Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs with California Avocado Basil Pesto {paleo, Whole30, keto}

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Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs with California Avocado Basil Pesto

Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs with California Avocado Basil Pesto

Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs with California Avocado Basil Pesto

With grilling season upon us and my love for simple whole food meals made easy, I am so excited to share this super simple recipe that is packed with flavor and sure to WOW this summer – without any fuss!

Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs with California Avocado Basil Pesto

Marinated Chicken Thighs

This simple marinade takes just a few minutes to prepare and brings so much flavor to the chicken. Marinade overnight and with a quick 20 minutes or less on the grill you have a quick meal with more flavor than you can imagine.

Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs with California Avocado Basil Pesto

California Avocado Basil Pesto

While this easy-to-make sauce is amazing on these grilled marinated chicken thighs, it’s also an incredible addition to a grilled burger (beef or poultry), with grilled shrimp, scallops or fish, on top of grilled vegetables, as a dressing on your favorite salad, smeared on your favorite toast, flatbread or pizza, serve over pasta, rice, quinoa or another grain, swirled into mashes potatoes, in or on an omelet or frittata  – the possibilities are endless.

Speaking of endless possibilities, besides being one of my favorite, nutritional, functional foods, California avocados, in my opinion are the most versatile summer fruit, with a long list of ways to prepare and include in your summer meals. 

Even if avocado is a side dish or an accessory it somehow still always becomes the star of the show.

We always have avocados around our house, to add healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and of course, so much flavor. 

Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs with California Avocado Basil Pesto

Here are just some of the many ways you can include California Avocados in your summer meals: 

Grilled avocados: try this Grilled Avocado and Pineapple Salsa or just serve a grilled avocado straight up with a little sea salt and lime.

Frozen treats: like these Chocolate Covered Strawberry Fudgsicles, Red Velvet Pudding Pops with White Chocoalte Drizzle or Creamy Chocolate Avocado Fudgsicles

Sauces and Condiments: in addition to this delicious avocado basil pesto, try this Avocado Lime Sauce, 5-Minute Green Goddess Dressing, Creamy Avocado Dressing and Garlic Avocado Dipping Sauce

Desserts: 3-ingredient Dark Chocolate Avocado Truffles, Chocolate Avocado Pudding or this decadent Chocolate Avocado Shake 


Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs with California Avocado Basil Pesto


Options for Ingredient Swaps in this Recipe:

Chicken Thighs: you can use boneless and skinless chicken thighs, chicken breasts well as wings

Basil: you can swap in other herbs or greens in addition to the basil, like cilantro, parsley, mint, spinach, arugula, kale or swap the basil out completely. This will change the flavor oviously, but it’s a nice change.

Parmesan cheese: try pecorino romano instead of parmesan. To make dairy-free you can simply use nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan cheese

Pine nuts: Try toasted walnuts, pistachios, cashews, pecans, pistachios, hemp hearts etc.

Lemon juice: in the pesto try lime juice instead of lemon. In the marinade try white vinegar and/or red wine vinegar instead

Water: to make the pesto a bit more traditional, rich and robust, swap in extra virgin olive oil for the water.

To make AIP swap out parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Leave out the red pepper flakes.


Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs with California Avocado Basil Pesto


5 from 1 reviews
California Avocado Basil Pesto {paleo, Whole30, keto}
Prep time
Total time
gluten-free, keto, options for paleo, Whole30, vegan and nut-free
Serves: serves 4
  • ½ cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large ripe, Fresh California avocado
  • 2-4 tablespoons water, plus more if necessary
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (use nutritional yeast for dairy-free)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, optional
  1. Combine the basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese in a food processor. Process to make a coarse paste. Add the avocado, lemon juice, parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons water, to start. Process until mostly smooth. Adding more water as needed. Add salt to taste.
  2. Store your avocado pesto in an airtight container and refrigerate. Best within a few days, or freeze for up to 4 months.
  3. RECIPE NOTES: See notes above for substitutions.

Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs with California Avocado Basil Pesto



5 from 1 reviews
Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
gluten-free, paleo, keto, whole30, nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free
Serves: 4 servings
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  1. To a bowl add the garlic, oregano, salt, parsley, and crushed red pepper, if adding.
  2. Add lemon juice (or vinegar) and olive oil. Whisk aggressively and give it a taste. Add more salt, as needed.
  3. Add the chicken to a sealing bag or shallow dish, add the marinade and mix well. Be sure the chicken is submerged in the marinated. Cover if in a dish. If in a bag, place into another container in case it leaks.
  4. For best flavor refrigerate the chicken overnight. At a minimum, try to marinate for at least 4 hours.
  5. Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the chicken for approximately 8-10 minutes per side. Grill the chicken thighs until nicely charred. You are looking for an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  6. RECIPE NOTES: See notes above for substitutions.

Serving your Grilled Marinated Chicken Thighs with California Avocado Basil Pesto: Serve the chicken dolloped with the pesto and any extra pesto on the side. I recommend serving a beautiful salad, roast potatoes or grilled veggies on the side, with the pesto as a sauce.

This post is sponsored by the California Avocado Commission but all opinions are my own.

Did you make this recipe - or any others from the TY archives? I get crazy excited when you guys make my recipes & I always love to see how they turn out!

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