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Air Fryer Pesto Chicken Bake Recipe

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This air fryer pesto chicken bake recipe is the perfect dish when you’re short on time but still want something easy and delicious! Meaty and flavorful and topped with Maika’i Basil Pesto, cheese, and tomato, this elegant dish is sure to please!

pesto chicken bake on a plate

Mahalo to Foodland Hawai’i for sponsoring this post. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own.

Making nutritious and delicious meals for my family is important to me, but I don’t always have time to stand over the stove making a big meal. That’s when picks like this easy air fryer chicken recipe come in handy. I can serve my family a tasty meal that’s way easier to make than you might think. It all starts with a few delicious ingredients, including Maika’i Basil Pesto.

Plus, when you make cheesy chicken recipe in your air fryer, it cooks quickly and without heating up your kitchen. And, there’s not a lot of clean-up! Just one air fryer basket (or tray).

Don’t have an air fryer? Not to worry, you can make this in the oven as well.

What Is Pesto?

There are many different kinds of pestos, but we’re using a classic Italian pesto for this recipe. Pestos are Italian sauces that are usually a combination of herbs, oils, nuts, and cheese. Basil pesto, like in Maika’i Basil Pesto, uses basil, sunflower seed oil, garlic, cashews, and cheese. It has a bright green color and tastes very much like basil.

Pesto pairs nicely with chicken, and when you add tomato and mozzarella, you’ve got a dish that also happens to have the same colors as the Italian flag: green, white, and red. 

basil pesto for pesto chicken bake

What You’ll Need To Make Air Fryer Pesto Chicken Bake Recipe

(Full recipe instructions and ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post)

You don’t need many ingredients to make this delicious dish!

  • Chicken breast – You’ll need boneless skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. You can use thighs as well.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Maika’i Basil Pesto – Find this at your local Foodland in the sauces aisle.
  • Mozzarella cheese – I like using sliced mozzarella in this recipe, but shredded will work, too.
  • Tomato – Thinly sliced fresh tomatoes.
pesto chicken bake ingredients

How To Make This Easy Pesto Chicken Bake Recipe

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 380-F. 
  2. Place the chicken on a cutting board and cover it with plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound the breasts to an even thickness. 
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  4. Spray the air fryer basket with non-stick cooking spray and lay the chicken in the basket, top side down.
  5. Cook for 6-8 minutes, then remove the chicken from the basket.
  6. Cover the chicken breast with the Maika’i Basil Pesto sauce, then add a layer of mozzarella cheese and then tomato slices.
  7. Put the chicken back into the air fryer basket and air fry an additional 6-8 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165-F with an instant-read thermometer. 
  8. Serve and enjoy!
top down of pesto chicken bake on a plate

Tips

  • Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • If your chicken breasts are very thick, butterfly them before pounding them. This means cutting them open horizontally and opening the breast up like a book.
  • Don’t overcrowd your air fryer, or the chicken won’t cook properly.
  • All air fryers are different, and cooking times are just approximate. Use a digital meat thermometer to ensure your chicken is safe to eat (165-F).
  • Shredded mozzarella works well with this recipe but can be messy in your air fryer. Using sliced mozzarella makes it less messy.
  • Try this dish with boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts.

What To Serve With Pesto Chicken Bake

This air fryer chicken recipe isn’t a casserole, so you’ll need some side dishes to make it a complete meal. I love serving this dish with Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes or an easy pasta salad. Steamed vegetables or a side green salad pairs nicely with this easy chicken bake recipe.

Storage

Leftover pesto chicken can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. 

pesto chicken bake on a plate

Frequently Asked Questions

What cheese can I use with Pesto Chicken Bake?

I love mozzarella with this dish, but you could use any mild easy-melting cheese. Monterey Jack, gouda, fontina, and Meunster all work well.

Is air fryer Pesto Chicken Bake low-carb?

Yes! This is a low-carb chicken recipe, and it’s also keto-friendly.

Is this an easy Pesto Chicken Bake recipe?

Yes! This dish is very easy to make. Once your chicken is pounded (you can even buy chicken cutlets to make it easier), you just cook it, top it, then finish cooking it, all in your air fryer!

More Delicious Chicken Recipes

pesto chicken bake on a plate

Air Fryer Pesto Chicken Bake Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This air fryer pesto chicken bake is the perfect dish when you’re short on time but still want something easy and delicious! Meaty and flavorful and topped with pesto, cheese, and tomato, this elegant dish is sure to please!

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 tablespoons Maika’i Basil Pesto
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat air fryer to 380F. While the air fryer is heating up, prepare the chicken.
  2. Place chicken on a cutting board. Cover with plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder or rolling pin pound the chicken breast to an even thickness.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spray air fryer basket with non-stick cooking spray. Lay the chicken breasts in the air fryer top side down. Cook for 6-8 minutes.
  5. Remove chicken from the air fryer basket and flip onto a clean cutting board or plate. Close the basket to keep the heat in. Cover chicken breast with Maika’i Basil Pesto, then add a layer of mozzarella cheese, and lastly top with tomato slices.
  6. Place chicken back in the air fryer basket and cook for another 6-8 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165F.
  7. Remove from air fryer, serve alongside your favorite sides, and ENJOY!

Notes

  • This recipe can be made in the oven as well.
  • Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • If your chicken breasts are very thick, butterfly them before pounding them. This means cutting them open horizontally and opening the breast up like a book.
  • Don’t overcrowd your air fryer, or the chicken won’t cook properly.
  • All air fryers are different, and cooking times are just approximate. Use a digital meat thermometer to ensure your chicken is safe to eat (165-F).
  • Shredded mozzarella works well with this recipe but can be messy in your air fryer. Using sliced mozzarella makes it less messy.
  • Try this dish with boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 435mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 27g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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pesto chicken bake pin

By on May 6th, 2022

About Relle

Aloha, my name is Relle and welcome to my little home on the internet where I like to share all my favorite Hawaiian recipes (and local ones too).

I am a wife, mom of two, and nurse practitioner here in the beautiful state of Hawai’i. I was born and raised in Hawai’i and I am of native Hawaiian descent. In my spare time I love to cook and bake and I have compiled many of my favorite recipes here for you to enjoy.

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