Basil is back baby. And not just any basil – Woah! Double basil! Creamy Pesto Chicken is an easy fix for boneless, skinless breasts that’s bursting with flavor – literally. Plump juicy cherry tomatoes simmer in a decadent (but not heavy) pesto cream sauce until they pop. Serve over lightly seasoned chicken and top with more fresh basil.
Since my “love language” is food, I hope that all of you out there who fall into the “acts of service” category appreciate my efforts this time of year. You know, for those times when you stare into your gardens and planters and boxes and think “For the love of… what the heck am I going to do with all this basil?!?!”
If you grow, you know.
Caprese, bruschetta, pesto, pasta, pizza, soup, salads, sauces, and oh yes, cocktails. (Well, to be fair, my “pizza” isn’t a pizza… but it’s got basil!) And in my Salty Kitchen, I’ve done them all. Mostly because I love basil, but also because I love you, reader. And I, too, know what it’s like to stare into the ingredient abyss.
It’s true! Now you may think that with a mind and a palate that clearly embraces the whole, vast gamut of “things you can put in your mouth, chew, and swallow,” I don’t worry I’ll run out of ideas, but I’ll be honest, it’s why I’m not a regular CSA subscriber – I’m terrified I’ll have to figure out what to do with swiss chard and okra for a week straight.
But, if it’s basil you have, then basil I shall honor. And this Creamy Pesto Chicken is twice as nice. Feel free to make your own pesto or grab a jar – and get cookin’! And don’t say I never did nothin’ for you.
How to Make Creamy Pesto Chicken
Take chicken breasts from boring to basil-icious with this crowd pleasing Creamy Pesto Chicken recipe that features bright, summery basil two ways – pesto and fresh leaves. Seasoned and seared breasts get simmered in a creamy sauce with cherry tomatoes. It’s great over pasta or pair it with just about any side. (See below for serving suggestions.)
For a condensed post, click here to view the web story for this pesto chicken recipe!
BEFORE YOU START: Take a few extra minutes to pound out the thicker part of the chicken breasts to an even thickness. This will both tenderize the chicken and ensure even (and faster!) cooking.
- Whisk heavy cream and pesto sauce until smooth.
- Whisk flour and seasonings in a shallow bowl.
- Dredge chicken through the flour.
- Saute the chicken in olive oil for 5 minutes per side, then remove and set aside.
- In the same pan, saute the tomatoes for 2 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with chicken broth, then add the creamy pesto sauce.
- Return the chicken to the pan, then simmer in the sauce until cooked through (at least 165°F).
- Plate the chicken with plenty of sauce and tomatoes, then garnish with fresh basil.
Check That Temperature!
Check the internal temperature using an instant read thermometer. Always cook chicken to at least 165°F, testing in the thickest part of the chicken.
Choosing Pesto Sauce
Basil pesto works best for this recipe because its flavor plays really well with the seasonings and juicy tomatoes. If homemade isn’t available, jarred pesto is totally fine – DeLallo is our favorite.
When buying jarred pesto sauce, be mindful of the ingredients – all pestos are NOT created equally. Look for whole food ingredients on the label, including good quality oils, pine nuts, basil, and real cheese.
Be mindful of expiration dates. Because it contains dairy, pestos may not keep in the fridge nearly as long as think. It may be tempting to buy larger jars, but you risk losing more if you don’t use it up quickly.
Sides for Pesto Chicken
- Starchy Sides: you can definitely get away serving a more substantial side with this chicken dish. Looking for pasta? How about summery zucchini and corn pasta or creamy pasta with roasted vegetables? Want potatoes? Try classic italian potato salad or garlic parm air fryer potatoes. Want a simple starch? Try Instant Pot jasmine rice or Instant Pot quinoa. Or, bring out the basil with crispy oven baked basil fries.
- Keep it Summery: a great dish to complement many of the finest summer has to offer, like zucchini salad with corn, peach panzanella salad, mediterranean orzo pasta, or simple grilled asparagus.
- Kid-friendly Veggies: these super simple veggies are perfect for your picky eaters – oven roasted parmesan zucchini fries, fun and colorful veggie kabobs, and, of course, just good ol’ broccoli.
More Chicken Breast Recipes
- Chicken Caprese
- Bruschetta Chicken
- Pecan Chicken
- Creamy Lemon Chicken
- Chili Lime Chicken
- Italian Basil Chicken
Did you make this creamy pesto chicken? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Creamy Pesto ChickenPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- ½ c basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
- ½ c heavy cream
- 4 5-7 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded even
- ½ c all purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, or grape tomatoes
- ½ c chicken broth
- ¼ c fresh basil, julienned, for garnish
- Combine the heavy cream and pesto sauce in a 1-cup measuring cup. Whisk until smooth, then set aside.
- Place one chicken breast onto a sheet of parchment paper, then fold the paper over the chicken. Use a rolling pin to pound the chicken breast to an even thickness of about 1”. Set aside and repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.
- Combine the flour, salt, pepper, basil, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Place one chicken breast into the flour mixture and gently press. Turn the chicken and press into the flour mixture on the other side. Lift the chicken, gently shake to release and excess flour, then transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil, heat until it shimmers, then add the chicken breasts in a single layer. Sear 5 minutes until golden brown, then flip and sear on the other side 5 minutes more. Transfer chicken using tongs to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.
- Add the remaining tbsp oil to the pan and allow to heat for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes to the skillet and toss in the hot oil for 2 minutes, shaking occasionally.
- Pour the chicken broth into the pan; use a wood spoon to gently scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the pesto cream sauce into the pan. Give the pan sauce a quick stir to incorporate the pesto mixture with the chicken broth. Cook until the sauce comes to a simmer.
- Return the chicken to the pan. Simmer the chicken until cooked through and the temperature reads 165°F using an instant read thermometer, 5-6 minutes.
- Plate the chicken. Spoon the sauce and tomatoes over the chicken and garnish liberally with fresh basil. Serve immediately.