This pesto chicken recipe is cheesy, quick to make, and has irresistible fresh tomatoes in a luxurious pesto sauce. Top it all off with melted mozzarella, and you've got a 30-minute chicken dinner that's special enough for guests.
Easy pesto chicken
Sometimes I do come up with chicken recipes without cream. Shocker, right!? But rest assured, this pesto chicken is every bit as delicious with its addictive buttery pesto sauce. Oh, and did I mention the decadent mozzarella topping?
I have a feeling you'll be making this pesto chicken bake over and over since the skillet goes so seamlessly from the stove to your oven. It's quick and uses simple ingredients that you probably have in your pantry right now!
Ingredients you'll need
- Chicken - chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise to make four cutlets
- Garlic powder - we're seasoning the chicken generously to add loads of savory flavor
- Olive oil and butter - a classic combo for browning the pan fried chicken
- Garlic - using both garlic powder and garlic cloves amps up the garlicky goodness!
- Chicken broth - makes the sauce extra tasty. You could use white wine instead.
- Tomatoes - use your favorite little tomato variety like grape or cherry tomatoes. They give the sauce a bit of sweetness
- Pesto - the main flavor component for the sauce. The signature pine nuts and basil duo make this classic sauce drool-worthy!
- Italian seasoning - a versatile herb blend that comes in a jar and normally has thyme and rosemary and other dried Italian herbs. You can find it in the spice aisle at your grocery store.
- Mozzarella - who can resist all that melted cheese? It pairs perfectly with the pesto sauce and chicken and gets beautifully golden when broiled.
- Basil - optional, but using fresh basil to top off the dish adds a bright touch
- Be sure to select a brand of pesto that you really enjoy since the flavor shines in this recipe! My personal favorite is DeLallo's pesto. Try my homemade pesto recipe if you don't want to use one from a jar.
How to make it
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the chicken breasts into two smaller cutlets lengthwise, and season them with garlic powder and salt & pepper. Pan fry until golden brown.
Transfer chicken to a plate, and add to the skillet the garlic, broth, tomatoes, pesto, and Italian seasoning. Cook until the tomatoes start to lose their firmness and release juice.
Add the chicken back into the skillet, and sprinkle the mozzarella on top of the chicken breasts. Bake for 5 minutes, and then carefully broil it for a few more. Garnish with fresh basil if using it, and serve immediately!
Substitutions and variations
- You could easily swap the chicken breasts for chicken thighs. I would cook the thighs for a bit longer to help tenderize them. Ideally their internal temperature would reach around 175F as per an instant read meat thermometer. I'd use 6 chicken thighs for this recipe.
- You can use slices of fresh mozzarella if you prefer it to the shredded kind.
- Try swapping the mozza for another easy melting cheese like Swiss, Muenster, or Gruyère to change it up.
- Feel free to chop up a couple of regular fresh tomatoes vs. using grape or cherry tomatoes.
- If swapping the chicken broth for white wine, use a dry variety such as pinot grigio or a sauvignon blanc.
Tools for this recipe
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will last for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Reheat over a low heat on the stove or in the microwave.
What to serve it with
- I recommend serving this chicken dinner with rice, mashed potatoes, or a slice of fresh crusty bread to soak up that amazing sauce!
- For veggie sides, try some Easy Glazed Carrots or Creamy Garlic Mushrooms.
- If you'd prefer something lighter, make a simple green salad with homemade honey mustard dressing.
Did you have any questions about this easy chicken recipe? Let me know in the comments below!
- 2 large chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
- 1 (10 ounce) package little tomatoes (grape or cherry) cut into halves
- 1/4 cup pesto
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- Fresh basil optional, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400F and move the rack to the top third of the oven.
- Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so you have 4 thinner cutlets. Season them with the garlic powder and some salt & pepper.
- Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes/side or until golden (but don't overcook as it will be finished in the oven). Transfer chicken to a plate.
- To the skillet, add the garlic, broth, tomatoes, pesto, and Italian seasoning.
- Scrape up and brown bits from the bottom of the pan and cook until the tomatoes start to lose their shape and release the juice (about 3-5 minutes).
- Take the pan off the heat and add the chicken back in. Top the chicken pieces with the mozzarella.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 5 minutes and then carefully broil for another few minutes to brown the cheese (watch it carefully so it doesn't burn). If you don't want to broil, I'd cook the chicken in the oven for 7 minutes or until it registers 165F.
- Garnish with fresh basil and serve immediately. I recommend serving it with something that will absorb the rich sauce like mashed potatoes or rice.
- If you don't own an oven-safe skillet, transfer the chicken to a baking dish for the baking portion of the recipe.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.