This easy Pesto Chicken Bake is made with just 5 ingredients and bakes up in 35 minutes! Tender chicken breast is baked with tomatoes, pesto, and mozzarella for the perfect weeknight meal that can be served with pasta, rice, or a fresh green salad.
In this baked chicken recipe, the pesto is the star of the show. Pesto sauce originates from Italy and combines fresh basil with crushed garlic, crunchy pine nuts, and salty cheese. The result is a thick sauce that packs so much flavor and texture that it became a household flavor internationally.
You can use store-bought pesto, but making this homemade pesto recipe from scratch will add so much more flavor. And it barely adds any additional time. The chicken breast soaks up the sauce helping to make it tender and juicy along with sweet tomatoes and melted mozzarella cheese. This really is the perfect meal to serve when you need a high-protein comfort dish that goes with everything!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s incredibly flavorful and comforting making it a family favorite for weeknights or any time.
- You can make your own pesto easily or take a shortcut and use your favorite store-bought pesto.
- Serve it with anything. Whether you serve it with pasta, salad, rice, or a potato dish, this chicken will be the perfect pairing.
- It’s naturally low in carbs making it a great dish for those following a low-carb lifestyle.
- It cooks up quickly making a great dinner to prepare ahead of time and pop in the oven when you’re ready.
- This whole dish cooks in one baking pan making for easy kitchen clean-up.
Ingredients You Need
- Tomatoes – You’ll need small bite-sized tomatoes in the grape or cherry variety. These cook down quickly in the oven and add a pop of naturally sweet flavor and acidity.
- Olive Oil – Helps break down the tomatoes so they cook and roast properly in the oven.
- Chicken Breasts – This high-protein meat becomes juicy and tender and full of fresh pesto flavor. You can also use boneless chicken thighs or chicken tenderloins for this recipe. You may need to adjust cooking time if using a different cut of chicken.
- Pesto – Make your own or purchase your favorite at your local grocery store.
- Fresh Mozzarella – This cheese finishes off the dish perfectly by adding a melty creamy texture. You can also use shredded mozzarella.
If your chicken breasts are thicker than 1”, you can butterfly them or cut them into tenderloins. If using tenderloins, reduce the cooking time to 15 minutes covered and 10-12 minutes uncovered.
How to Make Pesto Chicken Breast
Step 1. Add the tomatoes and olive oil to a baking dish that is just large enough to hold the chicken and tomatoes. Stir the tomatoes and olive oil until coated.
Step 2. Nestle the chicken breast on top of the tomatoes.
Step 3. Brush the pesto evenly onto the chicken breast. Cover the baking dish with foil, and bake in preheated oven at 375 Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 150 Fahrenheit.
Step 4. Remove from the oven, uncover carefully and add fresh mozzarella on top of the chicken. Place it back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 Fahrenheit. To make the mozzarella crispy and brown, broil for 1-2 minutes. Garnish and serve hot.
Chicken is safe to eat when it’s cooked to an internal temperature of 165F. The most accurate way to test this is by using a kitchen thermometer.
- Don’t forget to cover the disk when cooking to help seal in the moisture and prevent the chicken from drying out.
- The baking dish you use should only be as big as the ingredients to make sure all the heat stays in the baking dish helping it to cook quickly.
- If broiling at the end uncovered, keep a watchful eye as it can burn quickly!
- When serving, pour any juices that have collected in the bottom of the pan over top of the chicken for additional flavor.
- For a bit of spice, sprinkle over red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to taste.
- Pesto is often pretty salty on its own– make sure to taste your pesto before adding salt or pepper.
What To Serve With Basil Pesto Chicken
- Garlic Red Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower with Lemon Garlic
- Fresh Garden Salad
- Instant Pot Brown Rice
- To keep it low carb serve with; cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash.
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Pesto Chicken Bake
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes , (about 3 cups)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds chicken breasts, (about 3 to 4 large breasts)
- 1/3 cup pesto, homemade or store-bought
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced about 1/8" thick
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add the tomatoes and olive oil to a small baking dish (just large enough to hold everything) and stir to combine.
- Place the chicken breasts in the center of the tomatoes and brush over the pesto.
- Cover the baking dish with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 150 Fahrenheit.
- Remove the lid and stir the tomatoes gently.
- Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the chicken and then place it back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degres Fahrenheit.
- If you like the cheese to get those delicious browned spots, turn the broiler to high for 1 to 2 minutes, but keep your eye on it so it doesn't burn.
- Garnish with fresh basil.