Pesto Chicken and Potato Tray Bake with lemon pepper is an easy dinner to make with minimal dishes, and you can pretty much use whatever vegetables you have on hand! A winner every day.
For more easy (but delicious!) dinners with minimal cleanup, I can recommend these sheet pan chicken fajitas, Cajun halloumi and sweet potato tray bake, and spicy shakshuka with chorizo.
Why you’ll love this recipe
It is easy to like this recipe if you like green pesto. That savory, herbaceous flavor is prominent in this dish. It is also vegetable-packed and can easily be made with whatever you happen to have in your refrigerator.
Both the pesto and the veggie versatility make this dish a very easy one to make, as you don't have to think of flavors or go to the store.
The pesto and lemon pepper are all the flavors you need for an exciting and delicious meal!
By oven-roasting the chicken breast, you also reduce the risk of making dry chicken. This turned out beautifully juicy!
Parboiling some of the vegetables makes this dish not a "one pan dinner" or sheet pan dinner per se, but it's still very little clean-up needed afterward. That is a sure win on busy weeknights!
To make this tray bake you need:
- Chicken breast - I used two here, but you can easily make more to serve more!
- Pesto - to smother on top of the chicken. Fresh, savory, and herbaceous!
- Potatoes - I like to parboil them so that they are fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside (and done at the same time as the other ingredients!)
- Vegetables - your choice of vegetables. My preference: cherry tomatoes, broccoli, white button mushrooms, yellow onion, red bell pepper, carrots, rutabaga, and leeks. Yes, I have a hard time choosing. I can assure you it won't get boring if you go for all of these!
- Lemon pepper - a fresh and spicy touch, add as much or as little as you fancy
- Fresh lemons - for an even fresher meal
- Salt - to enhance flavors, should never be omitted
- Olive oil - to avoid burning the food in the oven!
Preheat the oven to 400℉ (200℃) and prepare a baking sheet. Prep all the vegetables you want to use.
For example, I keep cherry tomatoes whole, cut broccoli into small florets (you can also use the stem, see how in this beef and broccoli), finely slice onion, and finely chop leeks. I cut slices of red bell pepper, and white button mushrooms either in slices or in quarters depending on the size.
Rutabaga and carrots are cut into thick "French fries", and small potatoes in half (larger ones also like potato wedges). The important thing is to keep them roughly the same size so they cook the same.
These vegetables need more time than the rest in the oven, so it's recommended to parboil them a little just to kick-start the process.
Parboil the rutabaga, carrots, and potatoes. That means boiling them in salted, simmering water for about 5 minutes. Drain the water.
Put the colander on top of the empty casserole over the heat and let the veggies dry for another 2-3 minutes before adding them to the baking sheet (for better crispiness!).
Add them to the baking sheet with all the other vegetables. Drizzle generously with salt, lemon pepper, and olive oil. Make room for the chicken breasts. Smother pesto on top (and more lemon pepper if you want).
If you want to make more chicken, divide the vegetables onto two baking sheets and switch to the fan setting (varmluft) instead and reduce the temperature to around 375℉ (190℃). Switch places of the two sheets halfway through baking.
Bake for 20 minutes, then switch to the grill mode and grill for 4 minutes to get a nice char on the veggies and chicken. Serve with more pesto as a dip!
Due to the potatoes, this is a dish best served right away. I love my potatoes crispy, and they turn soft pretty quickly.
However, it is still a delicious meal as leftovers. Keep leftovers in a box with a tight lid in the refrigerator. It lasts well for about 3-4 days.
Reheat in the oven at about 350℉ (180℃) until heated through, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with more pesto as a dip!
What temperature is best for roasting vegetables?
Keeping the temperature high, say 400℉ (200℃) or even hotter at 450℉ (230℃) will give a nice char and crisp on the outside of most veggies, while still getting the job done on the inside.
Lower temperatures are also great if you don't want that crisp exterior (375℉/180℃). It depends on what you're after!
Is it better to boil vegetables before baking?
Two things, it depends on the vegetable and it depends on what other things you're making.
- Most vegetables do not need it. I recommend doing it for potatoes because parboiling ensures fluffy insides and the oven ensures a crispy exterior. Other veggies that could be parboiled include carrots, rutabaga, and turnips.
- If you're making only that vegetable, you don't have to parboil it. It will just take longer in the oven (about 40 minutes instead of 20). But for a dish like this, it is definitely best to parboil some of them!
Can I cook chicken and vegetables in the same pan?
I would have messed up with this dish if not, wouldn't I?
Yes, as long as everything is fully cooked before eating, it is safe to eat. Chicken needs to have an internal temperature of 165℉ (74℃), and with 20 minutes in the oven, that should be enough.
How long to cook chicken breast in the oven?
This will depend on what temperature your oven is. I like to keep the temperature high so that the juices are sealed in, aka juicy chicken + it combines better with the desired end result of the veggies (in this dish).
At 400 ℉ (200℃) a medium to large chicken breast will be done in about 20 minutes. 18-20 minutes, then switch to grill mode for another 4 minutes to make a perfect, juicy chicken.
You can cook the chicken at a lower temperature too. The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 ℉ (74℃).
You can make this pesto chicken and potato tray bake with red pesto instead. It is equally easy and equally delicious, but a very different meal all the same.
If using red pesto, you could also try some other vegetables like
- Zucchini instead of white button mushrooms
- Cauliflower instead of broccoli
- Omit the rutabaga
- and spring onion instead of leeks
... and it will feel like an entirely different dish!
The secret tip (not so secret), is to parboil some of the vegetables so that everything finishes at the same time in the oven.
Parboiling means boiling the vegetables just a little bit (say 5 minutes), to kick-start the process. It's especially important for potatoes to keep them fluffy inside.
Other vegetables that could benefit from parboiling include rutabaga and carrots (like in this recipe), but also turnips, celery root, and beets.
Did you like this recipe? Here are more easy dinners I think you’d love:
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