Quick Pesto Roasted Chicken Recipe

Easy Pesto Roasted Chicken

The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Total: 105 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 1 chicken
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
718 Calories
43g Fat
1g Carbs
78g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 718
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 43g 55%
Saturated Fat 11g 57%
Cholesterol 251mg 84%
Sodium 417mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 78g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 64mg 5%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 651mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This is a quick and flavorful pesto roasted chicken to prepare for any meal. It is a simple, easy, and tasty recipe. Pesto is pushed underneath the chicken's skin and then rubbed over it to impart a delicious garlicky and herby taste. You also have the option to stuff the chicken with lemon and orange along with basil which infuses into the meat as it cooks. Doing this will provide more depth of flavor and makes for a juicier chicken. 

Check to make sure the roasted chicken is done using an instant-read thermometer. It is cooked properly when the temperature reaches 165 F.

Get your artistic flair going and garnish the chicken with some fresh basil leaves and sprinkle it with fresh Parmesan cheese and a scattering of pine nuts before placing the platter on the table. Carve the chicken like you would a turkey; using a sharp chef's knife, carve in this order: thighs, legs, breasts, and then wings.

Serve with some roasted veggies such as a mixture of tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash, some roasted baby red potatoes, and a tossed fresh green salad for a delicious dinner. Perfect for a weeknight family dinner, a special occasion, or dinner party. Your family and guests will rave about this roasted chicken and request second helpings. 


  • 1 (4 to 5) pound roasting chicken

  • 1/4 cup pesto

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters, optional

  • 1 orange, cut into quarters, optional

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried leaf basil, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Heat oven to 425 F.

  2. Using your fingers, separate the skin from the chicken meat around the breast and legs. Push small amounts of pesto under the skin. Rub any remaining pesto over the skin and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

  3. If desired, fill the cavity with cut-up lemon and orange, along with fresh basil leaves or about 1 teaspoon of dried basil.

  4. Roast at 425 F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F. Continue roasting for about 18 to 20 minutes per pound, or to about 165 F on a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest meaty part of the thigh.


  • If by any chance there is any chicken leftover, it makes wonderful chicken salad sandwiches or wraps and is also good chopped up to include on salads. You can even add it to cooked pasta for a dinner.
  • To calculate roasting for a larger chicken, figure on roasting for about 20 minutes per pound.

How to Store

To store leftover chicken, place it in an airtight container or zip-top bag and put in the refrigerator where it will keep for three to four days.

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