Pesto Chicken Bake

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Our pesto chicken bake is creamy, savory and delicious. Tender chicken is smothered in a basil cream sauce with Kalamata olives, capers and cherry tomatoes. Assembled on stovetop, then baked until done, it’s an easy 35-minute recipe. A weekday dinner that’s perfect for date night.

📌 Pin Pesto Chicken Bake

Pesto Chicken Bake in a Staub cast-iron universal skillet on a rustic blue surface.

For busy people, getting a hot meal on the table can be a daily struggle. There’s just not enough time in the day. In my house, this quick chicken recipe is a real lifesaver. It’s a restaurant-quality meal made with simple, easy-to-find ingredients.

Serve this pesto chicken bake over thin pasta, mashed potatoes, zucchini noodles, or cauliflower rice. Or enjoy with a simple green side salad.

This pesto chicken bake is also a great make-ahead recipe. It can be assembled and baked 2 days in advance. Cool the chicken to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate. When ready to enjoy, reheat it in the oven.

🛒 Ingredients

  • Chicken breasts or thighs, boneless/skinless
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly-ground
  • Virgin olive oil
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Butter
  • Garlic powder
  • Basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Pitted Kalamata olives
  • Non-pareil capers
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnishing

👉🏻 Essential Kitchen Tool for Poultry

For cooking poultry it’s essential to have an accurate instant-read thermometer. It helps avoid food-borne illness by allowing you to check and see if the chicken is completely cooked through to the correct temperature.

Bookmark this page from the USDA. It’s a temperature chart that provides helpful information on minimum temperatures for safe consumption of chicken, meat, fish and more.

📖 Recipe Steps

Sear the Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Rinse chicken. Pat the pieces dry between paper towels. Season all sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large cast-iron skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Sear chicken 4 minutes on each side until golden brown, then remove pan from heat.
  4. While chicken is searing, warm cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Do not allow liquid to boil.
A collage of 4 overhead images showing how to make pesto chicken step by step.

Prep the Sauce & Bake

  1. Add a pinch of garlic powder and pinch of salt to the warm cream-and-butter mixture. Stir in the basil pesto.
  2. Grate parmesan cheese directly over the pan of creamy pesto. With a wooden spoon, stir briefly until cheese is melted.
  3. Add seared chicken back to the cast-iron skillet. Sprinkle with cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and capers.
  4. Pour the creamy pesto sauce over the chicken. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until poultry is done. The internal temperature of chicken should be 165°F in the thickest part. Once out of the oven, garnish this dish with hand-torn basil leaves.
Collage of 4 overhead images showing how to make the best Basil Pesto Chicken.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert Tips

  • Best substitute for heavy cream: Half-and-half or evaporated milk.
  • Try more add-ins: Marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, or feta cheese.
  • How to stretch this recipe to feed more people: Once the pesto chicken bake is done, transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Slice up the breasts. Return them to the pan to get covered in sauce. Divide the chicken between the number of diners. Serve over noodles.
  • Ways to serve basil pesto chicken: Serve over a base of thin pasta, mashed potatoes, rice, cauliflower, or cooked zucchini noodles.
Pesto chicken in a Staub universal pan on a  deep-blue, rustic serving table.

🥘 How to Prep This Recipe Faster

Here are simple time-saving ways to get pesto chicken bake on the table faster. Less time cooking in the kitchen means more quality time you can spend with your family.

  • Use thinner, flatter, chicken breasts: Thinner fillets cook quicker than thicker pieces. You can buy them from the butcher already flattened.
  • Use pre-grated Parmesan cheese: Rather than grating Parmesan from a block, buy pre-grated parmesan from the deli.
  • Multi-task in the kitchen: Before starting the recipe, read it through so you’re familiar with all the upcoming steps. It’ll help things move along faster. Then prep the base (whether pasta, potatoes, veggies, or rice) while the poultry is baking or assemble a simple salad.
Pesto chicken bake in a cast-iron skillet with a silver serving spoon and basil leaves.

🍽 More Easy Dinner Recipes

If you enjoyed this savory pesto chicken bake, you’ll also appreciate these easy family favorites. Add them to your monthly meal plan.

Rate This Recipe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Flavor testers rated this the BEST pesto chicken bake. They fell in love with the tender juicy chicken in the flavorful, creamy pesto sauce. They greatly enjoyed the added flavor from the tomatoes, Kalamata olives and capers.

If you agree this recipe’s a keeper, give it a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero. Share it with friends. 📌 Pin it to Pinterest.

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Pesto chicken in a cast-iron skillet next to a silver slotted serving spoon on a rustic blue table.

PESTO CHICKEN BAKE


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Description

This creamy pesto chicken bake is juicy, tender and packed with flavor. It’s a restaurant-quality meal that’s quick and simple assemble at home. Make this easy recipe in 35 minutes.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 chicken breast fillets, boneless/skinless
  • Sea salt, as desired
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, as desired
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pinch garlic powder
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons non-pareil capers, drained and rinsed
  • For garnishing: Fresh basil leaves, hand shredded

Instructions

RECIPE PREP: Preheat oven to 400°F. Rinse chicken. Pat the pieces dry between paper towels.

  1. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large cast-iron skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Sear chicken 4 minutes on each side until golden brown, then remove pan from heat.
  2. While the chicken is searing, warm cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Do not allow liquid to boil. Add a pinch of garlic powder and pinch of salt to the warm cream-and-butter mixture. Stir in the basil pesto. Grate parmesan cheese directly over the pan of creamy pesto. With a wooden spoon, stir briefly until cheese is incorporated and has melted in.
  3. Add seared chicken back to the cast-iron skillet. Sprinkle with cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and capers. Pour the creamy pesto sauce over the chicken.
  4. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until poultry is done. The internal temperature should be 165°F in the thickest part.
  5. Garnish with hand-torn basil leaves.

Notes

Substitute for heavy cream: Half-and-half or evaporated milk.

Try more delicious add-ins: Marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, or feta cheese.

How to serve this recipe: Serve over a base of mashed potatoes, rice or noodles.

  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 Minutes
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Stovetop + Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Pesto Chicken, Pesto Chicken Bake, Basil Pesto Chicken

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

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Have you added this pesto chicken bake to your recipe arsenal? What sides will you serve it with? Join the conversation below. I’d love to hear from you.

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7 Comments

  1. Yum! This looks so delicious and has a lot of flavor! Can’t wait to make this for my family! They are going to love this!

  2. How tasty and comforting this dish is! It was a real hit for dinner – the whole family loved it! We had lots of basil in the garden a whipped up some homemade pesto. Lovely flavours!

  3. I love the flavours in this recipe. The klamata olives and capers really make this a standout for me.

  4. So easy and super delicious recipe! I will be putting this one into the rotation for sure…thanks for sharing :)

  5. This is so yummy! I had so much extra rocket in the garden- so I made rocket pesto and it is perfect with it! Such a delicious meal.