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.
307 Comments on “Easy Baked Pesto Chicken (Video)”
The pesto from Costco says don’t heat? It’s okay to bake it,right?
Yes, absolutely! That is weird, I think what they mean is don’t put it in a pan and heat it before you put it on pasta. But absolutely can be baked inside over over chicken.
This is very easy to make and it is good but my family loves it best with Tomato Pesto. Thanks
I like that adaptation too!
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I LOVE this recipe, but my chicken is coming out a bit dry no matter how I adjust cook and broil times. Do you have any tips for increasing moisture? Would it help to marinate scored chicken in the pesto to help it absorb?
Thank you for all of your amazing recipes, you have helped me tackle to resolutions – weight loss and learning to cook more – and I couldn’t be more grateful to you!
I might skip broiling or lower the oven temperature if it’s coming out dry. Or you could try using more pesto. Glad you’re enjoying the recipes.
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This was delicious with roasted spaghetti squash! Thank You Kalyn!
I love that idea for what to serve it with! Glad you enjoyed it!
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Have you ever prepared this and froze it? Wondering if it would be better frozen before cooked or after? Wanting to make an easy dinner for a friend who just had a baby. Thanks!
I haven’t frozen it except as leftovers, but if you do need to freeze I think freezing after cooking would definitely be best.
Wondering if you froze before/after cooking and how it turned out?
As I said above, I haven’t frozen it, sorry.
Yummy! Thank you share best receipt!
Do you have the nutritional information?
For a variety of reasons I don't calculate nutritional info, but if you look after the recipe I have suggestions for two ways to get it. (I have been adding that to my newer recipes but didn't realize this one didn't have it, so thanks for asking.)
Made these last night, and all I can say is How easy and good they were. I used Barrilla basil pesto and added extra cheese. Served over brown rice. Def. a keeper
I used 3.3 pounds of chicken because I didn't find any notice of a minimum or maximum amount of chicken to use. I just now popped the dish in the oven for 30 minutes, so I can't report how 3.3 pounds works! I gave the dish only slightly more than 1/2 cup of pesto.
Could you please supply a minimum or maximum amount of chicken to use in this recipe? If you recommend heavier or lighter doses of pesto and/or different cooking times in certain circumstances, I'd appreciate knowing that, too.
Thanks very much, and Happy New Year!
As you can see from the comments hundreds of people have made this with no problem and there is a photo of the cut chicken and every step of the recipe. I think it's a personal preference how much pesto/chicken to use. I don't have any more information to share. I don't weigh the chicken after I cut it it up.
I'm not sure I have reheated it; I don't know if I've ever had leftovers. But I would probably use a a microwave. If that's not an option I'd reheat in the oven in a dish tightly covered with foil.
How would I reheat the leftovers?
I'm making this for company tonight – and I thought with all the fresh tomatoes available now, I would put some sliced tomatoes on the chicken before I put on the cheese!
One of our go to dinners! We just love it and SO MANY MORE of your recipes. You're the best and your site is great! Thanks for sharing with us 🙂
Thanks Sammi; so glad you're enjoying the recipes.
Michelle, so glad you liked it. And I think the idea of artichoke hearts sounds great!
I tried this tonight and OMG yum, one of my new faves for sure! My fiance noted that it's be yummy with some artichoke hearts over angelhair pasta.Thanks for the recipe!!
Hope you enjoy!
I can't wait to try your recipe looks amazing! Also included you in my weekly meal plan this week. http://www.sassymomsinthecity.com/real-food-recipes-round-up-july-21/