Quick and easy, Baked Pesto Chicken is the ultimate “win-win” dinner recipe! Ready in 30 minutes or less, this oven-baked dish is flavor-packed and one that you will want to add to your list of “go-to” healthy, and delicious recipes.
Just four ingredients not counting salt and pepper; tender, juicy chicken breasts, covered with layers of basil pesto, sliced, fresh roasted tomatoes, and melted mozzarella cheese… What’s not to love?
Why you will love this recipe:
- Baked pesto chicken is quick and easy to prepare.
- It makes an excellent weeknight dinner for your family when you are pressed for time, and it is also is nice enough to serve to guests at a dinner party.
- You can make it ahead by assembling everything an hour or so ahead of time, and then just pop it in the oven right before you are ready to serve it. No standing over a hot stove and babysitting a dish. You can relax and enjoy the evening, while your oven does its magic.
- It’s relatively low in calories and carbohydrates.
Here’s what you will need to make this recipe:
You will need: purchased or homemade pesto, boneless skinless chicken breasts, Roma tomatoes, shredded mozzarella cheese, and kosher salt and pepper.
Here’s how to make it:
To begin, gather your ingredients and preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Spray a rimmed baking sheet lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Place the breasts on it and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Top the breasts with a generous amount of pesto and make sure all surface areas are covered.
Top with the grated mozzarella cheese and make sure to completely cover the top of the breast.
Top each breast with 2-3 tomato slices.
How long to bake?
Bake the breasts at 400 degrees F. for approximately 18-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees F.
Use a meat thermometer and start checking the breasts by placing it in the thickest part of the meat at 18 minutes and check every minute after that. If you overcook them, they will be tough!
(I like to remove the pan from the oven when the temperature reads around 160-162°F. The temperature will continue to climb to 165 degrees while resting.)
Let the breasts rest for a few minutes and, if desired, garnish with a little fresh basil. Serve immediately.
What to serve with it:
This recipe goes well with simple sides like my Broccoli Slaw with Ramen Noodles, Fresh Field Peas, Southern Squash Casserole, Twice Baked Potatoes, or my Rustic Mashed Potatoes. A nice side salad like my Brussels Sprout Salad, Easy Southern Corn Salad or Panzanella Salad would round things out nicely.
If you want to keep things low carb, you might want to serve it with roasted cauliflower or mushrooms, or maybe steamed broccoli.
Leftovers and storage:
Leftovers should be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to four days. I usually like to sprinkle a few drops of water on mine and heat up in the microwave for 45-60 seconds before serving.
If you like this recipe, I think you might also like these quick and easy chicken entrées: Bacon, Mushroom and Thyme Chicken, Lemon Butter Chicken, Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Divan, Savory Chicken Crepes with Mushrooms, Chicken Pesto Pasta, and Lemon Chicken.
Need more ideas, check out all of my chicken recipes here.
I have listed a wide range in cooking times because of the wide range in the thickness of chicken breasts. If your breasts are thicker than one-half inch they will take longer to cook.
I like to remove the chicken from the oven when the temperature reads around 160-162°F. The temperature will continue to climb to 165 degrees while resting.
Chicken breasts are so large these days (mine were seven ounces each), I usually buy two for this recipe and then slice them in half horizontally. This yields four pieces that are about one half of an inch thick.
If your breasts are thicker, you will need to pound them until they are the proper thickness. To do this, place one breast in a plastic storage bag and seal after removing as much air as possible. Then take a meat mallet or rolling pin and gently pound the meat until it is one-half inch thick. Repeat as needed.
When I have it I like to use my homemade basil pesto; refrigerated pesto is the next best thing, with jarred pesto coming in third. Jarred pesto still works and I have made this recipe with it plenty of times and it is still delicious.
You can save on clean-up by lining your baking sheet with aluminum foil or a sheet of parchment paper before adding the chicken.
If you are a fan of dark meat, swap out the breasts with boneless, skinless thighs.
This recipe calls for Roma tomatoes and I think they work the best because they are not quite as juicy as other varieties. However, feel free to substitute whatever kind of tomatoes you have on hand, even cherry tomatoes work.
Basil pesto is a versatile condiment and I usually always have a jar in my pantry. Try mixing it with pasta, adding it to mayonnaise to make basil pesto aioli or a homemade salad dressing, or use it instead of pizza sauce to top a homemade pizza. It’s full of flavor and can be a lifesaver in the kitchen.
Don’t be shocked if you see a bunch of oil at the bottom of your pan after cooking the chicken. This is merely the olive oil from the pesto and won’t hurt anything.
★ If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and give it a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thank you so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones. I hope you come back soon!
Easy Baked Pesto Chicken Recipe
- 4 chicken breasts 1/2 inch thick, boneless and skinless
- 7 ounces refrigerated pesto or jarred
- 3-4 Roma tomatoes small, sliced
- 1.33 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- To begin, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Spray a rimmed baking sheet lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Place the chicken breasts on it and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Top the chicken with about two heaping tablespoons of pesto and spread out evenly. Make sure all surface areas are covered.
- Top the pesto with about 1/3 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese and spread out evenly.
- Top each breast with 2 to 3 of the tomato slices and season the tomatoes with the remaining salt and pepper.
- Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 18-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees.
**This recipe was originally published on February 17, 2016. Republished on September 5, 2020, with new photos and expanded directions and tips.