Make Ahead

Scallion Pesto-Crusted Chicken

April 15, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

My grandmother loved scallions. She used them in everything from quiche to tuna salad, but my favorite was always this pesto concoction with scallions, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and breadcrumbs, baked on top of chicken. It’s my go-to weeknight dinner, and my kid’s favorite. —secretsofahomecook

Test Kitchen Notes

I made secretsofahomecook's Scallion Pesto-Crusted Chicken tonight and, having just put my kids to bed, was thrilled by how quickly it came together. Basically, you put a few ingredients in a food processor, mix in some breadcrumbs, and press the beautifully-hued pesto atop chicken breasts before roasting them. The scallions offer a great twist on an otherwise fairly classic pesto, and I loved how the addition of breadcrumbs made for a topping that didn't slide off during cooking; instead, I ended up with a lovely crust with a very pleasing color. This makes a really nice addition to a weeknight meal rotation, but it would also be at home at a casual dinner party. —em-i-lis

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • 3 pounds chicken breasts (4 to 6)
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Place pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the preheating oven for 5 minutes, until just golden.
  2. In a food processor, pulse scallions, Parmesan, toasted pine nuts, and salt. With motor on, drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil until mixture looks like a paste. Transfer into a bowl and mix in breadcrumbs.
  3. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide scallion pesto mixture on top of chicken breasts, making sure they are evenly covered. Drizzle remaining olive oil over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, until crust is brown. Serve as-is, or slice chicken into 1-inch pieces.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Catherine Regina Cheng
    Catherine Regina Cheng
  • Amy Lloyd
    Amy Lloyd
  • Joan
  • met0813
  • secretsofahomecook

32 Reviews

NapaCook October 18, 2018
I make this regularly and it's always a hit. Few observations: I use two chicken breasts and full coating recipe to coat heavily. Extra yum. I've never had to cook it the full 30 minutes, it's usually to temp after about 20. I prefer panko crumbs to regular crumbs for crunch and flavor, though the coating with panko will be a bit sandier and stick less well, not a big deal. You probably won't need to drizzle all of the remaining 1/4c olive oil at the end (as long as you haven't added it all at the beginning when you're rushing, oops) maybe the recipe should state "divided" next to the olive oil since it sounds like I'm not alone.
gustus June 12, 2016
I saved this a long time ago but didn't get around to making it until tonight. I was surprised at how flavorful the scallion pesto was. The breasts came out of the oven golden brown and juicy, and were delicious. Prep was a snap. The recipe has been added to our repertoire!
Catherine R. April 29, 2016
This looks like boneless skinless chicken breasts, but can someone confirm? Thanks.
Thaichile January 9, 2016
The chicken was delicious but the color was not appetizing. It was a brownish green and nothing like the picture that accompanied the recipe.
Amy L. January 12, 2015
There are lots of paleo, gluten free recipes at We grind rice chex up and use as a substitution and it works brilliantly.
Pimms1967 December 31, 2014
This sounds really good and easy to make! But what would someone suggest for gluten-free with the breadcrumbs? I haven't tried any of the G-F breadcrumb options out there. I've often wondered about grinding up some Crispix or Rice Krispies to use in place of breadcrumbs to get similar texture for things like this.
Joan August 11, 2014
This is my kind of recipe - simple, uncomplicated, and bursting with flavor. We had 2 breasts leftover and hoping they will require a quick warm-up for another dinner. Thanks secretsofahomecook for a really great recipe.
met0813 May 15, 2014
I made this the other evening and accidentally added all the olive oil to the food processor (helps to read the instructions well), so I added a few extra panko crumbs to the top after spreading the mixture. Broiled it at the very end to get the pretty color and it was delicious. Incredibly moist. Looking forward to trying it again the way the recipe intended. :)
I do that all the time - rush through the recipe and realize I added too much! Sounds like you rebounded just fine. I'm glad it worked out! AC
Chana May 15, 2014
Any ideas for cutting down on the amount if oil? How would it work without the 1/4 cup added before baking ? Would it work to brush on some oil? It's so delicious that I hate to mess with it, so just wondering
Well, fat equals flavor, so play around with it. I didn't have a measurement in mind when I came up with the recipe, so 1/4 cup may be just fine
Chana May 15, 2014
I served orzo with garlic and oil and salad. Or rice would be good. I would just go simple. Of course a good crusty bread is always yummy.
Simple orzo sounds delicious. I also love black rice. Partly because it got a nuttier flavor and chewier texture than white rice and it's very dramatic on the plate! Black rice with garlic and oil would be another option just like the orzo.
Aðalheiður S. May 15, 2014
What would you typically serve with this dish?
If you go to my website:, you'll see I've suggested pairings, but I particularly like it with crispy roasted potatoes and onions:
zach May 12, 2014
Do you think omitting the cheese (to make it kosher) ruin the incredibly golden crust?
plainhomecook May 12, 2014
I doubt it... and you could probably pop it under the broiler very briefly to brown the crust if you'd like. I'd expect you'd need to up the seasoning, because the parmesan is so salty. Would love to hear how this comes out!
It's a great question. The pine nuts and olive oil should keep it crispy but I do agree with plainhomecook that a bit of additional salt would balance the flavor in absence of the cheese. A run under the broiler is a great idea too (but keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn!)
EBCornell May 12, 2014
For those of us lucky enough to get our scallions from the garden and not the grocery store, how many scallions are in a bunch? Any thoughts on the volume of chopped scallions I should be aiming for?
You are so lucky! I have 5 scallions in my bunch but it can vary depending on how big or little the scallions are. All chopped up, I would say I usually have about 3/4-1 cup of scallions for the recipe.
Chana May 11, 2014
I made this tonight and it was delicious. I added some lemon zest just because. The chicken was juicy and very flavorful. Everyone loved it. Thank you!
Lemon zest - so smart! I'm going to try that next time
Sandy May 11, 2014
Any thoughts on using chives in place of scallions? I have so many chive plants right now.
I think chives would be delicious! A smart switch and the sign of a great home cook using what works for you.
Chana May 11, 2014
I assume you use skinless, boneless breasts, right? Looks yummy. Going to make tonight. Happy Mother's Day.
Yes, I used skinless, boneless breasts. You could try it with bone-in chicken but adjust the cooking time to reflect it. I would take the skin off either way because the scallion pesto crust on top won't allow the skin to get crispy. Happy Mother's Day to you!
Shirley W. May 9, 2014
A simple, flavorful, and quick recipe! Perfect for everyday, a dinner party, or served cold on top of a summer salad! I loved the simplicity of both the ingredients and how to prepare. I am looking forward to trying it out on our Big Green Egg this summer as well. This recipe goes into my favorites! Thank you for the opportunity to test!
I'm so glad you like the recipe, Shirley. I just made it last night for my two college kids home for the summer.
plainhomecook May 9, 2014
A new favorite in my house!
secretsofahomecook April 30, 2014
Than you so much, em-i-lis!
em-i-lis April 29, 2014
I made this tonight for dinner, and we really enjoyed it. Thanks for a lovely recipe.