Side view of chicken pesto pizza on a cutting board with vegetables in the background

Pesto has become a classic sauce that livens up any dish it hits. Pesto, the classic raw green sauce, is a staple in Italian cuisine. A mix of garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, cheese, and aromatic basil come together gloriously. The sauce is a delicious addition to pasta, chicken, vegetables and not to mention as a spread on toast!

Traditionally, pesto is prepared in a mortar and pestle, crushing each ingredient to bring out all the essences. Hence the origin of its name. The word pesto, or pesta, comes from the Italian verb “pestare”, meaning to pound or to crush. So, it is important to note that the word Pesto describes the type of sauce through its process. It does not only refer to this worldly known green sauce, specifically named Pesto Genovese. The modern version of this pesto sauce was first introduced in the 16th century by Giovanni Battista Ratto, in Genoa, Italy.

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There are several types of pesto with fun swapping of fresh ingredients. Pesto Rosso adds sun dried tomatoes; Pesto Calabrese has roasted red bell peppers; and a very bright version, the Pesto Agli Agrumi adds orange or lemons along with capers and almonds. Each pesto named after the region of its first appearance or the special ingredient that makes it unique.

Chicken pesto pizza brings to your table the classic taste of fresh bright basil and parmesan cheese. Mixed with a creamy pesto sauce and herbed chicken. All the ingredients meld into a beautiful mix of sweet and tangy. This pizza can be enjoyed for informal family dinner as well as for a special occasion, paired with a good tangy salad and good wine.


Here is a list of some important ingredients in chicken pesto pizza. Most can be found at you local grocery or online.

  • Tippo “00” flour
  • Chicken breasts
  • Yogurt
  • Basil
  • Pine nuts
  • Garlic
  • Parmesan
  • Mozzarella
  • Cherry tomatoes

Tipo “00” flour is commonly used in Italian pizza. It’s a high protein flour that allows for a light and crispy pizza crust. Pizza Bianca, romana tonda and pizza marinara all use Tipo “00” flour.

The yogurt marinated chicken gives our pesto pizza some well needed protein. The marinade includes lemon and dried basil.

Pine nuts and fresh garlic are crucial to a well balanced pesto. Throw in some basil and Parmesan to complete your flavor profile.

Topping the pizza with mozzarella cheese brings it all together. Don’t forget to add the cherry tomatoes and a handful of pine nuts after cooking.

Tips and substitutions

Although there is a certain satisfaction in using all fresh ingredients while preparing your own pesto sauce, it is absolutely fine to use your favorite store-bought pesto sauce. Look out for the greenest one on the shelves, this assures that the basil was super fresh at the time of production.

Pine nuts give a special sweetness to the sauce, but it is also fun to swap them with other nuts. Some good choices are walnuts, pecans, or almonds because of their sweetness. A fun substitution is pistachio, for added earthiness.

Parmigiano Reggiano is the favored cheese for Pesto Genovese. Pecorino cheese works well too. It adds a perfect zing to the mix! You can also do half parmesan and half pecorino to get the best of both worlds. Manchego can be a nice hard cheese to use and add saltiness to this sauce.

For a veggie option, swap the chicken with your favorite vegetables. Fresh mushrooms, zucchini, onions – to name a few.

The dough works the best with high protein flour, like Tipo 00. If using all-purpose flour, there are a couple of tips to compensate. You can add 1 Tablespoon of Vital Wheat Gluten flour. Alternatively add 1 more hour to the proofing time to allow more time for the gluten to develop in the dough.

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Store and reheat

To store individual slices, wrap each slice up in aluminum foil. Then place them into a ziplock bag. Refrigerate the chicken pesto pizza for up to 4 days. Freeze for up to 30 days.

To reheat the chicken pesto pizza, place the slices into an air fryer. Cook each slice for 3-5 minutes. If frozen, remove 2 hours before cooking the pizza for best results. However if you’re in a crunch, you can microwave the slices for a min or 2 to defrost them. Then place them in the air fryer to get the crispy pizza crust.

How to make chicken pesto pizza

  1. Prepare the dough – Toss all your ingredients into a stand mixer bowl. Attach the dough hook and mix. Let knead for a few minutes. Once a dough comes together, remove it into a greased bowl. Cover and let the chicken pesto pizza dough proof.
  2. Sauté the chicken – Marinate the chicken breasts in the yogurt along with lemon, salt and pepper. Then cook the chicken on a skillet, browning both sides. Reduce heat and add a little water to the skillet. Cover and simmer until the temp reaches 165 degrees F. Flipping halfway through.
  3. Make a pesto – In a food processor, add in the basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon and olive oil. Mix for a few seconds before adding in the shredded Parmesan. Mix again until a paste forms.
  4. Cook your pesto cream sauce – Sauté the onions in the skillet with butter. Once cooked, add in the flour and mix well. Cook for a min or two. Slowly pour in the cream and whisk well. Add some pesto and cook until a sauce comes together.
  5. Assemble your pizza – Form a crust with your dough. Layer on some pesto cream sauce. Distribute the mozzarella and chicken evenly. Drizzle on the remaking pesto and bake. Once cooked, top with pine nuts and tomatoes.

Chicken pesto pizza FAQ

Is pesto healthy?

For the most part, pesto is a pretty healthy dish. It’s made with fresh and healthy ingredients, especially when made at home. But please enjoy this treat in moderation, pesto does contain a lot of calories and is high in fat.

What does pesto taste like on pizza?

Imagine dipping a freshly baked slice of bread into a bowl of pesto. Now add a layer of cheese and chicken into the mix. Pesto on pizza is amazing.

What drink pairs well with pesto?

If you like wine with your meals, have a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes are not overly ripe and match well with the herbaceous basil. However, a nice sour margherita with some lime is also a tasty way to go. Tequila has a bit of an herby flavor and we like it with the chicken pesto.

More Pizza Recipes

Chicken pesto pizza recipe

Recipe by Pizza Poster Course: Main, AppetizersCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Medium


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The chicken pesto pizza has become a staple in pizzerias around the world. Topped with a pesto cream sauce, chicken, mozzarella and tomatoes

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  • For the dough
  • 2 1/4 cups 2 1/4 high protein flour (Tipo 00)

  • 1 cup 1 warm water

  • 1 Tbsp 1 honey

  • 1 1/2 tsp 1 1/2 instant yeast

  • 1 tsp 1 salt

  • 2 Tbsp 2 olive oil

  • For the chicken
  • 2 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast

  • 2 Tbsp 2 plain Greek yogurt

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 pepper

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 dried basil

  • 1 Tbsp 1 lemon, freshly squeezed

  • 2 Tbsp 2 olive oil for frying

  • For the homemade pesto
  • 2 cups 2 basil leaves

  • 4 cloves 4 garlic

  • 2 Tbsp 2 pine nuts

  • 1 Tbsp 1 lemon

  • 1 tsp 1 salt

  • 2 Tbsp 2 olive oil

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 parmesan cheese, grated

  • For the pesto cream
  • 1 Tbsp 1 butter

  • 1/2 medium 1/2 onion, sliced

  • 1 Tbsp 1 all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 heavy cream

  • 2 Tbsp 2 prepared pesto

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt

  • Toppings
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 mozzarella cheese, sliced

  • 10-12 10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 2 tsp 2 olive oil

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 parmesan cheese, grated

  • 1 Tbsp 1 pine nuts


  • To prepare the dough
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm water, honey, instant yeast, olive oil, flour, and salt. Run the mixer, with the dough hook, on lowest speed until the ingredients come together. Then increase the speed to medium and knead for 6 minutes. This will be a wet dough, so it will still stick to the sides of the bowl.
  • Drizzle some olive oil in a bowl and with a brush spread it around. With the help of a spatula, scrape the dough from the mixer bowl into the greased bowl. Cover and let it rest for 2 hours.
  • To cook the chicken
  • Place the chicken breasts in a bowl and add the yogurt, salt, pepper, dried basil, and lemon. Mix well, turning the chicken breasts several times until completely coated. Let them marinate for 30 minutes.
  • In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Brown the breasts for 3 minutes on each side.
  • Add 1/2 cup water to the skillet, place the lid on the skillet and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Open the lid and flip the breasts. Cover the skillet once more and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  • Remove the chicken breasts onto a plate and let them sit to cool down completely. Slice or cube the chicken and set aside.
  • To make the homemade pesto
  • In the bowl of a food processor add the basil leaves, lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, pine nuts, and olive oil. Run the processor for a few seconds.
  • Now add the parmesan cheese and run the processor again until everything comes together, and it forms a paste. You may need to stop a few times to scrape the sides.
  • Remove the pesto from the food processor into a bowl and set aside.
  • To cook the pesto cream
  • In a skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion slices and sauté until tender.
  • Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the heavy cream while stirring.
  • Add 2 Tbsp of the prepared pesto into the sauce and the salt. Stir well and cook until it all comes together into a thick sauce.
  • To assemble the pizza
  • Preheat the oven to 450 F / 240 C, placing the pizza stone inside (preferably on the oven floor) and a rack placed in the highest position.
  • Dust the countertop with fine semolina or corn flour.
  • Drop the dough onto the semolina. Dust it with flour and stretch it out with your fingers into a 14–16-inch circle, leaving a raised rim all around. Now transfer the dough onto a pizza peel that has been dusted with more semolina. Reshape the dough into a circle.
  • Spread the pesto cream evenly on the dough.
  • Distribute the mozzarella slices evenly, followed by the chicken slices.
  • With a teaspoon, drop small dollops of the leftover prepared pesto over the cheese and chicken.
  • Transfer the dough onto the pizza stone. As soon as the pizza is inside, turn the oven to broil on high. The heat of the stone will cook the bottom and the high broil will help the dough rise and start its char. Bake for 5 minutes.
  • Now transfer the pizza with the help of the pizza peel, to the high rack. Close the oven door. After 30 seconds, rotate the pizza. Repeat one more time after 30 and broil for a few more seconds. Remove the pizza onto a wire rack. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Distribute the halved cherry tomatoes and the pine nuts on the finished pizza and sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese on top. Cut the pizza into 8 pieces and serve immediately.


Recipe Video


  • Serving size = 1 slice
    Calories: 387 | Protein: 20.55g | Fat: 18.81g | Carbs: 33.67g | Fiber: 1.94g | Sugar:  3.79g | Cholesterol: 66.67mg | Sodium: 584mg | Potassium: 346.65mg

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