A classic caprese salad with ripe tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar comes together with juicy seared chicken breasts in this warm skillet dinner. A perfect bite: chicken, tomato, and cheese dipped in the sweet, acidic, and creamy balsamic sauce.
The fresh tomato and balsamic pan sauce is rich, flavorful, and elegant enough to serve to company. Plus, you won’t be stuck in the kitchen for long or left with a sink full of dirty dishes. This is an easy, one-pan meal that comes together in just about 30 minutes—perfect for a busy weeknight or last-minute entertaining.
Make the Most Delicious Chicken Caprese
Here are some tips to make the most delicious chicken dinner:
- Make sure your skillet is hot before adding the chicken. This will give the chicken a nice golden-brown sear. The olive oil shimmers when it’s hot. If it’s smoking, pull the skillet away from the heat. That means it’s too hot!
- Don’t move your chicken around the skillet while it cooks—it will prevent them from getting a golden-brown sear and it will take longer to cook.
- The size and thickness of the chicken breasts dictates how long it will take to cook them through. Use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness. You’re looking for 165°F.
- Use cooking-grade balsamic vinegar, not the fancy type. Traditional balsamic vinegars— labeled as “tradizionale” or “DOP”—aren’t meant for cooking with heat. They are thicker, sweeter, generally more expensive, and best used for drizzling on top only right before serving. For this recipe, look for balsamic labeled as “of Modena.” It’s more affordable and more versatile—use it for cooking or as a finishing drizzle. Always double check the label on the bottle for suggestions.
Easy Ingredient Swaps
You can make this dish with any cut of chicken like chicken cutlets or thighs. Just make sure it’s cooked through.
Don’t wait until peak tomato season in the summer to make this dish. It calls for cherry tomatoes, which are available year round. You can use any variety of small tomatoes like jewel-toned heirlooms, sweet Sungold tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or even chopped Roma tomatoes.
Mozzarella pearls are typically sold in 8-ounce containers, sometimes in soaked in water. You can use an 8-ounce ball of mozzarella cut into 1-inch pieces instead.
What to Serve With Chicken Caprese
I love serving this with Kale Caesar Salad. You won’t regret having a basket of crusty bread on for scooping up the sauce and tomatoes. This dish also pairs well with white rice, roasted potatoes, or lightly seasoned vegetables like Roasted Broccoli With Parmesan or Green Beans With Shallots and Pancetta.
Just-Cooked is Best
This recipe is best when served on the same day you make it. I don’t recommend making it ahead of time because the tomatoes and basil will lose their freshness. Plus, the texture of the chicken and the melted mozzarella cheese will change in the fridge.
More Easy Skillet Dinners for Busy Weeknights
Easy Chicken Caprese
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
8 ounces whole milk fresh mozzarella pearls, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Cook the chicken:
Evenly season the chicken breasts with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.
When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chicken. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown. Use tongs to flip the chicken and cook the other side for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. An instant read thermometer inserted into the center should register 165°F.
If the skillet isn’t big enough to fit the chicken in a single layer, cook them in 2 batches.
Transfer the chicken onto a large plate. Tent it with foil to keep warm. You will use the same skillet to cook the vegetables.
Saute the onion and garlic:
Add the onions and saute them until they just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.
Deglaze the pan:
Add the chicken stock and balsamic vinegar. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits stuck to the bottom and sides of the skillet.
When the liquid begins to simmer, reduce the heat to medium. Simmer until the volume is reduced by half. This should take 5 to 6 minutes. You’ll notice the sauce will thicken a little.
Add tomatoes and seasoning:
Stir in the cherry tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to soften. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter until melted.
Add the chicken and mozzarella:
Nudge the cooked chicken and any drippings into the sauce. Spoon some of the tomatoes and sauce on top.
Remove the skillet off the heat. Scatter the mozzarella cheese on top. Cover the skillet with a lid or a sheet pan until the cheese melts, about 4 minutes.
Sprinkle the basil on top and serve.
Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. I don’t recommend freezing this dish since it has fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. Neither freezes well.
To reheat, microwave it in 30 seconds increments until the chicken is just warmed through, but no longer since chicken can turn rubbery in the microwave.
You can also transfer the chicken into a small skillet, spoon the leftover sauce on top, and reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat. Add a splash of chicken stock to loosen up the sauce if needed.
Did you love this recipe? Leave us a review in the comments!
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 28g||36%|
|Saturated Fat 13g||63%|
|Total Carbohydrate 13g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||5%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 9mg||44%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|