Pesto Chicken and Rice

Pesto chicken and rice is a quick, easy, flavorful dinner.

Chicken and rice is a classic combination. We eat it regularly in casseroles, stir fry, and soup. Often the combination conjures up warm, cozy memories for me. It’s comfort food.

As much as I love chicken and rice, they can be a little bland. This recipe bumps up the flavor with pesto. The bright, herby, and salty flavor of basil pesto is as versatile as it is delicious. This pasta makes my mouth water. A little pesto makes everyday food like sheet pan dinners and meatballs special.


Chicken Breast: I used one chicken breast sliced in half for this recipe.

Olive Oil: Used to sauté the chicken and onion.

Red Onion: I love the sharp flavor of red onions. You could use white or yellow onions instead.

Rice: We are using basic, long-grain white rice for this recipe.

Chicken Stock: The rice cooks in the chicken stock for extra flavor.

Pesto: You can use homemade or store-bought pesto. I have been using jarred pesto from ALDI. It’s delicious. 🙂

Lemon Zest & Juice: Adds a bright citrus flavor.

Salt: Add to taste. Pesto contains salt, so you likely wouldn’t need to use much.

Cherry or Grape Tomatoes: Tomatoes and pesto are a wonderful combination.

Goat Cheese: A sprinkle of goat cheese adds a creamy touch to the dish. Feta cheese would also work.


Heat a large skillet and drizzle with olive oil. Add the chicken and cook until browned on both sides. The chicken wouldn’t be cooked through at this point. It will finish cooking along with the rice.

Remove the chicken and add the onion with a bit more oil, if needed. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the rice, stock, pesto, lemon zest and juice, and salt. Stir and then nestle the chicken in. Make sure all the rice is submerged in the stock, so it cooks.

Pesto chicken and rice makes a great light dinner or lunch. Serve with a salad or green vegetable for a complete meal. Enjoy!

Pesto Chicken and Rice

Quick, easy, and flavorful light lunch or dinner.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 2


  • 1 chicken breast sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ red onion thinly sliced
  • ½ cup white rice
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp pesto divided
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 ounces goat cheese crumbled, for serving


  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, until the chicken is lightly browned. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  • If the pan appears dry, add a little more olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the rice, chicken stock, one Tbsp of pesto, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt.
  • Add the chicken and any juices from the plate into the rice mixture. 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.
  • Spread the remaining Tbsp of pesto over the chicken, then sprinkle with the goat cheese. Plate and serve immediately.
Keyword cheesy, Creamy, Savory

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