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!

A close up of creamy pesto chicken in a pan with some cherry tomatoes.

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! 

A pan of creamy pesto chicken with cherry tomatoes.

How to make basil pesto chicken

This is a very simple recipe that you'll be able to pull together in about 30 minutes. 

  1. Start by sprinkling some pantry staple spices over chicken breasts then searing them in a pan for a few minutes. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Add some cherry tomatoes and let them cook for a few minutes.
  4. 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.

Cashew cream being poured over seared chicken breasts in a pan.

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:

A close up of the creamy pesto sauce being poured over a chicken breast.

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:

A plate of mashed cauliflower and creamy pesto chicken.

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A pan of creamy pesto chicken with cherry tomatoes.

Creamy Pesto Chicken

  • Author: Kristen Stevens
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons each: garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons cashew butter (see notes)
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons pesto (dairy-free, homemade, or store-bought)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pesto and lemon juice.

Notes

If you have a high-powered blender you can make your own cashew butter. Blend 2 cups of raw cashews with 1 tablespoon of oil until creamy. You'll have 1 cup of cashew butter and it the extra will keep for many weeks in your fridge.

If the sauce gets a little too thick, thin it with a splash of water.

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A close up of creamy pesto chicken in a cashew pesto sauce with the recipe title on top of the picture.