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Easy Baked Pesto Chicken (Video)

This Easy Baked Pesto Chicken is a tasty dinner that you can make with purchased pesto if you don’t have any in the freezer. This recipe is low-carb, Keto, gluten-free, low-glycemic, and South Beach Diet friendly; use the Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.

Click here to PIN Easy Baked Pesto Chicken!

Watch the video to see if you might like to make Easy Baked Pesto Chicken!

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

When I first made Easy Baked Pesto Chicken back in 2010,  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 over 1M times and the recipe has been viewed 2.5 Million times! So when I decided recently I wanted to update the photos I decided I would keep the original photo below close to the top of the post so people would recognize it.

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

I got the inspiration for Easy Baked Pesto Chicken when I was looking in The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook 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.

If you don’t have any basil growing, you can certainly make this ultra-easy main dish with purchased basil pesto, which is what the recipe in the book called for. If you have more fresh basil, or more basil pesto left in your jar after you make this, look after the recipe for some other ideas using pesto.

And here’s a fun little 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 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.)

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

Trim the boneless-skinless chicken breasts and cut into lenghthwise strips. (I save all the chicken scraps in the freezer and use them to make homemade chicken stock.) Spray the casserole dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup of basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay the chicken strips over the pesto and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Spread another 1/4 cup of basil pesto over the chicken strips.Cover the dish with foil and then 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.)

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

When chicken is barely cooked through, 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.)

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

I wanted the cheese to be lightly browned, so after 5 minutes I switched to broil for about 5 minutes, just long enough to get some color on the cheese. Serve hot, maybe with rice or Cauliflower Rice to cover with some of the delicious juice in the bottom of the dish.

More Recipe Ideas Using Basil Pesto:

Basil Pesto with Lemon and Ten Ideas for Using Basil Pesto ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
5 Easy Ways to Use Basil Pesto ~ Kitchen Gadget Girl Cooks
Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen
Pesto Yogurt Dip ~ Melanie Makes
My Favorite Low-Carb Recipes with Pesto ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen

Weekend Food Prep:

This recipe has been added to a new category called Weekend Food Prep  to help you 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

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto (see notes)
  • 2 oz. (1/2 cup) grated mozzarella cheese (or more if you like it cheesy!)

Directions:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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 to spread the pesto in the dish and over the chicken.)
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Notes:

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.

All images and text ©
Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This easy chicken dish would be suitable for any phase of the South Beach Diet, or any other type of low-carb or low-glycemic eating plan. 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 the Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Nutritional Information?
If you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into this nutrition analyzer, which will calculate it for you. Or if you’re a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

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234 comments on “Easy Baked Pesto Chicken (Video)”

  1. Hey Kalyn!

    I used your recipe to make pesto chicken the other night. It was delish! Also, I am new blogger (as of this week) and posted my version of this recipe to my site. I mentioned and linked to your recipe and said mine was an adapted version. I think I followed your FAQs correctly. Please let me know if I violated any blogging rules, I hope I didnt. Just want to make sure I am doing everything correctly! http://spokesandsprinkles.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/whats-cookin-good-lookin-pesto-chicken/

    Thanks,
    Grace

  2. I made this for my family tonight and it was easy and delicious. My 4 year old even asked for more, which is unheard of. Do you have any suggestions for how I might make the sauce a little creamier? I'm not on a diet (although I probably should be) and I wondered if adding milk or a little cream might work or what you thought about that. We served it over brown rice so it was nice to have the extra sauce from the pan.

  3. So glad you enjoyed it! I had some liquid in the pan when mine was done, so for a creamier sauce I might just put that in a small pin, stir in some cream, sour cream, oven cream cheese and heat it a little (don't boil it.) I'm not sure how it would work if you mixed one of those ingredients with the pesto before you cooked it, but that might work too.

  4. I found this recipe a few days ago and finally tried it this evening. Omitted the pine nuts (none in our local grocery) and used shredded daiya cheese instead. Sooooo delicious!!! And unbelievable easy! I will definitely make this again and will try to add the pine nuts. Thanks so much for sharing and I look forward to trying more recipes. Husband and I are on the SB diet; currently we're in Phase #1/Day 4. This meal was definitely rich and gives me hope! 🙂

  5. Bless, so glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Kalyn, I bought some chicken breasts today and tomorrow I am harvesting some basil and making pesto. Here is my question: could I make these and freeze? And like a frozen dish just heat it up and eat it at a later date? If so, how long do you think I need to cook it for so it doesn't get dry? I think these would go wonderfully with some brown rice and salad.

    thanks

  7. Tereza, I can't say for sure without trying it, but I am guessing you could make this ahead and freeze. It only takes about 5 minutes to throw it together though, so I don't know if it's that much of an advantage. I would thaw before cooking, so the cooking time would be the same.

  8. Hi kalyn, thanks for your reply. I got 4 kids and during fall we run around a lot because of soccer and karate. So I always have dinner ready to just throw in the oven for a few minutes, or something in the crock pot. I like to cook lots in advance and then freeze. Yes, I know fresh is always better, but sometimes it's just not possible. So I rather do my homemade frozen dinner than junk fast food. 🙂

  9. Hello Kalyn, it's about to go in to the oven. I can't wait.

    I found your recipe trough Pinterest, i love that, and fell for the picture. You can almost taste it.

    Bye bye from Holland!!

    Tessa

  10. Hi Tessa, hope you enjoy and how fun to hear from someone in Holland!

  11. Thank you for the recipe Kayln I made this tonight and it was amazing!!! The chicken was cooked perfectly!!!! 🙂

  12. Has anyone tried adding pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes? What about substituting feta cheese?

  13. Marissa, all of those sound good to me!

  14. In the oven right now! Going to serve it over some whole wheat pasta

  15. Thanks for this easy and delicious recipe! My teenager keeps asking for it! I re-blogged in my "Top 10 Pinterest Recipes" Post!

  16. Thanks Maureen; really appreciate it! And so glad you have enjoyed the recipe so much.

  17. I Just wanted to tell you that I found your recipe on Pinterest and we have made it several times. It is a hit with everyone, including my picky 5 year old son! Thanks for a great recipe.

  18. Made this last night and served it over quinoa, spooning the juice on top and sprinkling with some fresh Parmesan cheese. The kids absolutely loved it, and it will definitely go into our rotation. Thanks!

  19. I have found a wonderful sun dried tomato spread, have used it in so many recipes. I would like to add that to the pesto to make an even richer sauce. This recipe is a great idea! Thanks!

  20. This has become one of our favorite recipes! I am making it for the 3rd time, and as always, I went to put it in the oven and realized I hadn't covered it with foil. A picture really is worth a thousand words! Thank you for including it and helping me avoid the same mistake 3 times. 🙂

  21. This was a wonderful dish! We used chicken thighs and it was extremely moist! We are hoping to use tuna next time and see how it turns out!

  22. I made this last night for my husband, who claims he only mildly like spesto, and isn't a fan of cheese or baked chicken. Guess who LOVED it?? Ya, that same husband. I asked him if it's a dish I should keep in my repertoire of dishes to make for dinner guests. He, very confidently, said 'YES!' Soooo all that to say, this dish is a total winner!

  23. Holy c@#p this was good! Can't believe I hadn't tried this earlier; it was so good. Thanks for the recipe.

  24. I've been cooking from your blog all week. This recipe and the West African chicken stew were huge hits! I think we will be able to succeed on the SBD, thanks to your great blog, recipes, and photos. The photos are excellent. Thank you!

  25. I make this almost twice a week! I got my pesto from Costco and get about three meals out of it. My spinach hating boyfriend loves it! Thank you for sharing.

  26. Kalyn. I tried this tonight for the first time and had to come and comment. It was just fabulous! I was surprised at how much I liked the pesto in a jar. Just for the fun of it I added mushrooms cut in half while baking,and of course they turned out wonderful as well. How something so good could still be in Phase 1 is beyond me,but I am so grateful that I needed to comment along with all the other followers. Many thanks for what you do.

  27. Love the idea of adding mushrooms to this.

  28. I'm going to try this out tonight! Thanks. I bought some chicken tenderloins at Meijer and last time I tried OJ and mustard, but I have some pesto in the house this time. I hate cooking but this seems easy to make. 🙂

  29. I am just about to pull this out of the oven and it smells delicious! I can't wait to try it.
    I have a question though, is there anything you can do with the leftover juices in the pan? It seems a waste to through it away.

  30. You could certainly serve the sauce over rice or noodles.

  31. Thank you for this recipe! I used thighs, placed thin slices of tomato over pesto, and added whole wheat panko on pieces for those who requested in last 5 minutes of baking. Delicious!!!

  32. I've had this in my queue for a while now, and finally got around to making it tonight. I served it over couscous with rehydrated sun dried tomatoes and a CSA-inspired green salad. Forty minutes from fridge to table. Yum!

  33. Dolores, glad you enjoyed it!

  34. Kalyn – Fabulous recipe! I used pesto from Costco, along with chicken tenderloins and parmesan I also picked up there. Literally takes 5 minutes to assemble and then it just takes time to bake. Made it twice already. Thanks for a super easy delicious recipe!

    (BTW, I see no reason to grease the pan. I did that the first time but the second time didn't bother since there is plenty of oil in the pesto.)

  35. I made this tonight for dinner my family Loved it. They want to know when I will make it again. Thanks for the amazing easy receipe

  36. FirstGradeTeacher, so glad you all enjoyed it! And guess what, I was a first grade teacher for 6 years!

  37. I have made your recipe several times! It is also a hit with everyone, and I have a picky toddler! It is amazing with rice and how the juice gets into the rice! This is again in my oven tonight!

  38. So glad you're enjoying it!

  39. This was amazing! I kicked it up a notch and added sauteed mushrooms, onion, and garlic before I added the cheese. After everything came out of the oven, I plated it and topped the chicken with diced tomatoes. Delicious! Even my skeptical husband loved it! Thanks for yet another great recipe!

  40. Jennifer, your version sounds great! So glad you enjoyed the recipe.

  41. I just put this in the oven – i hope it is good because it is sure easy. If I don't like the basil, I will try it with the cilantro pesto because I have never found anything cooked with cilantro that I didn't love.

    I love this site, btw.

  42. Thanks Linda! And may I just say I don't think I've ever found anything with cilantro that I didn't love either!

  43. Yay! A hit with the family and even with DH, who usually groans at the idea of chicken again!

  44. Hi Kalyn, is this possible if I use lamb for change chicken ? I have a lot of lamb in my refrigerator but I'm not good at kitchen, looking for simple recipe and I choose this. I need your suggest. Thank you. Love from Indonesia.

  45. I don't really have a lot of experience cooking lamb, but I'm having a hard time imagining it in this recipe. I'd choose a recipe that has beef; that would be an easy substitution. (Just enter "beef" into the search bar.)

  46. Apologies to Stefanie who left a nice comment saying she liked this recipe and I accidentally hit delete instead of publish! Stefanie, glad you enjoyed it.

  47. So excited to try this tonight! I love homemade pesto…and I usually throw in some baby spinach when I make it at home. It doesnt change the flavor, helps it stay vibrantly green, and my husband and kids dont notice. Perfect summer recipe!

  48. Raising Mama, I love spinach in pesto, hope you enjoy this!

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