This pesto chicken recipe is seared chicken breasts topped with pesto sauce and mozzarella cheese, then baked to golden brown perfection and served with fresh tomatoes. A quick and easy dinner option that’s full of flavor.

When I’m looking for a way to dress up plain old chicken breasts, I make bacon wrapped chicken, baked chicken parmesan, or this simple yet satisfying pesto chicken.

This pesto chicken recipe is seared chicken breasts topped with pesto sauce and mozzarella cheese, then baked to golden brown perfection and served with fresh tomatoes. This pesto chicken recipe is seared chicken breasts topped with pesto sauce and mozzarella cheese, then baked to golden brown perfection and served with fresh tomatoes.

Pesto chicken in a baking dish with melted cheese and cherry tomatoes.

Pesto, tomato and cheese is a classic flavor combination that never goes out of style. This pesto chicken combines all of these fabulous flavors in the form of a hearty dinner option that’s sure to please both kids and adults alike.

How do you make pesto chicken?

Start by searing chicken breasts in a pan until they’re golden brown. Whisk together a sauce of pesto, chicken broth, garlic and seasonings, then pour the sauce over the chicken. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, then add a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and broil until the cheese is golden brown. Add a handful of halved cherry tomatoes to the dish, then you’ll be ready to eat!

Seared chicken breasts in a pan.

Tips for the perfect chicken

  • I highly recommend browning your chicken before you place it in the pan to bake. I think it’s worth the extra time! That being said, if you’re in a big hurry you can skip this step and simply place the uncooked chicken in the pan with the sauce poured over the top.
  • Be sure to choose chicken breasts that are approximately the same size so that they cook at the same rate.  T
  • his recipe assumes that your chicken breasts are about 4-5 ounces each. If your chicken breasts are significantly larger or smaller, you may need to adjust the cook time accordingly.
  • You can check to see if your chicken is done by cutting into a breast; there should be no pink inside and the juices should run clear. Alternatively, you can use a thermometer. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast needs to register at least 165 degrees F.
  • You can make your own pesto, or use a store bought version. When I’m short on time, I use store bought pesto. Look for pesto in the refrigerator area along with the fresh ravioli and pasta. Some of my favorite brands of pesto include Kirkland (Costco) and Three Bridges.
  • You can use fresh mozzarella or  part-skim mozzarella, either one will be delicious.
  • I like to use cherry tomatoes, but grape tomatoes or diced roma tomatoes will also work just fine.

Chicken breasts covered in a pesto sauce.

How to make pesto

To make your own pesto for this recipe, place 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts in a food processor along with 1 teaspoon chopped garlic and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Pulse the ingredients until finely ground. Add 3 cups of fresh basil leaves to the food processor along with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the food processor on and slowly pour in 1/2 cup olive oil. Blend until a smooth sauce forms.

Baked chicken in basil sauce topped with shredded cheese.

Recipe Variations

I love this recipe as-is, but you can add other ingredients if you prefer to switch things up a bit.

  • Veggies: Add some raw vegetables to your baking dish to cook along with the chicken. Some of my favorites include green beans, asparagus, mushrooms or zucchini.
  • Cheese: Swap out the mozzarella for a different cheese such as fontina or provolone.
  • Flavorings: Amp up the flavor with a sprinkling of sliced olives, buttered breadcrumbs or sun dried tomatoes.

What sides go with pesto chicken?

This dish is perfect with a side of pasta tossed in butter or olive oil. You can also serve your pesto chicken over rice or mashed potatoes with great results. I also always serve a green vegetable, such as asparagus, green beans or broccoli.

A plate of pesto chicken served with green beans.

Pesto chicken is simple to make, yet packs big bold flavors. You’ll feel like you’re eating at a restaurant when you savor this dish!

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Pesto Chicken Video

5 from 16 votes

Pesto Chicken

AuthorSara Welch
Pesto chicken in a baking dish with melted cheese and cherry tomatoes.
This pesto chicken recipe is seared chicken breasts topped with pesto sauce and mozzarella cheese, then baked to golden brown perfection and served with fresh tomatoes. A quick and easy dinner option that's full of flavor.
Time
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Serves 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts approximately 4 medium sized breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley can also use fresh basil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • cooking spray
  • fresh basil or parsley sprigs for garnish optional

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Season the chicken breasts generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side or until browned.
  • Transfer the chicken to a baking dish coated with cooking spray. 
  • In a small bowl, mix together the butter, garlic, chicken broth, pesto and lemon juice. Pour the mixture over the chicken.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Bake time may vary depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts. The chicken is done when it reads at least 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer.
  • Sprinkle the cheese over the chicken. Set the oven to broil and cook for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and arrange the tomatoes in the dish. Serve, garnished with basil or parsley if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 271kcal | Protein: 30g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 293mg | Potassium: 536mg | Vitamin A: 305IU | Vitamin C: 5.6mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 0.7mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious ! I absolutely loved the pesto chicken! Such an easy recipe to follow! amazing taste one of my favorite recipes from this website

  2. 5 stars
    Tried this today, everyone loved it! I halved and threw the cherry tomatoes in to bake with the chicken and everything was so unbelievably wonderful! Will make again for SURE!

    1. 5 stars
      Hello dear
      My name Ina Montgomery
      I just start using your recipes I have four young grandchildren they parents are very busy so I cook for them everyday
      Your recipes been life saver for me they quick fast and unbelievably delicious
      Need more recipes thank you so much
      May God bless you and your family

  3. 5 stars
    This is a simple and super-flavorful dish! It’s amazing what pesto can bring to so many dishes – such big flavor!