This one-pan pesto chicken and vegetables is the perfect weeknight meal! It comes together in about 20 minutes or so and you can throw in vegetables you have on hand. Use homemade basil pesto if you have it, but you can use a store-bought jar for a shortcut.
Be sure to watch my video for how to make pesto chicken below!
One of my favorite things to order when we go out is creamy pesto chicken, but it's actually an easy meal to make at home any time of the week.
This basil pesto chicken and vegetables recipe takes a one pan, a few familiar ingredients, and about 20 minutes to make. It is probably one of the juiciest chicken breast recipes I've tried! And the flavors are incredible.
The main flavor maker here is my homemade basil pesto (you can make it in advance in keep it in the fridge for all sorts of recipes including caprese chicken). But if you need a shortcut, you can use store-bought pesto. I like to finish this dish with a splash of lemon juice to brighten everything up!
Here's what you'll need
- Chicken breast cutlets (about 1 ½ pounds). No need to pay extra money for cutlets though, you can start with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and simply cut them in half horizontally to create thinner pieces. This helps the chicken cook quickly and evenly without drying out, and it's also a great way to serve more people. (watch the video
- Vegetables. I chose zucchini, red bell pepper, and red onions. These are three I often have in my fridge for all sorts of Mediterranean cooking (but you can use other vegetables you have on hand like asparagus or green beans).
- Tomatoes. About 1 cup of any small tomato you like. I went with grape tomatoes.
- Basil pesto and cream (⅓ cup of each). This is really where all the flavor and that little bit of liquid comes from. I used heavy cream, but you can use a nut milk if you like (I do think a little bit of cream really does make a difference).
How to make pesto chicken (step-by-step):
This easy pesto chicken comes together in one pan. You start by sauteeing the chicken briefly. Saute the vegetables next. Then, put them together with the basil and cream mixture and add the finishing touches. Here is how it goes (print-friendly recipe below):
- Season and cook the chicken cutlets. A little kosher salt and black pepper on both sides of the chicken cultets, then sear them in a large skillet with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil (about 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until fully cooked). Remove the chicken and set aside for now.
- Cook zucchini, bell peppers, onions and grape tomatoes. Add a little more extra virgin olive oil to the same skillet if you need to. Add the vegtables. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Saute, tossing a few times, until the vegetables are cooked.
- Mix together the basil pesto and cream (⅓ cup of each) in a small bowl.
- Put the chicken back in the skillet with the vegetables. Pour the basil and cream mixture on top. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let everything cook together for 1 or 2 minutes (you're only looking to warm up the pesto and cream mixture, you don't want it to cook too much). Remove from heat.
- Add lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Garnish with some toasted pine nuts and a few basil leaves (optional).
Serve it with
One obvious way to serve chicken pesto is with your favorite pasta. If you want to make some sauce for the pasta, feel free to double or triple the amount of basil pesto and cream mixture to toss it in.
You can also also serve this pesto chicken with your favorite grain (rice, farro or even couscous will work). And if nothing else, add a slice of your favorite crusty bread.
For a fun Italian-style dinner, start the meal with Panzanella salad!
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Pesto Chicken Recipe with Vegetables
- Large skillet
- 1.5 lb chicken breast cutlets
- Salt and Pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 zucchini cut into half moons
- 1 red bell pepper cored and cut into strips
- ½ red onion sliced
- 1 cup about 5 oz grape tomatoes
- ⅓ cup basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
- ⅓ cup cream
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Toasted pine nuts for garnish optional
- Fresh basil for garnish optional
- Pat chicken breast cutlets dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. (Boneless skinless chicken breasts can be used, simply cut them in half horizontally so that you have thinner pieces. Watch the video to see how I do this).
- In large cast iron skillet, heat a little bit of extra virgin olive oil (about 2 tbsp) until shimmering but not smoking in a cast iron skillet. Add chicken to the heated skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, turning over once. Remove from the skillet and set aside for now.
- If needed, add a little bit more extra virgin olive oil to the skillet. Add zucchini, bell peppers, onion, and grape tomatoes. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes or so, tossing occasionally, until the veggies have softened.
- In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, mix together the basil pesto and cream.
- Add the chicken back to the skillet. Pour the pesto and cream mixture in. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for a minute or so.
- Remove the skillet from the heat, add lemon juice and lemon zest. Add pine nuts and fresh basil for garnish. Serve hot with your favorite grain or plain orzo pasta.
- Chicken breast cutlets are simply chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been cut in half horizontally so they are thinner for even and quick cooking. If you can not find chicken breast cutlets, you can simply use chicken breast meat and cut them in half as described.
- To serve with your favorite pasta, feel free to double or triple the amount of basil pesto and cream mixture to make a bit more sauce for your pasta.
- Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in a tight-lid container for 2 nights or so. You can warm it up stove-top over medium-low heat briefly (you may need to add a little liquid to help it).
- Visit Our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils and spices.
I followed the recipe exactly, and it was quite good! I always follow recipes to the letter on the first go, before making any changes, so that I can leave an accurate review.
This, like just about every, chicken recipe can be improved by dry-brining the chicken in advance, if you have the time. Artichoke hearts would be great in this too.
I was surprised by how little sauce this ends up with. It's basically just enough to coat the chicken and veggies. I made orzo to go with it, thinking that I'd need to serve it on top of something for the sauce, but the orzo wasn't actually necessary at all. Next time I'll skip the carbs altogether and just serve it with broccoli or asparagus.
Thanks for the feedback, Jessica!