Pesto Chicken

PESTO CHICKEN BAKED WITH TOMATOES AND GREEN BEANS FOR A FLAVOR BURSTING MEAL-IN-ONE!

This Pesto Chicken Bake is an easy one-pan-meal OR you can just bake the pesto chicken sans veggies – either way, this Pesto Chicken is destined to become a go-to dinner favorite!  The chicken breasts are smothered in basil pesto sauce and seasonings then lined on top of green beans and tomatoes that all baked in ONE PAN. The chicken is finished off with ooey gooey mozzarella cheese (as much or as little as you like) because pesto chicken and mozzarella are sublime together. You can serve the Pesto Chicken Bake as is, or with pasta, rice or mashed potatoes. You can prep the entire dinner ahead of time then refrigerate and bake when ready – ideal for all those busy nights! 

top view of pesto chicken bake in a 9x13 with totmatoes

PIN THIS RECIPE TO SAVE FOR LATER

Pesto Chicken Recipe

This Pesto Chicken Bake is based off of my Honey Mustard Chicken that all bakes in one pan with potatoes and green beans.  That chicken dinner was an instant personal favorite and readers favorite so I’m back doing it again with Pesto Chicken with tomatoes and green beans – you just can’t beat the ease of cooking your protein and veggies/sides in one pan!

More reasons to love Pesto Chicken Bake:

  • Pantry friendly.  This easy Pesto Chicken uses only a handful of pantry friendly ingredients:  chicken, pesto, mozzarella, seasonings and veggies to deliver a one pan explosion of YUM! 
  • Easy.  It also boasts minimal prep – stir pesto with seasonings, coat chicken and line on top of veggies – done!
  • Versatile.  if you don’t have green beans or tomatoes on hand, or would rather serve your Pesto Chicken with something else, you can skip the vegetables entirely and just bake the Pesto Chicken OR swap the veggies for your favs.
  • Flavorful.  The chicken is enveloped in aromatic pesto bursting with basil and garlic as well as additional seasoning to amp up the flavor.  Furthermore, the green beans are tossed with salt and pepper then seep up the drippings of the succulent pesto chicken as it bakes for the most tantalizing green beans you ever did taste.  Finally, the tomatoes bake to juicy, sweet perfection that deliver bursts of bliss with each bite – my fav!
  • Make ahead.  You can assemble the Pesto Chicken Bake earlier in the day, cover with foil and refrigerate then bake when it’s “go” time for a stress-free delicious one pan win.  

What Chicken is Best for Pesto Chicken recipe?

You can use any cut of chicken for this recipe (skin removed) and adjust the baking time as needed (instructions below).  If using chicken breasts (as pictured), you will want to use chicken breast fillets or very small chicken breasts, pounded thin otherwise it will not bake in the allotted time and the tomatoes and green beans will be overcooked by the time your chicken is done cooking.

Chicken breasts fillets are half of a chicken breast cut through the equator.  You can purchase them at any grocery store, Costco or make your own using two chicken breasts (that’s what I did here).

serving pesto chicken bake with mozzarella cheese

WHAT PESTO IS BEST FOR PESTO CHICKEN Bake?

Part of the tasty beauty of this Pesto Chicken Bake is its simplicity and quick preparation. For these reasons, I usually opt for store-bought basil pesto.  Just keep a jar of pesto in your refrigerator and you’re good to go!

How to Make Homemade Pesto

That being said, if you would like to make/use your own pesto – go for it! You can use your favorite recipe, or this simple one:

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese or Parmesan (about 2 oz.)
  • Add basil and pine to food processor and pulse a several times.
  • Add garlic and cheese and pulse several times until all the ingredients are finely chopped, pausing and scraping down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula as needed.
  • While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream.  It is important to add the oil while the processor is running, because this helps it emulsify and help prevent the oil from separating.
  • Stir in salt and pepper to taste.  I usually use about ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. 

STORAGE

  • FRIDGE: Homemade pesto should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When stored correctly, it should last about one week.
  • FREEZER:  Homemade pesto can also be stored in an airtight freezer-safe container and frozen for about 6 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Pesto Variations

Instead of basil pesto, feel free to use ANY pesto recipe – store bought or homemade, adjusting the seasonings in the recipe as needed.

serving basil pesto chicken with melted mozzarella cheese

HOW DO YOU MAKE PESTO CHICKEN?

You can bake the Basil Pesto Chicken and omit the green beans and tomatoes if you prefer, skipping step 2 or follow the instructions as outlined for chicken and veggies:

Step 1:  Chicken

Whisk pesto, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika together in a large bowl.  Add chicken and stir to evenly coat. Let chicken rest while you prep green beans and tomatoes (preferably 20-30 minutes) or cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours.  

showing how to make pesto chicken by mixing chicken with pesto and seasonings

Step 2:  Veggies

Transfer beans to a 9×13 baking dish and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon pesto, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Line green beans down the center of the pan, leaving room on both sides to add the tomatoes later.

showing how to make pesto chicken by mixing green beans with pesto, olive oil, salt and pepper

While tomatoes are still on the cutting board, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ⅛ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Reserve for later.

showing how to make pesto chicken recipe by tossing tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper

Step 3:  Bake

Line chicken on top of green beans and spoon over any remaining pesto sauce from the bowl.Cover pan with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

showing how to make pesto chicken bake by adding chicken on top of green beans

Step 4:  Add tomatoes

Uncover the baking dish and line tomatoes on each side of chicken.  Cover and bake an additional 15-30 minutes (an instant read thermometer should register 160 degrees F, and will reach 165 when we cook it with the cheese.)  Cooking time may be more or less depending on thickness of chicken.

showing how to make pesto chicken recipe by lining tomatoes on sides of tomatoes

Step 5:  Add cheese

Top chicken evenly with mozzarella cheese and bake, uncovered, for 3 minutes or until melted.

showing how to make pesto chicken bake by adding cheese on top of chicken

Step 6: Rest

Let chicken rest 5-10 minutes before slicing so the juices that have been pushed to the outside of the chicken while baking can be redistributed and reabsorbed.

showing how to make pesto chicken bake recipe by letting chicken rest before slicing

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BAKE CHICKEN?

This Pesto Chicken Bake takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes to bake depending on the size and thickness of your chicken breasts.  I’ve made it multiple times and each time the chicken required a different baking time.

I highly recommend investing in a meat thermometer otherwise there is no accurate way to check and see when your chicken is cooked without slicing it open and loosing valuable juices.

When checking the temperature of the chicken, make sure you insert the thermometer at the thickest part of the meat.  The safe internal temperature for cooked chicken breasts is 165 degrees F, so I usually bake it to 160 because it will continue to bake after you add the cheese and it rests, bringing it to the safe temperature of 165 degrees F.

HOW DO YOU MAKE PESTO CHICKEN THIGHS?

I chose boneless, skinless chicken breasts because they are leaner but still emerge juicy from being enveloped with pesto but you are welcome to use chicken thighs if you prefer. 

To make Pesto Chicken with chicken thighs, you can use either bone in, or boneless chicken thighs, but be sure to remove the skin otherwise the chicken and veggies will be swimming in grease.  I also recommend searing the chicken thighs before adding them to the green beans to render some of the fat and to give the chicken even more flavor.

Pesto Chicken Thighs, Bone In: 

  1. Remove skin from chicken thighs.
  2. Sear chicken for 3-5 minutes per side until golden.
  3. Coat with pesto sauce.
  4. Line chicken thighs on top of green beans (don’t add tomatoes yet).
  5. Cover and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. 
  6. Remove chicken from oven, line tomatoes on each side of chicken, cover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Check for doneness then continue to bake an additional 10-15 minutes if needed or until chicken is cooked through and registers 175 degrees F.
  7. When chicken done, top evenly with mozzarella cheese and bake, uncovered, for 3 minutes or until melted.

Pesto Chicken Thighs, Boneless 

  1. Line green beans down the middle of the 9×13 baking dish according to recipe directions.  Bake for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sear chicken for 3-5 minutes per side until golden.
  3. Coat chicken with pesto sauce.
  4. Line chicken thighs on top of green beans. Line tomatoes on the sides of the green beans.
  5. Cover and bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, remove foil and check for doneness.   Continue to bake an additional 5-10 minutes if needed OR until cooked through.
  6. When chicken done, top evenly with mozzarella cheese and bake, uncovered, for 3 minutes or until melted.

HOW DO YOU MAKE GRILLED PESTO CHICKEN?

This Pesto Chicken is so tantalizing you are going to want to make it in every form!  To make Grilled Pesto Chicken:

  • Grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 400°F.
  • Coat chicken breasts in pesto sauce ingredients per directions.
  • Grill chicken over direct heat undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F). Add cheese the last few minutes of grilling to melt.
  • Let chicken rest 5 minutes before chopping or slicing.
easy pesto chicken bake with chicken lined up in a 9x13 baking dish with mozzarella cheese, green beans and tomatoes

WHAT SIDE DISHES GO WITH PESTO CHICKEN?

This Pesto Chicken already boasts yummy veggies, but I like to also serve it with a salad, fruit and grain/pasta.

Classic Side Dishes:

Pesto Chicken goes well stirred into or on top of:

More Yummy Sides:

Is pesto chicken healthy?

Chicken is a heart-healthy lean protein.  Pesto contains fresh herbs, nuts, and heart-healthy olive oil, however, due to the large amount of olive oil, it should be used in moderation. This Pesto Chicken recipe only uses ½ cup pesto which comes out to 2 tablespoons pesto per chicken breast – a win in my book.

Can I freeze Pesto Chicken?

You can freeze the pesto chicken but I would not freeze it with the veggies as they can become an unpleasant texture. 

To freeze, coat chicken in pesto sauce per directions and transfer to a freezer safe airtight container for up to 3 months.  Thaw chicken overnight then proceed to bake chicken or add veggies and bake chicken per recipe.  

two hands holding a white bowl with best pesto chicken recipe

How Can I use Leftover Pesto Chicken?

I love serving leftover pesto chicken just with some rice, but the possibilities are endless!  Here are some ideas to use leftover pesto chicken, but don’t limit yourself to these ideas alone!

  • Pesto Chicken Pasta.  Stir chopped pesto chicken into any of your favorite pasta recipes such as fettuccine Alfredo or Sun-Dried Tomato Fettuccine or make your own chicken pasta.  To make pesto chicken pasta, add chicken to warm pasta along with your favorite veggies.  Add some reserved pasta water to thin out the pasta or add additional pesto or make it creamy with heavy cream.  Add desired amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Pesto Chicken Soup. Add pesto chicken to any of your favorite soups such as Creamy Italian Soup, Minestrone Soup, Chicken Tortellini Soup, Lemon Soup, Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup etc.  You may need to adjust the seasonings in the original soup recipe because the chicken is so wonderfully flavorful.
  • Mediterranean Pesto Chicken Bowl.  Top your favorite grains (rice, couscous, quinoa etc.) with chopped pesto chicken, roasted veggies, and your favorite toppings: shredded greens, olives, pickled red onions, white beans, hummus, tzatziki, feta, harissa, etc.
  • Pesto Chicken French Bread.  Cut a loaf of French Bread in half.  Spread with a layer of pesto or pesto combined with Alfredo sauce.  Top with leftover pesto chicken, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and any other desired toppings.   Bake at 350 degrees F until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
  • White Pesto Chicken Pizza. Top store-bought or my homemade pizza dough with Alfredo sauce, mozzarella cheese, chopped up leftover chicken and favorite toppings such as sun-dried tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, tomatoes, roasted butternut squash, etc.  Bake according to pizza directions. 
  • Pesto Chicken Flatbread.  Follow the same toppings as for pizza but use your favorite flatbread. 
  • Pesto Chicken Baked Potatoes.  Bake potatoes until tender then slice open and top with mozzarella cheese.  Return to the oven to melt.  Top with chopped pesto chicken along with desired toppings such as sour cream, bacon, chives, etc. or go Mediterranean with tomatoes, olives, feta, etc.
  • Pesto Chicken Salad.  Slice the pesto chicken and serve it in a big green salad with spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, sweet corn, bell peppers and some fun fixings:  mozzarella pears, sliced almonds, garlic croutons, etc.  You can add additional oil and a splash of lemon juice to some pesto to make a pesto vinaigrette or go creamy with my Avocado Ranch.
  • Pesto Chicken Sandwiches.  Pesto chicken is already incredibly flavorful and thinly sliced so it makes the ideal chicken for sandwiches.  Place it between two toasted bus with all your favorite toppings:  red onion, lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, sprouts, etc.
  • Pesto Chicken Panini. Mix pesto and mayo or Greek yogurt together and spread on each side of sliced ciabatta bread then layer with mozzarella cheese, arugula, tomatoes, basil and sliced pesto chicken. Top chicken with bread and grill in a greased grill pan, placing a heavy pan on top of the sandwich. Grill panini for 3 minutes per side or until cheese is melted.
  • Pesto Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  Chop up the chicken and wrap it in bib lettuce with some additional pine nuts, red onion and bell peppers for a crunch and any other desired toppings such as tomatoes, olives, feta, etc. OR make it creamy by mixing the chopped chicken with a little Greek yogurt or mayo. 
  • Pesto Chicken Wraps.  Spread a light layer of pesto down the middle of a tortilla or make it creamy by mixing pesto with mayo or Greek yogurt.  Add chopped up pesto chicken and desired filling ingredients such as tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, red onion, lettuce, bacon, etc.
  • Pesto Chicken Potatoes.  Stir in chopped pesto chicken into roasted potatoes like my pesto bacon roasted potatoes recipe
  • Pesto Chicken Spinach.  Sauté some spinach and garlic and stir in chopped bail chicken.  This would also be delish with any number of vegetables.

Now you have EVERY REASON to make this pesto chicken recipe!

LOOKING FOR MORE CHICKEN RECIPES?

up close of serving pesto chicken

Want to try this Pesto Chicken RECIPE?

Pin it to your CHICKEN or DINNER Board to SAVE for later!

Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes!  I am always pinning :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Pesto Chicken

This Pesto Chicken Bake is an easy one-pan-meal OR you can just bake the pesto chicken sans veggies – either way, this Pesto Chicken is destined to become a go-to dinner favorite! The chicken breasts are smothered in basil pesto sauce and seasonings then lined on top of green beans and tomatoes that all baked in ONE PAN. The chicken is finished off with ooey gooey mozzarella cheese (as much or as little as you like) because pesto chicken and mozzarella are sublime together. You can serve the Pesto Chicken Bake as is, or with pasta, rice or mashed potatoes. You can prep the entire dinner ahead of time then refrigerate and bake when ready – ideal for all those busy nights!
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken fillets (large chicken breasts sliced through the equator)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese

Pesto Sauce

  • 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto
  • 1/2 tsp EACH salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika

Vegetables (optional)

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil divided
  • 1 tablespoon pesto
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. green beans ends trimmed
  • 1 pt cherry tomatoes halved (or whole for more firm)

Instructions

  • Whisk the pesto sauce ingredients together in a large bowl. Add chicken and stir to evenly coat. Let chicken rest while you prep green beans (instructions to follow) and tomatoes (preferably 20-30 minutes) or cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours.
  • Transfer beans to a 9x13 baking dish and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon pesto, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Line green beans down the center of the pan, leaving room on both sides to add the tomatoes later.
  • While tomatoes are still on the cutting board, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ⅛ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Reserve for later.
  • Line chicken on top of green beans and spoon over any remaining pesto sauce from the bowl.
  • Cover pan with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and line tomatoes on each side of chicken. Cover and bake an additional 15-30 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through (an instant read thermometer should register 160 degrees F, and will reach 165 after chicken bakes with cheese. Cooking time may be more or less depending on thickness of chicken).
  • Top chicken evenly with mozzarella cheese and bake, uncovered, for 3 minutes or until melted.
  • Let chicken rest 5-10 minutes before slicing chicken. Serve Pesto Chicken with pasta, rice, couscous, etc.

Notes

***See post for TONS of ways to use pesto chicken

Pesto Chicken Thighs, Bone In

  1. Remove skin from chicken thighs.
  2. Sear chicken for 3-5 minutes per side until golden.
  3. Coat with pesto sauce.
  4. Line chicken thighs on top of green beans (don’t add tomatoes yet).
  5. Cover and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. 
  6. Remove chicken from oven, line tomatoes on each side of chicken, cover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Check for doneness then continue to bake an additional 10-15 minutes if needed or until chicken is cooked through and registers 175 degrees F.
  7. When chicken done, top evenly with mozzarella cheese and bake, uncovered, for 3 minutes or until melted.

Pesto Chicken Thighs, Boneless 

  1. Line green beans down the middle of the 9x13 baking dish according to recipe directions.  Bake for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sear chicken for 3-5 minutes per side until golden.
  3. Coat chicken with pesto sauce.
  4. Line chicken thighs on top of green beans. Line tomatoes on the sides of the green beans.
  5. Cover and bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, remove foil and check for doneness.   Continue to bake an additional 5-10 minutes if needed OR until cooked through.
  6. When chicken done, top evenly with mozzarella cheese and bake, uncovered, for 3 minutes or until melted.

GRILLED PESTO CHICKEN

This Pesto Chicken is so tantalizing you are going to want
to make it in every form!  To make Grilled Pesto Chicken:
  • Grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 400°F.
  • Coat chicken breasts in pesto sauce ingredients per directions.
  • Grill chicken over direct heat undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F). Add cheese the last few minutes of grilling to melt.
  • Let chicken rest 5 minutes before chopping or slicing.

Make AHEAD

You can assemble the Pesto Chicken Bake with the green beans and chicken but hold the tomatoes.  Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate. 
When ready to bake, let the dish sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Bake and add tomatoes according to recipe instructions.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

Carlsbad Cravings© Original

Reader Interactions

leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

12 Comments

  1. Julie Buelteman says

    I have been making a close variation of this for a few years! It’s a family favorite. I use the pre- made pesto from Costco that has an excellent flavor! I also place a slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each piece half way into baking.
    I always use artichoke halves (not marinated!) instead of green beans. We love green beans so next time I’m trying your version!

    • Jen says

      That’s awesome Julie! It is such an easy, tasty dish with so many possibilities! I also love Costco pesto – I almost put that in the post but I feel like I’m a walking advertisement for Costco these days 😉 I am definitely intrigued by the use of artichokes – definitely trying that next time – thank you!

  2. English Rose says

    Jen! You have inspired my daughter (Aged 22) to believe that she can cook!
    I gave her your recipe above and said “Just do it”. She did with a side order of sweet potato and Oh My, did she do you proud … It was delicious!
    You have given her the confidence to believe in herself and continue to cook.
    This dish was amazing and so are you!
    Thank you.
    Rose
    P.S. She loved your website and found the recipe so easy to follow.

    • Jen says

      You absolutely made my day, thank you SO much! That is amazing that my recipe gave her confidence in the kitchen and good on your for encouraging her to try it! When people say they “don’t” or “can’t” cook, I tell them to try my soups and crockpot recipes – SO easy and turn out amazing every time – so maybe she will like those as well? Thank you for your kind words Rose and taking the time to comment Rose! xoxo

  3. Sandy says

    Oh my word. . . This is fabulous! I love anything with pesto, this took the chicken, tomatoes and green beans over the top! This hit my new top favorite meal right next to artichoke chicken. All in one pan to top it off! Thank you so much for this recipe!

    • Jen says

      I am honored this Pesto Chicken Bake is your new favorite meal – thanks so much Sandy! I love pesto too and it’s always better with melty mozzarella!

  4. English Rose says

    I am making this again for the umpteenth time! Love it so much! Tastes delicious, so nutritious and so, so easy to make.
    Thank you Jen, you wonderful, clever, talented lady!

    • Jen says

      I love hearing that, thank you so much! And thank you for your kind words! xo

  5. Natalie says

    Looks amazing! Do you think it’s possible to sub garden tomatoes for the cherry tomatoes? I know garden tomatoes are juicier so I wonder if it will work with the extra liquid.

    • Jen says

      Hi Natalie, the extra liquid will make the beans simmer instead of roast, so I’m not sure how that will change their consistency, but you can certainly try! Also, I think the texture of cherry tomatoes is better in this recipe.

  6. Michelle says

    I made this for the first time, and used frozen green beans. They may have added more liquid, but I thought it was great. I also added some fresh basil just before topping with cheese and that added a nice touch. Thanks for all your recipes and details!!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Michelle, I’m so please you’re enjoying them! Your addition of fresh basil sounds perfect!