The pros: Trader Joe's Pesto Genovese Chicken Breast makes for tender chicken that is ready quickly.
The cons: Has an acidic taste. The pesto might be better if it were something you added on like a chimichurri rather than a marinade.
I love a good pesto. In fact, there really isn't a jarred variety that I enjoy. You lose something when something is jarred because pesto is something that is made raw and uncooked. I make mine in a big batch in the food processor. I won't even add pesto unless I'm willing to serve it. Otherwise, I reserve it to the side to ensure the fresh flavor. That made a bit hesitant to reach for these. I know that pesto should probably not be cooked (like ever).
I took the plunge and picked these up anyways since they are priced almost the same at other non marinaded chicken at Trader Joe's. For $4.99 per pound you are getting a bag of somewhat thinly sliced chicken cutlets that cook in about 6-8 minutes. These cooked quickly in a pan and were quite green when finished.
After taste testing one cutlet I came to certain conclusions: 1) the meat was tender 2) the taste of pesto seemed lost and 3) there was a distinct tart acidity that was hard not to notice. This product would be enjoyed best with something that can mellow out the acidity: bread, pasta or rice. I do think it would have been more successful if the pesto had been a packet to be mixed with the chicken at the end rather as a marinade. Also, there is quite a bit of sodium in this product as it represents a quarter of what you should have in a day. While I ate the whole thing, it's not something I would reach for again. Would I like my pesto with chicken? Yes as long as the pesto is super fresh. Sadly, the fresh herby quality of the pesto seemed truly lost here. The color was far more pronounced than the flavors of the spices. So, this for me was something to try once. I won't be repurchasing this item.
Here is the visual run down of what you get if you buy this product:
The package of Trader Joe's Pesto Genovese Chicken Breast:
The nutritional information, the ingredients, and how to prepare:
After being cooked you get:
Would I buy this again? While I liked the fact that these cutlets were tender, I don't think I'll be buying Trader Joe's Pesto Genovese Chicken Breast any time soon. It wasn't a true pesto and you'll have to find a way to temper the acidity here.
Want to see more items I've reviewed from Trader Joe's? Click on Thoughts & Reviews of Trader Joe’s for a searchable list.
Did you try it? Let me know what you think in the comments section!
Laura Cain says
Any suggestions how to reduce or balance the acidity level besides serving it with pasta or rice? How would it pair with Butternut or spaghetti squash "zoodles" or cauliflower rice?
Hey Laura! I think if you went with a Butternut squash or zoodles the acidity will be there but hopefully it can cut through it. They should go together, but this overall wasn't my favorite. I'd still love to hear your thoughts on it. Thanks again for taking the time out of your day to stop by!
Do you think adding your own homemade pesto on the chicken would help add flavor?
Hey Calli. I think it absolutely would. But I would add it at the end. I'd even recommend keeping it cold to serve as a contrast to the warm chicken. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Jennifer Folk says
Can I cook in the crockpot on low?
Wendy W in MD says
Late to the party here but I wanted to share for future readers who land here. First, thank you for the excellent explanation of your experience with this Trader Joe’s offering. We had the same experience with the Trader Joe’s herbed chicken breasts, found right beside the Genovese. After reading your post, I decided to try this and it worked great—empty the package into a colander in the sink (practice good poultry habits to prevent any cross contamination) and wash off 90 percent or more of the herbal marinade. Pat the individual pieces dry with a paper towel and then dear 4 minutes each side in a super hot grill pan lightly oiled with EVOO. We got juicy, tender filets that were savory and redolent of the fragrant basil without bitterness. Good luck!
Thanks so much for sharing Wendy!
Chris Lampe says
I agree with everything in your review. I'm a low carb eater, so I paired it was some of those mini red/yellow/orange bell peppers you can buy at Costco. Each bite contained chicken and pepper, which balanced things out quite nicely. A pasta or rice would have been more satisfying, but alas, those days are behind me.
Thanks for sharing Chris!
This sounds so good and nice to hear something positive! I just got one pesto/breast from TJ's today and will cook it the same in a cast iron frying pan. Thanks so much...
From the mountains in northern Calif.
Thank you. Was just given this product; the reviews are helpful.
Thank you Anita!
I only read this review after I had already bought the "Pesto Chicken" from TJ's. I'm glad I didn't read it before or I would not have bought it and would have missed a great quick dinner. I am just beginning to buy "already prepared" foods, as I have always loved to cook and fix my own dishes and play with spices and herbs. I have just turned 80 and am thinking of ways to reduce my cooking efforts a little bit from time to time whenever I am in a hurry. I heated up 2T vegetable oil (not EVOO) in a pan and added two filets with lots of the pesto attached. I grilled it in my pan until it browned nicely. Then I added about 1/3 cup white wine and scraped up all the fried particles and then I added 1/3 cup butter and whisked fast on high heat. I reduced the liquid a little, and then I served this over brown basmati rice with roasted asparagus and my husband raved about it. We didn't get that "metallic" taste, but I suspect it might be more of a "lemon" than a "metal" taste, considering I could taste some lemon. I also added about 1 tsp of fresh Meyer Lemon Juice at the end. (This is from "Bob;s Wife")
Thanks for sharing!
Carrie Gareave says
I'm not getting the acidic taste you experienced. I think this may be because of differing flavor palates. I paired mine with trader Joe's gnocchi with garganzola and fresh bread. It tastes like pesto chicken. It was easy to cook and not salty at all
Thanks for sharing Carrie!
Lola Renae says
I’m going to prepare it in a hot cast iron skillet with extra virgin olive oil. Once it’s almost done I’m going to transfer it over a bed of pasta, top it with more pesto, some fresh grated parmesan cheese, top with sliced cherry tomatoes, and pop it in the oven on low for a few minutes.
Thanks for sharing Lola!