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This baked pesto chicken recipe is one of my oldest last-minute lazy chicken dinners, I’m surprised I haven’t shared it with you yet! It only takes about 5 minutes to prep, it’s loaded with fresh and simple ingredients (chicken breast, basil pesto, mozzarella, tomatoes!), and it’s a crowd pleaser for kids and adults alike. Try it once, and I’m pretty sure this basil pesto chicken breast will be a go-to meal in your family too, especially in the summer months when there’s so much basil everywhere.
I make my pesto mozzarella chicken with chicken breast, but you can also use chicken thighs if that’s what you have around. I also love making pesto salmon — it’s just as easy, and uses the same method and ingredients, minus the mozzarella.
What Is Pesto Chicken?
This healthy chicken pesto recipe features chicken breast that’s topped with pesto sauce, mozzarella cheese, and tomatoes. It’s fresh and flavorful, with Italian flair.
Pesto Chicken Recipe Ingredients
This chicken with pesto and mozzarella comes together with just 5 ingredients, plus salt and pepper:
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts – Look for breasts that are about the same size so they cook evenly. I use free-range chicken from here delivered to my door.
- Basil pesto – I’ve linked to my pesto recipe, but you can also use store-bought. It’s up to you.
- Fresh mozzarella cheese – This will come in a ball or a log, and contains more moisture than “regular” semi-firm mozzarella. Regular shredded or sliced mozzarella does work as well, but I think it tastes better with fresh mozzarella.
- Roma tomatoes – The size of roma tomatoes works well for this dish, but you could use any slicing tomato.
- Fresh basil – Look for basil without any brown spots on it.
- Sea salt & black pepper
How To Make Pesto Chicken
Let me show you how easy it is to make chicken with pesto sauce:
- Bake chicken. Place chicken breasts into a large baking dish (this one is the perfect size and goes from oven to table beautifully!). Season both sides with salt and pepper, then spread the top with pesto sauce. Bake.
- Add toppings. Layer the mozzarella cheese and tomato slices on top of chicken and bake for another 5 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Rest. Let chicken rest (this locks in the juices) and serve with fresh basil ribbons on top.
TIP: If you prefer your chicken to be browned, you can pan sear chicken breast first in an oven safe skillet for 3-4 minutes per side (until browned but not fully cooked through). Then, add the pesto and other toppings, and transfer to the oven for 5-10 minutes until chicken is cooked and cheese is melted.
You can make this ahead, but it’s best baked fresh. If you’d like to prep some of it ahead you can:
- Make pesto (if not using store bought)
- Assemble chicken in baking dish and season and top with pesto. Wrap with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Can you freeze pesto chicken?
Yes, you can freeze baked pesto chicken for 2-3 months.
Reheat the chicken in a 350 degrees F oven if possible for the juiciest chicken, but the microwave will work as well. The toppings make a pesto chicken bake less prone to drying out than a plain chicken breast.
What To Serve With Pesto Chicken Breast
Wondering what goes well with pesto chicken? Try one of these options:
- Pasta – An Italian meal definitely makes you think of pasta. I like to use healthier versions like shirataki noodles, spaghetti squash, or zucchini noodles.
- Salads – Salad recipes such as kale crunch salad, Israeli salad, or a simple romaine salad with Caesar dressing pair very well with chicken and pesto.
- Vegetable Sides – Vegetable sides like sauteed asparagus, roasted broccoli (shown above!), or sauteed zucchini all go well with healthy basil pesto chicken breast recipes like this one. Or try this dandelion greens recipe for something a bit unusual.
Tools To Make Pesto Chicken Bake
Tap the links below to see the items used to make this recipe.
- Large Baking Dish – Serve the baked pesto chicken breast right in this baking dish, it’s functional and beautiful.
- Instant Read Meat Thermometer – This is the best way to tell if your chicken is done.
Baked Basil Pesto Chicken Recipe
Baked Basil Pesto Chicken Recipe
An easy baked basil pesto chicken recipe in just 25 minutes! Aromatic pesto, sweet tomatoes, and gooey mozzarella make pesto chicken breast juicy and flavorful.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).
Place chicken breasts into a large baking dish, with enough room to have space between them. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Spread pesto over each chicken breast.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Top the chicken with mozzarella, then tomato slices. Bake for about 5 more minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then top with fresh basil to serve.
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Serving size: 1 chicken breast
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The whole family loves this one! It’s especially delicious with broccoli or asparagus!
Katie, you’ve got that 100% correct! Parmigiano-Reggiano is awesome. And your suggestion of using Buffalo mozzarella is a great idea. Happy cooking. Joan
Almost perfect 🙂 I would just suggest to make pesto with pine nuts as in the original Italian recipe, and not add salt since both pesto and mozzarella are already salty (anyway you can always add a pinch at the end if you feel it’s lacking). I totally agree with you to prefer chicken breast because pesto and cheese are already leaving the dish, oily once cooked, so if using chicken thights it may result excessively oily and like it needes to be drained- Anyway a great simple yet comforting recipe to share with the whole family or friends also at the last moment, ready in minutes and doable again and again without getting bored (if you want a special touch sometimes you can try to use buffalo mozzarella instead of regular, if you have the occasion to find a good one from a reliable artisan that can offer you fresh and traditional products from Italy: pricey, but if you’re aiming to preparae a special dish with selected ingredients, try this, and to complethe the all recipe try to make your pesto with real Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese, you won’t be disappointed).
Yummy! This was absolutely delicious! It was easy to make and perfectly cooked. The basil, tomatoes and cheese were reminiscent of caprese salad. Loved every bite!
Now, this is a meal I could eat weekly! So much flavor & so juicy! I love pesto on so many things!
I love pesto chicken!! Pesto makes everything taste so good! This and a delicious salad makes the perfect meal!
Amy L Huntley0
Pesto Chicken is the absolute best! This chicken is so tender and flavorful! I love the nutty flavor in the pesto!
A deliciously easy weeknight meal. We will be making these again!
Fantastic flavours and the colours on this dish look amazing, the perfect summer dinner 🙂
Will be making this over the weekend, thanks for sharing !!
This looks amazing and so tasty! My family is going to love this for dinner tonight! Can’t wait to make this!
Can’t wait to try this, I know it’s going to be a hit!
What an easy fast delicious combination this may be dinner tonight!
This looks like such a delicious quick and easy dinner. I’m a huge fan of pesto, so I know I will just love this – thanks for the inspiration!