Easy Baked Pesto Chicken

This Easy Baked Pesto Chicken is a tasty dinner that you can make with purchased pesto if you don’t have any in the freezer. This recipe is low-carb, Keto, gluten-free, low-glycemic, and South Beach Diet friendly; use the Recipes-by-Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

When I first made this Easy Baked Pesto Chicken back in 2010,  I’m not sure I ever imagined it would become one of the most popular recipes on the blog.  But now it’s been pinned 625K+ times and the recipe has been viewed 2.5 Million times! So when I decided recently I wanted to update the photos I decided I would keep the original photo below close to the top of the post so people would recognize it.

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

I for the inspiration for Easy Baked Pesto Chicken when I was looking in The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook for a recipe my friend Bonnie had recommended. That happened to be in the summer, and when it’s summertime at my house there’s fresh basil on the counter, I’m freezing basil for winter, and I’m making Basil Pesto with Lemon, so it’s not really surprising that a recipe using pesto would catch my eye.

If you don’t have any basil growing, you can certainly make this ultra-easy main dish with purchased basil pesto, which is what the recipe in the book called for. If you have more fresh basil, or more basil pesto left in your jar after you make this, look after the recipe for some other ideas using pesto.

And here’s a fun little story about this recipe. Late last year I started working out with a fantastic trainer named Wendy. Then one time when I showed up at the gym she told me she had gone to get the recipe for her kids’ favorite chicken dish, and it turned out to be a recipe from my blog! So just in case you’re wondering if this can be kid-friendly, Wendy says her kids love Pesto Chicken and gobble it up for dinner. (She serves it with pasta for the kids, but I’d serve with Cauliflower Rice for a tasty low-carb meal.)

If you want to skip the photos below and watch a video instead, here is a video of how to make this recipe. See more recipe videos on My You Tube Channel.

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com
Trim the boneless-skinless chicken breasts and cut into lenghthwise strips. (I save all the chicken scraps in the freezer and use them to make homemade chicken stock.) Spray the casserole dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup of basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay the chicken strips over the pesto and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Spread another 1/4 cup of basil pesto over the chicken strips.

Cover the dish with foil and then bake at 375F/190C for 25-30 minutes, or just until the chicken is barely cooked through. (Don’t cook too long at this stage, or the chicken will be overcooked when the cheese is melted and browned.)

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com
When chicken is barely cooked through, sprinkle 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese (or a little more if you like it cheesy) over the top and bake about 5 minutes more, or until the cheese is melted. (If your broiler is separate from the oven, start preheating it at this point.) 

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com
I wanted the cheese to be lightly browned, so after 5 minutes I switched to broil for about 5 minutes, just long enough to get some color on the cheese. Serve hot, maybe with rice or Cauliflower Rice to cover with some of the delicious juice in the bottom of the dish.

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken
(Makes 4 servings, recipe adapted slightly from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook.)

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
1/2 cup basil pesto (I used my homemade Basil Pesto with Lemon, but you can use purchased basil pesto.)
2 oz. (1/2 cup) grated low-fat mozzarella cheese (or more if you like it cheesy!)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken pieces, then cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces. (I cut the larger ones into 3 strips and the smaller ones into 2 strips.)

Spray a 9″ x 12″ (or 8.5″ X 12.5″) baking dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay chicken strips over the pesto, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken. (I used a rubber scraper to spread the pesto in the dish and over the chicken.) 

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (or use a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid) and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, just until chicken is barely firm and cooked through. (Don’t cook too much at this point, or the chicken will be overcooked by the time the cheese is melted and browned.)

When chicken is barely cooked through, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese. Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted. (If your broiler is separate from the oven, start preheating it when you take the chicken out.) After I melted the cheese for 5 minutes I switched my oven to broil and broiled for 5 minutes more, just long enough to get the cheese lightly browned.

Serve hot. There will be some flavorful juice in the bottom of the dish when this is done, so you may want to serve with rice, Cauliflower Rice, or quinoa to soak up the juice.

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Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:

This easy chicken dish would be suitable for any phase of the South Beach Diet, or any other type of low-carb or low-glycemic eating plan. It would be recommended to use low-fat mozzarella for South Beach, since pesto is relatively high in fat. For other low-carb eating plans, full-fat mozzarella would be preferred.

Find More Recipes Like This One:

Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Nutritional Information?

If you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. Or if you’re a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.

More Recipe Ideas Using Basil Pesto:
Basil Pesto with Lemon and Ten Ideas for Using Basil Pesto from Kalyn’s Kitchen

5 Easy Ways to Use Basil Pesto from Kitchen Gadget Girl Cooks

Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Pesto Yogurt Dip ~ Melanie Makes

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken found on KalynsKitchen.com

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215 comments on “Easy Baked Pesto Chicken”

  1. I can't wait to try your recipe looks amazing! Also included you in my weekly meal plan this week. http://www.sassymomsinthecity.com/real-food-recipes-round-up-july-21/

  2. I tried this tonight and OMG yum, one of my new faves for sure! My fiance noted that it's be yummy with some artichoke hearts over angelhair pasta.Thanks for the recipe!!

  3. Michelle, so glad you liked it. And I think the idea of artichoke hearts sounds great!

  4. One of our go to dinners! We just love it and SO MANY MORE of your recipes. You're the best and your site is great! Thanks for sharing with us 🙂

  5. I'm making this for company tonight – and I thought with all the fresh tomatoes available now, I would put some sliced tomatoes on the chicken before I put on the cheese!

  6. How would I reheat the leftovers?

  7. I'm not sure I have reheated it; I don't know if I've ever had leftovers. But I would probably use a a microwave. If that's not an option I'd reheat in the oven in a dish tightly covered with foil.

  8. I used 3.3 pounds of chicken because I didn't find any notice of a minimum or maximum amount of chicken to use. I just now popped the dish in the oven for 30 minutes, so I can't report how 3.3 pounds works! I gave the dish only slightly more than 1/2 cup of pesto.

    Could you please supply a minimum or maximum amount of chicken to use in this recipe? If you recommend heavier or lighter doses of pesto and/or different cooking times in certain circumstances, I'd appreciate knowing that, too.

    Thanks very much, and Happy New Year!

    • As you can see from the comments hundreds of people have made this with no problem and there is a photo of the cut chicken and every step of the recipe. I think it's a personal preference how much pesto/chicken to use. I don't have any more information to share. I don't weigh the chicken after I cut it it up.

  9. Made these last night, and all I can say is How easy and good they were. I used Barrilla basil pesto and added extra cheese. Served over brown rice. Def. a keeper

  10. Do you have the nutritional information?

    • For a variety of reasons I don't calculate nutritional info, but if you look after the recipe I have suggestions for two ways to get it. (I have been adding that to my newer recipes but didn't realize this one didn't have it, so thanks for asking.)

  11. Yummy! Thank you share best receipt!

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