Bright and summery baked pesto chicken is a fabulous weeknight (or weekend) meal! It’s super simple yet flavor-packed, and only takes 10 minutes to prepare before it goes in the oven. Plus, it’s naturally gluten-free.
It’s especially delicious served with caprese salad with fresh basil, but would be great with quinoa, pasta, green salads – anything, really!
Roasted Chicken with Homemade Pesto Sauce
This oven baked chicken recipe is a perfect one to keep in your back pocket for busy weeknights. It doesn’t require a lot of ingredients or prep time, and it’s extremely versatile.
I love being able to just brush some sauce over chicken and toss it in the oven to bake. It’s such a simple way to prepare it, and it comes out deliciously.
(Use an in-oven/oven-safe meat thermometer to you know exactly when to take it out of the oven – this ensures it doesn’t get overcooked or dry out!)
The homemade pesto sauce is really simple, too. All you have to do is toss some ingredients into a food processor and whirl away. But, you can definitely use store-bought pesto if you prefer, or to save time.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy baked chicken recipe:
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs (You can also use bone-in, skin-on chicken, but you’ll just need to cook the chicken 5-10 minutes longer.)
- fresh basil
- pine nuts
- grated parmesan
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
Plus, whatever you want to serve with your pesto baked chicken! I’ll share some inspiration for side dishes later in this post.
Hot tip: make extra pesto to save for later, then use it for this veggie pesto pasta or this pesto baked salmon!
How to Make Baked Pesto Chicken
To make this baked pesto chicken, first you need to make the basil pesto sauce. Fortunately, it’s super quick and easy! (You can skip this step if you’re using store-bought pesto.)
Add fresh basil, pine nuts, grated parmesan, and garlic to a food processor. Then, pulse until the mixture begins to resemble a paste-like texture.
While continuing to run the food processor, pour in olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Next, place chicken in a large bowl or a zip-able plastic bag. Season with salt & pepper. Then, add 1/2 cup of the pesto and toss the chicken to coat. (Keep the rest of the pesto for serving over the chicken once it’s cooked, or save it for another dish.)
Place the pesto coated chicken on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Be sure to arrange it in a single layer, so the chicken pieces don’t touch.
Bake the chicken at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. (It should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the largest piece.)
Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then serve with the rest of the pesto sauce (and your desired sides)!
What to Serve With Pesto Chicken
This is a super versatile main dish that can be served with practically anything! Here are some side dish ideas for inspiration:
- Seasoned Sweet Potato Fries (Baked)
- Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Sauteed String Beans with Garlic & Lemon
- Lemony Quinoa Salad with Spinach
- Oven Roasted Zucchini and Squash
To store this baked chicken with pesto, first let it cool completely. Then, place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
What type of chicken should I use?
I recommend using boneless, skinless chicken because it will cook more quickly, and will be easier to dice up for use in salads, pasta, etc.
Bone-in, skin-on chicken can also be used, but the cooking time will be about 5-10 minutes longer.
Can you freeze homemade pesto?
Yes, homemade pesto freezes well! I highly recommend freezing the pesto in an ice cube tray (so you can freeze it in portions, rather than in one large block).
Once frozen, remove the cubes and place into a freezer-safe container to store for later.
Can I use store-bought pesto?
Yes! You can use store-bought pesto in this recipe. Just substitute 1/2 cup store-bought pesto for the homemade pesto.
I find that the homemade pesto tastes a little fresher/herbier and is brighter green, but store-bought pesto is a great shortcut.
I hope you get a chance to try this easy, tasty dish! The full baked pesto chicken recipe is at the end of this post. Enjoy!
More chicken recipes to try:
- BBQ Chicken Sliders with Coleslaw
- Crock Pot Chicken Enchiladas Verde
- Baked Curry Chicken with Maple
- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
- Slow Cooker Chicken Drumsticks (Honey Mustard)
Baked Pesto Chicken
Bright and summery baked pesto chicken is a fabulous weeknight (or weekend) meal! It's super simple, quick to make, and packed with flavor.
for the pesto:
- 2 packed cups fresh basil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
for the chicken:
- 1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (or a mix)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- To make the pesto, combine the basil, pine nuts, parmesan, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and begin to turn into a paste. With the food processor running, stream in the olive oil until the pesto is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- To make the chicken, place the chicken in a bowl or ziploc bag with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup of the pesto (reserve the rest for serving or for another purpose) and massage to coat the chicken with the pesto.
- Arrange the chicken on the prepared sheet pan and bake until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, 20-30 minutes depending on the chicken cut and size.
- Let sit for 5 minutes before serving with the remaining pesto.