
Storage and Reheating Leftover
This creamy pesto chicken can be kept in an airtight jar for up to 2 – 3 days in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, reheat in the microwave or the oven.
To maximize its shelf life, keep the chicken in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the oven.
What to Serve With
This creamy pesto chicken breast with basil pesto may be served over rice, quinoa, or spaghetti. You may also have it with a salad or steamed or roasted veggies. Here are some potential side dish pairings for this pesto chicken:
Simple, easy, and outright healthy, this skillet of pan-seared chicken breasts are a wholesome meal to have. It's keto-friendly too, serving one jumbo chicken breast with buttered vegetables and a small portion of mash.
Do you enjoy both Ranch salad and fried chicken? The homemade Ranch underneath the crumbs of these parm-crusted chicken breasts will meet your taste buds’ needs. For some greens, we put them together with buttered asparagus.
Butterfly the chicken breast: Place 26 oz chicken breast on a clean work surface. Holding a long, sharp knife parallel to the long side of the breast, carefully saw through it almost to the end, taking care not to cut all the way through.
Boil the basil and spinach: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 oz spinach and 0.5 oz basil to the pot and cook for 30 seconds. Then transfer the spinach and basil to an ice water bowl and squeeze them well.
Blend the pesto sauce: Put the boiled spinach, basil, 0.5 oz shallot, 1 oz pine nuts, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 0.5 oz garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, 4 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 0.25 oz parmesan cheese, and 1 tsp lemon juice into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Brush the chicken breast with pesto sauce: Smother the chicken breast with the pesto sauce on all sides.
Bake the chicken and vegetables: Arrange the chicken breast, 8 oz cherry tomatoes, and 12 oz canned chickpeas on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake at 450 ℉ for 20 minutes.
Serve the chicken: Garnish the chicken with 0.25 oz parmesan cheese and 2 tbsp parsley and serve the dish hot.
How to Make Pesto Chicken
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 509Calories from Fat 247
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 4.6g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 14g
Vitamin A 1365IU
Vitamin C 20mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Natalie Butler is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a passion to help others live their best life through food, fitness, safer beauty and a healthy lifestyle. She has expertise with a variety of diets and diseases and believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for health.