Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Chicken is rich, creamy, comforting, and done in only 30 minutes! This one-pan chicken dinner recipe is easy enough for a weeknight and special enough for date night at home.
Sundried tomato pesto (also called pesto rosso), heavy cream, and parmesan cheese combine effortlessly to make the richest and most mouthwatering cream sauce.
I've loved adding this Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Chicken to my lineup of pesto recipes! It's a decadent recipe that satisfies any possible comfort food craving. I like to slice the chicken breast and let every inch of it soak up the red, creamy, sauce!
Why you'll love this recipe
- This is a restaurant-quality recipe that you can make at home in only 30 minutes!
- You don't often find recipes that are described as comfort food AND low-carb! Not only is my Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Pesto recipe low-carb, but it's also keto!
- You only need 4 main ingredients! The rest of the recipe ingredients (herbs and spices) are easily found in your pantry.
- The entire recipe is made in just one skillet! This is an easy, one-pan pesto chicken recipe that you'll make over and over again.
- This is the perfect recipe if you're having a small dinner party. The cook will only need to spend a short amount of time in the kitchen away from guests.
- Even though this is a "fancy" recipe, my kids still loved it. The heavy cream and parmesan cheese tone down the intense flavor of the sundried tomatoes.
Chicken breast: You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts, chicken tenders, or chicken cutlets. I always trim the fat and any visible tendons off of my chicken breast. It really improves the flavor of the cooked meat when you take the time to clean it up.
Sun dried tomato pesto: I taste-tested two different brands of sundried tomato pesto for this recipe. Delallo Sun Dried Tomato Pesto is thick, chunky, lighter on the oil, and had a very strong sundried tomato flavor. Filippo Berio Sun Dried Tomato Pesto was more blended, had more oil, and the sun dried tomatoes had a more mild flavor, with a lot of basil taste coming through. I chose to go with the Filippo Berio pesto, but I think either kind would work!
Heavy cream: Heavy cream is used to make the cream sauce ultra thick and creamy.
Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated parmesan cheese is always best. It will melt more easily and have better flavor. You absolutely cannot use shelf-stable parmesan cheese from a canister.
Additional ingredients: You'll also need dried oregano, garlic powder, kosher salt, ground black pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and butter.
A detailed ingredient list and recipe instructions are found in the recipe card below.
- Large skillet with deep sides - I like to use my 3.6 quart, heavy-duty, Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Casserole dish. It has tall sides and rounded edges that make it perfect for making a sauce. It's non-stick and holds up well to high heat.
- Additional kitchen tools needed: 4-sided cheese grater, meat mallet/tenderizer, measuring cups, and measuring spoons
How to make Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Chicken
Step 1: Use a meat mallet to pound and tenderize your chicken breasts. Pound the chicken breast out until all pieces are about ½ inch thick.
You can skip this step if you're using chicken cutlets or chicken tenders.
Step 2: Mix the dried seasonings together in a small bowl. Season both sides of the chicken breast with the seasoning blend.
You might have some of the seasoning blend left over.
Step 3: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low to medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the chicken breast. Place the chicken breast in a single layer, without overlapping the pieces.
Step 4: Cook each side for about 8-10 minutes, cooking the chicken for a total of 16-20 minutes. Adjust your burner up or down as needed. You do not want the chicken or the oil to burn.
It's okay if crusty, brown bits form on the bottom of your pan! These pieces will add tons of flavor to the cream sauce when we deglaze the pan in step #6.
Step 5: Remove the cooked chicken from the pan. Add the butter and minced garlic. Cook the garlic for about 30 seconds. Just until the garlic is fragrant.
Step 6: Pour in the heavy cream and the sun dried tomato pesto. Use a wooden spoon to stir the tomato pesto sauce together. Gently scrape the bottom of the pan to pull up any brown bits. Bring the cream sauce to a gentle simmer.
Step 7: Add in the grated parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. Turn off your burner. Add the cooked chicken back into the skillet.
Spoon some cream sauce over top of the chicken. Serve the Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Chicken straight from the skillet, or cut it up into thin slices. Enjoy!
- You must use thin pieces of chicken. Large, thick, chicken breast will not cook quickly enough in the skillet. Thick chicken breast also has a tendency to cook unevenly and can become rubbery and tough.
- If you're using an enameled cast iron pan similar to mine, then you need to use wooden or silicone utensils so that you do not scratch the enamel.
- You can make your own homemade sundried tomato pesto for this recipe! I found it easiest to purchase a jar of red pesto, but if you have the time, feel free to make your own from scratch.
- If you want to serve the pesto chicken over pasta, you may want to double the sauce. This should be easy to do right in your same skillet. Simply double the heavy cream, pesto, and parmesan cheese. You may need to adjust the seasonings before serving your red pesto pasta sauce.
Substitutions and variations
Chicken breast: Shrimp or scallops would be really delicious to use in place of the chicken.
Heavy cream: Common substitutes for heavy cream include heavy whipping, cream, half and half, coconut cream (coconut milk), and whole milk. I wouldn't substitute the heavy cream in this recipe, though. You need it to make your sauce thick and creamy.
Seasonings: You can add Italian Seasoning, dried basil, fresh basil, fresh parsley, and red pepper flakes (if you want some extra heat).
Vegetables: Adding vegetables to the cream sauce is really easy. Simply stir in cooked broccoli, cauliflower, or cherry tomatoes. Fresh spinach can easily be added after the sauce has come up to a simmer. If you want even more sun dried tomato flavor, add in sun dried tomato slices.
How to store, freeze, and reheat
How to store: Store any leftover creamy pesto chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
How to freeze: I don't recommend freezing this recipe because heavy cream does not hold up well to freezing.
How to reheat: My preferred way to reheat leftover sun dried tomato pesto chicken is in a skillet on the stovetop. Reheat over low heat. The sauce will turn solid when it's cooled off in the fridge. As you reheat it, the sauce will thin back out.
What to serve with
This creamy red pesto chicken recipe would be delicious served over pasta, gnocchi, or rice. I would also serve it with any of my vegetable side dishes!
Frequently asked questions
Sun dried tomato pesto will last for about a week in the fridge after it's opened. The oils will separate and solidify but will mix back into the pesto once it's warmed up again.
Red pesto can be used in sauces, dips, pasta recipes, and hummus, as flavor boost in marinara sauce, mixed with mayonnaise and added to savory baked goods.
Pesto is a combination of basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, and sometimes pine nuts or walnuts. Sun-dried tomato pesto includes sun-dried tomatoes and usually has less basil.
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