It’s Day 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas!

While the vast majority of the recipes for the series are sweet/desserts, but every year, I’ve tried to be consistent with including at least 1 savory option for those with less of a sweet tooth. I really like what I’ve come up with for this year.

A few years ago, I shared a recipe for turkey meatballs that were served with one of the better pestos I’ve ever had before. This year as I was brainstorming what a good savory meal/snack/appetizer for the holidays might be, I found myself thinking about that pesto. I wondered how/if I could incorporate that pesto into a holiday recipe.

This what came of that brainstorming.

The pesto itself has a base of fresh parsley, cilantro, and garlic. Oil, vinegar, salt and pepper are added to that for a final product that is absolutely delicious, and as I’ve discovered, adaptable to a number of different uses. I’ve used it in meatballs. I’ve served it atop steak. And now, I’m incorporating it into a savory roll.

The dough recipe I’m including below is absolutely delicious, but if you’re in a tight pinch, you can also substitute store-bought bread dough. But if you have the time, I do encourage you to bake it from scratch. I’ve used this dough recipe in lots of other instances, and it has never let me down.

Outside of the pesto itself, the filling ingredients for this are highly adaptable. I used sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers with the pesto chicken, but you could also add cheese, spinach, mushrooms or onions. Just don’t do without the pesto; it’s kinda the whole ‘point’ that we’re here.

I was really happy with how these turned out. The pesto itself is delicious, and when you add it to chicken, veggies and carbs, things can only get better. I highly recommend these as a party appetizer or snack. Personally, I ate a couple as a full meal and was extremelty satisfied. I think you will be too.

Stay tuned for more holiday recipes for the 12 Days of Christmas. We’re just getting started…

Day 1: Cranberry Sourdough Muffin Tops

Day 2: Pesto Chicken Rolls

Pesto Chicken Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Previous Recipe(s) on Cooking is My Sport


For Bread Dough*

  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp plus 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110°to 115°)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1cup warm 2% milk (110°to 115°)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 cups all purpose flour

(Note: You can use store-bought bread dough for this, if you like. Just be sure to follow the directions on the packaging for baking.)

For Pesto/Filling

  • 2 cups fresh parsley
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup jarred sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 cups of cooked chicken, chopped (1 deboned rotisserie chicken will provide enough meat)


For Dough:

In a medium sized bowl, combine the milk and water. Sprinkle the yeast on top, then the 2 teaspoons of sugar on top. Set aside for 10 minutes, until proofed and frothy.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, or in a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, butter, milk, eggs, salt, remaining sugar and 4 cups flour. Use the bread hook attachments on the standing mixer or using a handheld mixer, to beat until smooth, then stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. (You may not need to use all the flour).

Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

For Pesto

In a blender, pulse the parsley and cilantro with the garlic cloves in a blender. Add the olive or vegetable oil and vinegar and run on low until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the chicken in a medium sized bowl, and toss with a few tablespoons of the pesto until it is evenly coated. (you may not need to use all of it, this depends on how much you want in the rolls)

For Assembly

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, then roll out into a large rectangle.

Spread the pesto chicken out evenly across the dough, leaving a 1 inch border along all sides. Sprinkle the tomatoes and roasted red peppers evenly on top of the pesto chicken.

Roll the dough up from the long end tightly to keep filling from spilling out. Place rolled dough on a sheet pan and place in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes.

Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut log into rolls (Depending on the size of the rolls you cut, you should get between 15-20)

Arrange the rolls cut side down on sheet pans, in a Christmas tree shape.

Cover the rolls with a piece of plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise for 40-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until rolls are golden brown (you may cover them with aluminum foil if browning too quickly. Bread is done at 190 degrees Fahrenheit)

Serve rolls warm with marinara sauce on the side.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #461.

16 thoughts on “Pesto Chicken Rolls

Leave a Reply