Kalyn's Kitchen

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 dish the whole family is probably going to like!

Click here to make Easy Baked Pesto Chicken to try it later!

 
Easy Baked Pesto Chicken title photo

When I first made 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 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, check out My Favorite Low-Carb and Keto Recipes with Pesto for more tasty ideas for using basil 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 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.)

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken process shots collage

How to Make Easy Baked Pesto Chicken:

(Scroll down for complete printable recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. Trim the boneless-skinless chicken breasts and cut into lengthwise strips. (I save all the chicken scraps in the freezer and use them to make homemade chicken stock.)
  2. Spray the casserole dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish.
  3. Lay the chicken strips over the pesto and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  4. Spread another 1/4 cup of basil pesto over the chicken strips.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.
  8. That’s all there is to making this easy and delicious low-carb Baked Pesto Chicken!
Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

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.

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

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken

Yield 4 servings.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken is a tasty dinner that you can make with purchased pesto if you don't have any in the freezer.

Ingredients

  • 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!)

Instructions

  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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.)
  5. When chicken is barely cooked through, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

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.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

 
Easy Baked Pesto Chicken thumbnail photo

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 Casserole Recipes to 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.

Pinterest image of Easy Baked Pesto Chicken

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    290 Comments on “Easy Baked Pesto Chicken (Video)”

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

  2. 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

  3. 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. 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. Bless, so glad you enjoyed it!

  7. 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! 🙂

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. I am making this as I write this! Was in Dean & Deluca and needed a healthy, quick dinner recipe and this came up. Thank you!

  12. Made for dinner and fell I love. I can't believe such a simple chicken recipe tastes so delicious. I'd eat this even if I were not on South Beach. Thanks, Kayln!

  13. Mel, so glad you enjoyed it!

  14. I made this last night…it was amazing. I can't wait to try making my own pesto now!

  15. So glad you enjoyed it. I do love the homemade pesto with some lemon. Ginger might be good too.

  16. Made this last night and everyone was so impressed. The pesto is so much better than store bought. So much great flavors. The lemon is truly the kicker. I wonder how it would taste with a lil ginger.

  17. I chose South Beach to manage my weight so I would not have to count carbs, points, calories, or fat grams, so I don't have that information.

  18. How many carbs are in this yummy recipe?

  19. Sounds delicious!!! Definitely gonna try it soon! I'll let you know how it goes!

  20. Cheryl, I'm sure Parmesan will work.

    Kristen, so glad you are enjoying the recipes.