Italian Pesto Roasted Chicken

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This is a wonderful recipe for all those Italian-hearted. Hope you enjoy!

Prep Time:
25 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr
Total Time:
1 hr 25 mins
4 servings


  • 1 head garlic

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

  • 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese (such as Locatelli®)

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed

  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 (2 1/2 pound) whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  2. Cut off the top of the head of garlic to expose the cloves, trimming about 1/4 inch off of the top of each clove. You may need to trim individual cloves along the sides of the head. Brush the cut cloves with a small amount of olive oil and nestle the head into a piece of aluminum foil.

  3. Bake in the preheated oven until cloves begin to soften, about 20 minutes. Remove garlic from the oven and let cool slightly. Leave oven on. Press on the bottom of each clove to push softened cloves out of their peels and into a small bowl.

  4. Process basil in the bowl of a food processor until minced. Add roasted garlic and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; pulse a couple of times to mix together. Pour olive oil in slowly, with the processor running, until pesto is smooth and has achieved your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

  5. Slide your fingers under the skin of the chicken to loosen it. Rub pesto generously underneath the skin and inside the cavity of the chicken. Place chicken on a rack inside a baking pan.

  6. Place chicken in the oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Increase heat to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and cook until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, 10 to 15 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone, should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Remove from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before slicing.

Cook's Note:

You can use Parmesan cheese in place of Pecorino Romano, if you'd like.

Editor's Note:

Nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of pesto. The actual amount of pesto consumed will vary.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

521 Calories
37g Fat
5g Carbs
41g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 521
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 37g 47%
Saturated Fat 9g 43%
Cholesterol 125mg 42%
Sodium 203mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 41g
Vitamin C 8mg 41%
Calcium 121mg 9%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 457mg 10%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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