Barbecue Plank-Roasted Pesto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

National Chicken Council
  • Yield: 6 servings


6 chicken breast halves, bone-in and skin on
8cups water
1 1/2cups salt, divided
1 1/2cups sugar, divided
2teaspoons salt
1teaspoon black pepper
Basil Pesto Stuffing:
1/2cup fresh basil leaves
3tablespoons parsley
1clove garlic
1/3cup grated Parmesan cheese
2tablespoons butter
1/4cup pine nuts
1teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon white pepper
1/4cup olive oil


  1. Pre-soak cedar planks according to package directions. Usually, this will involve soaking boards for a minimum of 2 hours in a bucket or sink of water.
  2. In each of two gallon-sized zipper lock bags, pour 4 cups of water. Dissolve 3/4 cup salt and 3/4 cup sugar in each bag of water. Add 3 chicken breasts to each bag and seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate chicken about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Prepare gas or charcoal grill.
  4. Remove chicken from brine marinade, rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Loosen skin of the chicken. Place 2 tablespoons of basil pesto under the skin of each breast. Spread pesto around under the skin. Season skin side of chicken with salt and pepper.
  5. Place each chicken breast, skin-side-up, on a pre-soaked piece of cedar. Lay cedar planks on grill rack and close lid. Cook 30 – 35 minutes until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 145F -150F.
  6. To grill without planks:
  7. Prepare gas or charcoal grill. Place chicken, skin-side-up, on grill over medium heat. Cover grill and let cook 30 – 35 minutes until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 145 – 150 F.
  8. To prepare Basil Pesto Stuffing, in bowl of food processor, place basil leaves, parsley, garlic, Parmesan cheese, butter, pine nuts, salt and white pepper. Puree pesto ingredients. With processor running, slowly pour olive oil into mixture. Blend until pureed. Refrigerate until needed. Pesto will thicken when chilled.