Baked Chicken With Pesto & Mozzarella: Recipe

This baked chicken with pesto and mozzarella was a recipe that came about while I was at work thinking about the dinner that I had to cook one night and was a bit stumped for ideas.

I had some chicken thighs and buffalo mozzarella in the fridge that needed to be used that night and a basil plant out on the balcony that was going gangbusters with leaves. It didn’t take too long for the pieces of the puzzle to come together and, when I got home, I whipped up this quick and easy recipe that turned out to be a real winner that’s become one of my go-to options when I can’t be bothered spending too much time in the kitchen.

baked chicken with pesto and mozzarella

Preparation Time: 15 minutes          /          Cooking Time: 35 minutes          /          Serves 4


  • 30g basil leaves (about 70 leaves)
  • 1 tbsp (15g) pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 20g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 buffalo mozzarella ball, about 120g
  • 40g natural, thick yoghurt
  • 8 chicken thigh fillets, about 100g each
  • A handful of breadcrumbs



  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C fan forced.
  2. Put the basil, pine nuts and garlic into a pestle and mortar and grind everything up until it’s combined.
  3. Add the extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Keep grinding everything together until it has a slightly chunky texture.
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste and the parmesan cheese.
  6. Give the mixture one final grind.
  7. Lay the chicken thighs out onto a cutting board and spread an even amount of the pesto onto each one.
  8. Cut the buffalo mozzarella into 8 slices, as evenly as you can get them, and place a slice onto each chicken thigh.

baked chicken with pesto and mozzarella

  1. Fold the two narrow ends of the chicken towards each other and hold it together with a skewer.
  2. Use your hands to spread an even amount of the yoghurt over the top of each filled thigh fillet; this is to help the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken.
  3. Cover the chicken with breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the chicken.

baked chicken with pesto and mozzarella

  1. Cook for 30 minutes. Don’t worry if some of the pesto and mozzarella spills out of the sides – it’s all good.
  2. Serve with a side of salad or some vegetables.



If you don’t have a pestle and mortar you can combine the pesto ingredients using a food processor. You won’t get the chunky texture but it’ll still taste great.

Use traditional European style breadcrumbs – you don’t want the extra surface area of panko.

You can use chicken breast instead of thighs, just make sure you flatten the breasts using a meat mallet so that they are flat enough to wrap up.

Fiore di latte, or cow’s milk mozzarella also works really well with this recipe.



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