Gluten Free

Baked Chicken Pesto

at a glance
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
5 — Votes 3 votes

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Complete with potatoes, cauliflower, chicken thighs, and bacon, this chicken pesto bake is one of the easiest, most delicious, complete meals to come out of our kitchen!

a chicken pesto bake in a casserole dish

Chicken Pesto Recipe

Pesto is my love language. Really, truly, it is. If there’s a pesto sandwich on a restaurant menu, it’s what I’m ordering. Pesto pizza, pesto pasta — the list could go on and on. The flavors in a really good pesto are, in my opinion, just too good to pass up. SO, coming from a pesto-lover herself, trust me when I say that this pesto bake is SO DELICIOUS. I’ve made it for dinner several times since Cassy created the recipe, and I have no plans of stopping any time soon! It’s a family-favorite and so, so easy to make.

If you’re looking for another REALLY delicious recipe featuring chicken thighs, this Chicken Noodle Soup is a great one to try. For instructions on how to make these two recipes work together Cook Once Dinner Fix-style, click HERE

Ingredients for Basil Pesto Chicken Thighs

If you choose to make your own pesto, you’ll need several ingredients for that in addition to the actual chicken thigh pesto bake ingredients. Here’s everything you’ll need:

all of the ingredients for a chicken thigh pesto bake in different sized bowls and plates on a marble surface

To Make Your Own Pesto

  • Fresh Basil – to start, you’ll need 8 ounces of fresh basil (leaves and small stems).
  • Olive Oil – in addition to the basil, you’ll also need a ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Lemon Juice – a ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice (the juice from 2 lemons) will add brightness and a touch of acidity to the pesto.
  • Garlic – 2 cloves of garlic head into the food processor too.
  • Parmesan Cheese – a ¼ cup of parmesan cheese adds a really great salty flavor to the pesto.
  • Pine Nuts – a ¼ cup of pine nuts adds incredible flavor and structure to the finished pesto.
  • Salt + Pepper – to finish it off, you’ll need a ½ teaspoon of sea salt and a ¼ teaspoon of  black pepper.

For the Bake

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes – the first thing you’ll need for the bake itself is a pound of Yukon Gold potatoes that have been cut into 2-inch chunks.
  • Cauliflower – ½ of a large head of cauliflower cut into florets goes into the dish for a nice veggie component. 
  • Chicken Thighs – the protein star of the show here is chicken thighs! You’ll need 1½ pounds.
  • Bacon – 8 ounces of bacon cut into 1-inch strips adds a ton of really delicious flavor to the bake (as bacon usually does!).
  • Basil Pesto – the bold flavor in this dish comes from the pesto! You’ll need 1½ cups of  basil pesto here — either homemade (see recipe above!) or store-bought.
  • Parmesan Cheese – to garnish the bake, you’ll need shaved parmesan cheese. A little or a lot — the choice is yours!
  • Pine Nuts – sprinkle pine nuts over top of the dish as garnish also.
  • Lemon Juice – to brighten the dish, you’ll finish it off with a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice.
  • Lemon Wedges – if you choose, serve the pesto bake alongside extra lemon wedges so that those enjoying the bake can squeeze extra lemon over top their meal if they’d like.
  • Fresh Basil – keep some fresh basil leaves out for garnish!

There’s two routes you can go here: homemade or store-bought. The homemade option is, of course, always going to be the best and tastiest way to go, but if you’re short on time, store-bought pesto can be really great too. There are a lot of pesto brands that make and sell REALLY delicious options that are pretty darn close to homemade — browse the pesto options at your grocery store and look for jars with simple, as-close-to-homemade ingredients as possible.

Tips, tricks, and substitutions to make the ultimate creamy pesto chicken:

  • Use store-bought pesto – as mentioned above, you DO NOT have to make your own pesto! You can absolutely use store-bought pesto if that’s easier and more doable for you.
  • Swap the thighs for chicken breasts – though I highly recommend using the thighs (they’re just so much tastier and juicier than chicken breasts), chicken breasts are definitely an option if that’s what you love/have on hand. Know that they’ll end up being slightly drier than the chicken thighs, but it’ll be really delicious either way.
  • Swap the cauliflower – feel free to swap the cauliflower for broccoli or another veggie you love (green beans would be yummy) to switch things up. The cooking temperature and time will stay the same!
  • Make it dairy-free – there are several store-bought dairy-free pesto options, but if you want to go homemade, THIS roasted garlic pesto is a really, really delicious dairy-free option.

How to make Baked Pesto Chicken Thighs

The process is so easy (hello, one-pan bake!) — here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Make the pesto (optional) – if you’re making your own pesto, you’ll need to start by adding all of the pesto ingredients to a food processor. Turn the food processor on and pulse 5-10 times until a smooth consistency is achieved.
  3. Add all ingredients to a casserole dish – add the potatoes, cauliflower, chicken thighs, and bacon to the bottom of a 3-quart casserole dish or a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the pesto over top and toss to coat the chicken, potatoes, and cauliflower.
  4. Bake – place the pesto bake on the upper oven rack and bake for 1 hour, until the potatoes are soft and the chicken is slightly browned on top.
  5. Garnish, serve, and enjoy – remove the pesto chicken bake from the oven and squeeze the lemon juice over top, then garnish with toasted pine nuts, lemon wedges, and shaved parmesan. Serve and enjoy!
ingredients for homemade pesto in a food processor
homemade pesto that's just been pulsed in a food processor
chicken thighs, chopped potatoes, cauliflower florets, and bacon in a casserole dish on a marble surface
chicken thighs, chopped potatoes, cauliflower florets, and bacon with dollops of pesto on top in a casserole dish on a marble surface
chicken thighs, chopped potatoes, cauliflower florets, and bacon with dollops of pesto mixed in in a casserole dish on a marble surface
a casserole dish of chicken thigh pesto bake that just came out of the oven and is done baking
Sliced sun dried tomato chicken breast topped with thinly sliced basil leaves and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Just for You

Chicken Recipes

Want more recipes like this?

Q What to serve with baked pesto chicken thighs?
A

With ingredients like potatoes and cauliflower present in this chicken thigh bake, it’s already a complete meal. If you’d like to serve it alongside something else, though, a really simple side salad would be a great choice!

Q How should pesto chicken thighs be stored?
A

Any leftovers you have should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Q How long do pesto chicken thighs stay good?
A

Stored properly (in an airtight container in the fridge), your pesto chicken thigh bake will stay good for 4-5 days.

Q How to Reheat Basil Pesto Chicken
A

Reheat your leftovers either in the microwave or in an oven-safe dish in a 350°F oven until heated all the way through.

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Baked Pesto Chicken Recipe

By: Cassy Joy Garcia
5 — Votes 3 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
This one-pan complete meal is delicious, easy, and super family-friendly!

Ingredients  

To Make Your Own Pesto:

  • 8 ounces fresh basil leaves and small stems
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic grated
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

For the Bake:

  • 1 pound yukon gold potatoes cut into 2-inch chunks
  • ½ large head of cauliflower or 1 small head, cut into florets
  • pounds chicken thighs
  • 8 ounces bacon cut into 1-inch strips
  • cups basil pesto or about 2 (6-ounce jars if using store-bought)
  • Shaved parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Pine nuts for garnish
  • Lemon juice for garnish
  • Lemon wedges for garnish
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Add all of the pesto ingredients to a food processor. Turn the food processor on and pulse 5-10 times until a smooth consistency is achieved.
  • Add the potatoes, cauliflower, chicken thighs, and bacon to the bottom of a 3-quart casserole dish, or a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the pesto over top and toss to coat the chicken, potatoes, and cauliflower.
  • Place the pesto bake in the oven and bake for 1 hour, until the potatoes are soft and the chicken is slightly browned on top.
  • Remove from the oven and squeeze the lemon juice over top, then garnish with toasted pine nuts, lemon wedges, and shaved parmesan.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Baked Pesto Chicken Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
714
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
60
g
92
%
Saturated Fat
 
12.8
g
80
%
Cholesterol
 
62.7
mg
21
%
Sodium
 
1144.9
mg
50
%
Carbohydrates
 
25.3
g
8
%
Fiber
 
4.5
g
19
%
Sugar
 
4.4
g
5
%
Protein
 
21.3
g
43
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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    Recipe Rating




  1. Angie says

    Angie —  08/25/2021 At 17:52

    5 stars
    Amazing!!! Used asparagus instead of cauliflower – will be doubling this recipe next time!!!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  08/26/2021 At 08:18

      Wahoo, so glad you loved it, Angie! I love this one too!

  2. Lori says

    Lori —  08/29/2021 At 15:22

    I’m wanting to make this this week, but have a quick question. I’m using chicken breasts that I have already and am wondering if I should cut them into smaller pieces or will large chicken breasts work?

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  08/31/2021 At 11:07

      Either way should work fine, Lori! Enjoy!

  3. Kate says

    Kate —  09/24/2021 At 09:35

    Is it 1/4 cup of lemon juice above? I don’t see the type of measurement! Excited to make this.

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  09/27/2021 At 07:52

      Yes, 1/4 cup!

  4. Shauna says

    Shauna —  09/24/2021 At 11:07

    5 stars
    This was so so easy, and so delicious! I love one dish/pan meals, and am going to be making this one for fiends who could use a little food help (new mamas, etc).

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  09/27/2021 At 07:53

      That’s such a good idea, Shauna! This would be such a great meal for that!

  5. Leah says

    Leah —  03/25/2022 At 00:40

    YUM!!!

    I forgot to pick up bacon on my way home, so I tossed some olive oil on the veggies. I also used a seasoned salt on them instead of pesto because I don’t like when everything has the same flavor.

    My husband and 4 year old and 1 year old loved it too.

    Thanks for the weekly emails and recipes! I love how they’re a whole meal and so easy.

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  03/25/2022 At 19:14

      Delicious! I am so glad that everyone enjoyed. Thank you for taking the time to share with us! ~Melissa

  6. Heather D. says

    Heather D. —  05/25/2022 At 14:51

    This was incredibly easy to make and was a crowd pleaser….everyone cleaned their plates and asked for more.

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  05/25/2022 At 18:48

      So glad to hear that, Heather! Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us.

  7. Savannah B. says

    Savannah B. —  07/25/2022 At 21:24

    5 stars
    I’ve made this twice now, and it came out so good! Both times, I swapped cauliflower for broccoli and chicken thighs for chicken breasts and added a few minced garlic cloves into the bake mixture. The first time I made this I wished the bacon was crispier, so the second time I cooked the bacon in a skillet before adding it so they could get a bit crispier, and it came out great! The lemon and Parmesan on top came out so delicious and added great flavor mixed with the pesto.

    • Melissa Guevara says

      Melissa Guevara —  07/26/2022 At 08:51

      Those sound like delicious swaps! Thank you for taking the time to share with us. We are so glad you are enjoying the recipe. -Team F&F

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