You only need seven ingredients to make this simple creamy pesto chicken. Quickly pan fry chicken breasts, then combine pesto, mushrooms, parmesan and evaporated milk for a super delicious but lightened up creamy sauce. And the best part? It’s on the table in just 15 minutes!
The secret to perfect pan fried chicken breasts
Do you have much success with pan fried chicken breast recipes?
I’ve either overcooked or undercooked chicken breasts many times when cooking them in a frying pan. At one point I gave up and just bought chicken thighs instead. But over the years I’ve learnt that there are a couple of easy ways to decrease the cooking time to help you get perfect chicken breasts every time.
- Bash them with a rolling pin between 2 sheets of plastic wrap / cling film until they are much thinner. Then make this delicious and easy mustard parmesan chicken schnitzel! Serve with a simple green salad and dinner is on the table in the blink of an eye.
- Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally so that they are thinner and cook in just a few minutes. This is the trick I use to make this delicious pan fried pesto chicken recipe.
Why you have to make this
So the chicken cooks quickly, thanks to cutting the breasts in half horizontally. What else?
- It’s a ONE PAN meal. I use a cast iron pan, because they’re just so cool, but any big frying pan / skillet will do.
- The sauce is super quick and easy to make, too, not to mention extremely tasty. Combine evaporated milk (or cream), mushrooms and parmesan with the tasty bits left in the pan from cooking the chicken and you’ve got yourself some serious flavour.
- The sauce ends up the perfect consistency – not too runny and not too thick – without any added flour or cornflour. Evaporated milk (or cream – your choice!), pesto and parmesan bubble away and reduce to the perfect thickness in just a few minutes.
- Did I mention you can have this ready and on the table in just 15 minutes?
Ingredients you need
You only need 7 main ingredients to make this delicious meal:
- chicken breasts (obviously!)
- crushed garlic (optional as you already have some garlic in the pesto)
- chopped mushrooms, to give your sauce extra umami flavour!
- chicken stock
- good quality pesto, either homemade or shop bought
- either cream or evaporated milk (I usually use evaporated milk because it’s lighter)
- grated parmesan cheese
If you like you can sprinkle some fresh basil over the top to make it look pretty, but only if you have some.
Pro tip: Make a batch of pesto ahead of time and freeze it. This way you’ll have some great quality pesto for the recipe without increasing the cooking time. Alternatively, just buy some really good quality pre-made pesto. No shame in that!
How to make it
You’re just a few easy steps away from a delicious dinner for four (or two dinners for two!)
Step 1: Cut two chicken breasts in half horizontally.
Step 2: Pan fry the chicken, then take out of the pan and keep warm.
Step 3 (photos 3 to 4): Make the sauce! Pan fry mushrooms and garlic, then pour in cream or evaporated milk, stock, and pesto.
Step 5: Bubble for a short while until thickened, then add parmesan.
Step 6 (photos 5 to 6): Put the chicken back in the pan and spoon over the sauce. Done!
How to serve it
You can serve your chicken and sauce on top of pasta, rice, potatoes, or just with crusty bread. My personal favourite is tagliatelle. If you like pasta with pesto sauce, you’ll love this . You end up with a richer, creamier, altogether more delicious version of a traditional pasta with pesto sauce!
If you don’t have any roasted tomatoes, maybe you have some sundried or semi-dried tomatoes lurking in the back of the fridge? Add a handful of these to the sauce just before serving instead!
Alternatively, throw some of these Mediterranean roast vegetables into the oven before you start making the chicken. They’re colourful and healthy, and make great leftovers for tossing onto pizzas, salads and in toasties and quesadillas.
If you choose to serve your pesto chicken with pasta, don’t do what I do – make far too much. Every. Single. Time. Actually, about 60 grams or 2 ounces per person is enough. Just toss with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking before serving out the meal.
More things to know (FAQs)
This can be tricky, but I usually slice my chicken breasts in half horizontally before adding them to the pan. This way, the breasts will be thinner and should only take 3 to 5 minutes to cook on each side. I usually leave them to cook without moving them for a few minutes. You’ll see the bottom and sides start to turn white. When the white colour reaches about half way up the thickness, flip over and cook for another few minutes.
Try not to overcook the chicken! I usually check for doneness by cutting into the middle of the thickest part of one of the breasts. The juices should run clear. If it still looks a bit pink, just cook for another minute or two, then check again.
If you have a meat thermometer, you can check that the middle of the chicken is 165F/74C.
You can indeed! It’s just that evaporated milk is lighter, which is why I prefer it in this recipe.
I think this meal is best made just before you want to eat it. It’s supposed to be a quick, last-minute meal idea that’s on the table in just 15 minutes.
If you have leftovers, you might need to add an extra drizzle of water/stock/cream to thin out the sauce again as you reheat it. I’d add a little extra liquid, then microwave on 50% power for a couple of minutes at a time until piping hot (this way you won’t end up with tough, dry chicken!).
Yes, absolutely! Let cool completely, then empty into a freezer proof container. Freeze for up to 2 months as with all cream-based chicken recipes. You may find that the evaporated milk will separate as it defrosts, but don’t worry about it. Just add a drizzle more liquid, reheat as described above and then give it a good stir before serving.
More 15-minute meals
- 15-minute Shanghai chicken (Mmmm!)
- 15-minute sticky sesame chicken
- 15-minute Thai basil pork stir fry
- I call this lemon ricotta pasta with broccoli and prosciutto a 20-minute meal, but make it a few times and I think you could have it on the table in 15 😉
More pesto recipes
- Spinach, pesto & parmesan orzo salad
- Baby tomato, pesto and prosciutto tart
- Roasted eggplant, pesto and bocconcini panini (a delicious weekend sandwich!)
- Mediterranean penne pasta salad (for tasty and healthy lunches all week!)
- Supermarket copycat pesto and cheese twists
- Kale pesto linguine with roasted tomatoes and crispy prosciutto
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15-minute Creamy Pesto Chicken With Mushrooms And Parmesan
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large chicken breasts sliced in 2 across the width (to make 4 thinner slices of chicken)
- 2 cloves garlic crushed or sliced (optional, as there is already garlic in the pesto)
- 4 ounces mushrooms chopped into small pieces
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup basil pesto (homemade or good quality pre-made)
- ½ cup evaporated milk (or double / heavy cream – evaporated milk is lighter)
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan plus extra for grating over at the end
- black pepper (to taste)
- fresh basil leaves to serve (optional – I often save a few from making the pesto)
- Heat up the olive oil in a medium cast iron pan or frying pan. Pan fry the chicken for a few minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove from the pan and keep warm by covering with foil.
- Without cleaning the pan, add the garlic and mushrooms and pan fry for about 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, pesto and cream to the pan and let bubble for a minute or two until slightly reduced. Then stir in the parmesan.
- Add the chicken and any juices back into the pan, spooning over the sauce. Serve over pasta, mashed or roast potatoes, or rice, or by itself with fresh or toasted bread (your choice!). Scatter over extra parmesan and a few basil leaves to serve, if you like.