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Pesto roasted chicken in a white serving dish.

Pesto Roasted Chicken Recipe

This recipe for Pesto Roasted Chicken uses a homemade pesto rubbed under the skin to give the chicken unbelievable flavor as it cooks. This is a perfect way to enjoy the end of summer’s fresh basil, and get you out of that grocery store rotisserie chicken rut.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken, pesto
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 814kcal
Author Meggan Hill


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 stalk celery chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons pitted kalamata olives chopped
  • 1 (4 pound) whole broiler-fryer chicken
  • 3/4 cup homemade pesto or store bought (about 6 ounces)


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a roasting rack with nonstick spray and set in roasting pan.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add onion, celery, and olives and cook until celery is tender, about 5 minutes. 
  • Starting at the back opening of the chicken, use your fingers to carefully separate the skin from the meat on the chicken breast and thighs. Be careful not to tear skin. Spread about 1/4 cup pesto sauce between the skin and meat of the chicken.
  • Fold wings of chicken across back with tips touching. Spoon onion mixture into cavity of chicken, then tie or skewer drumsticks to tail.
  • Place chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Brush chicken with half of remaining pesto. Roast uncovered 1 to 1 1/2 hours, brushing occasionally with remaining sauce, until a thermometer inserted near the thigh reaches 180 degrees. 
  • Remove from oven. Let stand 15 minutes before carving.


  1. To toast the garlic, toast in their skin in a small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking often, until brown spots form, about 5 minutes. Remove to a small bowl to cool before peeling.
  2. To toast the pine nuts, toast in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes, shaking frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.


Calories: 814kcal