You'll love this 20-minute chicken caprese recipe with basil pesto, fresh mozzarella and ripe tomatoes. You can make it in a skillet or on your outdoor grill! Be sure to grab my tips and see the step-by-step and watch my video below!
What is caprese?
Classic caprese salad or insalata caprese is a favorite summer salad made of ripe fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
This Chicken recipe goes just a little bit further, turning the beloved classic salad into dinner by adding chicken breasts and sweet-meets-tart balsamic reduction. It's a quick dinner that's perfect for any night of the week, and honestly, good enough for company.
And now, with the first signs of farmer's market tomatoes, I've been alternating between this chicken caprese and my easy Italian baked chicken (another great one to try)!
How to make chicken caprese
This is super easy to make right in a pan or indoor griddle, but feel free to fire up the grill if you like. And to keep things quick, you can make basil pesto ahead and store it or use store-bought pesto. Same for the balsamic glaze. Here's how to make it:
- First, prepare and season the chicken
If you start with thicker chicken breasts, you can cut them horizontally through the middle to make thinner cutlets. Or, you can also use a kitchen mullet to flatten the breasts for even and quick cooking (I find the chicken to be more tender if you go the extra mile to do this.) Pat the chicken dry and season with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides.
- Sear the chicken
In your pan or griddle, heat a little bit of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat (alternatively, preheat outdoor grill on medium-high, make sure grates are oiled so chicken does not stick.) Add the chicken pieces and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Tip: the chicken is done when its internal temperature registers 165 degrees F.
- Add basil pesto and mozzarella
During the last couple minutes of cooking, spoon a bit of basil pesto over each piece of chicken and top with a slice of mozzarella (should melt just a little as the chicken finishes cooking. Mmmm so good!)
- Remove from heat and finish by topping each piece of chicken with basil leaves, tomato slices, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction (or balsamic glaze)
(TIP: if you want to make your own balsamic glaze, you can start with 2 cups of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then simmer on low heat till it thickens and is reduced by ½ half. About 20 minutes or so. Let cool; it will thicken some more.)
What to serve with it?
Chicken caprese can be served with your favorite pasta or grain. For a starter, you can't go wrong with some delicious bruschetta (especially if you have more tomatoes to use). And even though a salad is technically incorporated, I still like to start the meal with something bright like this cucumber salad or this hearty Mediterranean three bean salad (the bean salad is hefty enough that you can probably just make it your side and skip the pasta/grain option).
Related recipes to try
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Easy Chicken Caprese
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Basil pesto, Homemade or store-bought
- 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, low sodium, (about ¼ to ½ inch in thickness each)
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 2 tablespoon Balsamic glaze or balsamic reduction, I used this one
- 8 Fresh basil leaves, leave 4 whole and slice the rest into ribbons
- If the chicken breasts are large and thick, cut them horizontally through the middle to make thinner cutlets or pieces. If you like, use a kitchen mallet to tenderize and flatten the chicken breasts before cooking. This helps them quick quickly and evenly.
- Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Add the chicken and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until done (chicken's internal temperature should register 165 degrees F).
- In the last couple minutes or so of cooking, top each piece of chicken with a bit of the basil pesto then add a mozzarella slice on top.
- Remove from heat. Add fresh basil leaves and tomato slices on top of each chicken piece and finish with a little balsamic reduction (or balsamic glaze). Finally, sprinkle fresh basil ribbons and serve!
- To use an outdoor gas grill: Oil the grates and preheat the grill on medium-high heat. Grill chicken on each side for 3 to 5 minutes or until internal temperature registers 165 degrees F. Follow rest of the recipe as written.
- To make your own homemade basil pesto: If you have fresh basil, you can make this pesto recipe in advance and keep it in the fridge to use with this chicken or other items.
- To Make Own Balsamic Glaze: pour 2 cups balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar thickens and is reduced to about ½ cup (20 to 25 minutes.) Set aside to cool for 10 minutes; it will continue to thicken.
- What to Serve Along? Chicken caprese works well with pasta or your favorite grain (check out this pesto pasta recipe, which will complement this chicken very well, since it uses the same elements). You can also just serve it with plain orzo or your favorite grain. I like to start the meal with something bright still like a bowl of this fresh cucumber salad or Mediterranean Three Bean Salad (the bean salad is hefty enough that you can probably just make it your side and skip the pasta/grain option.)
- Visit our Online Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients, including olive oils and spices.
*This post originally appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2019 and has been updated with new information and media for readers' benefit.