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This creamy pesto chicken recipe is an easy, healthy and delicious dinner that comes together in under 30 minutes. Made with juicy tender chicken breasts and a fragrant sauce, it’s the perfect weeknight meal to pair with pasta or rice!
ingredients & substitutions
- Chicken breast: Use boneless skinless chicken breast and pound them to equal thickness or slice in half. You can use chicken thighs but they will require more time.
- Flour: Used for dredging the chicken, the flour helps to add good browning to the chicken and helps to thicken the sauce. You can swap it for almond flour or another grain-free flour.
- Milk: Adding just half a cup of milk creates a rich creamy sauce. Feel free to use a dairy-free option or use cream cheese or sour cream for a thicker sauce.
- Chicken broth: To create the sauce for the recipe and can be subbed with vegetable broth or more milk.
- Onions & garlic: They help to flavor the creamy pesto sauce. Chop them finely so they integrate easily into the recipe. You can omit them or use onion powder and garlic powder for a quicker sauce.
- Pesto: Make homemade pesto and freeze some to use for recipes like this. You can also use store bought pesto.
- Cherry tomatoes: They add a beautiful color and texture to the pesto sauce and when they burst in the sauce, they add more juiciness to the chicken.
How to make creamy pesto chicken
- Pound the chicken breast, season with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour on both sides
- Transfer the coated chicken breast to a heated skillet.
- Cook on both sides until lightly browned and fully cooked. Then remove and set aside.
- Cook the onions and garlic until softened and fragrant.
- Add the remaining flour, pesto, chicken broth, milk followed by the cherry tomatoes and simmer the sauce.
- Finish it off by returning the chicken back to the skillet and heating until warmed through.
Tips for making the recipe
- Freeze pesto to have on hand. This could be store-bought or homemade. But having the pesto ready to go is what truly makes the recipe so quick and simple.
- Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before cooking. Chicken can sit at room temperature for up to 30 minutes before cooking. That ensures that the chicken cooks evenly with the best texture.
- Check the internal temperature of the chicken for best results. The time estimates are based on chicken breasts about ½ in thickness. For the best accuracy, use a quick-read thermometer and check that the chicken reaches a temperature of 165°F.
- Customize the add-ins. Cherry tomatoes burst and create a beautiful color and richness to the sauce. You can also add other vegetables for a fuller meal like mushrooms, zucchini or even potatoes (which may require more sauce).
Frequently asked questions
Like most chicken recipes, this creamy pesto chicken will last up to 4 days in the fridge. Store in an airtight container and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
Yes, this meal is freezer friendly. Be sure to thaw the chicken completely after cooking, then store in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating on the stove or in the microwave.
This is one of those meals that looks like it came from a fancy restaurant, but it’s made in less than 30 minutes with very simple ingredients. And if you’re wondering how it holds the next day, it tastes great as the chicken soaks up that creamy pesto sauce!
More pesto recipes:
More chicken recipes
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Creamy Pesto Chicken
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- ½ medium yellow onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- ½ cup pesto
- ¼ cup milk
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
- Fresh basil for garnish
- Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise or pound until they are ½ inch thick. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Add ¼ cup flour to a shallow bowl. Dredge chicken in flour and transfer to a sheet tray.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown and fully cooked through, 5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside. Wipe out skillet.
- In same skillet, reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and incorporate with a wooden spoon. Start with just a small drizzle, slowly incorporate chicken broth, mixing between additions.
- Once all the broth is added, mix in pesto and milk. Add tomatoes. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until thickened, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add chicken back in. Cook until warmed through, 2 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve immediately.
- Instead of all-purpose flour, you can use almond flour or other grain-free flours.
- Instead of milk, you can use almond milk or cream cheese for a thicker sauce.
- Instead of chicken broth, you can use more milk or vegetable broth.