Delicious savoury breakfast rolls filled with Italian-style pesto chicken, kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts, and salty parmesan cheese. These herby Pesto Chicken Rolls are great for beginner yeast bakers and make the perfect addition to your lazy weekend brunch.
Perfect savoury Italian-style pesto chicken rolls
I am crazy about Italian and Greek inspired meals. Two of my all-time favourite savoury ingredients are green pesto and kalamata olives, so I thought it would be fun to create a brunch recipe featuring them. Low and behold, these mouthwatering Pesto Chicken Rolls were born!
These rolls are the perfect combination of savoury and salty. The moist pesto chicken filling is intensified by salty kalamata olives, fresh parmesan cheese, and the subtle crunch of toasted pine nuts. And we’re wrapping it all up in a fluffy, herby roll dough. YUM!
If you haven’t worked with yeasted doughs before, never fear. This is one of the simplest recipes and works out every single time. I’m using my classic cinnamon roll dough, but nixed the milk and sweetener in favour of a dash of Italian herb blend. It’s basically the best thing ever.
I love these Pesto Chicken Rolls for a lazy savoury brunch or making them ahead of time for posh “bistro-style” lunches during the week!
Ingredients in this pesto chicken recipe
You are going to fall in love with the combination of Italian flavours in this recipe. The good news is that there are only 12 ingredients required! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Bread flour: To create the fluffiest, slightly chewy rolls, we’re using bread flour for its higher gluten content. You can use plain flour, but you will have to knead the dough a bit longer to achieve the same result.
- Fast action dried yeast: Our leavening agent for this Pesto Chicken Rolls recipe. As the yeast bubbles away, it creates pockets of air that give the rolls rise and beautifully fluffy texture.
- Sea salt: Always season your bread dough! A full teaspoon of salt makes all the difference in flavour.
- Italian herb blend: This blend of classic Italian seasonings gives the bread it’s delicious herby flavour – perfect for these rolls!
- Unsalted butter and egg: Butter and eggs give the dough a richness that enhances the flavour of the dough and pairs wonderfully with the savoury filling.
- Honey: Just a tiny teaspoon of honey helps feed the yeast and make it rise.
- Shredded chicken: This recipe is a great way to use up some leftover cooked chicken you have kicking around. We’ll need about 200 grams of cooked, shredded chicken to fill these rolls.
- Pesto: I love Sacla pesto for this recipe, because it’s super flavourful and smooth. I chose to use classic green pesto, but you could also try sun-dried tomato for a fun flavour alternative.
- Yoghurt: It seems weird, I know, but mixing a bit of yoghurt with the chicken and pesto makes for super flavourful, moist rolls.
- Pine nuts: Don’t skip these! They add a lovely toasty, nutty flavour and also some crunchy texture.
- Kalamata olives: I’ve tried these rolls with and without olives. While I love the tangy, briney addition of them, Chris preferred the rolls without them. Choose your own adventure!
- Parmesan cheese: Absolutely essential for any Italian-style dish. No questions.
How to make Pesto Chicken Rolls
These rolls might seem like they take forever, but a lot of that is hands-off time while the dough rises. In total, the prep work probably takes about 30 minutes and is relatively easy to do. Here’s how you make these Pesto Chicken Rolls:
Make the dough
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl, then cut in the butter. Add the egg and some lukewarm water to help activate the yeast and bring it all together into a ball. Knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball and then let it rise until doubled in size.
Make the filling
While the dough rises you can mix together the chicken, pesto, and yoghurt to make the filling.
Prepare the rolls
Once the dough is doubled in size, punch it out, and then roll it into a large rectangle. Slather on some extra pesto and top with the chicken filling, olives, pine nuts, and cheese. Then, roll it up into a log and cut into 9 pieces. Place the pieces into a greased tin and allow to rise again until doubled.
Bake the Pesto Chicken Rolls
Once risen, chuck the rolls into the oven to cook until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm and enjoy with some scrambled eggs and fruit.
Full details are in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Separate your yeast and salt. Salt can kill yeast, so to prevent that from happening, always put the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl so they mix into the flour before touching each other.
- Make sure your water is lukewarm. It should be warm to the touch, but not boiling hot. If you have a thermometer, make sure it doesn’t exceed 60ºC (140ºF) or it will kill the yeast.
- Cooked rotisserie chicken is your friend. If you don’t have any leftover chicken, I’d encourage you to buy a rotisserie chicken and use some of the meat for this recipe. The rest you can use for lunches and speedy weeknight meals.
- Use fresh parmesan, not the weird pre-shredded kind. I don’t know who invented the weird concoction that is pre-shredded parmesan, but it’s NOT parmesan cheese. Get the real stuff and savour the deliciousness.
Looking for more brunch recipes?
Maple Bacon Twists
Sausage Pumpkin Bubble & Squeak
Overnight Strawberry French Toast Bake
Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal
Chai Spiced French Toast Bake
Sweet Potato Crust Quiche
Cranberry Baked Oats
Pecan Pumpkin Rolls
Mandarin Orange French Toast Bake
Almond Pancakes with Spiced Peach Syrup
If you make this recipe, let me know by snapping a picture and tagging me on Instagram @naturallysweet_kitchen. I love seeing your creations and sharing them in my Stories. Or let me know you love this Pesto Chicken Rolls recipe by leaving a comment and rating below!
Pesto Chicken Rolls
These Italian-style herby pesto chicken rolls are filled with creamy pesto chicken, kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts, and parmesan cheese.
- 220 g bread flour
- ½ tbsp fast action dried yeast
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp Italian herb blend
- 14 g cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 90 ml lukewarm water (see notes)
- 1 tsp honey
- 200 g cooked shredded chicken
- 2 ½ tbsp pesto, divided
- 1 ½ tbsp plain yoghurt
- 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 25 g fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
- 12 kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped (optional)
- Tip the flour, yeast, salt, and Italian herbs into a large bowl and whisk to combine.
- Cut the butter into the mixture using your hands until it is well dispersed. Add the egg and whisk together into a shaggy dough using a fork. Whisk the honey into the water and then slowly add the water a little bit at a time while whisking until the dough forms a sticky ball. You may not need all of the water.
- Lightly flour a work surface and then tip the dough out. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until smooth and no longer sticky. Form into a ball. Rub the bowl lightly with oil and place the dough ball back in the bowl. Cover with a slightly damp tea towel and place in a warm area to proof for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing together the shredded chicken, 1 tablespoon of the pesto, and the yoghurt in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the dough is fully proofed.
- Lightly grease a 20cm (8 inch) square baking tin with oil. Set aside.
Once the dough has proofed, punch it to deflate and scrape it onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 27 x 20 cm (10 x 8 inch) rectangle.
Using a cranked palette knife, spread the remaining tablespoon and a half of pesto over the surface of the dough. Top with the chicken mixture, keeping about 2 cm (1 inch) of dough bare around the edges. Sprinkle over the olives and ⅔ of the parmesan cheese.
- Tightly roll up the dough, starting from the long side, and pinch together the seams. Place the roll seam side down and cut the log into 9 pieces, about 3 cm (1.1 inch) each. Flip each piece over so the spiral faces up and place them in the greased tin evenly spaced apart. Cover the rolls with the damp tea towel and place in a warm area to rest for 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Once the rolls have doubled, remove the towel and sprinkle over the remaining parmesan cheese. Bake the rolls for 23-28 minutes until golden brown on top. If they start to brown too quickly, tent them with a sheet of aluminum foil.
- Allow the rolls to cool for 10 minutes before serving warm.
- The temperature of the water should not exceed 60ºC (140ºF) or it will kill the yeast.
- These rolls are best eaten the day they are made. Leftovers will keep sealed in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply place them back in the oven, covered, for 15 minutes.