In this Pesto Bruschetta Chicken thin crispy chicken is topped with fresh juicy tomato bruschetta and drizzled with an herby green pesto. It is super fresh, delicious, and perfect for warm spring and summer nights.
It’s also usually well loved by the whole family, giving plenty of variety to those who may just want crispy chicken, or chicken with bruschetta, or are happy having crispy chicken topped with bruschetta and pesto.
For this Pesto Bruschetta Chicken you are already putting in a concerted effort to make the chicken and the bruschetta. So buying store-bought pesto may be the way to go. It would ease up your workload, eliminating one step. Or if you have the time, you can make it yourself. It comes together pretty quickly and you’ll already be using several of the ingredients for the bruschetta. You just dump all the ingredients in a blender and you’re done.
The one manual step for the pesto that is helpful is to slice the garlic in half lengthwise and remove the inner stem. This is where a lot of that super intense garlic flavor comes from and removing it will temper the intensity. This is a helpful step especially since you are not cooking the garlic (cooking garlic reduces its intensity). The same goes for the garlic in the bruschetta.
When I make pesto, I typically do not include pine nuts as they can be pretty expensive. I did an experiment to compare pesto with pine nuts, with walnuts, and without nuts. You can read all the details here.
The easiest tomatoes to use for bruschetta are roma tomatoes. They tend to be fleshier with lower water content and easier to remove the seeds and dice. You certainly don’t have to remove the seeds, however. You can just toss them in with the rest of the ingredients. It will save you time. But if you do remove them, the topping is less watery and more crisp.
I’ve also made this with heirloom tomatoes in this recipe here. The upside to using heirloom tomatoes is that the flavor is usually more intense and you can often find ones that are more colorful, which makes for an even more appetizing looking dinner.
Marinating the bruschetta in olive oil, salt, and balsamic vinegar enhances all the flavors. This can be done just while you are making the chicken or it can be done a day ahead and left in the fridge overnight.
Crispy Panko Chicken
I use a few tricks to make my panko breaded chicken extra crispy and delicious.
- First, I add a little bit of freshly grated parmesan to the panko. This adds more savoriness and flavor to the breading. In this recipe it's just a ½ cup. I would highly recommend buying a wedge of parmesan and grating it yourself. It tastes better and you avoid consuming the anti-caking agents that are in the pre-grated version. I love the parmesan at Trader Joes because it is not too expensive and the flavor is not too intense.
- Second, when coating the chicken pieces in the panko I press the panko firmly into each side of the sliced and tendereized chicken breast, adding more panko and pressing more when needed.
- Third, I use extra virgin olive oil in the pan, adding additional oil as needed to have a thin coat of oil on the bottom. When using olive oil be careful not to have the pan too hot or it will start to smoke, which changes the composition of the oil both in terms of taste and health impact. Using extra virgin olive oil instead an oil like vegetable oil adds additional flavor to the breading and the chicken.
- Lastly, I dry the crispy chicken on a cookie drying rack with a layer of paper towels underneath. This prevents the chicken from getting soggy on the bottom while you are working on the remaining batches of chicken, resulting in crispier, crunchier chicken.
What To Make with Pesto Bruschetta Chicken
- Simple sautéed veggies: baby broccoli, asparagus, green beans: Because you are putting in the effort to make the crispy chicken and the bruschetta, and possibly the pesto its best to keep any sides super simple. I will typically make sauteed baby broccoli cooked in 1-2 tbsp olive oil with a sprinkle of salt, using the same pan as the chicken, wiping it clean first. You could also make asparagus or green beans, either in a pan or steamed.
- Simple Salad: Another strategy is just to serve it with a simple salad. Simplest is best given that all your energy will be on making the chicken and the bruschetta. I usually stick with something green like veggies or a salad. Especially with a dish like crispy chicken I like a green veggie to balance it out, but I’ve listed a few alternatives below.
- Roasted potatoes
- Rice pilaf
If you make this Pesto Bruschetta Chicken, I'd love to hear from you and learn how it went. Leave a rating and a comment down below and let me know how it turns out. Your feedback means a lot!
If you're looking for other dinner recipes, you may love these:
Crispy Hot Honey Chicken: Double breaded extra crispy chicken drizzled in a simple spicy honey.
Chicken Sausage Sun Dried Tomato Pasta: Super easy creamy sun dried tomato dinner with chicken sausage and peas over pasta.
Italian Meatballs: Super soft Italian meatballs the melt in your mouth.
Pesto Bruschetta Chicken
- 6 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 small clove garlic, sliced down the middle inner stem removed, and minced
- 1 small handful fresh basil leaves, minced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- salt to taste
- 3 cups panko
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 6 large eggs
- 1 lb chicken breast
- 2+ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pesto (store bought or homemade, recipe follows)
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed, roughly chopped
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1½ cups good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 5-10 cranks salt
- 1 clove garlic, sliced down the middle inner stem removed, and minced
- ¼ cup pine nuts, minced, optional
- Place the diced tomatoes in a shallow Tupperware or dish and add the garlic, minced basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a few cracks of salt to taste. Stir to combine. Cover, place in the fridge and let marinade while you prepare the chicken.
- In a shallow square baking dish combine the panko, salt, and parmesan.
- In a separate shallow baking dish whisk the eggs.
- Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise, and then in half again so that you have 4 thin pieces. Place on a cutting board and cover with a large sheet of parchment or wax paper. Using a meat tenderizer, pound the meat so that it is thin, but not too thin.
- Bring a large sauté pan to just below medium heat (think 4 out of 10). Add 2 tbsps olive oil and allow to warm through for 1 minute.
- Dip the chicken in the egg, then the panko. Press the panko firmly into the chicken with your fingers on each side.
- Working in batches, place the chicken in the sauté pan and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Check to see that the bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook on the other side for 2 more minutes. Do not over crowd the pan. Add olive oil as you go so that the bottom of the pan is always covered in a thin layer of olive oil.
- Place paper towels under a cookie drying rack. Remove the chicken from the pan when it is brown and crispy on both sides and put it on the drying rack while working on the remaining batches. This allows the excess olive oil to drip on to the paper towels below, but keeps the bottom of the chicken crispy rather than soggy.
- Add the basil, parmesan cheese, 1 cup olive oil, salt, garlic and pine nuts if using, to a blender. Blend on low speed until it forms a smooth sauce. Add additional olive oil up to ½ cup if needed.
- Place the chicken on a large serving platter and top with bruschetta and a drizzle of basil pesto. Or alternatively serve the chicken, bruschetta, and pesto separately so that individuals can assemble their own toppings. If adding the bruschetta on top of the crispy chicken on a serving platter (which looks really pretty), serve immediately or the juice from the bruschetta will start to make the breading on the chicken soggy.