Grilled Chicken Tenders with Cilantro Pesto

Grilled Chicken Tenders with Cilantro Pesto

18 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, May/June 2008

Cook chicken tenders quickly on the grill and top with pesto made with cilantro and sesame seeds for a zesty, speedy dinner. Serve with: Quinoa and grilled asparagus.

Ingredients 4 servings

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  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, (1-2 bunches)
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, (see Ingredient Note)


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Whisk lime juice, soy sauce, oil and chili powder in a large bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade in a small bowl. Add chicken to the remaining marinade; toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  3. Meanwhile, place cilantro, scallions, sesame seeds and the reserved marinade in a food processor and process until fairly smooth.
  4. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard marinade) and grill until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, about 2 minutes per side. Serve the chicken with the cilantro-sesame pesto.
  • Ingredient Note: Sesame seeds can be purchased already toasted. Look for them near other Asian ingredients. Or toast your own in a small dry skillet over low heat, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Tip: To oil the grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to spray the food with cooking spray.
  • People with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity should use soy sauces that are labeled "gluten-free," as soy sauce may contain wheat or other gluten-containing sweeteners and flavors.

Nutrition information

  • Per serving: 168 calories; 6 g fat(1 g sat); 1 g fiber; 3 g carbohydrates; 24 g protein; 17 mcg folate; 63 mg cholesterol; 0 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 724 IU vitamin A; 6 mg vitamin C; 30 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 303 mg sodium; 293 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 0
  • Exchanges: 3½ lean meat, ½ fat

Reviews 18

September 25, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Husband Approved My husband loved this recipe and so did I! It was so easy to make with just a few ingredients. I used chicken breast chunks instead of tenders. The cilantro pesto really is refreshing but better than regular pesto! It's not oily. I used spaghetti instead of quinoa. Either way, OMG! I am making this again tonight but using shrimp. Can't wait to go home and make it! Pros: Tasty, tangy, fast, delicious, genious Cons: None
July 04, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Whoa! Yeah, there's definitely lime in it! Great mingling of flavors mean no extra salt is needed. It is however, a bit too sour from the rather large amount of lime juice. I tried adding some dark brown sugar (I'd say about 1Tbsp to the pesto) to it and that did the trick - much more palatable for those with an issue with bitter and sour things. Also, thinly sliced a chicken breast before adding it into the marinade and cooked in a skillet stir-fry style helped ensure every bite of chicken was well flavored. It was also a great way to cook on a rainy day when you can't get out to the grill. Tossed some boiled gluten free spaghetti noodles with 1/2 of the pesto as a bed for the chicken and then topped it with the remaining pesto. Pros: flavors mingle well Cons: sour lime is overpowering
March 29, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Fantastic recipe, but be sure to use gluten free soy sauce! My family loved this recipe! I loved that the chicken only had to marinate for 20 minutes. :) I used olive oil instead of canola, and I put the pesto ingredients in my Nutri Bullet instead of a food processor. It turned out perfectly blended and I didn't have to worry about removing all the stems from the cilantro that way. Just remember that regular soy sauce contains wheat, so if you are gluten or wheat sensitive, be sure to get gluten free soy sauce. Pros: Simple, quick Cons: Make sure you use gluten free soy sauce if you are sensitive to gluten or wheat.
January 18, 2013
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By: Erika T. Clark
I made this last night. I really loved the flavor. The pesto was so good, I love cilantro! I served this over polenta. After putting the chicken on the grill I boiled the left over marinade and then fried the polenta in the marinade. It married the polenta and the chicken and pesto perfectly. My husband (who doesn't have to eat gluten free) also loved it!!!! I also added garlice to the marinade an pesto. I will definitely make this again!!!
December 03, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
Most soy sauces contain gluten If you are making this for someone who has a reaction to gluten, make sure your soy sauce does not contain wheat. It is the first ingredient in most soy sauces.
June 25, 2012
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By: Sb2jssk4
Tasty and easy! I served this a few nights ago to my family and we all loved it. Part of the reason I chose it was that it had a cilantro pesto rather than basil, such a nice fresh change of flavor.
April 09, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
Delicious I love the Asian flavors and was so easy and healthy too. I didn't change a thing was delicious just as it was. Pros: quick and nutritious
July 04, 2011
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By: snowrvn
Disappointed with recipe ingredients I was disappointed when I pulled up the recipe and there was no basil in it. I was under the impression that the term "pesto" referred to something prepared with basil. So after looking at the ingredients, decided this dish was not what I was expecting to fix for dinner tonight.
August 19, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
Made this for guests last night- it was easy and delicious! Tweaked a little by adding garlic. We loved the blend of flavors, it was sort of an asian taste. I will definately make this again- definately loved the chicken, but next time I may try it over grilled shrimp or fish. Kristin, New Jersey
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