Roasted pesto chicken

Ring in spring with crispy chicken coated with a generous serving of bright green pesto and infused with the flavors of fragrant basil and tart lemon.


  • 1 broiler or roasting chicken (4–5 lbs.)
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto
  • 1 lemon
  • Fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil


Heat oven to 425 degrees. Wash chicken and pat dry. Using your fingers, separate the skin from the meat of the breast and legs and push small amounts of pesto underneath. Rub any remaining pesto over the skin and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Fill chicken’s cavity with sliced lemon and fresh basil, or about 1 teaspoon of dried basil.

Roast at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Continue roasting for about 18–20 minutes per pound, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees. Serve with seasonal vegetables. 

Pictured here with roasted baby carrots and corn. Roast corn on baking sheet at 400 degrees for 35–40 minutes, turning halfway through. Roast carrots in a two-inch-deep baking dish at 425 degrees for 25–30 minutes or until tender, stirring once. Prior to roasting carrots, season to taste with brown sugar, garlic, minced rosemary, salt, onion powder, ground cumin, and pepper. Using a single oven, corn and carrots may be roasted together at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Recipe serves 4–6.

—First published in the March/April 2019 issue of WAC Magazine. Updated March 2020, DM.

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