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January 16, 2024

One Pot Pesto Chicken and Rice

A few simple ingredients get a flourish of color and flavor from basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, lemon, toasted pine nuts, and crumbled goat cheese in this one pot chicken and rice recipe.

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one pot pesto chicken and rice in a skillet with cherry tomatoes topped with crumbled goat cheese and toasted pine nuts
Photography by Gayle McLeod

More of our favorite one pot chicken dishes

One Pot Chicken Dinner Winner

We’ve thought a lot about one pot dinners (check out our Best One Pot Dinners) and chicken is a surefire dinner plan (we’ve got 60 Best Chicken Breast Recipes that prove it). This chicken with pesto recipe combines the best of both worlds in an easy one pot chicken dinner. And once you make our Homemade Basil Pesto recipe, you can use it to make pesto green beans and pesto potato salad.

skinless chicken thighs, rice, olive oil, red onion, pesto, lemon zest, lemon juice, goat cheese & pie nuts in prep bowls

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Ingredients For One Pot Basil Pesto Chicken And Rice

  • Chicken thighs

  • Kosher salt

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Red onion, sliced

  • Long grain white rice

  • Chicken stock

  • Pesto, homemade or store bought

  • Lemon–lemon zest and fresh lemon juice

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • Crumbled goat cheese

  • Toasted pine nuts

skinless chicken thighs seasoned with salt being browned in olive oil in a large pan
skinless chicken thighs seasoned with salt being browned in olive oil in a large pan
sliced red onion, chicken stock, rice, pesto, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt cooking in a large skillet
chicken thighs, cherry tomatoes, red onion, chicken stock, rice, pesto, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt cooking in a skillet

How To Make One Pot Pesto Chicken

  1. Prepare the chicken by patting it dry using paper towels, and seasoning all over with salt.

  2. Brown the chicken in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

  3. Cook the onion, and then add a splash of chicken stock. Stir in the rice, pesto, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and the rest of the chicken stock.

  4. Nestle the chicken into the rice mixture using tongs and pour over any collected juices. Bring to a simmer, then add the tomatoes. Cover and cook until the liquid has absorbed, the rice is tender, and the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

  5. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of pesto over the chicken, then sprinkle with the goat cheese and pine nuts.

one pot pesto chicken and rice topped with goat cheese and pine nuts in a skillet being scooped on to a plate

How to Store Leftovers + Tips

  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. If freezing, cool completely before placing in an air-tight container. Frozen rice is best if consumed within one month.

  • Patting the chicken dry might seem like an unnecessary step, but we include it here because it helps the chicken brown which leads to a more flavorful dish.

  • We recommend using long grain white rice. If you use a different kind of rice, keep your eye on the cooking time.

  • If you’re making homemade pesto, you’ll already have pine nuts on hand. If you’re buying pesto at the store, you can skip the pine nut garnish if you don’t have them in your pantry already. Slivered almonds would also deliver a nice crunch.

one pot pesto chicken and rice topped with goat cheese and pine nuts in a skillet being scooped on to a plate

More Chicken + Pesto Recipes From The Modern Proper

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One Pot Pesto Chicken and Rice

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  35 min
  • Calories: 350

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 1½ cups long grain white rice
  • 2½ cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons pesto, homemade or store bought
  • ¾ teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled, for serving
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted, for serving

Method

  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season all over with 1 teaspoon of the salt.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, working in batches as necessary, add the chicken in a single layer. Cook, undisturbed, until the chicken is lightly browned, 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the saucepan. Once the oil is glistening, add the onion and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the chicken stock, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the rice, pesto, lemon zest, lemon juice, the remaining teaspoon of salt, and the remaining chicken stock.

  4. Nestle the chicken into the rice mixture and pour over any collected juices. Bring to a simmer, then add the tomatoes. Cover and cook until the liquid has absorbed, the rice is tender, and the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

  5. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of pesto over the chicken, then sprinkle with the goat cheese and pine nuts. Divide the chicken and rice between plates or serve family-style.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories350
  • Protein29 g
  • Carbohydrates26 g
  • Total Fat13 g
  • Dietary Fiber1 g
  • Cholesterol127 mg
  • sodium854 mg
  • Total Sugars2 g

One Pot Pesto Chicken and Rice

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Janet Page

    If I cut the recipe in half do I need to change anything? Will use chicken breasts

    That should work fine!

  • Hayley Elwood

    If goat cheese isn’t my thing, what would a good substitute be?

    You can leave it out or sprinkle with parmesan instead. Hope you enjoy!

  • Gracie

    THIS. WAS. SO. YUMMY!!! Make it.
    Flavorful and SO easy!
    I added garlic after the onions were sautéed. You could easily just add garlic powder. I also added kale before I began simmering for 20min. I am going to try this recipe again next time and add broccoli! SO GOOD

    Thanks Gracie, we are so glad you loved it!

  • Nick

    So delicious and easy to make! I did use chunks of chicken breast (I know, I know…) and it was still excellent. The pesto, lemon and feta was such a good flavour mix. Thanks for another great recipe!

    Thanks Nick, glad you loved it! no judgment here we're sure the chicken you used was great!

  • Jenn D

    Yes, yes, yes. Loved this, thanks so much!

    Thanks so much Jenn, we are so glad you loved it!