Baked Pesto Chicken

by Hilary Gauntt on February 28, 2014

I have been debating posting this recipe for a year or more – it’s really just so simple!  But why should I hold THAT against it, since I make this all the time?  You can use homemade pesto that you have on hand, or any good purchased brand. It’s from a website called which is especially helpful if you are searching for recipes designed to fit the South Beach diet.  I have added tomatoes to this easy recipe of chicken, pesto and cheese, but leave them off if you wish.  The juices make a nice sauce for rice, couscous or quinoa …effortless!

“If the definition of poetry allowed that it could be composed with the products of the field as well as with words, pesto would be in every anthology.”  Marcella Hazan

And Happy Birthday to my beautiful Brittany!  Since this is a year without a February 29, we will celebrate you today, and all the joy you bring into so many lives.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

salt and fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup basil pesto

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

3 plum or  6 cherry tomatoes, sliced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken pieces, then cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces. ( I cut the smaller ones into two strips and the larger breasts into 3 strips.)

Spread 1/4 cup basil over the bottom of a 9 x 12″ baking dish. Lay chicken strips over the pesto, then spread 1/4 cup more pesto over the chicken.  Cover the baking dish with foil and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes just until the chicken is barely firm and cooked through. (Don’t cook too much at this point or the chicken will be overcooked by the time the cheese is melted and browned.)

When the chicken is barely cooked through, remove the foil and lay the tomato slices over the chicken, then cover with the grated cheese.  Put the dish back into the oven without the foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until the cheese is melted.  Then switch the oven to broil and broil about 5 more minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.

Serve hot.  Spoon the juice over the chicken.  Serves 4.

Note: I was a bit more generous with the pesto and the cheese than the recipe called for.  Trader Joe’s makes a good bottled basil pesto.

pesto chicken

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Melinda March 18, 2014 at 10:40 pm

This was so delicious and easy to bring to the table quickly. Bob commented several times through dinner how much he was enjoying it! I love opening my email to find a new recipe from you inspiring cooks at Heron Earth- it has become one of the few inducements for me to cook these days. Heartfelt thanks


Hilary Gauntt March 19, 2014 at 7:48 am

You Doll! You made my day xo


Yvonne March 28, 2014 at 4:14 pm

I printed this recipe (just in case I couldn’t remember 4 ingredients!) when I was traveling to Cleveland a few weeks ago to visit my son and daughter-in-law AND their new baby daughter – our first grandchild. My daughter-in-law has been challenged, as we all were, with getting a dinner on the table. I’d been trying to think of the simplest recipes for them when you posted this just in time for my trip! I made it there – we all loved it! Patrick can manage this one too. And now I am making it again tonight to take to my sister-in-law who is suddenly very busy with her mother’s health issues. I needed something quick that I could put together at their house. This is perfect! Also, dropping off the Nigella Lawson chicken to another friend tonight who wasn’t sure which night she needed a meal. Yes, thanks for all of these great recipes! In the spirit of Heron Earth, it’s my night to be the giver! I’ve been on the receiving end too and know the love that a dinner represents!


pat randall March 10, 2016 at 10:31 am

I love this recipe, especially because it is easy and so delicious!
Pesto chicken is going to be part of my rotation.


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