Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken

6 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 10 minutes

Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken is an easy crockpot recipe. Juicy bone-in chicken thighs cooked with basil pesto, broth, parmesan, and garlic!

Crispy Slow Cooker Chicken is a mind-blowing Crockpot Recipe for crispy and juicy chicken without an oven. This pesto version is even more flavorful and just as juicy!

Sabrina’s Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken Recipe

This easy Pesto Chicken recipe is perfect for days you know you’ll be busy during dinner time! Just a little prep work in the morning, then set it and forget it for a delicious Italian main dish ready to eat when you are. You can also make this Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken as an easy meal prep on Sunday and have a go-to lunch for the rest of the week.

Crockpot Pesto Chicken is one of the easiest, most stress-free chicken recipes you can make. Use a jar of pesto from the store or if you have about 5 minutes more, make my easy homemade Pesto Sauce recipe! The best part of making your own pesto is that you can make a big batch for less than a small jar and freeze portions for later recipes for up to a year! This delicious Chicken recipe is so quick to prep for the crockpot and then finishes hands off for tender, juicy chicken. 

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  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil: You’ll use vegetable oil for searing the chicken and crisping up the skin.
  • chicken thighs: Use juicy thighs to make this Pesto Chicken. Dark meat is super flavorful all on it’s own and turns out really well in the slow cooker.
  • Salt and pepper: Before you sear your chicken you will season with salt and pepper. These simple ingredients are just the start, as rest of the flavor will come into the delicious sauce.
  • 1 cup chicken broth: Chicken broth is the cooking liquid for the flavorful sauce, which is a classic choice for cooking chicken and will bring more flavor than water alone.
  • ½ cup pesto: Pesto has so much flavor by itself. It contains basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and all comes together with rich olive oil. Use jarred pesto, or make it yourself ahead of time.
  • Extra seasoning: Add some extra seasoning to your pesto sauce. 1/2  cup of grated Parmesan, ¼ cup chopped parsley, and 5 cloves of minced garlic will really do the trick. 
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Kitchen Tools & Equipment

  • Large Skillet: Take out a skillet large enough to sear your chicken on each side. If it large enough you can sear all 6 thighs at once, otherwise sear in batches.
  • Kitchen Knife: Use a sharp knife to mince the garlic and chop the parsley for your pesto sauce.
  • Grater: Use a grater or microplane to grate your Parmesan cheese, unless you purchase pre-grated Parmesan from the store.
  • Slow Cooker: Grab your trusty slow cooker or Crock Pot to let this recipe cook while you go on about your day.
  • Liners: If you want a really easy clean up you can line your slow cooker and then just toss it out when you’re finished. Your Crock Pot could end up spot free after cooking!
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How to Make Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken

Time needed: 8 hours and 10 minutes.

  1. Sear

    Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add vegetable oil to a large skillet on medium high heat and sear for 4-5 minutes on each side.Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken browning in skillet

  2. Arrange

    Add chicken to the cooker, skin side up and pour chicken broth around it.Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken in bottom of slow cooker

  3. Pesto

    Mix pesto with garlic and Parmesan cheese and spread mixture over the chicken thighs.Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken in bottom of slow cooker with pesto sauce

  4. Cook

    Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken in slow cooker

  5. Serve

    Garnish with parsley and additional Parmesan cheese if desired.Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken on serving plate with parsley garnish

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Can Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken be made ahead?

This recipe is better served fresh, and considering how you can just let it cook in the crock pot all day long, it isn’t super difficult to serve it same-day. However if you really need this to be ready ahead of time, you can prepare the recipe, then let it cool completely and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Reheat it in the oven at 350 degrees, placing the chicken in a baking dish, and covering it to retain moist and tender chicken. Make sure you heat the chicken thoroughly until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

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Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 408 Calories from Fat 297
% Daily Value*
Fat 33g51%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Cholesterol 119mg40%
Sodium 948mg41%
Potassium 273mg8%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 23g46%
Vitamin A 782IU16%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 152mg15%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Recipe Tips and Tricks

Create the most juice, flavorful Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken Recipe ever by following a couple of easy tips.

  1. Don’t Skip Searing
    • This recipe requires breaking out your skillet to sear the chicken before slow cooking, but this extra step is definitely worth it! Crisping the skin on your chicken thighs before placing in the slow cooker seals in the juices and gives your chicken dish even more flavor.
  2. Avoid Overcrowding the Skillet
    • Make sure you have plenty of room in your skillet when you sear the chicken, otherwise a good sear will be difficult to achieve. You want to maintain high, direct heat on the chicken.
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What to Pair with Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken

Pesto Chicken is great to serve with almost everything! This recipe is perfect for low carb diets served with Sauteed Green Beans. You can make a complete meal with rustic chicken and Roasted Red Potatoes. Make a full Italian feast and serve Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken with pasta favorites like Baked ZitiItalian Roasted Vegetables, and Garlic Bread. Keep it simple with pasta dressed in the extra basil pesto and garnished cherry tomatoes with fresh mozzarella!

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How to Store

  • Serve: Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken is best served right away but can be kept on the warm setting up to 4 hours.
  • Store: Once cooled, store Pesto Chicken in an airtight container and refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: Place Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken in a sealed container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw chicken overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the oven on low, adding broth to the pan and covering to keep from drying out.
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Alternative Cooking Techniques

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Instant Pot Pesto Chicken

Love your Instant Pot, especially on busy weeknights? Try this version of the Pesto Chicken recipe.

  • Turn your Instant Pot on Saute and add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.
  • Sear your chicken thighs on each side for 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove chicken and deglaze pot with chicken broth, scrapping off all the browned bits.
  • Turn off Instant Pot and return chicken to pot.
  • Mix pesto mixture and spread over chicken thighs.
  • Close lid and turn pressure valve on sealing. Set to manual high pressure for 12 minutes.
  • Naturally release pressure for 5 minutes, then quick release pressure to remove lid.
  • Serve with Parmesan cheese and parsley.
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Baked Pesto Chicken

For those who really like baked chicken, give this recipe a try.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add oil to a large dutch oven over medium high heat.
  • Sear seasoned chicken breasts for 3-4 minutes on each side.
  • Remove from heat and add chicken broth to pan.
  • Mix pesto, Parmesan, and garlic and spread mixture over chicken.
  • Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add potatoes to Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken?

Yes! Cook the chicken with 2 cups potatoes like Yukon potatoes, red potatoes, or russet potatoes. Either halve baby potatoes or cut into 2 inch chunks.

What vegetables can be added to Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken?

Add fresh broccoli, baby carrots, whole green beans, zucchini, summer squash, mini corn cobs, or cauliflower to the slow cooker around the chicken.

What other flavors can be added to Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken?

Use a sun-dried tomato pesto, or add chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the top of the chicken. You could also use roasted red peppers, adding them in the last hour of cooking so they don’t get too mushy.

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Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken

Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken is an easy crockpot recipe. Juicy bone-in chicken thighs cooked with basil pesto, broth, parmesan, and garlic!
Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 10 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 chicken thighs , bone in and skin on
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup pesto , recipe
  • 5 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese , shredded
  • 1/4 cup parsley , chopped
  • Parmesan cheese , for garnish (optional)


  • Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  • Add vegetable oil to a large skillet on medium high heat and sear for 4-5 minutes on each side.
  • Add chicken to slow cooker, skin side up and pour chicken broth around it.
  • Mix pesto with garlic and parmesan cheese and spread mixture over the chicken thighs.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
  • Garnish with parsley and additional parmesan cheese if desired.


Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 948mg | Potassium: 273mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 782IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 1mg
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  • Lighter Version: Make a lighter version of this recipe using skinless, boneless chicken thighs instead. You can still sear them to ensure nice browning, and to seal the moisture in the chicken.
  • Chicken Breasts: Instead of chicken thighs, you can use bone-in chicken breast with skin. If you want to use boneless, skinless chicken breast or boneless, skinless chicken thighs, wrap the chicken in bacon to keep it moist.
  • Pesto Chicken Pasta: Another meal idea is to make a pasta dish out of this recipe by removing the flavorful chicken, shredding it into bite-sized pieces, and tossing the chicken and leftover sauce with the pasta of your choice. You can even use zucchini noodles if you’d like to make a more healthy meal.
  • Cheesy Pesto Chicken: Add an extra final touch to the chicken by placing it on a baking sheet, and topping with mozzarella cheese. Place the cheesy chicken under a broiler to melt and brown the chicken a tiny bit before serving.
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More Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes

Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken Collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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