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Grilled Chicken with Spinach Pesto

    grilled chicken breasts with pesto

    Pesto doesn’t have to be naughty. You also don’t need to pay $7 a bottle for it. Here are the healthy twists I made to create this fast, fresh and light pesto:

    1) Swap basil for baby spinach: We all know that unless it is growing in your garden, basil can be pricey. Baby spinach is the perfect swap – just 4 oz gives you over a cup of pesto! And, if you’re anything like most Americans, you could probably use a few extra servings of leafy greens in your diet. I know I could. BTW spicy arugula or parsley work just as well!

    2) Reduce the oil: One perk to making your own pesto is that you control the fat and calories. I made this batch with just one tablespoon of olive oil and instead relied on garlic, lemon juice and good quality parmigiano regiano to boost flavor.

    3) Control sodium: I love salt as much as the next person but I prefer to use it for seasoning, not as a cheap flavor enhancer which is usually the case for processed foods. Again, by making it yourself, you control the sodium.

    4) Freeze the leftovers: Pesto freezes extremely well – just throw it in a small plastic bag and you will be thrilled to discover it in your freezer during a desperate week night dinner rush. I love using pesto with pastas, salad dressings or in dips!

    Your grill is waiting.

    grilled chicken breasts with pesto

    Grilled Chicken Breasts with Pesto

    Rate It!
    This pesto has some healthy twists I made to create this fast, fresh and light.
    PREP: 10 mins
    COOK: 15 mins
    TOTAL: 25 mins
    Servings: 4


    • 4 chicken breasts
    • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
    • 4 oz baby spinach
    • 2 tbs toasted pine nuts
    • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
    • 2 tbs lemon juice
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • c parmesan cheese (grated)


    • Pre-heat grill to high and brush chicken breasts with 1/2 of the olive oil, salt and pepper.
    • Grill chicken breasts for 5-7 minutes per side or until cooked through.
    • In a food processor, combine spinach with toasted pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese. Whirl to combine.
    • Slowly drizzle in remaining olive oil until puree forms.
    • Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve on top of chicken breasts.
    • Leftover pesto can be frozen for later use – simply pour in a sandwich sized plastic bag and freeze.


    Good source of Vitamin A


    Calories: 318kcalCarbohydrates: 2.6gProtein: 54.2gFat: 9.6gSaturated Fat: 2.2gCholesterol: 146mgSodium: 303mgFiber: 1.8g
    SHOW AND TELL ON INSTAGRAM!Show me your creation and rate it below! Mention @thelemonbowl or tag #thelemonbowl! I would LOVE to see!

    Liz DellaCroce

    Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:

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