Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

This, my friends, is some of the most ridiculously delicious grilled chicken I’ve ever met. And with only four ingredients, it’s definitely headed to the land of easiest meals ever. I love that place. It exists only in my mind but it’s there. And I visit there often for dinner inspiration.

If you are like me and haven’t necessarily planned for the upcoming Labor Day holiday, this pesto grilled chicken needs to be added to your weekend plans stat. The chicken needs a bit of marinating time so get your planning on and reserve at least two hours (or up to 12) so the chicken can bask in the gloriousness of the pesto and rice vinegar. Flavor, flavor, flavor.

The tender, juicy grilled chicken is so amazing…so delicious…so blatantly the best ever of all evers, you better prepare yourself to be mobbed by the masses asking for the recipe. It’ll be a major victory for all the fast, simple dinners of the world when you can tell your friends and family how seriously easy this is to make.

Fabulous on it’s own with a couple sides or completely unreal served atop tender pasta tossed in this quick homemade garlic alfredo sauce, I have a really good feeling that this chicken is going to make you very, very happy.

Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

What To ServeSkillet Green Beans
Herb Roasted Potatoes
Serve it with fettuccine and Creamy Garlic Alfredo Sauce and a steamed vegetable like broccoli

One Year Ago: No-Bake Healthy Granola Bites
Two Years Ago: Broccoli Salad
Three Years Ago: BLT Pita Pockets

Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

Yield: Serves 4-6

Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup pesto (storebought or homemade)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  1. Place the chicken in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Pour in the pesto, rice vinegar, salt and sugar. Seal the bag and shake it up until the marinade is combined and the chicken is well coated.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill. Grill the chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side until cooked through (or an instant read thermometer reaches 160 degrees). Tent the chicken with foil and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
  4. Alternately, the chicken can be broiled or cooked on an indoor grill pan or skillet.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from 71 Toes (I didn’t pound the chicken flat, used regular rice vinegar with a bit of salt and sugar instead of seasoned rice vinegar) after a kind reader, Jessica S, sent me the link (thanks, Jessica!)

39 Responses to Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

  1. Megan says:

    Tried this tonight in the Instant Pot with great success! I marinated it for ~5 hours and then just dumped the whole bag in the Instant Pot and cooked on high pressure for 13 minutes. Turned out great and was so easy!

  2. Sidney says:

    Mel, I have what could be perceived as a dumb question: when you say preheat the grill…if I’m using a gas grill, is there a certain temperature (grill temperature, not internal meat temperature) I should be aiming for? I tend to overcook things, and I want this to turn out just right. Thanks! You rock!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Sidney – that’s a good question actually. It’s hard, though, because all grills heat differently and those outer dials are very rarely accurate – sometimes they can be off by 25-30 degrees. However, generally speaking, most of my grilling recipes count on a grill being right around 350-375 degrees.

  3. Allison says:

    Made this tonight and it was a hit! I marinated the chicken all day. I barely had enough pesto but used the basil that I had.. Turned out great. Omitted the sugar. Next time I’m going to keep some pesto to top chicken or dip. Served it with grilled green beans – mixed green beans with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, and olive oil. Threw it in my veggie grill pan the same time as the chicken cooked. 10 minutes later dinner was cooked with minimal clean up. I’ll be making this again camping!

  4. Carolyn says:

    Fabulous marinade!

  5. Mikaela says:

    Do you think you could do this as a freezer meal? Thaw, then grill it??

  6. Jarutat Snidwongse says:

    Wow, thanks! Reading your very-well written story and all the other comments, I’m already sure this is gonna kick some butt. Was thinking of some chicken menu to serve to a Princess from the Thai Royal Family tomorrow, and now I came across this. It’s gonna be it!

  7. Carli says:

    Oops sorry I just read the bottom of this post with the other options!

  8. Carli says:

    I am curious if I could make this any other way? I don’t have a grill, but would love to try it! I am not a very good cook and dont want to try something and have it go wrong!

  9. Nadia says:

    This was absolutely delicious!! Served it with your simple rice pilaf!

  10. Nita says:

    I made this for dinner tonight along with your herb roasted potatoes. It was delicious! I didn’t have rice vinegar ,so I used balsamic vinegar. I used the Sauces ‘N Love brand of pesto and it came out great.

  11. Raquel says:

    This was so delicious. Thank you for sharing the recipe. It was definitely one of the best recipes I’ve tried this summer. I used the leftover grilled chicken to stuff some chicken pillows (doing everything else the same as the normal recipe for chicken pillows on your site.) They turned out so great, too. Thank you!

  12. Erika says:

    Wow, this was super delish! Here is my homemade pesto recipe: (main thing I like about it is it doesn’t have too strong of a basil flavor plus a lot less oil…don’t think you need all that oil!)

    3 cup spinach leaves, packed
    1/4 cup basil leaves (or to taste)
    ¼ cup of pinenuts or almonds or other nuts
    ¼ cup of olive oil
    ½ tsp grinded sea salt
    ¼ tsp grinded pepper
    4 cloves of garlic

    Loved how quick this was….but tasted so gourmet it could be served in a restaurant!

  13. Barbara says:

    I found that you can marinade 5 lbs of chicken using the measurements in this recipe. Yeah for leftovers for salads for lunches!

  14. Jocelyn says:

    My family loved this! Next time I might try cutting the marinade in half; I feel like a lot was wasted (and pesto is not cheap!). Thanks so much.

  15. I just wanted to chime in again and say that I made this the other night and it was awesome! super quick, super delicious! We were fighting over the leftovers. I can’t think of a better use for my stockpile of homemade pesto 🙂

  16. Michelle says:

    Just made this tonight and couldn’t believe how delicious it was. I like chicken but it’s never been my first choice unless it’s in a casserole or pasta dish. This chicken was so tender. My new favorite dish. I kept picking pieces off the plate long after I was stuffed because I couldn’t get enough. My husband and I loved it. Definitely recommend this recipe to everyone.

  17. Amanda says:

    Simply delicious! I made it yesterday and we loved it, as usual with your recipes. Thanks so much for the work you do to make my life easier! I feel like I should be paying you!!

  18. Sara k says:

    Made this tonight! It’s going in the rotation! Awesome, awesome, awesome! Thanks, Mel!

  19. Olivia says:

    Does anyone know the best way to broil this chicken? I’m terrible at grilling!

  20. anon says:

    Delicious! I love recipes that use pantry staples and give delicious results. Everyone agrees this is a keeper.

  21. beth says:

    I made this chicken tonite and am not normally a big of a fan of just grilled chix but this is DELICIOUS! I served it with a combination of your alfredo and Cajun sauce recipes and my husband told me twice how good it was. Thank you very much!

  22. Megan says:

    This might be a dumb question but what does tenting the chicken do to it?

    • Mel says:

      Megan – It keeps the chicken warm while it rests so the juices don’t run all over when cutting into the chicken right away; the chicken stays nice and juicy.

  23. Katjandu says:

    Oh Mel, it’s a winner here at our place. Told hubby I had the chicken marinating when we got home from shopping. Served it with steamed rice and fresh tomatoes from the garden. Wow tender, moist and tasty. Thanks so much for thinking of us on this long weekend. Have a great weekend with your family.

  24. Steve says:

    I make something similar with garlic, rosemary and dijon and it is always a winner. This is even simpler to make with the store bought pesto.

  25. Jen T says:

    Please do more pesto recipes. I am new to pesto world and need some more. Thanks!

  26. Sarah says:

    This. Is. Amazing. I cooked it on a skillet indoors and it somehow still tastes grilled. Definite keeper. Thank you!

  27. Ruth says:

    Thank you for the recipe. We plan to give it a try this weekend, We love pesto. Your recipes are great.

  28. Kelsey says:

    Oh yum! Making this tonight!!

  29. Looks so easy but delicious! I love pesto and chicken! Pesto is so good in a sandwich with halloumi too!

  30. lisa Clawson says:

    It’s marinating as we speak. Yum! Thanks for the dinner suggestion. Maybe I’ll just text you every night to see what you’re having so I don’t have to think so hard:) xoxo

  31. Pesto is the besto! Sorry, had to quote a Friends episode there. 🙂 But this looks amazing. And super simple. Thanks for sharing!

  32. Amanda says:

    Love pesto chicken!! This looks great 🙂

  33. Kim in MD says:

    My basil plants are in desperate need of trimming, and making pesto is on my agenda for the weekend. I will definitely be making this chicken this weekend, too!

  34. You’re such a genius, Mel! I have a tub of pesto in the freezer and zero plans for our Labor Day meal! Now I know what to make! Thank you!!!

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