My lemon chicken bowl with pesto is the perfect fresh and vibrant option fit for the warm and sunny season. Prepared with lemon and garlic marinated chicken breasts, grilled until juicy, then served over top of sun-dried tomato quinoa with a drizzle of fresh pesto, this lemon chicken bowl recipe always hits the spot!
A Chicken Bowl with a Bright and Sunny Twist
A simple and flavorful bowl can be such a mouthwatering option to prepare when I'm hungry for a light, healthy and vibrant meal.
Whether I'm craving my chimichurri shrimp bowl, my teriyaki salmon bowl, my ahi poke bowl, or my quinoa bowl, I always love to pack these bowl recipes full of fresh flavor and loads of tasty bells and whistles such as a sauce and a little sprinkle of something that'll add some texture.
This lemon chicken bowl with pesto is at the top of my list of easy chicken bowl recipes to prepare, because it makes use of skinless, boneless chicken breasts, which I almost always have stashed in my fridge or freezer to turn into a quick meal.
Marinated in a bright, vibrant and lemony combo of lemon, garlic and olive oil, then grilled off just until juicy and tender, the lemon chicken then gets sliced and placed atop of a delicious and fluffy sun-dried tomato quinoa, along with a drizzle of either homemade or good quality store-bought pesto.
Absolutely mouthwatering, not to mention healthy, this lemon chicken bowl with pesto is a terrific pick as an easy lunch or dinner, especially in the warm and sunny seasons!
My Recipe for Lemon Chicken Bowl with Pesto
I like to keep the ingredient list quite simple for this recipe, so that the bright, fresh flavor of lemon can really shine here.
Chicken always benefits from a marinade of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon, which gives it a savory pop of flavor that wakes up the taste buds.
And since quinoa is easy so to prepare, yet also extremely healthy (not to mention one of my favorite sides!), I like to jazz mine up with a little sun-dried tomato for color and sweet-tanginess that goes really well with the pesto topping.
For the pesto, I typically like to make mine from scratch if I have the time (recipe for that is found below), or simply purchase a good-quality refrigerated pesto from the market as a shortcut.
Here's a sneak peek at my lemon chicken bowl with pesto recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I marinate my chicken breasts for at least 30 minutes, or overnight if making ahead for more flavor.
- While the chicken marinates, I prepare my pesto sauce (if making from scratch), and set that aside to have ready.
- Next, I prepare my quinoa, then set that aside to keep warm.
- I grill my chicken until juicy and cooked through, then slice into strips.
- To finish the dish, I spoon some of the sun-dried quinoa into a bowl, top with the sliced chicken, plus a drizzle of the pesto sauce, and a sprinkle of crunchy pine nuts.
Lemon Chicken Bowl with Pesto
by Ingrid Beer
This lemon chicken bowl with pesto has lots of bright, sunny flavor, served over top of delicious sun-dried tomato quinoa!
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 672 calories per chicken bowl
Prep Time: 20 minutes (does not include marination time)
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Lemon Chicken Bowl Ingredients:
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally to create 4 thinner cutlets
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 ½ cups uncooked quinoa
- 2 ¾ cups chicken stock
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), julienned into strips
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Pesto Sauce Ingredients:
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 ounces fresh basil, leaves only
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your lemon chicken bowl ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To marinate the chicken, place the chicken cutlets into a bowl, and drizzle over about 2 tablespoons of the oil, plus a couple of good pinches of salt and pepper. Add in the garlic, plus the lemon zest and juice, and toss to coat. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight if doing ahead.
- While chicken marinates, gather and prep your pesto ingredients (if preparing from scratch) according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Add the lemon juice, zest, garlic, pine nuts, the parmesan cheese, plus 2 tablespoons of the oil to the bowl of your food processor, and process until blended. Add in a pinch or two of salt and the basil leaves, and process together while drizzling in the rest of the oil, until smooth and well-blended. Check to see if additional salt is needed.
- Spoon into a bowl or container, and cover the pesto with a thin layer of oil. Cover and keep in fridge until ready to use (or for up to a week).
- To prepare your quinoa, rinse it first in cold water, then add it to a pot along with the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Allow the quinoa to sit for a few minutes before fluffing with fork, and spooning into a bowl.
- Add the julienned sun-dried tomatoes to the quinoa, and toss together. Set aside, keeping it warm.
- To grill your chicken, place your grill pan over medium-hight heat, and drizzle in a touch of the oil. Once hot, add in the chicken and grill until golden-brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove and allow to rest for a couple of minutes before slicing the cutlets on the bias.
- To assemble your bowls, spoon some of the warm sun-dried tomato quinoa into a bowl, top with the sliced, grilled chicken breast, and drizzle some of the pesto sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle over some of the pine nuts, and serve with additional veggies if desired, such as asparagus.
Tips & Tidbits for my Lemon Chicken Bowl with Pesto recipe:
- Skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise: I typically always slice my skinless, boneless chicken breasts in half lengthwise (or horizontally) for most preparations, to make the breasts less thick, and quicker to grill/cook. Often, chicken breasts can be quite large, and half of a large breast yields the perfect amount, so two larger chicken breasts will feed four easily.
- Substitutions for quinoa: Quinoa is very tasty here, but other great substitutions are rice (basmati or jasmine), brown rice, orzo, or any pasta you like.
- Homemade pesto or good quality store-bought: I do include my pesto recipe here, but feel free to use a good quality store-bought pesto sauce to streamline things and provide a shortcut.
- Add in some veggies: These chicken bowls are tasty just as they are, but I sometimes like to add a little additional veg on the side. I love cut asparagus, simply blanched and salted, but you can use steamed broccoli, green beans, spinach, kale, peas, or your favorite vegetable.
Hungry for more light and healthy recipes? Check out this Parmesan Crusted Chicken, this Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Pesto, this Italian Sub with Red Wine Vinaigrette, or this Spinach Stuffed Chicken!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2017, and has been updated with even more love!