Overhead view of basil pesto chicken marinade in a white bowl.

Basil Pesto Chicken Marinade

The delicious and bright flavors of fresh pesto get infused into chicken with this easy marinade. Use the cooked pesto chicken in a variety of delicious ways for healthy meals within reach. 

Prep: 5 mins.Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings 1x


  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thighs, or legs*
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • Pinch of black pepper or red pepper flakes


  1. Place chicken in a large bowl, zip-top plastic bag (or a freezer-safe container, if you plan to freeze the chicken).
  2. In the bowl of a food processor blender, place the basil, oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Process until blended and mostly smooth. 
  3. Pour the marinade over the chicken, cover bowl or close bag. Gently toss or massage to coat the chicken pieces evenly.
  4. Marinate the covered chicken in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 2-3 days before cooking. Or, to freeze, remove as much air from the freezer-safe container as possible, and freeze the chicken in the marinade for up to 2 months. 


* If using chicken legs, increase to 1 1/2 lbs. 

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size: 4 oz marinated chicken breast
  • Calories: 127
  • Fat: 4 g
  • (Sat Fat: 1 g)
  • Sodium: 252 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • (Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugar: 0 g)
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Cholesterol: 66 mg


© The Real Food Dietitians

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