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Pesto Chicken


posted: 01/21/23

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

Pesto Chicken is an easy four ingredient dinner that comes together in a snap. Serve it with a salad to keep it low carb, or serve it over angel hair pasta.

overhead picture of a baking dish full of pesto chicken

If you are on the prowl for more easy dinners that are low carb, I have one I think you are going to love. This Pesto Chicken is prepped in minutes and only has four ingredients. Best of all, it is full of delicious flavor that will make it a hit with everyone.

If you love the idea of this, but know that your family is full of carb lovers, you might want to make my Chicken Pesto Pasta instead!

How to Make Pesto Chicken

This is a brief overview of how to make this recipe. For the full recipe with all the measurements, please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Cut the chicken into cutlets. Read more on this below.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Top the chicken. Add a tablespoon of pesto to each chicken breast, then cherry tomato halves, and some shredded mozzarella.
  4. Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes. Pop the baking dish under the broiler at the end if you’d like.

How to Make Chicken Cutlets

Chicken breasts come so huge these days. Usually two breasts on their own will be more than a pound. So for this recipe, we are going to cut them into cutlets. It cuts down on baking time a bit, and it makes serving it more manageable.

  1. Use a really sharp knife.
  2. Place one hand on top of the chicken breast.
  3. Carefully cut the chicken like you are going to butterfly it open, but instead cut all the way through.

While it is possible to just buy chicken cutlets, they are certainly easy enough to cut at home. If you would like to see this in action in video form, you can see it in my Chicken Marsala post.

Pesto Sauce

If you aren’t familiar with Pesto Sauce it is the combination of basil, oil, Parmesan, and pine nuts. If you grow your own basil, this is a great way to use it. I love using pesto in so many different ways and it is the star of the show in this pesto chicken bake.

If you aren’t able to make your own, there are a lot of great brands on the market. I used Progresso’s Pesto in this recipe and it was delicious. Keep in mind that the pesto you use can change the amount of liquid in your baking dish at the end.

If there is a lot of liquid, don’t worry about it too much, it won’t change the flavor of the dish.

Shredding Mozzarella for Pesto Chicken

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you for this chicken pesto recipe is to shred your own cheese for it. Additionally, because we are using so few ingredients, I suggest buying a high quality cheese. It stands out as a main ingredient, so you want it to be good.

Pre-shredded cheese, while convenient, is coated in preservatives that keep it from clumping together in it’s packaging at the grocery store. In addition to keeping it from clumping together, it keeps it from melting well.

Shredding your own cheese for dishes where melting is a key part of the dish is one way to take your cooking up a notch. The extra five minutes that you will spend shredding cheese (even less for this recipe) is well worth it.

Cooking Temperature for Chicken

Chicken needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. It is best when it just hits this point and doesn’t cook much longer. This will keep the chicken from drying out. Because the size of chicken varies, so does the cooking time. I love using an instant read thermometer that can be left in the chicken so I can pull it out of the oven when it hits 165 degrees.


Instant Read Thermometer

This amazing thermometer can be left in the meat while it is in the oven. I use it in so many of my recipes!
Product Image
pesto chicken recipe on top of a bed of angel hair pasta

Substitutions and Variations

While I love this recipe just as written, there are a few ways to spin this great easy recipe.

  • If you have someone in your house who doesn’t like tomatoes, you can swap the tomatoes for roasted red peppers.
  • If you are using roasted red peppers instead of tomatoes, you can swap the Pesto for spaghetti sauce.
  • You could add little feta or Parmesan cheese on top of the mozzarella for another burst of flavor.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Leftover Pesto Chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days in an airtight container. As with all recipes, use your best discretion when it comes to leftovers.

Reheat the leftovers in a covered baking dish in the oven. Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes or until the chicken is warmed through.

close up of a piece of chicken pesto topped with cherry tomato halves, melted cheese, and parsley

What to Serve with Pesto Chicken

As mentioned above, this recipe is delicious over angel hair pasta. But if you are trying to keep things low carb, here are a few other options to add to your plate:

If you make this Chicken Pesto recipe, or any of my other recipes, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

overhead picture of a baking dish full of pesto chicken
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Pesto Chicken

Serves: 4 servings
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Pesto Chicken is an easy four ingredient dinner that comes together in a snap. Serve it with a salad to keep it low carb, or serve it over angel hair pasta.


  • 1 pound chicken cut into cutlets (see photos in the post)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Add the chicken to the baking dish and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Top each cutlet with 1 tablespoon of pesto.
  • Top the chicken with the cherry tomtaoes, and then cover in the mozzarella cheese. Cover the baking dish in foil.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the chicken registers 165 degrees. Optional: turn on the broiler and watching closely, cook just into the cheese begins to brown. (Please note that the brand of Pesto you use will change the amount of liquid in the baking dish at the end. That being said, a lot of liquid will not change the quality of the dish – it will still taste great!)
Serving: 1cutlet Calories: 280kcal (14%) Carbohydrates: 3g (1%) Protein: 31g (62%) Fat: 15g (23%) Saturated Fat: 5g (31%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 96mg (32%) Sodium: 1037mg (45%) Potassium: 522mg (15%) Fiber: 1g (4%) Sugar: 2g (2%) Vitamin A: 718IU (14%) Vitamin C: 10mg (12%) Calcium: 176mg (18%) Iron: 1mg (6%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
overhead picture of a baking dish full of pesto chicken

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Pesto Chicken

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners