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cilantro pesto grilled chicken

Cilantro Pesto Grilled Chicken is a unique cilantro pesto is a quick and easy marinade for grilled chicken.  cilantro pesto grilled chicken

A couple of months ago I received tickets from Gold’n Plump to attend Minnesota Monthly’s Grill Fest.  Grill Fest is an annual event where you can “taste your way through your favorite grilled foods and sample summer wines and specialty beers.”  We weren’t really sure what to expect, but it’s a good thing we came on an empty stomach…there was a LOT of food.  Oh, and plenty of wine and beer too.  To start, we each received a bag with coupons and a Minnesota Monthly logo wine glass, which was for sampling.


Then, the sampling began.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the time, patience, or at times enough hands to take pictures of everything we ate, but I did get a few shots of some memorable eats.  This beauty below was a pork tenderloin stuffed with roasted red peppers, ham, and basil (or spinach?  I can’t remember what the green stuff is…).  Oh, and it was wrapped in bacon and slow cooked on the Green Egg.  T.D.F. photo-114

We saw a demo on how to grill pizza.  Then we ate the pizza.  The name of the game during Grill Fest is eat.  Eat all of the things.    photo-116

Then we ran into Gold’n Plump’s Mom Squad!  We got a couple of buttons, some coupons, and some juicy, hot-off-the-grill chicken.


After sampling a few more beers and wines, we made it to what I had been looking forward to all afternoon: sausage from Butcher & The Boar.  We may or may not have gone back two, okay three times.  It was so good!


All in all, it was such a fun afternoon!  We definitely left with our bellies full of some delicious grilled food.  I can’t wait to go back next year!

Grill Fest definitely got me in the mood for grilling, however Minnesota weather did not agree.  It took a month and a half before I could make my own grilled chicken!  The wait was worth it, though, as Marc and I absolutely loved this cilantro pesto grilled chicken.  It had a ton of flavor from the pesto, which I made different from the traditional basil pesto and used cilantro instead.  I’m a huge fan of cilantro and if you are too, you’ll love this pesto.  If you’re like my dad and think cilantro tastes like soap, you could use basil pesto instead.

One note about grilling chicken – we used to estimate the time needed to grill chicken, then once we thought it “looked about done” we’d cut into it with a knife.  Usually we’d find it either still completely raw in the middle or way overdone.

Now we use a wireless grill thermometer, which has changed our grilling ways.  It allows us to know exactly what the temperature inside of our chicken is, with no guessing, no cutting open before eating, and results in the juiciest chicken I’ve ever made.  So, if you have the option of using a meat thermometer, definitely use it!

Like this recipe for Cilantro Pesto Grilled Chicken?  Then you’ll love these!

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cilantro pesto grilled chicken

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Servings: 4 chicken breasts


  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice about 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  • In food processor, add cilantro, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt and cheese. Pulse until well chopped.
  • Add olive oil slowly, pulsing until smooth.
  • Combine chicken breasts and pesto in large plastic bag or tupperware, making sure chicken breasts get well covered in the pesto.
  • Let marinate for at least 1 hour.
  • Heat grill to medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken breasts and cook until no longer pink through the middle, about 6-8 minutes on each side depending on how thick your chicken is.
  • The best way to test doneness is a meat thermometer, which chicken should be 165 degrees F.
  • Enjoy!
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Cilantro Pesto Grilled Chicken

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  1. Looks like you had a great time at the Grillfest! I think I might be a little limited at something like that though. This cilantro pesto sounds fantastic, I love cilantro and can’t comprehend why some people don’t like it. I don’t think it tastes like soap at all!