This Instant Pot Pesto Chicken is an easy-to-make keto friendly recipe made with chicken thighs and covered with mozzarella cheese and a delicious creamy pesto sauce.
Looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal? This Instant Pot Pesto Chicken is the perfect dish!
The chicken is covered in a creamy pesto sauce, making it so flavorful. Plus, this dish is ready in just 35 minutes! So, pull out the pressure cooker, and let’s get cooking because you will love this easy recipe.
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Easy Instant Pot Pesto Chicken
Easy dinners are what we are all about here. This Instant Pot recipe is a combination of creamy pesto, mozzarella, and boneless chicken thighs which makes for a very flavorful dish. And this dish is keto-friendly and low-carb.
The second thing is I love pesto, it is a very flavorful sauce with fresh basil, garlic, parmesan, and olive oil. Plus, this dish only has a few ingredients, especially if you buy pesto sauce, which makes it super simple to make.
The third and final reason why I love this chicken with pesto and mozzarella is that it is ready in just 35 minutes!
This is the perfect meal for busy weeknights. Simply throw all of the ingredients into your Instant Pot and let it do its thing.
So if you are looking for a quick, easy, and delicious meal, then this Instant Pot Chicken Pesto is the perfect recipe for you! Trust me, your family will love it as much as mine does.
Check out our other Instant Pot recipes: Instant pot chicken thighs and potatoes, Instant pot pork tenderloin with potatoes and gravy, and Instant pot turkey tenderloin with potatoes and gravy.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Chicken – We use fresh boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. To use frozen chicken thighs, skip searing then add 2 minutes to pressure cooking.
To use other cuts of chicken:
- Boneless chicken breasts: pressure cook for 10 minutes.
- Chicken tenderloins: pressure cook for 4 minutes.
- Large, bone-in half breasts: pressure cook for 12 minutes.
- Seasoning – We used all-purpose seasoning to season the chicken thighs. You can use any other spices or seasoning blend of your choice.
- Oil – We prefer using olive oil to sauté the chicken. Or use any cooking oil available.
- Chicken broth – or use chicken stock or water.
- Tomatoes – We used cherry tomatoes for this recipe. You can swap with sun-dried tomatoes instead for a more intense flavor.
- Pesto sauce – make it using our homemade recipe or buy pre-made from the store.
- Cream cheese – to make the creamy, delicious sauce.
- Mozzarella cheese – for a rich, cheesy topping. You can use Parmesan cheese instead.
Equipment Used for Cooking Easy Pesto Chicken
How to Make the Instant Pot Pesto Chicken
Sauté the Chicken. Press the sauté button on the Instant Pot. Add olive oil and then rub all-purpose seasoning all over the chicken thighs.
When the pot is ready, brown each thigh on all sides until golden brown. Do this for about 3-4 minutes total.
Pressure cook the Pesto Chicken. Take the boneless thighs out of the pot and let them rest on a plate. Add the broth to the pot and stir it around to get all of the good bits off the bottom of the pan.
Put the chicken and cherry tomatoes back into the Instant Pot. Push the cancel button. Twist on the Instant Pot lid, turn the pressure valve to close if needed, and cook at high pressure for 6 minutes.
When the pressure cooking is complete, let the pot rest undisturbed(natural release) for 10 minutes. After that, turn or depress the pressure valve to release the pressure quickly.
Let it Sit. Transfer the cooked chicken and cherry tomatoes to a serving platter. Cover them with foil so they will stay warm.
Prepare the Creamy Pesto Sauce. Drain the chicken broth from the pot, reserving 1/2 cup. Leave the pressure cooker warm, and stir in the pesto sauce and cream cheese.
Then stir the pesto sauce mixture until it is smooth. Add reserved chicken broth, as needed, to make the pesto sauce smooth.
How to Serve Instant Pot Pesto Chicken
For serving, add a mozzarella slice to the top of each chicken thigh. Then, spoon over the creamy pesto sauce. Top with cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with fresh basil (optional) to garnish.
Also, this keto pesto chicken tastes great when paired with:
- Cauliflower rice
- Zucchini noodles
- Roasted vegetables
For non-keto sides:
Can I store Instant Pot Pesto Chicken?
This keto chicken pesto will last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Let them cool completely and transfer to individual airtight containers before placing them in the fridge.
To reheat pesto chicken thighs, microwave on 50% power until warm. You can also reheat in the Instant Pot on the sauté function, stirring often. Do not pressure cook to reheat.
- Jalapeño Pesto Chicken: Add a diced jalapeño to the pot when sautéing the chicken for a little bit of heat.
- Pesto Chicken with Bacon: Top each chicken thigh with a slice of bacon before pressure cooking for an
- Add other vegetables to the pot: mushrooms, zucchini, onion, garlic, etc.
- Make it spicy: add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to the sauce.
- Make it dairy free: use full-fat coconut milk in place of the cream cheese and chicken broth.
Frequently Asked Questions
I do not recommend freezing this pesto chicken thighs dish because dairy doesn’t usually freeze well. The pesto sauce may separate and the cream cheese may become grainy.
Yes, just skip the saute step. Then, add 2 minutes of cooking time to the chicken on high pressure.
For boneless, skinless chicken thighs, you will need at least a cup of liquid in the pot. I like to use chicken broth because it adds flavor and makes the chicken taste better. But water will work in a pinch. If you are using frozen chicken breasts, add an additional half cup of liquid to the pot so they can cook properly.
Instant Pot Pesto Chicken
For the Chicken Thighs
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1.5 pounds) see notes for frozen
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chicken broth or stock, low sodium
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (can substitute with sun dried tomatoes)
- ½ cup pesto sauce
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) cream cheese
- 6 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
- salt and black pepper
- fresh basil as a garnish
Pressure cook the pesto chicken
- Set the Instant Pot to sauté, by pushing the sauté button until it shows sauté "MORE." Add olive oil to the pot. Sprinkle all-purpose seasoning over all sides of the chicken thighs.
- When the pot is ready to sauté, brown the chicken thighs on all sides until lightly golden, about 5 minutes total.
- Remove the boneless thighs and let rest on a plate. Add the broth to the pot and stir to deglaze the pan.
- Return the chicken to the Instant Pot. Add the cherry tomatoes. Press the cancel button. Twist on the Instant Pot lid, turn the pressure lever to seal (if needed), then press the high-pressure button and set for 6 minutes.
- When pressure cooking is complete, do a natural release for 10 minutes (let the pot rest undisturbed), then perform a quick release (turn or depress the pressure valve).
- Transfer chicken and cherry tomatoes to a serving platter and cover loosely with foil.
Prepare the creamy pesto sauce
- Drain the chicken broth from the pot, reserving 1/2 cup in the pot. Leave the pressure cooker warm, and stir in the pesto sauce and cream cheese. Continue stirring (I recommend using a whisk) until the two combine and are smooth. Add reserved chicken broth, as needed to make a smooth, creamy pesto sauce.
- For serving, add a mozzarella slice to the top of each chicken thigh, spoon over the creamy pesto sauce, then top with cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with fresh basil (optional) to garnish.
- for boneless chicken breasts, pressure cook for 10 minutes
- for chicken tenderloins, pressure cook for 4 minutes
- for large, bone-in half breasts, pressure cook for 12 minutes