Nothing beats a simple main meal that also happens to be delicious and stunning enough to serve at your next dinner party. Kristen Carli, registered dietitian and recipe developer, is a pro at coming up with flavorful meals that are an impressive addition to the table. This easy caprese chicken bake recipe is definitely up there in the list of meals we’d like to be eating on a regular basis. Carli remarks, "I love the flavors of caprese! I will eat it any way I can."
If you’re familiar with a classic caprese salad, then you’re sure to love this variation. If you’re not familiar with this delectable dish, caprese salad consists of mozzarella, tomato, basil, and olive oil. The name comes from the salad’s place of origin, the island of Capri in the Bay of Naples, according to Italy Heritage. Since the first salad was served at a local restaurant, the combination of ingredients has been used to make a number of dishes, all identified as caprese. While new recipes have diverged from the original salad, cooking up any protein with the addition of the base caprese ingredients is sure to have excellent results. Carli agrees and says, "It is such a classic. So simple but so tasty."
Gather the ingredients
If you’re a fan of a caprese salad then you probably already know the key ingredients to this dish. You’ll need some olive oil for browning the chicken in a pan at the start. Next, Carli uses boneless skinless chicken breasts for the protein so that you can dig into this dish without any bones getting in the way. This is definitely best, since the chicken will have plenty of toppings — however, if you’re stuck, then another cut will do as well. The chicken is seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper to enhance the flavors without detracting from the star caprese ingredients.
Next, you’ll need a fresh mozzarella cheese ball, but not the type you would grate onto a pizza. You may see it labeled buffalo mozzarella or mozzarella di bufala, which is rich and creamy and perfect for this dish. Roma tomatoes are a good choice for this chicken bake since they retain their shape well. Finally, you won’t want to forget the fresh basil and balsamic glaze. The herbal aromas paired with the sweet syrupy glaze are a great pair to top off this caprese chicken bake. If you’re tempted to add any extras, Carli says, "This is perfect caprese chicken in my opinion. Nothing else needed!"
Heat and season the chicken breasts in a skillet
First things first: preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit so that it is ready when you need it. Heat a large ovenproof skillet on the stovetop on medium, and add the olive oil. Once the olive oil has heated, carefully add the chicken breasts to the pan. They should all fit in the pan even if they are a bit snug. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the chicken breasts to season.
Cook the chicken breasts for 4 minutes on one side, then flip them all and continue cooking them for an additional 4 minutes on the other side. In order to ensure the chicken is well cooked, Carli remarks, "I like to start on the stovetop and then finish in the oven." Once you’ve cooked both sides, remove the skillet from the stovetop.
Cook the chicken in the oven for 25 minutes
Once your oven has reached 400 degrees Fahrenheit, transfer the skillet with the chicken breasts to an oven rack. Cook the chicken for 25 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a meat thermometer is helpful when baking chicken, and Carli warns, "Be sure to cook the chicken all the way through." Once the chicken is sufficiently cooked, remove the skillet from the oven.
Top the chicken with mozzarella slices and broil on high
Place a slice of mozzarella on top of each piece of chicken. Turn your oven dial to the highest broil setting and once it is ready, return the skillet with the chicken back to the oven rack. You’ll only need to broil it for 2 or 3 minutes until the mozzarella has melted, so keep a close eye on it. Once the cheese has melted, remove the skillet from the oven and turn it off.
Top the chicken with tomatoes, basil, and balsamic glaze, and serve
Top the cheesy chicken with slices of Roma tomatoes, a chiffonade of basil (i.e. cut into thin strips), and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. You might be tempted just to ogle the dish at this point, but you’ll be even more satisfied if you eat it. Serve a loaded chicken breast onto a plate with your choice of side. We suggest following Carli’s advice: "I love to serve this with buttery pasta or polenta." She also enjoys this delicious caprese chicken bake with a roasted vegetable panzanella salad.
If you have any leftovers, Carli recommends storing them, "in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days." It sounds like a good meal prep idea for a day or two!
When you’re craving the flavors of a caprese salad, but want something more filling, try this delicious caprese chicken bake for that extra blast of protein.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 (8-ounce) mozzarella cheese ball, sliced
- 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
- ¼ cup basil, chiffonade
- 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place a large ovenproof skillet on the stovetop over medium heat and add the olive oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add the chicken.
- Season the top sides of the chicken with the salt and pepper.
- Cook the chicken for 4 minutes on each side.
- Place the skillet in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once cooked, remove the skillet from the oven.
- Top each cooked chicken breast with mozzarella slices.
- Set the oven to broil on high.
- Return the skillet to the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
- When the cheese has melted, remove the skillet from the oven.
- Top the chicken with the sliced tomatoes and basil, and drizzle the tops with balsamic glaze.