Ready to take your chicken dinner to a new level of delicious?! In just over 20 minutes, you can make this easy stuffed chicken breast recipe with a tasty mixture of cheese, spinach, walnuts, sundried tomatoes and fresh herbs! It's a winner every time, just add your favorite salad to go along (lots of ideas below).
This post is brought to you in partnership with California Walnuts.
The secret to never-boring chicken breast!
Boneless skinless chicken breasts are a convenient ingredient that's a staple in most kitchens. But let's face it, sometimes it can be hard to get excited about another chicken breast dinner.
If that's where you are, let me tell you: slicing a chicken breast open and stuffing it with a little bit of melty cheese and loads of Mediterranean flavors, is next level delicious!
Best part? You can make this stuffed chicken breast recipe in just over 20 minutes!
What do you stuff chicken breast with?
The great thing about stuffed chicken breast recipes is that they’re so easy to customize based on your mood and what you have in your pantry. The possibilities are endless! I wanted to add a bit of Mediterranean, slightly Italian, flare to my filling. Here’s what I used to make the filling for this stuffed chicken recipe:
- Cheese: a combination of ½ cup ricotta and ¼ cup each part-skim mozzarella and grated Parmesan (melty tasty goodness without overwhelming the stuffed chicken).
- Spinach: because we're using 5 ounces of thawed frozen spinach, we really don't need to spend time cooking it. It can just go right into the filling mixture, but be sure to wring out all the liquid.
- Aromatics and seasoning: Sundried tomatoes, fresh garlic, parsley, and oregano: Mediterranean favorites that give our cheese and spinach filling so much flavor!
- Extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil also helps to moisten the filling mixture so that everything is well-incorporated.
- Walnuts! Now this is the secret ingredient here, and yes, it's another Mediterranean favorite. I used ¾ cup of walnut hearts. The walnuts (finely chopped) truly elevate the filling by adding texture, flavor, and nutrition.
The secret ingredient: walnuts!
When it comes to walnuts, many of us think of sweets like banana walnut bread or apple strudel. But in my mother's Mediterranean kitchen, they were also used in a lot of savory dishes (you may have come across my Muhammara walnut dip and this fried eggplant recipe).
So when I was thinking of a way to amp up the flavor and add more texture and substance to the filling for today's stuffed chicken, walnuts were a no brainer. You'll love the subtle nuttiness and extra crunch in this recipe!
Fun fact! For those who follow the Mediterranean diet, incorporating walnuts in your cooking or even as a daily snack can have some great benefits. I recently attended an amazing virtual harvest tour with California Walnuts and learned that one ounce of walnuts is a powerhouse of important nutrients for optimum health, including: 2.5 g of ALA Omega-3 fatty acids, 4 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber. (Lots more good information here).
Lucky for us, there is no shortage of quality walnuts here in the States, thanks to the fertile soils of California's central valley!
Cooking this spinach stuffed chicken breast is fairly easy. Once you mix the filling ingredients together, make a little "pocket" for the filling in each chicken breast. From there, cook the chicken in a pan or cast iron skillet for about 10 to 12 minutes in total. Here's how it goes.
How to make spinach stuffed chicken breast: step-by-step
(print-friendly recipe just below)
- Make the filling. In mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, finely chopped walnuts (save a bit for garnish), spinach, sundried tomato, parsley, garlic, and oregano. Add a pinch of kosher salt and drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, mix well with a spoon.
- Cut a "pocket" into each chicken breast. Season the chicken with kosher salt and black pepper. Then, you'll want to make a horizontal cut about 3 to 4 inches or so. Place a hand on the chicken breast and use a good knife to cut through the thick part, but cut only cut ¾ of the way in so you don't split the breast open completely (remember, you're making a pocket).
- Stuff the chicken breasts. Divide the filling among the chicken breasts. Open up the "pocket" and spoon in a bit of the spinach and cheese mixture.
- Cook! In a large pan, heat up about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add the chicken breasts in (make sure they are arranged in one single layer. If your pan is not large enough, do this in batches). Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes on one side, then turn over and cook for another 5 minutes or so. (Stuffed chicken breast should take a total of 10 to 12 minutes or until fully cooked through and international temperature of the chicken registers 165 degrees F).
- Garnish and Serve! Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes. You can serve the whole breast or cut them into pieces. Garnish with the remaining walnuts and parsley.
If you'd rather bake these stuffed chicken breasts instead, turn the oven on 350 degrees F. Arrange the chicken in a lightly oiled baking dish, and bake on the center rack of your heated oven for about 16 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken at the thickest part registers 165 degrees F.
How to serve it
Allow the chicken about 5 minutes to rest before serving.
From there, you can decide whether to serve each person their very own chicken breast (this is a very satisfying and generous portion). Or, you can slice each breast into smaller portions. This will show off the beautiful filling inside and will also allow you to serve more people (up to 6 people).
What to serve with it?
Here are some ideas for what you can serve with spinach stuffed chicken breast:
Sides: Roasted Greek Potatoes; Italian Roasted Vegetables; Or Grilled Zucchini
Salads: White Bean Salad; Blanched Asparagus with Mediterranean Salsa; or Traditional Greek Salad
Additional recipe FAQs
Start with larger boneless, skinless chicken breasts that give you enough “meat” to work with. Place the chicken breast flat on a clean cutting surface and use your non-dominant hand to firmly hold the chicken down. Then, using a sharp knife, simply cut horizontally through the middle, making sure to stop before fully splitting the chicken breast open. In other words, you’ll create a pocket to hold the filling.
I don’t typically seal my stuffed chicken breasts. But if you’re worried about losing filling to your skillet, just grab a few toothpicks! Simply poke the toothpicks through the opening of the filling pocket to close it.
Over medium-high heat, these chicken breasts will cook in about 10 minutes or so. You can also bake them in a 350 F heated oven for about 16 minutes or until the chicken temperature registers 165 degrees F.
Heat them on the stove over medium heat or in a medium-heated oven. It helps to add a little water and to cover your pan so that the chicken breasts will not dry out as they warm through. Avoid the microwave, which can tend to turn them dry and rubbery.
More chicken recipes to try:
Craving more? Check out all our Mediterranean recipes. Browse our Top 50 Mediterranean Diet Recipes.
Easy Stuffed Chicken Breast Recipe
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil,
- For the filling/stuffing
- ½ cup Ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup shredded mozzarella
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- ¾ cup walnut halves, finely chopped, divided
- 5 ounces frozen spinach thawed and drained (squeeze all the water out of the spinach
- 6 sundried tomatoes in olive oil chopped (more for garnish)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley more for garnish
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Make the filling. In a mixing bowl combine the ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, chopped walnuts (save ¼ cup walnuts for later), spinach, sundried tomatoes, parsley, garlic and oregano. Add a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. Mix until well combined.
- Pat the chicken breast dry and season on both sides with Kosher salt and black pepper.
- Now, you need to make a pocket in each chicken breast. Lay a chicken breast flat on a cutting board. Place a hand firmly on top of the breast. Insert a good chef’s knife in the thickest part of the breast and cut through to make a pocket about 3 to 4 inches wide (only cut ¾ of the way in or you will split the chicken breast).
- Spoon the stuffing mixture into the pocket of each chicken breast (try to equally divide the stuffing among all four pieces).
- In a large cast iron skillet, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken in and cook on one side for 5 to 7 minutes, then turn over and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes or so (chicken’s internal temperature should register 165 degrees F).
- Remove from heat and allow the chicken 3 to 5 minutes to rest. If you like, slice the chicken up into smaller pieces and garnish with the remaining walnuts, a bit of parsley and sundried tomatoes. Enjoy!
- To serve. If you leave the stuffed chicken breasts whole, you can serve 4 people (this is a very generous serving). But I like to slice up the chicken breasts, which shows off the beautiful stuffing and also allows me to serve more people (6).
- Baked option: You can bake this chicken in a lightly oiled baking dish at 350 degrees F heated for about 16 to 18 minutes or until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees F.
- Sides to serve along: Garlic and Herb Boiled Potatoes; Roasted Greek Potatoes; Italian Roasted Vegetables; Or Grilled Zucchini
- Visit Our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils, spices, and more.
No flavor. Took 3 times as long to cook as depicted. Sorry, didn't do it for me.
This was so good and easy to prepare
I sliced each breast in half or third. Seasoned as called for. Spread the filling on each piece of breast. Then I rolled each one & used toothpicks to hold them together. Brown them in cast iron pan the finished them in oven. I lost a lot of melted filling the other way.
Love the flavor of filling!!
Can't honestly understand the times. 5-7mins each side? Was raw all the way through. More like 12 each side.
Good recipe! Thank you!
So, can you just spread the “stuffing” on top? Hubs prefers the thin breast cutlets.
This 20 minute stuffed chicken breast recipe is out of this world! It was absolutely delicious! I followed the recipe and it came out perfect! For just the two of us, I halved all the ingredients. It was a lot for one sitting, so we had the other half of each breast the next night and it was wonderful just reheated accompanied by a nice tossed spring salad! Thank you for such a fun and easy recipe! Loved it!
My pleasure, Debbie! Glad you enjoyed it!
We enjoyed this recipe! It had great flavor. I did add fresh Thyme. I liked using fresh spinach as someone suggested. I’m going to try to do it in the oven next time just to see if it more moist.
Very tasty! Reading some comments about the stuffing coming out I decided to take 3 toothpicks per breast and soak it in water for a couple of hours. After stuffing the breasts I then cut the toothpicks in half, and strategically placed them along the cut line through both sides then I took butches twine, and laced the seam up. Worked perfectly with no stuffing oozing out. I paired the chicken with a strawberry spinach salad. Excellent! I think I'm going to make more stuffing and use it as another reader suggested to stuff a pork chop! Yum!
I made this tonight for dinner and it was amazing! On a scale of 1-10, I would give it a 10 for flavor, 8 for ease of preparing and 10 for presentation. Simple ingredients that I had on hand except for the walnuts, so I substitueted pine nuts that I toasted and chopped. It did take a few minutes longer to cook that recipe called for but in my experience with cooking chicken, it was not hard to decipher when it was done and it only was a few extra minutes in the cast iron and then sitting in the pan of the heat for a few more minutes while I prepped and finished making a salad. As usual, all the recipes I have tried from here have been winners! Thank you!
Thank you so much, Peggy!
Is there a way to cook the chicken in my oven? Cooking then in a pan in my apartment creates too much smoke and didn't cook the chicken all the way through.
Hi, Chris! I think that would work. I have never tried, so it's hard for me to advise on details, but maybe try 375 degrees F until the chicken reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees F (probably 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven).
I love this recipe and have made it many times now. I've had times where the cooking process was painless, but more times where the exterior is over-charring combined with a raw interior while filling is oozing out all over the pan. I saw some other folks having this trouble as well. Regardless, though, I keep making it, so that tells you how good it tastes! I've learned to finish it off in the oven at 375 for maybe 6 to 10 minutes (generally just keeping an eye on it), with foil loosely tucked around each breast to keep the filling in. Flatting large breasts beforehand is a good idea, too. Hope this helps.
Thanks for sharing your tips, Grayson.
Put a lid in the pan and cook chicken for the first 3 minutes then turn chicken and cover for another 3 minutes. Take off lid and brown both sides of chicken 2-3 minutes each side.
I have chicken thighs. Is there a way to make this with them without the stuffing method?
Hi, Julia... I don't think that would work very well here. The stuffing of the chicken in key to the recipe.
very good dish, be sure to cook this thoroughly. 7 mins per side were not enough for my thick cutlets. i'd recommend doing this on cast iron and doing some combination of stovetop and oven, not just stovetop. flavors were amazing as per usual
I tried this the other night. Taste wise-it was really good. But my chicken breasts were in no way fully cooked in the time you stated. They were large breasts and too thick to cook as quick as you said. I would recommend that you tell people that if the breasts are thick, to pound them down. It would also help with having more room for the filling which oozes out too much. I am trying the recipe tomorrow again and will pound the breasts to flatten them and see if that works better. The problem with cooking the breasts longer in a cast iron skillet is that they get charred and then get hard on the outside So thinner is better. I may also add mushrooms and a bit more spice to the mixture. Do you have any specific spice recommendations to kick it up a notch?
Hi, Linda! You could try some red pepper flakes to jazz it up.
Absolutely delicious!! With 2 small children, I am able to whip up the filling quickly and the chicken cooks in no time! My 2 year old eats it and my family enjoys it. Healthy, fast and so tasty. Thank you for a great home cooked chicken recipe!
So glad this is one the whole family loves! Thanks, Dee Dee!
Can you bake this instead?
Hi, Colleen! I'm sure there is a way to bake them, but I have not tried that with this particular recipe yet, so it's hard for be to advise.
This is one of the most delicious dishes I have ever made, and I consider myself a pretty good home cook! I made it over a month ago and we're still talking about it. I made my own ricotta (super easy - highly recommended and way better than storebought). I also used fresh spinach, which I wilted first, instead of frozen. The flavor was unforgettable 🙂 I served it with Suzy's roasted cauliflower, which was also delicious.
So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Jen!
can i use fresh spinach?
Excellent -- Yummy -- perfect! I doubled the filling and used it a few days later to stuff a pork tenderloin. YUMMMMMM -- so good!!!