This easy One Skillet Pesto Chicken and Orzo is made with pan seared chicken thighs, basil pesto, artichoke hearts, salty green olives and orzo pasta. Simple, packed with Italian flavors and ready in under an hour, it’s the perfect one pot meal for any night of the week!
What You’ll Need to Make Pesto Chicken and Orzo
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: Chicken thighs are my favorite for making one pot meals because they’re far more difficult to overcook than chicken breasts. The bone-in, skin on variety will contribute a deeper flavor while the fat in the skin renders and becomes a delicious base to sauté the aromatics.
Basil pesto: I like the freshness of homemade pesto, but if you want to make this recipe super easy, just use your favorite brand of storebought pesto.
Orzo: chicken thighs and orzo have about the same cook time so they go perfectly together in this one skillet meal! I love the slight chewiness and starchy texture of the orzo, but I believe quinoa would also work as a healthier option.
Artichoke hearts: Because this dish is already pretty rich from the chicken thighs and pesto, go for water packed artichoke hearts as opposed to the jarred, marinated ones. I buy them quartered, but some are sold whole so you may have to do this part real quick yourself.
Castelveterano Olives: if you have never tried this type of olive before, you must. They’re mild and sweet, meaty and they have this amazing green color. So perfect for this dish. You can find them in most well stocked grocery stores or buy them in bulk online. Another type of green olive would work to if you are unable to find Castelveterano.
Garlic & oregano: Fresh garlic works best here. I used dried oregano, but fresh would also be great!
Chicken stock: Opt for low sodium chicken stock. This gives you more control over how much salt is actually going in the pot. I use storebought, but homemade is also good.
How to Make One Skillet Pesto Chicken and Orzo
This Skillet Pesto Chicken and Orzo is pretty simple and easy to make. Start by coating the chicken thighs in a few spoonfuls of pesto and letting it sit for at least 15 minutes. This can also be done in advance and the chicken can marinate for up to overnight in the fridge.
Once the chicken has had time to marinate, heat a large skillet over the stove. There are a lot of acidic ingredients in this recipe so make sure to use an enameled pan if using cast iron to avoid a metallic taste. Place the thighs skin side down in the pan and let them cook, untouched for about 8 minutes. The skin should be golden brown, crispy and release easily from the pan. Transfer those thighs to a plate and get started on the orzo.
You’ll have a good amount of rendered fat left in the pan once the chicken comes out. This adds flavor, but I like to drain some of it off. All you need is about a tablespoon. Add the garlic and orzo, sautéing until fragrant. This gives the orzo a nice toasty flavor.
Next, pour in the chicken stock, add the artichoke hearts and olives plus big pinch of salt. Nestle in the chicken thighs and bring everything up to a boil. This Pesto Chicken and Orzo bakes in the oven, uncovered for about 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the orzo is tender.
For serving, I like to remove the chicken thighs and toss the orzo with the remaining pesto. You can also drizzle it over the whole pan if you don’t want to mess up the presentation. Enjoy with a few fresh basil sprigs, maybe a light side salad and that’s dinner!
More Recipes to Try
- Burst cherry tomato chicken and rice skillet
- Grilled pesto chicken wraps
- Ginger peach meatballs with coconut rice
- Lemon basil orzo salad with grilled corn
- Honey BBQ salmon tacos with mango salsa