Creamy Pesto Chicken (dairy-free!)
Creamy Pesto Chicken is easy to make and SO DELICIOUS. It's made with a cashew butter cream sauce so it's completely dairy-free. It's so rich and creamy that you'd never guess this is a healthy recipe!
If you love old-fashioned comfort food AND want to eat healthy, then this recipe is for you.
What makes this creamy pesto chicken so special
- Unlike most pesto chicken recipes, this one adds the pesto at the very end. We do that so that the pesto stays a bright green color (rather than turning dark green like it does when cooked) AND so that the flavor remains fresh.
- Rather than pouring in a ton of unhealthy heavy cream and thickening it with flour, we mix store-bought cashew butter with some water. When the cashew cream cooks, it thickens to make a beautifully rich sauce.
- The neutral flavor of the cashew cream lets the pesto flavor shine through.
- Dotted with cherry tomatoes for extra veggies and a punch of color.
- A 30-minute dinner recipe that is loved by kids and adults alike.
- Leftovers are AMAZING!
How to make basil pesto chicken
This is a very simple recipe that you'll be able to pull together in about 30 minutes.
- Start by sprinkling some pantry staple spices over chicken breasts then searing them in a pan for a few minutes.
- While the chicken is in the pan, mix together some cashew butter and water. Now pour this over the chicken. Let the chicken simmer away while the cashew sauce thickens.
- Add some cherry tomatoes and let them cook for a few minutes.
- Now take the pan off the heat and stir in some pesto and a little lemon juice and dinner is ready!
If you're serving this with rice or mashed potatoes, start them first before you begin cooking the chicken.
What is cashew pesto cream sauce?
Only the best sauce ever! It's a thick and luscious cream sauce flavored with delicious basil pesto. You'll want to eat it by the spoonful. The amount of sauce in the recipe might seem a little overkill, but once you sit down to dinner, it will go fast.
The cream part comes from mixing cashew butter (like peanut butter but made from cashews) with water. It has the consistency of milk but will turn thick and creamy once it cooks.
Our other favorite cashew-based cream sauces:
- Dairy-Free Pork Chops and Mushroom Soup ← the recipe that started our obsession with cashew sauces!
- Creamy Cashew Butter Chicken
- Cashew Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Cashew Coconut Salmon Curry
What to serve with this pesto chicken recipe
We've eaten this pesto chicken several times all on its own and it's delicious. But all that magical cream sauce really begs to be poured over something.
Our favorites are:
- Brown Butter Mashed Cauliflower (or even some plain mashed cauliflower)
- Smoky Roast Potatoes
- Cauliflower rice (for me!) or regular rice (for everyone else!)
- Mashed potatoes
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Favorite Dairy-Free Chicken Recipes
- Perfect Baked Chicken Breasts
- Juicy Baked Chicken Thighs
- Honey Garlic Chicken
- Creamy Coconut Chicken Curry
- 20 Minute Cashew Chicken Zoodles
Creamy Pesto Chicken
If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!
- Season the chicken breasts on both sides with the garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan with high sides. Add the chicken breasts and sear for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown.4 chicken breasts, 2 teaspoons EACH: garlic powder and onion powder, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil
- While the chicken is cooking, mix the cashew butter with the water. Pour this over the chicken then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. (see notes) Let the chicken simmer for 10 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.4 tablespoons cashew butter, 1 ¾ cup water, 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pesto and lemon juice.3 tablespoons pesto, 1 tablespoon lemon juice