Tested and Perfected by Food and Wine
Roast Chicken with Walnut Pesto
© Petrina Tinslay

Roast Chicken with Walnut Pesto

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR
  • SERVINGS: 16 to 20

For your next dinner party, this super-nutty walnut pesto is excellent for dressing up perfectly roasted, lemony chicken.


  1. Three 3 1/2-pound chickens, cut into 8 pieces each
  2. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 16 garlic cloves, crushed
  4. 2 lemons, scrubbed and cut into 8 wedges each
  5. 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  6. Kosher salt
  7. Freshly ground pepper


  1. 2 cups walnuts
  2. 6 cups lightly packed basil leaves
  3. 1 large garlic clove
  4. 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  5. 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  6. 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  7. Kosher salt
  8. Freshly ground pepper
  1. ROAST THE CHICKEN Preheat the oven to 425°. In a very large bowl, toss the chicken with the olive oil, garlic, lemon and thyme and season generously with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side up on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and scatter the garlic and lemon around them.
  2. Roast the chicken in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thighs registers 165°. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes.
  3. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE PESTO Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a food processor and let cool.
  4. Add the basil and garlic to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the cheese and lemon juice and pulse until combined. With the machine on, add the olive oil until incorporated. Season the pesto with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Serve the chicken with the walnut pesto.
Make Ahead The walnut pesto can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Pinot Noir's soft tannins pair well with walnuts, which have their own bitter tannins. Serve this savory chicken with a fruit-forward Pinot, like one from the Sonoma Coast.