Creamy Pesto Chicken Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
Our creamy pesto chicken recipe uses heavy whipping cream to make a rich and savory pesto sauce you'll want to slurp up.

Updated: Mar. 11, 2024

No matter the recipe, prepared pesto packs a lot of flavor for a single ingredient. That’s why we love to use it in so many pesto recipes, like this creamy pesto chicken. This chicken dinner is quick and easy to make—and simple to customize with extra vegetables or more cheese.

Creamy Pesto Chicken Ingredients

  • Pesto: Use your favorite store-bought pesto, or prepare our go-to homemade pesto recipe.
  • Chicken breasts: Pound the chicken breasts down to a uniform 1/2-inch thickness so they cook evenly.
  • Heavy whipping cream: This recipe wouldn’t be creamy without the heavy whipping cream! It helps make the creamy sauce and softens the tomatoes.
  • Grape tomatoes: Tomatoes add little bursts of bright flavor and color.
  • Parmesan cheese: Shredded Parm is the perfect salty finishing touch for pesto chicken. We recommend 1/8 cup per serving, though we often don’t measure it out exactly.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the chicken

Pounding the chicken breastTMB STUDIO

Cover the chicken breasts with plastic wrap and pound them with a meat mallet until they are 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Step 2: Brown the chicken

Browning chicken breast in skilletTMB STUDIO

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts to the skillet. Brown the chicken breasts on both sides, then remove them from the pan and keep them warm.

Step 3: Make the pesto cream sauce

Pesto Sauce with cream, cherry tomatoes, garlic and olive oil in panTMB STUDIO

In the same skillet, add the minced garlic. Cook and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Stir in the halved grape tomatoes, heavy whipping cream and pesto. Bring the sauce to a boil, and then reduce the heat.

Step 4: Finish cooking the chicken

Chicken breast in pan with pesto sauceTMB STUDIO

Return the browned chicken to the pan. Cover, and cook until a thermometer inserted into the chicken reads 165°F, about 15 minutes.

Step 5: Add the cheese

When the chicken is cooked, sprinkle Parmesan on top of each piece. Serve hot.

Creamy Pesto Chicken Variations

  • Veg it up: Add vegetables to your creamy pesto chicken. Broccoli florets, red pepper strips and zucchini slices go well with the flavors of the dish.
  • More cheese, please: Combine the shredded Parmesan with shredded mozzarella, or layer a thin slice of fresh mozzarella on top of the finished chicken breasts.
  • Add crunch: After adding the cheese, sprinkle on crispy prosciutto for a salty crunch.

Creamy Pesto Chicken Tips

Cooked Creamy Pesto Chicken on serving dish on dining tableTMB STUDIO

How do you store creamy pesto chicken?

Keep leftover pesto chicken in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within two days. Reheat the chicken slowly on the stovetop. You can use the microwave, but we prefer reheating pesto dishes on the stovetop for more control—you don’t want to overheat pesto.

If you want to make this pesto chicken recipe for a future dinner, wrap it and then freeze it for up to four months.

What do you serve with pesto chicken?

This creamy pesto chicken is a saucy dish, so it goes well with pasta or bread. We like it with long, wide noodles like pappardelle or fettuccine, or a basket of fresh garlic bread. Orzo or rice work, too. Put more vegetables on the table with a side salad or roasted veggie.

Creamy Pesto Chicken

Prep Time 30 min
Yield 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Pound chicken breasts with a meat mallet to 1/2-inch thickness; sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on both sides; remove and keep warm.
  2. In the same skillet, add garlic. Cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, cream and pesto. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Return chicken to pan; cover and cook until a thermometer reads 165°. Top with Parmesan; serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

1 serving: 543 calories, 38g fat (16g saturated fat), 155mg cholesterol, 636mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 1g fiber), 42g protein.

The humble chicken breast cooks up to creamy goodness in a sauce of pesto, cream and tomatoes for a quick and easy weeknight main dish. Parmesan adds an extra flavor note.