No need to spend hours in the kitchen or break the bank to sweep someone off their feet—Pecan Crusted Chicken is ready to woo!
This baked chicken breast recipe has elements of an elegant meal—toasty, crunchy pecan crust; juicy, meaty interior; creamy sauce you can plate alongside it—yet requires less than a half-hour of active effort.
It also feels fancy, without being too fancy.
At the risk of giving myself away here, it’s essentially a grown-up version of my Honey Mustard Chicken Tenders.
Translation: kids of all ages (and kids at heart) will love it!
5 Star Review
“Delicious! I made this recipe for my family and they all loved it. The flavor combination is yummy.”— Sue —
I started cooking pecan crusted chicken when Ben was in law school. We both loved our evenings out but didn’t have the budget to make it a regular event.
A newer cook who had dining-out tastes on a dining-in budget, I sought recipes that were affordable and easy to make, but still tasted special.
This pecan crusted chicken was a fast favorite and, all these years later, it is still a staple on our menu.
Similar to this Baked Chicken Parmesan and Baked Fried Chicken, the golden, crispy exterior and tender, moist interior reminds me of a meal you’d order out, but it’s lightened up significantly and surprisingly simple to prepare.
How to Make Pecan Crusted Chicken
Breading the chicken does take a few extra steps, but it’s not hard to do and is 100% worth it.
This recipe is quick enough for a fast weeknight dinner, but elegant enough for a leveled-up evening in.
- Chicken Breast. Lean, protein-packed chicken breast is incredibly nutritious and versatile. Coating it in the pecan breading makes it feel special and will certainly please everyone at your table.
- Eggs. Eggs help the breading stick to the chicken breasts.
- Pecans. Crunchy, toasty, nutty goodness that tastes wonderful with chicken. Plus, pecans are packed with healthy fats, protein, and fiber.
- Panko. Panko is extra coarse, crunchy breadcrumbs, and I love the texture it adds to the breading.
- Basil + Salt + Pepper. Dried basil, salt, and black pepper pep up the pecan mixture.
Sauce It Up
I wanted to serve the pecan crusted chicken with sauce, so while it baked, I stirred together a quick and creamy honey mustard dipping sauce.
- While pecan crusted chicken with mayonnaise might be the standard, I skipped it here in favor of Greek yogurt, which (unlike mayo) is low calorie and high in protein.
- Feel free to use the honey mustard sauce suggested here, swap one of your own favorite dips, or enjoy the baked pecan chicken all on its own.
- Beat the eggs in a dish.
- Pulse the pecans then transfer them to a ziptop bag.
- Add breadcrumbs, basil, salt, and pepper to the bag.
- Pound the chicken breasts.
- Dip each chicken breast in the eggs, then into the pecan mixture to coat.
- Drizzle olive oil over the chicken, then bake at 400 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Stir the sauce ingredients together.
- Serve and ENJOY!
For an extra elevated version, top each piece of pecan crusted chicken with a round of goat cheese. Pop it back into the oven for a few minutes to allow the cheese to warm.
^^This twist is especially delicious with a drizzle of honey.
- To Store. Refrigerate the chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F.
- To Freeze. Freeze chicken in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Pound the chicken breasts and prepare the pecan mixture 1 day in advance. Refrigerate the chicken breasts and store the pecans at room temperature.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Baking Sheet. A must-have in every kitchen.
- Food Processor. Perfect for chopping up the pecans.
- Non-Slip Cutting Board. This cutting board won’t slip away from you during prep.
Pecan Crusted Chicken
FOR THE PECAN CRUSTED CHICKEN:
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts about 6 ounces each
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
FOR THE HONEY MUSTARD DIPPING SAUCE:
- 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ tablespoons grainy brown mustard or an additional tablespoon of Dijon
- 1 tablespoon honey plus additional to taste
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Lightly beat the eggs in a wide, shallow bowl or pie plate and set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse the pecans until they form fine crumbs (but don't over-process or they will turn into pecan butter). Place the mixture in a large, sturdy ziptop bag.
- To the bag, add the breadcrumbs, basil, salt, and pepper. Seal the top and shake to combine.
- Place the chicken on a cutting board and cover it with a large sheet of plastic wrap. With a meat tenderizer, rolling pin, or your fist, pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness. They need not be super thin—just flatten the middle so that the chicken is relatively flat and will bake more evenly.
- Working one chicken breast at a time, dip the chicken in the egg wash, then place in the ziptop bag and shake to coat with the pecan mixture. Gently press the pecan mixture so that it sticks to the chicken, then lay the chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.
- Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the chicken. Bake until the chicken reaches 160 to 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove to a plate and let rest 5 minutes. Chicken is considered cooked at 165 degrees F, but I like to remove mine several degrees early and let the carryover cooking to finish the rest (this ensures the chicken breast is juicy and does not overcook).
- While the chicken bakes, prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the Greek yogurt, both mustards, honey, salt, and cayenne. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
- Enjoy the pecan crusted chicken hot, with the dipping sauce.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate the chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze chicken in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
A much older version of this recipe included a strawberry and goat cheese topping. We’ve since come to prefer the simplicity of the honey mustard dip. If you’d like to try this version: Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small saucepan, then add 1 1/2 cups strawberries, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Top baked chicken with strawberry sauce and crumbled goat cheese.
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