Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan (30 Minute Meal)


 Gluten-free Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan takes 5 minutes to prep and bakes in 30 minutes!

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan #chicken #chickenthighs #dinner |

Hi everyone – welcome to a new week!

Last week’s warmer temps lit a fire under our butts and instead of sticking around the house as planned, we were out and about all weekend long. To heck with the cold weather! On Saturday morning Ben and I took the boss to my new favorite restaurant/bakery/cafe in town, La Mie, for brunch. I ordered the same thing I’ve gotten the past three times I’ve visited – the Veggie Scramble with a Vanilla Almond Milk Latte. It is, perfection.

Ben got the same scramble after I told him how tasty it was and he raved the whole way through. Expertly seasoned and perfectly cooked. The whole half avocado on top is what makes it really special, me thinks. We both agreed a home attempt wouldn’t come close to the real thing, so I guess I’ll just have to keep going back for more. Darn. ;)


Lincoln behaved himself, save for the yelling. Right. It’s his new favorite thing to do. Just…yell! At the top of his lungs for no apparent reason – he’s pretty proud of it. Awesome. (Ok, I secretly love it and actually do think it’s pretty awesome. That being said, we did our best to quiet him down because I know other people might not think it’s so cute!)


Later that night I met up with a girlfriend for drinks, pedis, and dinner (which was as amazing as it sounds. Note to self: do this more often!) then Sunday Ben and I hopped over to the mall for a few laps. Like I said, a great little weekend!


In case your weekend was just as busy, and you didn’t have time to meal plan for the week, I have got you COVERED for dinner tonight with Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan. 

4 ingredients + 5 minutes of prep work + 30 minutes of baking time = dinner. Saweet!

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan #chicken #chickenthighs #dinner |

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan is chicken thighs tossed in pesto then topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, and then baked. So unbelievably simple! Like I said, five minutes to prep then 30 minutes to bake. This dish will be done before you’ve even had time to take your pants off after coming home from work.

My Mom came over to visit Lincoln and me during her lunch hour last week and I sent her back to work with some of this chicken fresh out of the oven. She emailed me 20 minutes later saying it was everything she loved about Italian food, and needed the recipe STAT! I knew loved it, but to get confirmation from my Mom was like winning a prize. She’s my cooking role model!

If you need a quick and flavorful dinner idea – this is your recipe!

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan #chicken #chickenthighs #dinner |

Start with 1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 8 thighs) seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper. Like I mentioned on Friday, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are my new favorite thing ever. They’re thin which saves the step of pounding them out, are a fraction of the cost of chicken breasts, and are incredibly tender and juicy.

In the past chicken thighs have intimidated me but after cooking with them a few times lately, I want to slap myself for waiting so long. They’re fantastic. I can’t wait to grill them all summer long!

By the way, if I still haven’t sold you on chicken thighs, you could use 1lb chicken breasts that have been pounded thin and cut in half. But come on… Thighs! Thighs! Thighs!

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan #chicken #chickenthighs #dinner |

Ahem! Pop the seasoned thighs into a 8×8 or 9×12 baking dish then toss using your hands with 1/3 cup prepared pesto.

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan #chicken #chickenthighs #dinner |

You could absolutely make your own fresh pesto (here’s my recipe,) but I took a chance on this prepared pesto for the sake of convenience. It tasted awesome – super garlicky.

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan #chicken #chickenthighs #dinner |

Next spread 1 cup marinara sauce over the thighs then top with 8oz sliced fresh mozzarella (you could use shredded in a pinch.)

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan #chicken #chickenthighs #dinner |

Seal the baking dish tightly with foil then bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil then cook for 10 more minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the chicken is cooked through. That’s it…dinner is served!

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan #chicken #chickenthighs #dinner |\

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan

serves 4


Gluten-free Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan takes 5 minutes to prep and bakes in 30 minutes!


  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 8 (could use chicken breasts pounded thin then cut in half)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 8oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper then add to a 8x8" or 9x12" baking dish. Add pesto then use hands to evenly coat. Spoon marinara sauce over top of thighs followed by mozzarella cheese then cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil then bake for 10 more minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


If you’re like me and have been missing out on the lusciousness that his chicken thighs – change that ASAP! They’re so juicy and have an awesome flavor. Definitely not a creepy dark meat flavor, which is what I always thought they’d taste like.

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan #chicken #chickenthighs #dinner |

This chicken would be great over a bed of pasta, but I served it with roasted potato wedges.

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan #chicken #chickenthighs #dinner |

That’s just potatoes cut into wedges, tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Totally easy to make with this chicken since they cook at the same temp. Enjoy!

Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan #chicken #chickenthighs #dinner |

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  1. Regan 02.24.2014

    Yum…can’t wait to try those thighs!….and I love that Lincoln has a fleece like Momma

  2. Pesto, Chicken and Cheese…all in 30 minutes?
    You are my new favorite person. ever.
    Don’t tell my husband ;)

  3. I’m with you on the chicken thighs. So. much. better. Unfortunately I can’t convince my husband. Ugh. Love the looks of this recipe–especially the prep and baking time! My kind of dinner. And I have to comment on Lincoln’s sock monkey pjs! Love. :)

  4. YES!!! I’ve been pesto-fying [so not a word!] everything in sight lately! This sounds/looks awesome =) Also I’m pretty sure all dishes should come with a half ‘cado on top. That’s just magical!

  5. Julie 02.24.2014

    Looks delish. I love chicken thighs as well but I hate that I feel like they need more cleaning (excess fat and other stuff) than breasts. I do love getting thighs and breasts and throwing a few of each in the crock pot and then mixing the meat together.

  6. Chicago Jogger 02.24.2014

    Can’t wait to make this! It has been months since I have had pesto. Time to change that :)

  7. You had me at 30 minutes! Love this whole recipe! Will be on the list for sure this week! And Lincoln is just sooo cute!

  8. Josie 02.24.2014

    I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now, but I’ve never commented and I thought this dish deserves one! It looks amazing, and is definitely going on my meal plan for the week! As a newer cook, I’ve had great luck following your step-by-step recipes and I absolutely love your blog. :)

  9. Beth Ann Chiles 02.24.2014

    I am so making this!!! Look delightful and full of flavor. Lincoln is adorable. I doubt too many people would mind the “screaming” stage. :-) Soon it will be on to another discovery.

  10. I am obsessed with chicken thighs too! I started using them a few years ago bc they are a cheaper way to still be able to buy organic/high quality meat – plus their flavor is just sooooo much better – now I can barely use chicken breasts at all, they just seem so blahhh haha :/ As for this recipe, I have a jar of pesto waiting to be finished up and this just might be the way to do it. Sounds delicious!!

  11. Anne 02.24.2014

    I have never cooked chicken thighs before. Do they come with a bone in them, if so, what is the best way to remove? Do you have to do any special prep to get them ready? Do you have to ask the butcher anything special as far as prepping them? I am interested in using, but I am intimidated like you were.

    • Kristin 02.24.2014

      You can buy chicken thighs with the bone in for soups/stews or cooking in the crock pot since the bones have a lot of flavor, but I bought boneless thighs so there’s literally nothing I had to do when I got home. They come pre-trimmed exactly as you see in the picture above. I took them right from the package to the baking dish!

  12. Maria 02.24.2014

    I am also totally intimidated by chicken thighs but this looks AMAZING and I will definitely be trying it this week. Thank you so much for always making things so approachable!

  13. Chris 02.24.2014

    Beautiful pictures, my mouth is watering. Thanks for the recipe.

  14. Ashley 02.24.2014

    This recipe looks very yummy. I haven’t seen the boneless thighs at my local Hy-Vee or Fareway – I will have to look harder next time I am there.

    I adore Lincoln’s sock monkey onesie, can you tell me where you got it at?

    • Kristin 02.24.2014

      It was actually a gift, but I THINK maybe it was from Younkers??

    • Stacey 02.25.2014

      Ashley, I was just at Hy-Vee on Sunday and they have the Bare brand boneless/skinless thighs. Also today I was at Target and they had them as well – different brand though and the package was larger (8-10) in each one.
      I just noticed someone else mentioned Aldis, which I never remember to go check. Darn!

  15. Tawnia 02.24.2014

    Ugh, your post makes me miss Des Moines (especially La Mie and the mall) so much! Also, totally making pesto chicken this week. The husband loves chicken thighs and I don’t use them nearly enough.

  16. It’s actually kind of unfair how cute Lincoln is–so much competition for the other kids!

  17. Jackie 02.24.2014

    Omg this looks like such a great dinner!! N

  18. I have walked around the Jordan Creek Mall before, too! It turns out walking/window shopping is MUCH easier on the credit card than actual shopping ;)

  19. AmberLynn Pappas 02.24.2014

    I miss going to Jordan Creek! I knew it instantly when I saw the picture of you and Lincoln! There are no movie theaters here where you can mix your own drinks like you can (or used to be able to….not sure if they still do that there) at Jordan Creek.

    Random question: Where do you find boneless chicken thighs? I want to make this later this week, but have never seen them in the meat section at our grocer. We mostly buy SMART CHICKEN, but didn’t know if these were previously frozen etc?

    • Kristin 02.24.2014

      My local grocery stole sells all the packaged brand of thighs – Just Bare, Smart Chicken, etc, as well as the store brand. You can usually also find them in the butcher case!

  20. Laura 02.24.2014

    Awesome recipe! I’d love to make for my meal swap group! So in order for it to be freezer-friendly would you just put all together and freeze without baking first?

  21. Jamie 02.24.2014

    Thighs are totally the way to go! That’s all we buy anymore and they work in everything. BTW, my little man, now 18-months, always yells back when we hear little kids yelling a few aisles over in the grocery store. He hears his people and he’s talking back! = )

  22. StarvingDiva 02.24.2014

    Lincoln is so darn adorable. I just love your posts! Especially Friday Favorites.

  23. Your little man is such a cutie, and yeah for mommy night out. Sometimes its hard to detach from the little one and get out to just pamper yourself, glad you were able to do that. Now… do it more!!! {and I speak to myself on that one too}

    Love this dish, easy peasy and looks delicious. My kinda meal! Pinned girl!

  24. Jackie 02.24.2014

    AMAZING! A revelation! I tried making something similar once but the recipe called for a TUB of pesto (maybe 8 oz.?) and it was just gross — I am a pesto-lover through-and-through, but the recipe I used just made an oily mess. I thought that I would never try making something like that again, but now I will for sure be trying this! Less pesto=delicious, easy chicken. Thank you!!

  25. Alexandra Aimee 02.24.2014

    Oh my yum! I love pesto chicken, but I’m often waaaay too lazy to make pesto, so this is perfect!

    — Alex at Cashmere Kangaroo

  26. Sarah 02.24.2014

    This looks so good! And I think it will happen soon here because I already have a jar of pesto!

  27. Chicken parm is my absolute weakness! Have to try this recipe out asap!

  28. Amy 02.24.2014

    It looks delish! I am anxious to try your recipe. Just curious as to what brand of marinara sauce that you used? I absolutely love Olive Garden’s marinara but I cannot find a store brand that I like as well! Just wondering what you used? Thanks! I am in North Alabama so you probably do not have the same grocery stores that we have here.

    • Kristin 02.26.2014

      I used a local sauce (Ginos) but Giada DiLaurentiis’ sauce is really good too!

      • Amy 02.26.2014

        Kristin, I just wanted to let you know that I prepared this dish last night for dinner and my husband and I both loved it! Super easy and super tasty! Keep those easy recipes coming for us working wives and mothers!

  29. Holly H. 02.24.2014

    I was just wondering if you might share what veggies are inside that scramble – it looks amazing! Trying the pesto chicken for a quick dinner tomorrow – can’t wait to try it!

    • Kristin 02.26.2014

      Sure! It had sweet potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, red onion, and broccoli, with the avocado on top. :)

  30. What an amazing, quick, and easy meal!!

    This reminds me of your bruschetta chicken, which was a slam dunk, so I’m totally making this asap!

  31. This looks absolutely amazing! I love how simple and *quick* it is! Just what I need when I’ve had a busy day at work. Thanks for sharing!

  32. I totally remember the “scream just to hear myself scream” with my kids. I’m with you, it’s adorable but I understand if others don’t quite think so. My sister has 2 month old twins so I can’t wait to see them when they get to that stage!

    Amazing recipe. Chicken thighs FTW!! Simple, delicious-looking recipe. And is there anything better than melted fresh mozzarella on pretty much anything!!

  33. Sarah Jane D 02.24.2014

    I absolutely love your blog and recipes. Your little fellow and his pictures/stories send your site over the top. You’re right…the love the screams, you’ll cherish the memories even if they’re screams. One question, I love your cream fleece jacket. Do you mind if I ask the brand…would love to get one. Thanks!

    • Kristin 02.26.2014

      Old Navy a few years ago, but I feel like they usually have something that looks pretty similar!

  34. Nancy 02.24.2014

    I had to laugh when I read your comment “Definitely not a creepy dark meat flavor” as that is what I always think of when I hear chicken thigh. Because I know I can trust your recommendations, I am going to try this recipe with thighs and not chicken breasts as I would usually do.

    I really appreciate how you help novice cooks like myself become confident in the kitchen. I made your Creamy Chicken Pasta last week, which was a hit with my daughter. Thank you so much! Plus your Lincoln is adorable!

  35. farmquilter 02.24.2014

    Sounds and looks so yummy!! I’ll have to use breasts because thighs are dark meat and I just KNOW it will taste, well, dark! I know I am weird, but I’m convinced that dark meat tastes funky (I don’t like steak either!). Your little man is so adorable!!!

  36. Chelsea 02.24.2014

    I LOVE La Mie. Probably one of my favorite places ever. I feel like there is a serious void in my life since leaving Des Moines. I actually made a version of their Veggie Scramble recipe over on my blog. Next time you’re in, try the tuna sandwich or the breakfast tartine. Two of my other favs.

  37. Hi. I’ve been following your blog for a little while now and have been really enjoying it. Love this recipe. So easy and so few ingredients, perfect for a quick (and very tasty) dinner. I don’t use chicken thighs much but I have some in the freezer at the moment so perfect opportunity to bring those out. Thanks for the inspiration!

  38. This looks so amazing…and simple too. I can’t wait to give this a try. Your little guy is such a cutie. My daughter (10 months) is going through the yelling for no reason thing too. It’s cute at home but not so fun when we go out. :)

  39. I have been on a pesto kick lately, thanks for another easy and delicious meal! The pedi, drinks and dinner is my favorite thing to do for girlfriend dates, but never do it enough either! Have a great week!

  40. Gail 02.25.2014

    Aldi had cheap boneless skinless chicken thighs this past week so I stocked up. On Saturday I made the “man pleasing chicken” from your Friday favorites and that was pretty darn good. I was excited when I saw you had chicken thighs up yesterday too. I made this last night and my husband said this was even better than the man pleasing chicken and I can make it every day for him. I think he liked it lol! The pesto was a tasty addition.

  41. Amy 02.25.2014

    Um…where’s the parmesan?
    Shouldn’t it be baked pesto chicken mozzarella?

    • Ryne 02.25.2014

      Usually chicken parmesan is made with breaded chicken with a parmesan breadcrumb mixture, topped with marinara and mozzarella. Instead she used pesto which has parmesan cheese in it.

    • Kristin 02.25.2014

      Chicken Parmesan just means meat (usually breaded and fried) layered with sauce and cheese – not necessarily Parmesan.

      • Erin 02.27.2014

        I was wondering the same thing and why there isn’t any Parmesan in the recipe. I think the cooking style (breaded, fried) you referred to is “Parmigiana” (wiki-ed it), which originates from Parma, Italy. Chicken Parmesan on the other hand is an American cooking style and *should* have Parmesan in it

  42. Karin 02.25.2014

    Thank you so much for admitting to your chicken thigh phobia. I have one too and it’s good to know that I can overcome this ;).

    Seriously though, if you didn’t write about being not so excited about chicken thighs in the past I totally would have just used chicken breasts. I’m going to use the thighs and see how it goes.

    Your blog is really just so awesome. I made your BBQ chicken sammies for our sandwich themed supper club last week and they went over very well.

  43. Sandy 02.25.2014

    Looks yummy! Can I ask about how you do those potato logs? So simple I’m sure but something different to feed the fam.


  44. Joanna 02.25.2014

    Definitely going to have to make this! I will have to try my hand at your homemade pesto. I am all about the homemade stuff these days. As much as possible, anyway.:) xo

  45. Suzie 02.25.2014

    Looks terrific, can’t wait to try! I wanted to mention, I’ve taken a package of bone-in, with skin, chicken thighs to the meat counter and asked them to debone the chicken many times. They’ve always been great about doing so and don’t charge for it either. I’ll usually drop it off and continue shopping, then swing back by before checkout.

  46. Jen W 02.25.2014

    We use chicken thighs all the time. Like you said, they’re a fraction of the price, nice and juice, and just the right size for easy portion control. Although, I think I’d have to have seconds of this tasty dish!

  47. Tiffany S 02.25.2014

    This is my first time posting a comment but I just want to tell you how much I love your blog. I try almost all of your recipes (last week was the power protein salad) and all of them have been a hit. My husband also loves all your recipes and usually all I have to tell him is it’s iowagirleats and then he knows he’s going to like it. Thank you for all the great food and great stories!

  48. Amy Grossman 02.25.2014

    Yum! I made this tonight for dinner. We both loved it, a true hit! It’s an easy but, super tasty weeknight recipe. I love the flavor the pesto adds. Thanks so much,

  49. I want to stuff this in my face.

  50. Donna 02.26.2014

    Thank you for the recipe. Will try it this week and see if I can figure out how to prep it for camping. We meet up with family and everyone takes a turn fixing dinner for the group. It looks amazing and would be an easy dinner to do.

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