Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pesto Chicken Two Ways

Well, I tried to think of something that would be really awesome to post about for my 400th post but these days, it's just normal everyday food with the goal of making something that my whole family will eat.  So, before I begin, if you're reading this I really appreciate your support of my blog!  I can't believe I've made it to 400 posts . . . here's to 400 more!!

I love pesto - the garlic & basil flavors - but not necessarily on pasta.  It's a little too oily and sometimes too heavy for me.  But, one of my favorite ways to grill chicken is to marinate it in pesto and this week, I made a crock pot version of that same dish.

I have made my own pesto before (mini-chopper doesn't work so well but my hand blender works awesome) and bought it from the store (Costco sells a large container that's a great value but if I'm not going to use that much, I go for Trader Joe's) and honestly, there's not a huge difference in the end result for the recipes I've made.  Keeping some chicken in the freezer and a jar or two of pesto in the pantry will give you an easy dinner option - either on the grill or in the slow cooker.

The other night, I used chicken thighs n the slow cooker, because the organic ones were on sale this week and I served it over cous cous with broccoli on the side.  It was a hit with my picky eaters!

Pesto Chicken Skewers

Cut boneless skinless chicken breasts into 2-3 inch pieces and put them in a large ziplock bag.  Add pesto to cover and marinate in the refrigerator for a couple hours (I've also done it as long as overnight).  Take the chicken out of the marinade and put it on skewers.  If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 30 minutes before threading the chicken on the skewers.    Discard the pesto.  Grill until the chicken is done - length of time will depend on how thick your chicken chunks are.

Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken

6-8 boneless skinless chicken pieces
6 oz jar of pesto (or about 3/4 cup homemade)
1-2 cups chicken broth

Put the chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker and cover with the pesto.  Pour the chicken broth over so that the chicken is barely covered (you're not making soup) and give it a stir.  Put the lid on and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

Other great recipes (from my blog) with pesto:

Pesto Potato & Green Bean Salad

Pappardelle with Scallops & Pesto

Pesto Stuffed Zucchini

Lasagna Stacks


  1. Hmmm. Now you've got me thinking. I was planning to grill chicken breasts tomorrow for dinner and I have about 1/2 c. pesto in the freezer. Would you just put it in a bag with the chicken, squeeze it to spread it around, and then take it out and grill it as you normally would after a couple of hours? My pesto is fairly thick, so the whole "discard the pesto" might not happen other than with the juices of the chicken. I'll give it a try!

  2. That's exactly what I'd do! The "discard" part is more referring to the fact that you're not going to baste with it or try to reuse the old marinade :)

  3. How would this work with one of the TJ marsala sauces? Would you make any tweaks?

    1. I haven't used those in a little while . . . if they're not as thick as pesto, you might not need to add the broth. I think their "simmer sauces" are fine without additional liquid. Let me know if you try it!

  4. Just an update: I marinated my chicken as suggested here, but it turned out that the weather was just too nasty to grill, so I just put it in a baking dish at 350 for 30 minutes. The chicken came out fine, nice and tender. I would like to try it on the grill, though, to get that extra flavor. Maybe sometime when it's not 40 and blowing powerful prairie winds directly at my grill!!

    1. I'm glad to know it turned out good in the oven . . . hope that you get some warmer spring weather soon!