Topped with pesto sauce, tomatoes and melty mozzarella, pesto chicken bake is such a great way to make poultry more interesting!
The idea for making this very flavorful chicken recipe came from my desperate need to use up some leftover homemade pesto sauce.
You see, whenever I have leftover fresh basil leaves, I use them to make homemade pesto sauce. And then I desperately search for ways to use it!
Using up pesto sauce
Pesto sauce keeps for a few days in the fridge, and for about a month in the freezer, but it doesn’t last forever. And it’s way too delicious to throw out!
So a few weeks ago, staring at the chicken breasts in my fridge and trying to decide what to do with them, it occurred to me that I could use my basic recipe for juicy baked chicken breast and adjust it to include pesto.
This dish was delicious. As it turns out, pesto goes incredibly well with baked chicken! I also love how easy this recipe is. It’s just perfect for a weeknight dinner.
I have made this recipe a couple more times for some fine-tuning before posting it here, and it was a big success both times.
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty chicken recipe (the exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below):
Fresh chicken: I use boneless skinless chicken breasts.
Avocado oil spray: This oil has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point, making it an ideal cooking oil. You can also use olive oil.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Pesto sauce: Homemade or store-bought. See the discussion below.
Sliced tomatoes: Use large, firm, red tomatoes.
Shredded mozzarella: Provolone is also very good in this recipe.
How to make pesto chicken bake
It’s a truly easy recipe! The detailed instructions are in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
1. Your first step is to bake the chicken breasts.
2. Then you top them with pesto, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
3. Return the chicken to the oven to finish cooking it and to melt the cheese.
What pesto to use?
You can use homemade pesto sauce as I do. Store-bought pesto sauce is fine, but make sure it’s made with olive oil. I find it puzzling that so many commercial pesto sauce brands use soybean oil instead of olive oil.
What to serve with pesto chicken bake
This dish goes really well with roasted cherry tomatoes. You can roast them in the same 450°F oven for about 15 minutes.
What about leftovers?
Leftovers keep okay in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. Although as with most chicken recipes, leftovers are not as good as when served fresh.
I prefer not to reheat them, so as not to dry the chicken out. So I slice them and use them to top a salad for my lunch the next day.
If you’d like to reheat the leftovers, I suggest you do so gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power.
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Pesto Chicken Bake
- 4 (8 oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Avocado oil spray
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup pesto sauce homemade or store-bought
- 8 thin tomato slices (from 2 medium tomatoes)
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
- Place the chicken breasts in the prepared baking dish. Spray them with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven. Spread 2 tablespoons of pesto sauce on the top of each chicken breast. Arrange 2 tomato slices on top, and sprinkle them with 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella.
- Return the chicken to the oven. Bake until cooked through and cheese is melted, about 5 more minutes. If your baking dish is broiler-safe, you can finish by broiling for 1-2 minutes to brown the cheese.