Pesto Chicken

How to cook delicious Pesto Chicken - Grilled or Baked  


Pesto Chicken - Grilled or Baked


Ingredients for Pesto Chicken


  • cup fresh basil, packed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese (set aside for Whole30 / Paleo)
  • 2 tbsp. Almonds
  • 1 tablespoon. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon. lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1.33 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (optional)


This simple pesto chicken tastes like a restaurant dish, but is homemade with healthy ingredients. Grill or bake it in the oven then serve with pasta, rice, a large green salad, or roasted vegetables.

This healthy pesto chicken made with fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, lean chicken breast, and cherry tomatoes is an easy dish that tastes great. For pesto lovers, add this to your list alongside this Baked Italian Pesto Chicken Pesto Zucchini Noodle Shrimp.

Pesto chicken is one of those meals that you could make weekly. We all love it and since it's such an easy dish to make, it's something I don't mind doing over and over again. And don't talk to me about all the ways you can serve it. It's a really versatile recipe with so many delicious options - creamy chicken pesto pasta, chicken pesto sandwiches, rice bowls, you get the idea. Trust me, this will be one of those dishes that you will make over and over again.

Before we dive into the recipe itself, let's talk about pesto for a minute. Every time I go shopping, I'm tempted to buy store-made pesto sauce. It's easy and doesn't involve taking out the food processor. It's a good, quick option that works for this recipe if you're short on time.

However, be sure to always take a quick look at the ingredients. Try to find something that only contains ingredients that you recognize: basil, fresh herbs, nuts, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon, and spices. It can be shocking when you start looking at the labels and realize that pesto is full of things that you can hardly pronounce.

Usually the best option will be in the refrigerated section. And it's important to note that store-bought options will always contain much more oil. The homemade version included in the recipe is a lighter version to keep things low in calories and healthy. They both work great, just choose what works best for your family and lifestyle.

What's in a pesto sauce?

Pesto is a traditional Italian sauce that is traditionally made with fresh Italian basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. Sometimes it also contains an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. It is traditionally used in pasta dishes, vegetable dishes, and soups. Today, many people like to make all kinds of pesto sauces using different combinations of herbs and vegetables, such as parsley, coriander, spinach, and even kale.

Is basil pesto healthy?

Pesto is a healthy sauce and seasoning option that contains fresh herbs, nuts, and heart-healthy olive oil. However, it can be high in fat and calories, as it typically contains a large amount of olive oil. The homemade version of this recipe reduces the olive oil to make it lighter without losing any of the flavor.

How long can I keep pesto in the fridge?

Normally when I make this recipe I triple the pesto recipe so I can save the extra for other recipes. Homemade pesto will keep in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. It can also be frozen and stored for 3-4 months.

Leftover and Serving Ideas for Pesto Chicken

There are many ways to use this chicken pesto recipe. I always make a double or triple batch because we love leftovers and I can always get at least 2-3 more meals.

Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta: Make a double batch of the pesto sauce included in the recipe. Then while the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta. Save 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Once the pasta is cooked, add it back to the post with the pasta cooking liquid, extra pesto sauce, and 1/4 cup cream cheese. Stir until a smooth sauce forms. Top with the chicken and tomatoes. This also works with spaghetti or zucchini noodles.
Pesto Chicken Salad - We eat a lot of green salads for lunch and this pesto chicken is a really delicious green salad. Pair it with arugula, fresh chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, roasted red peppers, olives, and feta cheese.

Pesto Chicken Pizza: Cut up leftover chicken and use as a pizza topping with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. To keep things light, you can use a low carb flatbread for the dough or a whole grain pizza crust. Cauliflower pizza bases also work for a lower carb option.

Creamy Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches: We love a good chicken salad and this pesto chicken is one of the best. Combine the minced pesto chicken with reduced-fat mayo and Greek yogurt. Then add some chopped red onion and red bell peppers to make them crisp.
Pesto Chicken Pizza Quesadillas: Lately I've been making pizza quesadillas for the kids. For this version, I use a thin layer of marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh spinach with thinly sliced ​​pesto chicken.

Chicken Pesto Minestrone Soup: Sometimes minestrone soup is topped with fresh pesto, so why not top it with chicken pesto? You can use a homemade or store-bought soup.

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How to prepare Pesto Chicken 

  • Add the first nine ingredients (basil, water, Parmesan, almonds, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper) to a food processor. Pulse until just combined to make a homemade skinny pesto.
  • Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally to create thinner, chicken cutlet style pieces. These will cook more evenly. Marinate chicken in pesto mixture for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drain. If you are using cherry tomatoes, spray them with cooking spray or add a touch of olive oil.
  • To grill: Cook chicken for 4-6 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Cook the tomatoes in a piece of aluminum foil (or in a grill basket), shaking after five minutes. They will take 8-10 minutes to cook.
  • To bake: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Add the chicken and tomatoes. Bake for 12-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
Pesto Chicken - Grilled or Baked

Nutritional values

Serving Size: 6 oz.
Amount per proportion
Calories 253 Calories from Fat 64% Daily value *
Total Fat 8g11%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Monounsaturated fat 0g
Polyunsaturated fat 0g
Cholesterol 77mg 25%
Sodium 199 mg 9%
Total carbohydrates 7g2%
Dietary Fiber 2g7%
Sugars 3g
Protein 35g

* Percent Daily Values ​​are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values ​​may be higher or lower depending on your caloric needs.

The nutritional values ​​provided are only estimates and may vary depending on the preparation method.

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