Creamy Pesto Chicken

In my family, free evenings are an endangered species. Between basketball, karate, piano lessons, committees, homework, school events and day jobs that spill into evening hours, we are always on the go. It’s what my mom would call “burning the candle at both ends.”

Where do family meals fit into this mess? Good question. The short answer is: they don’t. The long answer is: we make them fit because eating well—and together—is important to us.

On those evenings when we don’t get home until 7:30, though, I’m sure not going to put an elaborate meal on the table. I need options with maximum flavor and minimum fuss. I need recipes that go together in 25 minutes tops. So I turn to a short list of one-skillet meals that are ready in a snap and super delicious.

My Creamy Pesto Chicken with Zucchini and Mushrooms recipe is one of my favorites because it’s so quick and adaptable. It includes five simple ingredients I always try to keep on hand:

  • Frozen chicken breast tenderloins (these defrost and cook so much faster than full chicken breasts)

  • Basil pesto (I buy a small jar at Trader Joe’s and keep it my fridge)

  • Heavy cream (just a pint for cooking and the occasional latte)

  • Zucchini (such a versatile veggy!)

  • Sliced fresh mushrooms (handy for skillet dinners, scrambled eggs, salads, etc.)

Despite the simplicity of this recipe, it always turns out creamy, dreamy delicious. In fact, the last time I made it, my husband pronounced it “lick-the-plate good.” (Quite an endorsement!) 

— Sarah

Pesto Chicken with Zucchini and Mushrooms

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins
3 small zucchini
1 T. olive oil
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tsp. basil pesto (this packs a lot of flavor and is also pretty salty, so a little bit goes a long way)
½ cup heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper


  1. Defrost the chicken breast tenderloins in your microwave (or...if you have presence of mind in the morning...set them out in your fridge before you go to work). Once thawed, cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks.

  2. Slice and quarter the zucchini. (Leave the skin on.)

  3. Warm 1 T. olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and zucchini and sauté for 5-6 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

  4. Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to sauté.

  5. While your skillet mixture is getting sizzly good, stir together the pesto and heavy cream in a small bowl.

  6. Pour the cream mixture over the chicken and veggies and stir well.

  7. Crack some fresh pepper over the top, stir and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes more.

  8. Serve and enjoy!

If you want to add a side dish, try a fresh salad or some crusty bread to mop up the cream sauce. Remember what I said about “lick-the-plate good”? :)