Keto Pesto Chicken w/ Zoodles is a low carb chicken dinner the whole family will love! Double up on the pesto, it's that good!
Cooking with fresh herbs is such a healthy way to add flavor to a dish and making pesto is one of my favorite ways to use fresh herbs!
The combination of lemon, garlic and basil is so fresh and bright. It's a sauce the whole family enjoys.
I sometimes leave out the cheese as in my dairy free cilantro pesto recipe, but I've included a bit of fresh parmesan here. Cheese is always optional in our recipes though so feel free to omit if you follow a Paleo diet or have a dairy allergy.
This pesto also calls for spinach. Including spinach in a flavorful sauce is a wonderful way to encourage pickier eaters to eat their greens! I also love the subtle flavor it adds to the pesto.
To keep this a low carb chicken recipe, serve over zoodles but of course feel free to sub gluten free pasta if you prefer. You can also easily serve your kid's portion over pasta OR do a mix of zoodles and gluten free spaghetti.
While there's nothing wrong with buying pre-made zoodles, it's worth making your own if you eat them regularly. Check out my video on how to make your own zoodles for tips!
I hope this becomes a new family favorite!
Keto Pesto Chicken w/ Zoodles
For the Pesto:
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (~ juice of 1/2 lemon)
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T water (or as needed for a smooth consistency)
- 1/2 clove garlic
- small handful fresh basil
- 2.5 oz spinach (~ 2.5 cups)
- 1/2 oz grated parmesan cheese (1/8 cup)
- 1/2 cup walnuts
For the Chicken & Zoodles:
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2-4 medium to large zucchini (OR sub 1 package zoodles)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
For the Pesto:
- Blend the following in a blender or food processor until smooth: garlic, walnuts, parmesan cheese, fresh basil, spinach, olive oil, lemon juice, water as needed for a smooth consistency
For the Chicken & Zoodles
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Slice zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips (best done on a spiralizer or mandolin)
- Coat 4 chicken breasts in pesto (~2T/ breast).
- Bake pesto coated chicken for ~30-35 min or until cooked through to 165 F.
- Heat 1 tsp olive oil over med-high heat. Sauté zucchini noodles & garlic for 3-4 minutes or until tender.
- Serve pesto chicken over zoodles.
What is the nutrition like in this Keto Pesto Chicken w/ Zoodles?
In addition to being a low carb dinner option, this Keto pesto chicken with zoodles is quite nutritious! Here's a little more about the vitamins and nutrients you'll get from this dish:
- Lemon: Just one lemon provides 51% of the daily recommended vitamin C. This is important not only to fight colds, but for long term health. Studies show consuming produce with vitamin C helps prevent heart disease and strokes. Consuming lemons can also help protect against anemia and kidney stones.
- Garlic: Garlic has been used in homeopathic remedies for thousands of years. It is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and some types of cancer.
- Olive Oil: Due to the type of fat it contains, olive oil may reduce inflammation. It also reduces the risk of Alzheimer's, stroke and heart disease. Make sure to get high quality extra virgin olive oil, as it retains more antioxidants and nutrients.
- Walnuts: Many consider walnuts to be the healthiest nut, in part due to their high antioxidant content. They may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Walnuts also support healthy brain function and healthy gut bacteria. They are a true super food!
- Basil: A significant source of vitamin K, basil may reduce memory loss, blood pressure, and depression. Smelling basil may also help you feel more alert so consider growing some in a kitchen garden to smell whenever you need a boost!
- Spinach: Low in carbs and packed with fiber, spinach is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, calcium and iron. Spinach is great for your eye health and may help prevent inflammation.
- Chicken: In addition to being packed with protein, chicken is a good source of iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins.
- Zucchini: Zucchini is rich in many vitamins, but is especially high in vitamin A. Vitamin A supports good vision and immune function. In addition, the zucchini skin is high in antioxidants. Super low in carbs, zucchini is a great choice for those following a Keto or low carb diet.
What makes this Keto pesto chicken?
The Keto diet focuses on fats and limits carbs. The goal is to put the body into ketosis, a state where your body efficiently burns fat and turns it into ketones, which are thought to fuel your brain.
The Ketogenic diet can by hugely helpful for those trying to lose weight, but it can also sometimes be lacking in valuable nutrients from fruits and vegetables. In our Prep Dish Keto menus, we always prioritize including low carb veggies like the spinach and zucchini in this recipe, as well as low carb fruits for maximum nutrition.
This particular recipe is Keto-friendly because it has plenty of healthy fats from the olive oil, walnuts and parmesan and very low carbs. Per serving, Keto pesto chicken contains about 23 grams of fat, 33 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbs and 5 grams of net carbs. (Net carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber and is a good indication of the amount of carbs actually absorbed by your body.)
Even if you don't follow a Keto diet, recipes like this one are great for those who feel best with lower carb intake or just to mix things up and try a new kind of recipe!
What are some other low carb chicken recipes?
Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps: Perfect for lunch, these lettuce wraps feature chicken, bacon and avocado – such a great flavor combination! The chicken salad also makes an excellent component in a packed lunch for kiddos. Just serve with their favorite gluten free crackers – I like Simple Mills!
Garlic Butter Chicken w/ Spinach & Bacon: Cooked in a combination of olive oil and bacon fat with just a touch of butter, this chicken has the crispiest skin. Spinach is then wilted in all of the delicious juices from the chicken, so good!
Weeknight Oriental Cashew Chicken: Here's another delicious, but totally different, chicken and zucchini noodle combo. This one packs a ton of flavor from fresh ginger and garlic but comes together quite quickly. The cashews give it the perfect crunch! You can easily serve this over rice or rice noodles for the kids or anyone looking to include more carbs.
Pecan Crusted Chicken Collard Wraps: If you haven't tried collard wraps, they're sort of a game changer for anyone looking to reduce carbs. In this version, chicken tenders are crusted in a mix of pecans and spices for a super flavorful yet light meal. If you're serving this to your family, set out the toppings and let everyone build their own wraps!
Parsley Chicken: My parsley chicken features the best (and healthiest!) marinade full of fresh herbs and citrus. This was a subscriber favorite last year!
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