Chicken Pesto Panini

Crispy Chicken Pesto Panini is an Italian flavored sandwich filled with bacon, tomato and gooey mozzarella. It is grilled to perfection!

A Panini is a deliciously warm and cheesy grilled sandwich. It pairs perfectly with soups and salads such as my favorite Cheesecake Factory Luau Salad and this version has two favorite ingredients – chicken AND pesto!

Grilled chicken pesto panini cut and served on a white plate with potato chips.

A delicious grilled sandwich

A panini is a sandwich made with Italian bread, usually served warmed by grilling or toasting.

While there are kitchen gadgets made specifically for cooking these, you can easily make them with what you have on hand. Check out my suggestions in the Tips section!

This particular Chicken Pesto Panini is filled with some of my favorite ingredients. It has cheese, bacon, tomato, pesto and of course chicken. It’s kind of a twist on an American BLT, and it is SO good!

This crispy beauty goes great with your favorite salad, soup, or cut it up in smaller triangles for a tasty appetizer!

Ingredients prepped for a grilled pesto chicken panini.

How to make a Chicken pesto Panini

SAUCE. Combine mayonnaise, grated Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, pesto, lemon zest and pepper in a small bowl. Mix together and spread over 2 bread slices.

ASSEMBLE. Layer with chicken, bacon, mozzarella cheese and tomato. Add remaining mayo mixture to the other 2 pieces of bread and place on top of each sandwich.

COOK + SERVE. Brush melted butter onto the outsides of each sandwich and cook on a panini maker or indoor griddle for about 3-4 minutes (or until sandwiches are browned and cheese is melted). Serve warm.

Mayo lemon sauce mixed in a bowl for the chicken pesto panini.

Panini Tips

If you don’t have a panini maker you can still make this delicious sandwich.

  • A George Foreman grill works great. 
  • Grill it! Place the sandwich directly on the grate and use a grill press to squish the sandwich. Flip and grill the other side.
  • A cast Iron skillet or grill pan works too. Heat the skillet and use another heavy pan to press the panini down. Flip and press. You won’t get the signature markings, but the sandwich will be warm and crisp. 

Best bread to use is a sturdy crisp bread such as baguette, ciabatta, focaccia, or, like in this recipe, sourdough. The bread needs to be cut thick enough to be pressed by the panini maker. 

Mayo sauce spread on bread as a step to making a pesto chicken panini.

Variations

CHANGE IT UP: This chicken panini sandwich is filled with complementary ingredients that I loved. If you wish you can easily add or subtract ingredients to change things up.

  • cheese: Swiss, muenster, provolone, gruyere, fresh mozzarella
  • seasonings: garlic salt, oregano, fresh basil
  • bell peppers
  • onion
  • spinach leaves
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • sliced deli turkey
Assembling the cheese, tomato, bacon and chicken on a chicken panini.

Panini FAQ

Can you freeze paninis? Yes, they are Freezer friendly: These are best when prepared, pressed and eaten all together, but they can be frozen for later.

You can freeze these before heating them in a press or after. Either way I would refrain from adding the tomatoes until you are ready to heat and eat. 

  • Before pressing: For each sandwich, divide the meat and cheese evenly and place them directly on both slices of bread. Add the mayonnaise mix to one slice and place the other slice on top. Wrap and freeze. (Placing the mayo mix in the center will help keep the bread from getting soggy.) Let it thaw, add tomato, then heat it on the panini press.
  • After pressing: Assemble as directed, except for the tomato and press. Allow the panini to cool, wrap and freeze. Thaw and reheat.

Best bread to use for a panini? Our favorites are baguettes, ciabatta, focaccia, or, like in this recipe, sourdough. The bread needs to be cut thick enough to be pressed by the panini maker.

Grilling a chicken pesto panini on a grill pan.

Reheating a Panini

It’s obvious a panini is best served fresh, but there are a few ways to reheat a panini that make it close to be as good as it was when it was first made.

  • Stovetop: Heat a skillet to medium. Add panini and heat for 50-60 seconds. Flip and heat for another minute. Check center. If needed, flip again and heat until warm throughout. 
  • Oven: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the panini on a baking sheet or tray. Heat for 5 to 7 minutes then flip it over, and heat for an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until warm throughout.
  • Air Fryer: Set airfryer to 400 degrees, Place the panini in the basket and fry for 5-6 minutes. Check. If needed, fry 1-2 minutes longer or until warm throughout. 
Grilled chicken pesto panini cut in half and served on a white plate with potato chips.

for More Sandwiches, try:

Chicken Pesto Panini Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Crispy Chicken Pesto Panini is an Italian flavored sandwich filled with bacon, tomato and gooey mozzarella. It is grilled to perfection!
Course Main Course, sandwich
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 1078 kcal
Author Lil’ Luna

Equipment

  • Panini Press or indoor griddle

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • dash black pepper
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 1/4 pound sliced rotisserie chicken
  • 4 slices ready to serve fully cooked bacon
  • 2 slices smoked part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted

Instructions
 

  • Combine mayonnaise, grated Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, pesto, lemon zest and pepper in a small bowl. Mix together and spread over 2 bread slices.
  • Layer with chicken, bacon, mozzarella cheese and tomato.
  • Add remaining mayo mixture to the other 2 pieces of bread and place on top of each sandwich.
  • Brush melted butter onto the outsides of each sandwich and cook on a panini maker or indoor griddle for about 3-4 minutes (or until sandwiches are browned and cheese is melted).
  • Serve warm.

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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    This is my kind of sandwich! I love panini’s & the chicken pesto is my favorite!! Super easy to make at home!