Yogurt, Fresh Lemon and Basil Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

Marinated Grilled Chicken

Yogurt, Fresh Lemon and Basil Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

I put my baby on a plane this morning.  My youngest gal who happens to tower over me by three full inches.

Holding back the tears and putting on a brave Mommy face at the airport was harder than I expected.   I absolutely could not shed a tear.

Grilled Chicken

Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken

Suzie Q had given me a lovely little dissertation in the car about how this trip would be another big adventure for her and she’d be back in a week.  What’s to cry about Mom?!

My youngest is an independent, capable gal and quite the planner.  Her lists for packing are detailed, down to including a mini first aid kit for her backpack.  You know, just in case? 🙂

kayaking Orcas Island

Kayaking Orcas Island

If there was an award in school for preparedness,  Suzie Q would win.

Kayaking Orcas Island

Looks like I’ve been left behind.

Maybe it was the family hiking adventures that ended with a skinned knee or two, or biking Northwest trails that left her with a few skinned elbows and one goose egg on the forehead (actually that was my darling niece!) or the snowboarding that resulted in not so happy feet.  And most recently, kayaking and hiking Orcas Island that resulted in a few band-aids taped to her shins.

Kayaking Orcas Island

Suzie Q Kayaking Orcas Island

Of course, after all that hard work and fun in the sun, I had to prepare one of her new favorite meals.  After the third piece of Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken, Suzie Q declared this dish the best chicken she’s ever tasted!

Did I mention she’s also quite the charmer?

Yogurt and Basil Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

Serves 4

*The marinade can easily cover up to 5lbs of chicken


3-4 lbs chicken pieces, bone in, skin removed so marinade can soak in

2 cups Greek plain yogurt

½ cup basil pesto (I’ve listed a recipe below, but for a quick fix Cibo Naturals has a lovely basil pesto)

2 lemons, juiced

Splash of Sriracha or fave hot sauce, about 1-2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper


Place the chicken in a glass bowl, baking dish or non-reactive container.

Whisk together the yogurt, pesto, lemon juice, Sriracha, salt and pepper and then pour over the chicken to coat.

Let the chicken marinade overnight for best results.

To Grill:  Pre-heat the grill to 400F.

Shake off the excess marinade and place on the grill.  Turning down the heat if necessary so the chicken doesn’t burn.

Let the chicken cook for about 20-30 minutes or until it reaches internal temperature of 165F.

Serve with your favorite grilled veggies, tossed mixed green salad or pasta salad.  Or… all three! I love this chicken with grilled mini sweet peppers.  Just toss the mini peppers with a little oil, salt and pepper and grill until toasty and soft.

Basil Pesto Recipe:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ -1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds (or pine nuts)

2 cloves garlic

Squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the basil, cheese, almonds, garlic and squeeze of lemon in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times and then start adding the olive oil in a steady stream until the pesto is smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.



  1. Michele Sevart says:

    Zoë proclaimed this the “best chicken I’ve ever had!” We all thought it was delicious!
    Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes.

    • Yay! This makes me smile. Tell Zoe I’m so happy she loved this chicken recipe. And I think I shall dub this a “Chef Zoe” approved recipe. 🙂

  2. Michele says:

    Oh boy! I’m making this for sure! This looks so delicious!

  3. Hi Karista. Love the recipe, the pics and the food of course. I would describe it as a definite sunshine dish. I can imagine sitting outside in the sun with a chilled glass of white. Eating some yummy chicken and fresh salads and speeding time with the folks I love. Isn’t it funny that chicken can make me feel that way!

    Hope Suzy Q is having a brilliant time and no doubt she’d be missing mum’s cooking along the way…

    • Thanks Alice! It is a yummy chicken dish and sometimes if it’s raining I roast it in my oven. Are you guys having much sunshine or has it turned cold yet? Enjoy the rest of the week!

      • It’s definitely winter here and as for mother nature, she’s decided if the sun shines for others in summer, she can’t shine for us in winter. Gloomy, dark & rainy! The perfect baking day (if) I didn’t have to go to work…

  4. Your chicken looks perfectly cooked…I can see why it is a favorite of your daughters. Do you keep it over the direct heat for the whole 20 to 30 minutes? It sounds like you have a very responsible daughter and that must help when she goes on an adventure without you.

    • Thanks Karen! If grilling over the weber we start out with direct heat and then move quickly to indirect heat. On the gas grill I usually heat to 400F and place over medium flames and adjust as needed so the chicken doesn’t burn. And if it’s raining cats and dogs outside and no one wants to don a rain coat to grill, I pop it in the oven on 400F and roast until cooked to 160F internal temp.
      I spoke with my little gal tonight and she’s having a blast… and misses her Mom’s cooking. 🙂

  5. As always, I just love your flavors Karista. The pesto/lemon/yogurt combo on this chicken is making me drool. Hope Miss Susie Q has a good time on her trip and is assuring her mama that all is well. 🙂

    • Thanks Betsy! I did speak with my little gal tonight and she’s having a blast. Although she did mention she missed her Mom’s cooking. LOL!

  6. There’s nothing better than being adventurous and well prepared! I have a feeling that Susie Q wasn’t just being charming about that chicken — it looks delicious!

  7. What a very delightful chicken recipe! 😉

  8. Yum! I love pesto–this sounds great!

    • It’s a lovely mixture of flavors and best of all simply prepared. If I don’t use a lot of chicken I’ll reserve some of the marinade as it works great as a simple dressing for grilled romaine. 🙂

  9. That chicken looks amazing! And hopefully, it was a wonderful comforting treat while Suzie Q is away.

  10. I can see why this chicken is her favorite! It looks incredible. It’s funny, as a parent, we raise our kids to be (hopefully) independent and capable of being on their own. But it’s kind of sad when the get there…..Sounds like you’ve done your job well!! (And she’ll be FINE!)

    • Thanks Kelley! I love it because it’s so easy. Lol! And thankfully my little gal has texted me everyday giving me a play by play of her exciting trip. She’s having the time of her life and loving the independence. Hope you’re doing well and enjoying summer!

  11. Reading your love for your daughter gives me that sweet feeling in the center of myself; as if you placed a chocolate soufflé right in my belly, warm and comforting. I love how you love your girls, Karista . . . you are a terrific mom.

    And this recipe, well . . . add it to growing “Must Eat” list of recipes.

    Happy Saturday, Lovely.

    ~ Cara

    • Thank you Cara! Ive taken on many roles in my life and I can truly say “mom” is my favorite. I think you and Michael will love this chicken. A great way to enjoy summer… And Michael can make this for you while your working on your book. 🙂 have a lovely week my friend!

  12. This looks fantastic and i love pesto so i am sure it will be stunning. I hate it every tiem i have to say goodbye to one of my kids too we have learnt to do it very fast. c

  13. All I can think right now is how good that would taste cold, on a bed of greens…
    Your SuzyQ sounds like my Butterfly…she’s got skills that will serve her well in life!
    Butterfly is a grown-up Mommy herself, now, and she still amazes me. 🙂

    • It really does taste great cold! I pulled a leftover chicken thigh out of the frig for breakfast and it was yummy. Awww… it’s so nice to hear Butterfly is all grown up and a Mommy now. I love to watch my girls grow, mature and hopefully they’ll amaze me too. 🙂

  14. Oh I have to make this – delicious!
    🙂 Mandy

  15. Can I borrow Suzy Q for a packing presentation – I’m awful at it! The chicken looks wonderful!

  16. peasepudding says:

    Looks like a tasty dish that Susie would be glad to come back to!

  17. I miss kayaking. We used to live my a lake and did it almost every weekend but now maybe I should try it in the China Sea? I love your chicken and it gets the yummy little crispy bits with the marinade.

    • I adore kayaking! Fortunately we are blessed with lots of water around these parts. I’ve never seen the China sea but I’m sure if you used a sea kayak it would be great fun. I’m the same, love the crispy bits!

  18. This looks like a beautiful flavour combo my friend, nicely done 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  19. This sounds gorgeous, Karista :D. Genuinely yummy :). I don’t cook chicken enough – glad you didn’t use breast.

    • Thanks Frugal! I don’t prepare chicken often enough either and thought a chicken dish just might hit the spot. Now if we could just get some summer time weather around here. 🙂

  20. Aw, so sweet 🙂 At 14, I told my parents I was going to go to high school in France for a while. A few months later I left on an exchange program. I had no idea at the time but about a year later, my Dad told me that my Mum worked so hard to hold it together at the airport but that as soon as I got through the gate and was out of sight she burst into tears! So, from one independent youngest child (whose now all grown up), I feel as though I know exactly the relationship dynamic you’re describing. All in all, it means you did a really rockin job as a parent 🙂

    • Aww… thanks Christine. You made me teary. What a wonderful adventure to spend time in France while in HS! I’m sure my daughter will be looking into exchange programs for HS, she enters 9th grade next year. 🙂 I guess I should prepare myself.

  21. This looks and sounds delicious. Really nice on a summers evening with a glass of white wine. What would you serve them with? Just a side salad? Thanks for the recipe!

    • I love those simple flavorful grill recipes that can be simply enjoyed with a glass of wine. 🙂 I really love this chicken paired with grilled veggies, my favorite being mini sweet peppers. But a mix of summer zucchini, eggplant, and large peppers are also fabulous. Even a side of a veggie pasta salad would be great. I have a mediterranean couscous salad under “sides” in the blog. It’s divine with this chicken! Thanks for stopping by!

  22. Oh that sounds so good! The pictures are mouth watering as well. I will be making this one for sure~

    • Thank you! It’s a fabulous simple and delicious summer grill recipe. I think one of my family’s favorites. Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

  23. Vanesther says:

    My mouth was watering reading this recipe. Sounds simply delicious. And well done you on not crying at the airport. I’m not looking forward to those times when my little ones get all independent on me 😉

    • Thanks Vanesther! I miss her already but I know she’s have a fabulous time. I’m loving that my children are older and more independant but then I realize I’m getting older. 🙂

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