Chicken Parmesan is updated with a little pesto and a clean and easy baking method. Baked Chicken Pesto Parmesan is a fast and easy meal your family will love!
From time to time I open my fridge and glance at what I’ve got on hand and just go for it. That’s what happened when I came up with this updated version of chicken parmesan and it’s been a delicious part of my recipe collection ever since.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- First, it’s SO delicious. Seriously BIG time delicious.
- The oven-fry method results in less fat and calories than classic chicken Parmesan.
- It’s totally easy to pull together and the end result looks and tastes as if you’ve put a ton of effort into it.
- The cleaner baking method means you’ll use less oil and cleanup will be almost effortless.
Crispy breaded chicken breasts are topped with a little marinara, some pesto, and a blanket of shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan. It returns to the oven to bake a few minutes more until the cheese is melted and the whole thing is just glorious.
If you’ve ever had issues with your nicely breaded chicken parm absorbing too much sauce and becoming soggy, you’re going to love this method. The key to crispy Baked Chicken Parmesan is to crisp the breaded chicken first before adding the sauce.
- Chicken – It’s important to use thin-sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts so they will cook quickly and evenly. If you don’t buy the thin-sliced variety, you’ll need to pound them or slice them through the middle so they are no more than 1/4-inch thick.
- Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs – Even though we’re using seasoned bread crumbs, I add additional seasoning to amp up the flavor.
- Italian seasoning
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Shredded mozzarella cheese – If you want to lighten this recipe up even more, go with part-skim mozzarella. If not, whole milk mozzarella works perfectly too.
- Marinara sauce
- Pesto – This recipe is just one of many ways I’ve found to use that big container of pesto from Costco that I always have in my fridge.
How to Make Baked Chicken Pesto Parmesan
Bread the Chicken
- In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, pepper, and Parmesan cheese (reserve some Parm for later). In a separate shallow bowl whisk together the egg and milk.
- Dip a piece of chicken in the egg mixture.
- Then dredge both sides in the bread crumb mixture, patting the crumbs onto the surface of the chicken with your hands to help them stick. Repeat this process with the remaining chicken.
Add Toppings and Bake
- Coat a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and add the breaded chicken. Spray the top of the breaded chicken lightly with nonstick cooking spray and add a light drizzle of olive oil on each piece. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown on bottom side. Flip pieces over and return to oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crisped.
- Remove baking sheet from oven and spoon a little marinara sauce and pesto over each piece of chicken.
- Sprinkle the chicken with the mozzarella cheese, and the remaining Parmesan. Return the baking sheet to the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until sauces are warmed through and cheese has melted.
Make use of the remaining marinara sauce from the open jar by tossing it with your favorite cooked pasta to serve along with the Baked Chicken Pesto Parmesan.
- Butter Lettuce Salad with Grapes and Gorgonzola
- A simple Caesar salad tossed with Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
- Zucchini and Sweet Corn with Feta
- Cooked pasta like spaghetti, penne, or cheese tortellini tossed with either marinara or pesto.
More Ways to Use Pesto
Sign up my free newsletter for all the latest recipes and join me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for tons of cooking inspiration!
Baked Chicken Pesto Parmesan
- 1.75 to 2 pounds thin-sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 ½ cups Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
- ½ cup marinara sauce
- ½ cup pesto
- fresh basil or Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Generously coat a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
- If necessary, use a meat mallet to pound the chicken to ¼-inch thickness. Cut large pieces in half, if desired. You should have 6 to 8 pieces. Set aside.
- In a low, shallow dish (a pie plate works well) combine bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, pepper, and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. In a separate shallow dish whisk together the egg, milk, and salt.
- Dip each chicken breast first in the egg mixture and then dredge both sides in the bread crumb mixture, pushing crumbs onto the surface of the chicken with your hands to help them stick. Transfer the breaded chicken to the prepared baking sheet. Wash your hands well.
- Spray the top of the breaded chicken lightly with nonstick cooking spray and add a light drizzle of olive oil on each piece (about 1 teaspoon per piece). Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spoon 1 tablespoon of marinara sauce over each piece of chicken, followed by 1 tablespoon of pesto, the mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkling of the remaining Parmesan. Return the baking sheet to the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the sauces are warmed through and cheese has melted.
- Delicious served with the cooked pasta of your choice.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
This post was originally published on March 9, 2016. It has been updated with new text and images.
Questions and Reviews
This is a GREAT recipe! My husband asked if we could eat it every week! 😉
Fantastic! Please tell your husband he has my permission to eat it every week. 🙂 Thanks, Katie!
Your son Conner put me onto your recipes. I am making this for my husbands birthday tonight along with the Frozen peanut butter dessert. I can wait to try it. Dessert freezing as we speak. And mains all prepped. Roll on dinner time. Tell Conner Jack says “Hi” ?
Hi Katy. I hope you both enjoyed the recipes. I will let Connor know that Jack said hi!
Another winner, Valerie!
Just got a fresh jar of pesto from Costco, and I’ve got a giant, honker bag of shredded mozzarella from there, too, so now I’ve got a clue about what to do with it, you can only doctor up so many Totino’s Party Pizzas.
I love Chicken Parmesan, so this is a great, fresh take on that.
Oven-baked crispy chicken is the way to go, really knocks down the greeeeeaze-y factor!
Be sure to let me know how it works out for you if you try it 🙂 LOVE that Costco pesto!
Finally got to make this, and boy, was it good!
Couple of things I discovered: First, slice your chicken breasts down to a manageable size, I just went at it with the meat mallet on the honker breasts from Costco as they came out of the bag, and they flattened out to the size of HUBCAPS.
Oh, well, just more for me to eat.
Second, I found out that my wife of 25+ years is not a big fan of PESTO!
Geez, ya think you know somebody….
Anyway, I had to make a wifelet-sized portion sans pesto.
I wonder what else I’ve failed to notice about her taste preferences………
Great recipe, Valerie, so easy even a RoadLord can do it!
Thanks, Roadlord! Funny you didn’t know about the pesto aversion. I had one boy who didn’t like red sauce (how???) and I always did recipes like this one for that reason. It is easy to customize each piece so everyone can enjoy it with the sauce(s) they like. Glad to hear it worked out for you!
This is unbelievably easy to make and you’re absolutely right – it looks as if I slaved for hours making this! It’s a reliable weeknight dinner but I know I’ll be bringing it to the next dinner party as it will surely impress. Can you recommend pastas that it would go well with? Thanks!
Hi Rachel. Any simple pasta side would go really well with this dish. Pictured here is a fusilli with a little garlic, olive oil, Parmesan, and chopped fresh parsley. Ravioli or tortellini would also be a wonderful choice. Just keep it simple and it will be delicious.
Thank you for the nice recipe.