Easy Baked Pesto Chicken (Video)
This Easy Baked Pesto Chicken is a tasty low-carb dinner that you can make with purchased pesto if you don’t have any pesto in the freezer. And this is a five-ingredient chicken dinner that the whole family is probably going to like!
Pin Easy Baked Pesto Chicken to try it later!
When I first made this Easy Baked Pesto Chicken, I loved what a great low-carb dinner it was but I’m not sure I ever imagined it would become one of the most popular recipes on the blog. But now it’s been pinned and viewed millions and millions of times! And I’ve made this one over and over myself.
I got the inspiration for Easy Baked Pesto Chicken years ago when I was looking in The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook (affiliate link) for a recipe my friend Bonnie had recommended. That happened to be in the summer, and when it’s summertime at my house there’s fresh basil on the counter, I’m freezing basil for winter, and I’m making Basil Pesto with Lemon, so it’s not really surprising that a recipe using pesto would catch my eye.
And fast forward quite a few years and here’s a fun story about this recipe. Late last year I started working out with a fantastic trainer named Wendy. Then one time when I showed up at the gym she told me she had gone to get the recipe for her kids’ favorite chicken dish, and it turned out to be a recipe from my blog!
So just in case you’re wondering if this can be kid-friendly, Wendy says her kids love Easy Baked Pesto Chicken and gobble it up for dinner. (She serves it with pasta for the kids, but I’d serve with Cauliflower Rice for a tasty low-carb meal.)
What ingredients do you need for this recipe?
(This is only a list of ingredients; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
- Basil Pesto (affiliate link)
- cup grated mozzarella cheese
Can you make this with pesto from the store?
If you don’t have a garden that produces basil, you can certainly make this ultra-easy main dish with purchased basil pesto, which is what the inspiring recipe called for.
Want more low-carb dinners with pesto?
If you have more fresh basil or basil pesto left after you make this, check out Low-Carb and Keto Recipes with Pesto for more tasty ideas for using basil pesto!
How to Make Easy Baked Pesto Chicken:
(This is only a summary of the steps for the recipe; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- Trim chicken breasts and cut into lengthwise strips. (I save all chicken scraps in the freezer and use them to make homemade chicken stock.)
- Spray casserole dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish.
- Lay chicken strips over the pesto and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- Spread another 1/4 cup of basil pesto over chicken strips.
- Cover dish with foil and bake at 375F/190C for 25-30 minutes, or just until the chicken is barely cooked through. (Don’t cook too long at this stage, or the chicken will be overcooked when the cheese is melted and browned.)
- Then sprinkle 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese (or a little more if you like it cheesy) over the top and bake about 5 minutes more, or until the cheese is melted. (If your broiler is separate from the oven, start preheating it at this point.)
- I wanted the cheese to be lightly browned, so after 5 minutes I switched to broil for just long enough to get some color on the cheese.
- That’s all there is to making this easy and delicious low-carb Baked Pesto Chicken!
- Serve hot, and I hope this will become a favorite in your household!
Make it a Low-Carb Meal:
Easy Baked Pesto Chicken would be delicious with Pureed Cauliflower or Cauliflower Rice to cover with some of the delicious juice in the bottom of the dish. This would also taste great with Air Fryer Turnip Fries, Air Fryer Peppers and Onions, Cauliflower Rice with Basil, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts, Lemony Green Beans, or Cheesy Zucchini with Garlic and Parsley.
More Recipe Ideas Using Basil Pesto:
- Pesto Spaghetti Squash
- Baked Salmon with Pesto and Tomatoes
- Chicken Pesto Salad
- Zucchini Noodle Mock Pasta Salad
- Chicken Pesto Soup
Weekend Food Prep:
This recipe has been added to a category called Weekend Food Prep where you’ll find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week! This recipe can easily be doubled if you want leftovers to reheat later.
Easy Baked Pesto Chicken
Easy Baked Pesto Chicken is a tasty dinner that you can make with purchased pesto if you don't have any in the freezer.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
- 1/2 cup basil pesto (see notes)
- 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese (or more if you like it cheesy!)
- Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken pieces, then cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces. (I cut the larger ones into 3 strips and the smaller ones into 2 strips.)
- Spray a 9" x 12" (or 8.5" X 12.5") baking dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish.
- Lay chicken strips over the pesto, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken. (I used a rubber scraper (affiliate link) to spread the pesto in the dish and over the chicken.)
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (or use a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid) and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, just until chicken is barely firm and cooked through. (Don't cook too much at this point, or the chicken will be overcooked by the time the cheese is melted and browned.)
- When chicken is barely cooked through, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese.
- Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted. (If your broiler is separate from the oven, start preheating it when you take the chicken out.)
- After I melted the cheese for 5 minutes I switched my oven to broil and broiled for 5 minutes more, just long enough to get the cheese lightly browned.
- Serve hot. There will be some flavorful juice in the bottom of the dish when this is done, so you may want to serve with rice, Cauliflower Rice, or quinoa to soak up the juice.
I used my homemade Basil Pesto with Lemon, but you can use purchased basil pesto for this recipe as well.
This recipe adapted slightly from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 450Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 7gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 141mgSodium: 590mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 49g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This easy pesto chicken dish would be suitable for low-carb and Keto diets and any phase of the original South Beach Diet. It would be recommended to use low-fat mozzarella for South Beach, since pesto is relatively high in fat. For other low-carb eating plans, full-fat mozzarella would be preferred.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Casserole Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, on TikTok, or on YouTube to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This popular recipe was first posted in 2010 (probably with a photo that would make me shudder if I saw it now.) The recipe was last updated with more information in 2022 and again in 2023.
305 Comments on “Easy Baked Pesto Chicken (Video)”
Brenda, hope you will enjoy it.
Looks delish! I think that package of chicken in my fridge is going to become this dish tonight! Can't wait! Brenda C
Maureen, thank you! I couldn't imagine how this would taste nearly as good with the whole chicken breasts. It was the first thing I thought of when I read the recipe.
Kalyn, I just marvel at the ideas you come up with, like cutting the breasts lengthwise into thinner strips. Such a simple solution but so worthwhile in this recipe. Can't wait to try it.
So happy people are liking this, and glad to hear that some of you have pesto in the freezer.
Joyce, I think this would be great with cilantro pesto (I love cilantro myself!) I might use a different cheese with cilantro. Let us know what you think if you try it.
How do you think this recipe would work with a cilantro pesto (something I can eat right out of the jar)?
Wow looks fabulous, bet it was delicious!
Between the cheese and the pesto, this is basically my ideal comfort food!
This looks too simple and delicious NOT to try!! I have pesto in the freezer along with chicken, hehe =)
I just saved this in my "chicken" file. It looks amazing!! We eat chicken A LOT here and I love this! Thanks!
Lydia and Gudrun, it was so good and so easy!
ok, this chicken dish looks shockingly easy! Will have to add this to our repertoire, great idea.
When I looked in my garden today, I realized that after a difficult summer, I have just enough basil to make one good-sized batch of pesto. Hooray! This is just the kind of easy recipe I like to have in my repertoire.
Kristin, if you like pesto, you'll like it!
Jane, sounds like you have pesto in your future! Yes, cheese must be browned. It's a rule!
We were at our son's home for dinner this evening. His wife has a huge garden and I came away with a huge bouquet of fresh basil. I like your recipe and I agree…cheese needs to be lightly browned! Yum!
I love the South Beach Diet Cookbooks myself, but have never trid this particular recipe. Looks amazing with so much flavor. Must try soon!!!
Thanks Lori. I have to say, I do love having those herbs and things like pesto in the freezer when it's winter. Kind of keeps the flavors of summer around a bit more.
LOVE easy and delicious ideas like this. Sometimes simple is best, right? I really wish I would think to freeze spices like you do– so convenient!
I do love the idea of using coriander (cilantro) chutney in a recipe similar to this. Sounds fantastic.
this looks amazing. I do something similar …by cooking the chicken in Indian Coriander chutney. And then top it with paneer and mozzarella 🙂 if you like coriander you sure to love it!
Thanks for posting this. Can't wait to get my hands on some basil before it finally says good bye for the season