Grilled Pesto Chicken (Low Carb Recipe)

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Grilled Pesto Chicken is a very simple recipe, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in flavor! Chicken breast is lightly seasoned and grilled before adding a tasty homemade pesto sauce on top. Paired with cherry tomatoes and avocado, it’s light, wholesome, and incredibly easy to make!

titled: Grilled Pesto Chicken Low Carb Recipe


 

Grilled Pesto Chicken

While I always love whipping up super elaborate recipes, there’s something to be said for simple meals that don’t require a lot of ingredients or effort.

This grilled pesto chicken is one of those recipes! Chicken breast is grilled to perfection and then served with an easy-to-make pesto sauce, plus cherry tomatoes and avocado. 

Pesto makes this recipe juicy and flavorful, and the avocado and cherry tomatoes contrast that by adding some creaminess, moisture, and a touch of sweetness. 

All you need are 30 minutes from start to finish to grill chicken pesto — and there’s no marinating required — making it perfect for busy weeknights!

Need more weeknight dinner inspiration? Don’t miss my collection of easy crockpot recipes and one skillet recipes too! 

ingredients for low carb grilled pesto chicken

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Chicken Breast – I use boneless skinless chicken breast as it’s super easy to find at the supermarket and I honestly always have a pack in the freezer. 

    If you prefer to use chicken thighs, you can! Just make sure to adjust the cooking time as thighs need to cook longer than breasts.
  • Fresh Basil – The key ingredient in the homemade pesto! You definitely need to use fresh basil here — dried will not work.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Also for the pesto. I like using extra virgin olive oil as the flavor is super subtle, letting the basil shine.
  • Garlic – Add 2 whole cloves to the food processor along with the basil and olive oil for a garlicky punch. As a note, you can adjust the amount of garlic to your liking.
  • Walnuts – I like using walnuts in my pesto over the traditional pine nuts! That said, you can use pine nuts if you’d like. Whatever you have on hand will work.
  • Cherry Tomatoes & Avocado – For serving. The flavors and textures go so well with grilled pesto chicken!
grilled chicken breasts

Best Tips and Tricks to Gril Pesto Chicken

  • Use an outdoor or indoor grill.

I personally love pesto chicken on the grill outside — there’s something about that authentic charred flavor that just can’t be beat!

But if an indoor grill is your only option, that will work as well. Just make sure to preheat it well before cooking to get that same charred effect. 

  • Keep a close eye on the chicken as it cooks.

Boneless skinless chicken breast grills up very quickly — only about 4-5 minutes on each side — so it’s important that you keep an eye on them to prevent overcooking.

If you leave them for too long, they’ll end up tough and overly chewy. Or worse… burnt!

  • Check for doneness with a meat thermometer.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether chicken is done cooking or not, especially when you use your grill.

The best way to ensure it’s safe to eat is to use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should be 165°F. 

You should also cut into the thickest part of the chicken and check to see if the juices run clear without any pink in the center.

  • Use a blender or food processor to make the pesto.

Sure, you could use store-bought pesto to make pesto grilled chicken, but where’s the fun in that?! It’s so easy to make from scratch with a food processor or blender.

Combine until you get the texture you’re after. I like a smooth pesto, but if you like yours a bit more rustic, feel free to leave it a little more chunky!

adding ingredients for pesto to the blender

Prep Ahead

  • Preheat your grill to medium-high
  • Slice the tomatoes and avocado

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • Outdoor or Countertop Grill for the chicken.
  • Blender – A high-powered blender is a must in every kitchen! Alternatively, use a Food Processor.
  • Basting Brush – I like this one over the silicone ones.
  • Cutting Board – A big solid cutting board makes prepping a breeze. I use mine daily, so it’s worth the investment to get a good quality one.
fresh made pesto in a blender

Serving Suggestions 

I serve my grilled pesto chicken with sliced cherry tomatoes and avocado — I love how they all taste together. 

This would also work well with brown rice, and you could grill up some asparagus or zucchini while the chicken cooks too! Couscous and quinoa are some other tasty options. 

Lemon Cucumber Salad would also be great. Or, you can add it to a sandwich for lunch!

To keep things super light, you could use the pesto grilled chicken as a protein in a large garden salad! It would be delicious with a squeeze of lemon juice on top.

brushing chicken breasts with pesto

Storing and Reheating Pesto Grilled Chicken

Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. This recipe is wonderful for meal prep, and can be enjoyed cold or reheated.

To reheat, pop the chicken in the microwave and heat in 30-second bursts, or heat it in a skillet until warmed through.

I don’t suggest freezing grilled pesto chicken as the texture of the sauce may change when you thaw it. It’s best enjoyed fresh!

Pesto Chicken on the Grill FAQ

How to use pesto with grilled chicken?

You can add pesto sauce to chicken after it’s been grilled like I do here, or you can actually marinate chicken in pesto! 

If you want to try the marinating route, simply add the pesto to a Ziploc bag along with a bit of lemon juice. Add the raw chicken, mix to coat it, and then let it marinate for 8 hours or overnight before grilling.

Can I make the pesto sauce ahead of time?

Absolutely! Feel free to prepare the pesto sauce in advance and store it in the fridge. It will keep for up to 3 days — just give it a stir before using it to make your pesto chicken on the grill.

What cheese goes on a chicken pesto sandwich?

If you want to grill chicken pesto for sandwiches, I recommend you use mozzarella, gouda, burrata, provolone, or even burrata as your cheese! 

grilled pesto chicken on a plate with avocado and basil

Enjoy!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.

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grilled pesto chicken on a white plate with roasted tomatoes, avocado and basil leaves

closeup of grilled pesto chicken

Grilled Pesto Chicken (Low Carb Recipe)

Donna Elick
Grilled Pesto Chicken is the perfect solution for weekday lunch or dinner! No need to marinate — simply grill, coat in pesto, and serve!
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Method Grill
Servings 2

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large avocado

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the Grill: Heat your grill to medium-high heat. This ensures it's nice and hot when you start cooking the chicken.
  • Grill the Chicken: Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and then place the chicken breasts on the heated grill. Grill them until they're golden brown on both sides and cooked through. This usually takes about 4-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts.
  • Meanwhile: Make the Pesto: While the chicken is cooking, prepare the pesto. In a blender or food processor, combine the fresh basil, garlic cloves, olive oil, walnuts, and salt. Blend until smooth. This creates a flavorful pesto sauce to brush onto the chicken.
  • Brush with Pesto and Grill Again: Once the chicken is cooked through, brush each chicken breast generously with the prepared pesto sauce. Return the chicken to the grill and cook for another 1-2 minutes on each side, allowing the pesto to infuse into the chicken.
  • Serve Warm: Transfer the grilled pesto chicken to a serving platter. Serve warm with sliced avocado and cherry tomatoes on the side.

Donna’s Notes

What I love about this recipe is how amazing the chicken matches with pesto and avocado; it’s delicious. Pesto makes this recipe juicy and flavorful, and the avocado and cherry add some creaminess and moisture to the equation. This recipe offers a lot of taste, and you don’t have to spend so much time making it, so it’s perfect for busy weekdays.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 750cal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 1442mg | Sugar: 3g | Fiber: 9g | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 3mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Grilled Pesto Chicken Low Carb Recipe - PIN

Originally published July 2024

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