Pesto Baked Chicken Thighs – Minimalist Baker Recipes

Golden brown pesto baked chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet

Sometimes we post what we’re eating on Instagram and you want the recipe right away. Waiting for good things is hard, but you’ve proved you can do hard things. The wait for our pesto baked chicken thighs is finally over, and we have a feeling the recipe will be on repeat in your kitchens!

This garlicky, herby dish comes together in just 20 minutes and pairs well with just about anything, including salads, pasta, potatoes, and roasted veggies. Let’s make it!

Boneless skinless chicken thighs, pesto, olive oil, dried Italian herbs, red pepper flakes, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper

These EASY pesto baked chicken thighs begin with seasoning the chicken with garlic powder, dried Italian herbs, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and PESTO! The mixture is savory and salty with a little herbiness and a kick of heat.

Mixing pesto, dried Italian herbs, red pepper flakes, and chicken thighs in a bowl

Next, we sear the chicken in a cast iron skillet to create a golden brown exterior that seals in its juiciness. Another 5-10 more minutes in the oven and it’s cooked through. Letting it rest for an additional 5 minutes out of the oven allows the meat to reabsorb its juices, leaving you with tender, perfectly cooked chicken!

Golden brown chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet

We hope you LOVE this pesto chicken! It’s:

A little spicy
Juicy on the inside
Golden on the outside
& SO versatile!

This dish is a great staple entrée to have in your rotation because it pairs well with almost anything! It’s delicious with roasted veggies (potatoes, eggplant, and/or asparagus), pesto pasta salad, green salads, and so much more.

More Easy, Satisfying Entrées

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Pesto pasta swirled on a fork next to a pesto chicken thigh and roasted vegetables

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 20 minutes

Servings 4 (Chicken thighs)

Course Entrée

Cuisine Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free

Freezer Friendly No

Does it keep? 2-3 Days

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • 4 (~6 oz. each) boneless, skinless chicken thighs (organic, pasture-raised when possible // four thighs are ~1 ½ lbs // bone in, skin on also work)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried Italian herb blend (or dried oregano + basil)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (omit/reduce for less heat)
  • 3-4 Tbsp basil pesto (store-bought* or homemade // dairy-free as needed)
  • 2 tsp olive oil (use less for skin-on chicken thighs)
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and set out a large cast iron skillet (10-12 inch).
  • To a mixing bowl, add the chicken thighs, garlic powder, dried Italian herbs, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and pesto. Mix well until evenly coated, adding 1 Tbsp more pesto if using homemade (it’s not usually as concentrated in flavor).

  • Heat the cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and wait 1 minute for it to get hot. Add chicken thighs (skin side down if using skin-on) and cook until golden brown on the underside, about 3-4 minutes. Then flip and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

  • Once browned on both sides, carefully transfer the skillet to the oven (using an oven mitt) and bake until the internal temperature reads 170F / 76C (make sure to insert into the center and not hit bone for an accurate reading) — about 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken thighs.

  • Remove from the oven and let rest in the pan for ~5 minutes before serving.

  • Best when fresh, though leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave until hot. Not freezer friendly.

*Store-bought dairy-free pestos we’ve tried and enjoy: Gotham Greens Vegan Pesto, Le Grand Garden Pesto, and Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto.
*We prefer searing on the stovetop before baking for best flavor and texture. Cooking on the stovetop only doesn’t work as well because the exterior is prone to burning before the chicken is cooked through.
*If you want to bake only and skip searing on the stovetop, you can place the seasoned chicken thighs on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet sprayed/rubbed with oil. Bake at 425 F / 218 C for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the internal temperature reads 170 F / 76C (make sure to insert into the center for an accurate reading). They don’t get as crispy but are still delicious!
*Loosely adapted from our Pesto “Parmesan” Turkey Meatballs.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with boneless skinless thighs and the lesser amounts where ranges are provided.

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 248 Carbohydrates: 2.4 g Protein: 35 g Fat: 11 g Saturated Fat: 2.1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.1 g Monounsaturated Fat: 5.4 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 144 mg Sodium: 366 mg Potassium: 503 mg Fiber: 0.9 g Sugar: 0.2 g Vitamin A: 123 IU Vitamin C: 2.5 mg Calcium: 26 mg Iron: 2.3 mg

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