Slow Cooker Pesto Ranch Chicken (Freezer Meal)

This slow cooker Pesto Ranch Chicken freezer meal is packed with flavor, even though there are only 4 ingredients!

Dinner plate with Pesto Ranch Chicken on top of mashed potatoes.

Slow Cooker Pesto Ranch Chicken Freezer Meal

As dinner recipes go, this Slow Cooker Pesto Ranch Chicken freezer meal definitely fits the bill for busy families, working couples, and pretty much anyone in between.

With the irresistible combination of pesto sauce and a hint of ranch flavor, this dish promises a burst of savory flavors that will have everyone at the table asking for seconds.

The best part? It’s incredibly easy to make, with only four main ingredients.

Whether you’re in need of a stress-free meal after a busy day, or simply craving a delicious and satisfying dinner, this easy recipe is a definite game changer.

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Overhead shot showing ingredients needed to make Pesto Ranch Chicken freezer meal.

Ingredients for Pesto Ranch Chicken

To make this dump-style freezer meal, you’ll need the following ingredients on hand:

  • boneless, skinless chicken thighs: You can also use chicken breasts.  Or, if you find bone-in thighs on sale, grab those and use them.  Just remove the chicken thighs from the slow cooker after cooking, shred to remove any bones, and place the meat back into the sauce and juices in the slow cooker before serving.
  • pesto:  Since I’m lazy, I usually use jar pesto in this recipe.  BUT you can make your own homemade pesto from scratch and use that, too!  You’ll want to use about 1/2 to 3/4 cup if you go this route.
  • ranch seasoning mix: You want the dry ranch dressing mix here, not the fully prepared salad dressing.  You can use a ranch dressing packet from the store OR I highly recommend making your own ranch dressing mix and using that in this recipe. 
  • chicken broth
  • shredded Parmesan cheese (for the day of cooking, optional, but highly recommended)
Ziptop freezer bag holding ingredients.

How to Make This Pesto Ranch Chicken as a Freezer Meal

For these types of freezer bag meals, all you need are your ingredients and a zip-top gallon-size freezer bag.

To prepare your freezer meal:

  1. Place the chicken thighs in a zip-top gallon-size freezer bag (make sure it is marked as a freezer bag and not a storage bag – the freezer bags use thicker plastic).
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the pesto, ranch seasoning mix, and chicken broth.  Whisk to combine.
  3. Pour the pesto ranch mix into your freezer bag over the chicken thighs.
  4. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and then seal it tightly.
  5. Label your bag with the name of the dish, cooking instructions, and the date it was made.
  6. Place your bag in flat in the freezer to freeze.

Or, if you’re wanting to be quicker with less mess, just pour everything directly into the freezer bag, seal it, shake it or knead it a bit (be sure to hold the top tightly closed just in case), and call it good.

Freezing Tip

Lay your bag flat (a baking sheet or tray works well here) for several hours or overnight until frozen. You can move the bag once it is a frozen and stack it upright in the freezer to save space. You can also stack it upright in freezer bins for better organization!

The chicken will marinate in the pesto and ranch dressing mix as it freezes and then also as it thaws, making for very flavorful and juicy chicken! 

This is one of the perks of making these crock pot dump-and-go style meals as freezer meals!

Freezer bag of meal prepared for freezer.

Cooking Your Slow Cooker Pesto Ranch Chicken

I know a lot of people like to put their frozen meals right in the slow cooker to start cooking, but the USDA really frowns on that as far as safety goes.

For best results, and best safety practices, you’ll want to take the meal out of your freezer the night before you plan to make it.

Place your frozen meal in the refrigerator to thaw overnight.

Thawing Tip

Place your freezer meal bag in the refrigerator in a container or on a tray. This will catch any liquid that might leak out as the meal thaws, and will save you extra refrigerator cleanup.

Then, the next morning, carefully empty the contents of your freezer bag into your slow cooker or crock pot.

Set your slow cooker to cook on the LOW setting for 4-6 hours, or on the HIGH setting for 2-3 hours.

Slow Cooker Pesto Ranch Chicken served on to of mashed potatoes with a simple green salad.

A Note About Slow Cooker Cooking Times

The vast majority of slow cooker recipes call for a pretty standard cook time: 3-4 hours on high, or 6-8 hours on low.

However, each slow cooker can vary widely on how hot they run.

So, to avoid getting dry chicken, you may need to experiment with the cooking time. This is where having a reliable probe thermometer really comes in handy.

For chicken breasts, you want to hit an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

For thighs, which are dark meat, you want to go slightly higher due to the higher content of connective tissue. So aim for 170-175F (although technically it will be safe above 165F).

(You can find a great explanation on safe chicken cooking temps from the folks over at ThermoWorks! This is totally NOT a sponsored ad nor am I affiliated with them in any way. They just make amazing products and I have coveted their ThermoPens for YEARS! I now own two and count myself super lucky!)

One of my slow cookers runs very hot, so even on low my chicken meals are done in just over 4 hours.

This can be a bit of a problem if you are not home all day to check on the meal or turn it off early.

To solve that, I highly recommend investing in a model that has either:

  • a thermometer probe (so you can have it automatically turn to Keep Warm as soon as the correct internal temp is reached, although this can be hard on smaller pieces of meat as the probe may not be long enough to reach), or
  • is digital/programmable (so you can have it automatically turn to Keep Warm as soon as the cook time is up).

Or find one that has both. ( I have this Hamilton Beach model and LOVE it – affiliate link.)

Close-up shot of Pesto Ranch Chicken.

Serving Suggestions

We usually like to serve this one over our favorite Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes, with a simple green salad. Garnish with shredded Parmesan cheese – yum!

Consider some of these additional serving suggestions if you’d like to change things up a bit:

  • Add in a sliced red onion on cooking day. (Or add it right into your freezer meal as you are prepping it – it will freeze just fine.)
  • Serve your Pesto Ranch Chicken over brown rice or pasta for a hearty meal.
  • Pair it with steamed for fresh veggies as a healthy side dish.
  • Get creative and shred the chicken to use as a filling for tacos, wraps, or sandwiches.


Can you make Pesto Ranch Chicken in the Instant Pot?

Yes! You can make this recipe as-is and cook it in your Instant Pot or pressure cooker using the pot-in-pot method. This works FABULOUSLY if you’d like to also cook potatoes for Garlic Mashed Potatoes at the same time!
OR, if you’d like to cook this recipe directly in the main pot of your Instant Pot (without using the pot-in-pot method), add 1 extra cup of chicken broth at the time of cooking.
In either option, cook on HIGH pressure for 10 minutes, allow for a 10 minute natural pressure release, and then quick release any remaining pressure. If you’d like the sauce to be thicker, you can turn the pot to Saute after the pressure is released and allow the sauce to simmer for 5-10 minutes to thicken.

Can you use chicken breasts instead of thighs in this recipe?

Absolutely! We’ve made this with both, and they are both fantastic!

For more amazing freezer meals like this one, check out our curated list of Chicken Freezer Meals or our Slow Cooker Freezer Meals!

And if you’d like more freezer dump meal recipes, be sure to check out these other great options:

Pesto Ranch Chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes, garnished with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Crock Pot Pesto Ranch Chicken Freezer Meal

Servings: 8 servings
Course: Dinner
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 5 minutes
This slow cooker Pesto Ranch Chicken freezer meal is packed with flavor, even though there are only 4 ingredients.  The combination of chicken thighs with pesto and ranch seasoning just cannot be beat for a punch of vibrant flavor!
4.5 from 15 votes
Print Save Pin Recipe


  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 6 oz jar prepared pesto see note
  • 1 packet ranch seasoning/dressing mix see note
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • shredded Parmesan cheese optional, for garnish


To Prepare & Freeze:

  • Trim chicken thighs and place in gallon zip-top freezer bag.
  • In medium bowl, combine pesto, ranch seasoning, and chicken broth, and whisk to combine.
  • Pour pesto ranch mixture into freezer bag on top of chicken thighs.
  • Remove as much air from bag as possible and seal.
  • Label bag with contents, cooking instructions, and date.
  • Place bag flat in freezer to freeze.

To Cook (Slow Cooker):

  • Remove from freezer the night before you plan to serve. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • The next morning, pour the thawed contents of bag into slow cooker.
  • Cover, and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours. (You may need to adjust cooking time based on your slow cooker's normal cooking temp.)


You can use chicken breasts in place of the chicken thighs. See cooking time adjustments in the above post.
You can substitute 3/4 cup fresh prepared pesto for the jarred pesto.
I recommend using your own Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix here – it’s cheaper and has less additives and fillers.
See blog post above for instructions on cooking this meal in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker.


Serving: 1/8 | Calories: 146kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 419mg | Potassium: 279mg | Fiber: 0.003g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg
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