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The Kitchn: This $3 ingredient will fix dry, bland chicken breasts every time

By Sheela Prakash, on

If the words “dry” and “bland” come to mind when you think of boneless, skinless chicken breast, you deserve a recipe that will show you otherwise. While we’ve shared a number of great ones over the years, we’re currently obsessing over this easy sheet pan chicken dinner, which comes together in 30 minutes and results in super-moist chicken that’s far from flavorless. The secret? A simple condiment, pesto, locks in the meat’s natural juices, while making each bite burst with garlicky, cheesy goodness.

If you can get out a baking sheet and preheat the oven, you can make this recipe. Spoon a thick layer of pesto onto chicken breasts, nestle cherry tomatoes around them, then roast everything for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the tomatoes caramelize and burst.

Use whatever store-bought pesto you prefer, or go ahead and make it yourself — both will lead to a winning meal. Coating the chicken breasts with the sauce protects them from drying out in the oven as they cook, and pesto’s signature flavor soaks into the meat. The tomatoes, which burst as you bite into them, add an additional juicy element. This is the kind of recipe that will immediately become a family favorite.

Pesto Chicken

Serves 4

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes (about 4 cups)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total)

1/4 cup basil pesto

1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400 F.

2. Place the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil, season with the salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Spread into an even layer.

3. Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the center on the baking sheet. Spread the pesto over each chicken breast (about 1 tablespoon over each), spreading it into a thin layer until each breast is evenly and completely coated.

4. Roast until the tomatoes have caramelized and some have burst and the chicken is cooked through and registers 165 F on an instant-read thermometer, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve the chicken and tomatoes drizzled with the pan juices.

Recipe note: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days.

(Sheela Prakash is senior contributing food editor for, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to




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