Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowls

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These pesto chicken quinoa bowls are loaded with flavorful cast iron chicken breast, homemade parsley walnut pesto, spinach and shredded parmesan cheese for a flavorful gluten-free recipe that is perfect for meal prep! It's light and fresh, making it a great lunch option.
A bowl of spinach and quinoa topped with sliced chicken breast, parsley pesto and shredded parmesan cheese with a block of parmesan in the background that has been partially shredded.
A bowl of spinach and quinoa topped with sliced chicken breast, parsley pesto and shredded parmesan cheese with a block of parmesan in the background that has been partially shredded.

Why this recipe works

I’m always looking for easy gluten-free lunches that I can make ahead of time and reheat when work gets busy. This chicken quinoa pesto bowl is the perfect recipe for just that! 

It reheats beautifully and is so full of flavor. Chicken breasts are cooked in a cast iron skillet so they stay moist and flavorful and the outside gets a nice crust. Fluffy quinoa is mixed together with pesto, parmesan cheese and spinach. Combine it all together for a flavor-packed lunch. 

I used my vegan parsley walnut pesto for this quinoa bowl recipe which is a great way to use up leftover parsley. I love this pesto because it’s super flavorful and cost effective. 

Parsley and walnuts are much cheaper than basil and pine nuts. Plus, I always have them on hand! You could also easily use a store bought pesto to make this recipe even easier!

You’ll love this recipe because:

  • It’s great for meal prep. This is always a favorite meal prep option in our house and I bet it will become one in yours, too! It’s easy to make ahead and reheat.
  • It’s easy to adapt. You can make this recipe simpler in a variety of ways. Use leftover chicken or store bought rotisserie chicken. You can use store bought pesto instead of homemade pesto. Whatever you choose, this recipe is delicious!
  • It’s gluten-free. This pesto quinoa bowl is naturally gluten-free. Just be sure to double check ingredients, especially the chicken broth, to make sure they are gluten-free. 

Ingredients

Ingredients in small bowls to make pesto chicken quinoa bowls, including chicken broth, black pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, boneless skinless chicken breasts, olive oil, parmesan cheese, spinach, parsley pesto, and quinoa with text overlays over each ingredient.

Ingredient Notes

  • Chicken breast – I used boneless skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. You could use chicken breast with the skin-on if you’d like to have crispy skin. You could also use chicken thighs. My cast iron chicken thighs recipe would be amazing in this bowl!
  • Italian herb seasoning blend – This is an Italian seasoning blend made of oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary. You can find it in the spice aisle at your local grocery store. 
  • Pesto – I used my homemade parsley walnut pesto recipe but you can use your favorite store bought pesto or homemade pesto if you prefer. 
  • Chicken broth – Be sure that you are using a gluten-free chicken broth if you are gluten-free. I love to cook my quinoa in chicken broth instead of water because it adds so much flavor! 
  • quinoa – I used a white quinoa for this chicken quinoa recipe, but you can use black quinoa, red quinoa or a tri-color quinoa. Be sure to rinse your quinoa before using, as it can have a bitter taste due to saponin which is a natural chemical that covers the quinoa.

Variations

This hearty quinoa bowl is one of my favorite quick dinners for a reason. There are so many ways to change up this delicious recipe!

A simple way to get more vegetables into your dinner is to add some fresh veggies. Add 1 cup cherry tomatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, or broccoli to this power bowl. You’ll want to roast the sweet potatoes or broccoli in advance, but the cherry tomatoes can be added raw or roasted for extra flavor.

Step-by-Step instructions

These pesto chicken quinoa bowls are so easy to make and great for meal prep! The steps below with matching photos are there to help you see the various stages of the recipe so you can make it perfectly every time.

For the ingredient list with measurements, full instructions, printable recipe, and additional notes, please scroll down to the recipe card.

Two raw chicken breasts on a piece of plastic wrap.
Use a mallet to pound the chicken into an even thickness.
A small bowl with garlic powder, black pepper, salt, onion powder, and Italian herb seasoning blend before mixing together.
Add all the spices to a small bowl and mix together.
Two raw chicken breasts on a piece of plastic wrap that have been topped with spices.
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with the spice blend.
Two cooked chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet.
Cook the chicken in a cast iron skillet for about 15 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through.
A stainless steel pot filled with cooked quinoa.
While the chicken is cooking, make the quinoa.
A stainless steel pot filled with quinoa, shredded parmesan cheese, spinach and pesto before mixing together.
Once the quinoa is cooked, add it together with the pesto, shredded parmesan, and chopped spinach.
A stainless steel pot filled with quinoa mixed with spinach and pesto.
Stir to combine.
A close up of a bowl of quinoa mixed with spinach and topped with sliced chicken breast, parsley pesto and shredded parmesan cheese.
Assemble the bowl by topping the quinoa with slices of cooked chicken breast, reserved pesto and a sprinkle of shredded parmesan cheese.

Recipe FAQs

Is quinoa gluten-free?

Yes, quinoa is an edible seed in the amaranth family that is gluten-free. 

Is chicken broth gluten-free?

Some brands of chicken broth contain gluten as a flavoring, so be sure to double check that the chicken broth you are purchasing is gluten-free.

hints & tips

  • This quinoa bowl recipe is very adaptable. Instead of chicken, use shrimp, steak, or salmon to change up the protein!
  • Use leftover chicken breast or a store bought rotisserie chicken to make this recipe even easier.
  • You can make your own pesto like I did or use a store bought pesto instead. 
  • A traditional basil and pine nut pesto can get expensive to make at home, so I love to use parsley and walnuts instead! Check out my homemade parsley walnut pesto recipe to give it a try!

Storage instructions

  • Storage: Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
  • Reheat: Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes until hot. Be sure to cover the bowl in the microwave so the quinoa does not explode. 
A bowl of pesto chicken on top of a bed of spinach quinoa with a fork, a bowl of parsley pesto, a block of parmesan cheese that has been partially shredded.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love to know! Please rate it and leave a comment below. You can also share your pictures and tag @adashofmegnut on Instagram.

A bowl of spinach and quinoa topped with sliced chicken breast, parsley pesto and shredded parmesan cheese with a block of parmesan in the background that has been partially shredded.

Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowls

These pesto chicken quinoa bowls are loaded with flavorful cast iron chicken breast, homemade parsley walnut pesto, spinach and shredded parmesan cheese for a flavorful gluten-free recipe that is perfect for meal prep! It's light and fresh, making it a great lunch option.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 613kcal
Author: Megan

Ingredients

For the Chicken:

  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (2-3 chicken breasts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil

For the Quinoa Bowls:

  • 1.5 cups quinoa (270g)
  • 3 cups gluten-free chicken broth or water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups parsley walnut pesto (homemade or your favorite pesto, divided)
  • 2 cups spinach (roughly chopped (60g))
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (45g, plus more for serving)

Instructions

For the Chicken:

  • Place the chicken breasts in between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic cling wrap.
  • With a meat mallet, pound the chicken to an even 1-inch thickness. Set aside.
  • Combine the salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and ground black pepper in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with the seasonings.
  • Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add the olive oil to the skillet and let heat for 1-2 minutes until hot.
  • Add the chicken breasts to the cast iron skillet.
  • Cook for 7-8 minutes over medium heat until the bottom side is golden. Then, flip and cook for another 7-8 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
  • Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing into thin slices.

For the Quinoa Bowls:

  • In a medium pot over medium high heat, bring quinoa and chicken (or water) to a boil.
  • Once it has reached a boil, cover the pot with a lid and lower to simmer.
  • Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes until all of the water has evaporated. Fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  • Add the spinach, half of the pesto, and the parmesan cheese to the quinoa and stir to combine.
  • To assemble the bowls, spoon about 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa mixture into each individual bowl.
  • Top with sliced chicken breast and a spoonful of the remaining pesto. Garnish with additional parmesan cheese if desired.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

  • If you have celiac disease or are on a gluten-free diet, be sure to use gluten-free chicken broth as some are not gluten-free. 
  • You can use my parsley walnut pesto recipe or your favorite pesto recipe. Store-bought pesto also works great in this recipe. 
  • I love my cast iron chicken breasts in this recipe, but you can cook your chicken your preferred way. Poached, grilled, smoked, or oven-baked all work. This is also a great way to use up leftover chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken. 
  • To make this recipe dairy-free, use my parsley walnut pesto recipe which is already dairy-free and omit the parmesan cheese. 
  • To make this recipe vegetarian, omit the chicken breast (or use tofu in its place) and use vegetable broth or water to cook the quinoa. 
  • To make this recipe vegan, follow both the dairy-free and vegetarian recommendations above to omit the meat and dairy from this recipe. 

Nutrition

Calories: 613kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 1594mg | Potassium: 757mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2302IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 215mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @ADashofMegnut or tag #adashofmegnut!

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