This skillet pesto chicken recipe is an easy fix for dinner tonight! Seasoned and seared chicken breasts simmer in a creamy pesto sauce with cherry tomatoes. Great oven pasta or pair it with just about any side dish.
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. And well ALL know someone in the summertime that’s screaming “please come take a bushel of basil off my hands”.
And while fresh basil tossed into salads and used to garnish soups is great, basil worked not once, but twice, into a skillet chicken breast recipe is literally twice as nice.
Creamy pesto chicken isn’t limited to just the months of abundance, though. Sure you can make your own basil chicken, but it’s just as good with store-bought. Do be sure to grab some fresh basil for garnish though!
Skillet Chicken Is a Dinner Winner
We’ve all had bad chicken. We’ve all thought at one time or another “I cannot possibly eat another bland, dry chicken breast. Please, make it stop”.
The problem is simple, and the solution is simpler – sauce. Skillet chicken breast recipes are abundant, but juicy, flavorful, restaurant-quality chicken recipes have a few things in common: they’re often prepared with a two-step process (sear, then simmer) and they almost always have a sauce.
Even better, boneless chicken breasts cook up fast, so they’re a quick and easy solution for busy people for weeknight dinner dilemmas!
Once you’ve masted pesto chicken, the possibilities are endless – skillet tomato basil chicken and one-pan creamy lemon chicken are natural next steps. If you’re adventurous, try our creamy garlic chicken or one-pan artichoke chicken for crispy skin with incredibly tender meat.
How to Make Creamy Pesto Chicken Breasts
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.
Can I Use Chicken Thighs?
Yes! Choose boneless skinless chicken thighs, and be sure to trim any visible fat deposits (which tend to get gummy in skillet cooking). There’s no need to pound chicken thighs before searing as they’re higher in fat content and naturally more tender than chicken breasts.
Chicken thighs are often smaller than chicken breasts, and therefore may cook through more quickly. However, because their fat content is higher, they won’t dry out as easily. In short? Chicken thighs are a terrific swap!
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.
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One-Pan Creamy Pesto Chicken BreastsPrint 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.
A fun thing to do with fresh basil is called chiffonade. Stack leaves of basil about 4 leaves high. Roll them tightly starting at the stem end. Hold the roll and cut perpendicular into thin cuts. It creates pretty ribbons of the basil. Also worked with other herb and vegetable leaves like baby spinach.
Loved this recipe! Made it with pappardelle pasta. Next time I’ll add some fresh garlic sautéed with the cherry tomatoes for a little more zing.
Loved the recipe! Added some garlic and some spinach and put it over some sweet potato gnocchi. So good!