This easy pesto chicken pizza is perfect for a quick, easy dinner! Start with store bought or homemade pizza dough and top it with pesto, chicken, and a few types of cheese for a cozy weeknight meal that's ready in no time.
We're suckers for good weeknight pizza recipes, and this easy pesto chicken pizza is perfect when you're in a hurry. Make homemade pizza dough from scratch if you have the time, or grab a store bought pizza crust to keep things easy!
Ingredients you'll need
- Your favorite pizza dough. We used our favorite whole wheat pizza dough here (it's also great with our 15 minute pizza dough recipe if you're in a hurry!)
- Pesto. Grab a jar of basil pesto at the store to save time, or use any homemade pesto you have on hand (it's great with arugula pesto, garlic scape pesto, or even cilantro pesto!)
- Cheese! We're using a combo of shredded mozzarella and shaved parmesan in this recipe.
- Cooked, shredded chicken - This is a perfect place to use some meal prepped chicken, any leftovers, or a rotisserie chicken from the store. In these photos, we used a leftover grilled chicken breast that we shredded up with a fork.
- A drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar is a delicious way to finish this pizza. We used a rich, aged balsamic that's quite thick on its own; you can also make your own balsamic reduction or use store bought balsamic glaze (or skip it entirely to save some time!)
- Other garnishes: Finish this pizza with a sprinkle of flakey sea salt, a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, or some fresh basil leaves.
The best way to bake homemade pizza
We love using a baking steel or a pizza stone for a light, crispy, flavorful pizza crust. Be sure to preheat your oven and baking steel for 30-60 minutes before baking to ensure the surface is nice and hot!
How to use a baking steel
Lay a piece of parchment paper over your cutting board, then press your pizza dough into shape on top of the paper. Add your toppings, then use the cutting board like a pizza peel to slide your pizza and the parchment onto your hot baking steel.
When the pizza is cooked, use tongs to carefully pull it out of the oven and onto a cooling rack or cutting board. This method can take a bit of practice, but it's worth it for that ultra-crispy crust!
Riffs and Substitutions
This is a very loose recipe, which means this pizza is easy to customize! A few of our favorite swaps:
- Swap the chicken for prosciutto, cooked Italian sausage, bacon, or pulled pork.
- Mix up the cheeses. We used store-bought shredded mozzarella cheese here, but it's great with fresh mozzarella, too. You can also swap some or all of the cheeses in this recipe for white cheddar, burrata, goat cheese, havarti, smoked mozzarella (à la our favorite BBQ chicken pizza) or anything else you have on hand!
- Swap the pesto sauce for traditional pizza sauce if you like!
Add extra toppings!
SO many toppings are good on pesto pizza: here are a few additions we think go really well with these flavors!
- Extra veggies: Halved cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, caramelized onions, sliced shallot or red onion, roasted garlic, grilled corn, and fresh spinach are all good here (add them before baking!)
- Add a handful of toasted pine nuts or walnuts for extra texture and flavor.
- We added a drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar here for an extra punch of flavor, but this pizza is also great with a drizzle of fig jam, honey, or hot (spicy) honey.
- You can also top the pizza with a few handfuls of fresh arugula after it's baked for a pop of color!
A few pizza FAQs
We like using a baking steel or pizza stone for best results! Preheat your oven and baking steel for 30-60 minutes before baking, then use a pizza peel (or a cutting board or flat baking sheet) to carefully transfer your prepared pizza to the hot stone (we like using a piece of parchment paper to make it easier to slide the pizza around). When pizza is ready, use tongs to carefully pull it out of the oven and onto a cooling rack or cutting board.
Yes! If you want to mimic the crispy crust you get with a pizza stone, you can put a sturdy sheet pan - one that doesn't warp in high heat - into the oven (if it has edges, turn it upside-down it so it's easier to slide the pizza on) to preheat for 30 minutes or so, then slide your pizza onto the hot baking sheet. You can also make this recipe into a pan pizza: just press the dough into shape right on a baking sheet or pizza pan, top, and bake!
More Easy Pizza Recipes
This easy pesto chicken pizza recipe is easy to customize and perfect for busy weeknights!
For the pizza:
- 1 batch of your favorite pizza dough
- ½ cup basil pesto
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 heaping cup cooked shredded chicken
- ½ cup shaved parmesan cheese
- Flakey salt
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons thick balsamic vinegar (or balsamic reduction)
- Fresh basil leaves
- Heat oven to 500° Fahrenheit with a baking stone or pizza steel inside. For best results, let the oven heat 30-60 minutes to get the baking steel nice and hot.
- Lay a piece of parchment paper over a large cutting board. Roll or stretch the pizza dough into shape and place it on top of the parchment (this will make it easier to slide in and out of the oven!)
- Spread pesto over the pizza dough, then top with mozzarella, shredded chicken, and parmesan cheese. Finish with a pinch of flakey salt and a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper (optional).
- Slide pizza onto the hot baking steel and bake for 10-15 minutes, until crust is browned and cheese is bubbling. Note: The exact bake time here will depend on your oven, equipment, and pizza dough: Check the pizza every few minutes and pull it out as soon as it looks done!
- Use a pair of tongs to carefully pull the cooked pizza out of your oven and back onto the large cutting board. Transfer pizza to a wire cooling rack for 5-10 minutes (this helps the crust stay crispy instead of getting soggy while the pizza cools) then return pizza to the cutting board and slice. Drizzle with a bit of thick balsamic vinegar, then serve immediately.
Add extra toppings before baking for a heartier pizza. We love adding caramelized onions, sliced shallot or red onion, sliced mushrooms, halved cherry tomatoes (or diced tomatoes), roasted garlic, or grilled corn.
Substitutions. Use arugula pesto, cilantro pesto, garlic scape pesto, or pea shoot pesto instead of basil pesto. Swap the pesto for traditional pizza sauce or alfredo sauce if you prefer. Use prosciutto, bacon, Italian sausage, or pulled pork in place of the chicken. Replace some or all of the cheeses here with fresh mozzarella, asiago, havarti, white cheddar, goat cheese, or burrata. Use hot honey instead of thick balsamic vinegar if you like.
What kind of chicken should I use? We used a leftover piece of grilled chicken in this recipe. This is also a great place to use slow cooker meal prep chicken or a store bought rotisserie chicken.
Can I bake this pizza without a baking stone or pizza steel? Yes! If you have a sturdy sheet pan - one that doesn't warp in high heat - you can use that in place of a pizza stone (if your sheet pan has edges, turn it upside down in the oven to make it easier to slide the pizza on and off). Pop the sheet pan in the oven while it heats, but you don't need to heat it for longer than 10-15 minutes (like you would for a baking steel). You can also make this recipe as a pan pizza - just press the dough into a pan (or use a large cast iron skillet), add toppings, and bake!
Do I have to heat my oven to 500° F? Nope - you can absolutely use a lower oven temperature if you prefer! We find that the high temperature yields the best crust, but we've also baked this pizza at 450°F and 475°F with great results: just make sure you give your baking steel or pizza stone plenty of time to heat up (ideally 30 minutes to an hour) and extend the cooking time if you need to.
- Serving Size: 2 slices
- Calories: 714
- Sugar: 1.2 g
- Sodium: 1295 mg
- Fat: 29.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 57.9 g
- Protein: 54.5 g
- Cholesterol: 111.6 mg
Keywords: pizza, flatbread, weeknight