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Chicken Thighs with Pesto and Zucchini

Pesto Chicken Thighs with Zucchini

Chicken thighs are my go-to for weeknight dinners. It’s an easy protein that offers a lot of flavors on a budget. They also pair well with so many sides – rice, salads, potatoes, quite literally anything. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are specially great here because they result in a nice, juicy meat with a crispy skin. 

For these Chicken Thighs with Pesto and Zucchini I kept things very simple, but I did go overboard with the pesto. One thing about me is that if given the opportunity, I will complicate things and take the longer, more elaborate route. So instead of getting store-bought pesto, I made my own. And there’s nothing particularly spectacular about that, it’s basically throwing everything in a blender, but I decided to take things a little bit further and use a mortar and pestle. Again – nothing grandiose about that, except I ended up making too much pesto for such a little container, which basically means it ended up taking an exorbitant amount of time and effort, messing up with the ratios..long story short, I should’ve used a blender! Anyway, I digress..

Pesto Chicken Thighs with Zucchini

When it comes to store-bought pesto, there’s so much room for error, so I suggest getting a good-quality one. Specially when they feature so prominently on a dish, like this one. Make sure you get a nice, fresh one. There’ve been far too many times when I picked up a new one in the hopes of making a dish, only to be disappointed by their strong, artificial taste. When it comes to pesto, I can be really high-maintenance, that’s how I end up crushing and grinding fresh basil and garlic for hours. 

While the chicken thighs are crisping up in the oven, make the zucchini salad. And by that I basically mean just peel the zucchini into ribbons and season with salt and pepper. Dollop a generous amount of pesto on top of chicken and dinner is served! A nice, simple, minimalist summer meal. 

Chicken Thighs with Pesto and Zucchini



Prep time


Baking Time




  • 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

  • 2 zucchinis or yellow squash

  • 1 lemon, zest and juice

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided

  • 4 tbsp pesto

  • salt and black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel, and season with salt and pepper.

  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron (or an oven-safe skillet) over medium high. Add chicken thighs, skin side down in the skillet. Sear them for 5-7 minutes until they are golden brown on top, and then flip them. When it's time to flip them, they should give right away. If the chicken is sticking to the pan, it isn’t done searing yet. 

  • Once the chicken is seared and the skin side is facing up, remove skillet from stove top and transfer into the oven. 

  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F. 

  • Meanwhile, make the zucchini salad: using a vegetable peeler, peel zucchini lengthwise into long, thin ribbons. Transfer to a medium bowl, and add lemon zest, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Arrange the baked chicken thighs on a serving platter. Tuck zucchini ribbons around chicken and top each chicken thigh with a dollop of pesto. Serve. 


Why choose the easy way to make pesto the when you can do it the hard way💀 Anyway, great summer dinner🌿

♬ Here You Come Again - Dolly Parton

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    1. Pingback: Chicken Thighs with Pesto and Zucchini – from a small kitchen | My Meals are on Wheels

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