Ricotta Stuffed Chicken

GrillGluten-FreeLow CarbRoast Chicken

Butterflied chicken stuffed with ricotta, Parmesan and herbs, then grilled or baked.

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas

Typically when we think of stuffed chicken, it has to do with stuffing the cavity of a whole chicken. In this recipe however, we are flattening a whole chicken by butterflying it first (it’s easy!) and then pressing an herby ricotta cheese stuffing underneath the skin, which will bathe the chicken with flavor as it cooks.

The chicken parts cook more evenly that way and the presentation is beautiful.

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Richard Olney wrote about this method for making ricotta stuffed chicken decades ago in his wonderful book Simple French Food (high recommend). We also found a similar recipe in a Weber grilling cookbook, which makes sense as the method of butterflying chicken makes it easy to grill a whole chicken.

Ricotta Stuffed Chicken

Butterflying a chicken is easier than you think! It does help to have a strong pair of poultry shears.

To butterfly a chicken, you cut it open on one side, spread open the chicken and press it down flat. (See our guide—with video—on How to Spatchcock or Butterfly a Chicken.)

To stuff the chicken, you’ll need a firm and gentle hand to separate the skin from the meat beneath. Use your fingers to work your way under the skin to open up enough room for the stuffing.


Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 whole roasting chicken, 4 to 5 lbs.


  • 12 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced


  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika


1 Butterfly the chicken: Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Butterfly the chicken by using poultry shears or a knife to cut along one side of the backbone. Cut along the other side and remove the backbone and tail. (See our guide to how to spatchcock or butterfly a chicken.)

Ginger-Orange Spatchcocked Chicken Ginger-Orange Spatchcocked Chicken

Spread the chicken open, skin side up. Press down on the chicken with the palms of your hands (or pound with your fists) to flatten the chicken. Fold the wings under the chicken.

2 Make ricotta Parmesan herb mixture: In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, garlic, 2 teaspoons of chopped basil, and 1 teaspoon of chopped tarragon.

3 Stuff ricotta mixture under chicken skin: Using a sharp paring knife and your fingers, loosen skin over top of chicken and drumsticks starting at neck edge. Work with your fingers and hand to press under the chicken skin to separate the chicken skin from the chicken breasts, thighs, and drumsticks. Be gentle, the skin can easily tear.

Carefully spoon cheese mixture under skin of chicken, pressing with your fingers to distribute evenly over the chicken and drumsticks.

4 Season chicken: Brush chicken lightly with oil; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon tarragon, paprika, and a generous amount of salt.

5a Cook chicken using an oven: Preheat oven to 500°F. Place chicken, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Place in oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350°F.

5b OR Cook chicken using a grill: Prepare grill for medium indirect heat. If using a gas grill, heat all burners on high until the grill is hot, then turn off the middle burner.

If using a charcoal grill, bank the coals to one side of the grill and place a large aluminum drip pan underneath the grate on the side without coals, adding a couple cups of water to the drip pan so that the drippings don't burn.

Place the chicken, skin side up, on the cooking grate, away from the side with coals if you are using a charcoal grill, or above the middle burner if you are using gas.

Alternatively, you can lay the chicken out on a rack in a disposable aluminum roasting pan and place the roasting pan on the cooking grate (this tip works well with gas grills, I haven't tried it with the charcoal one yet). Cover the grill.

6 Roast the chicken for an hour or until the juices run clear from the thigh when pierced with a fork. (Chicken should have an internal temperature of 165°F when tested with a meat thermometer.) If the skin browns before the chicken is cooked through, cover it loosely with foil.

7 Let rest: Transfer chicken to a cutting board; let stand 10 minutes. Cut into quarters to serve.

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Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken with Orange and Ginger here on Simply Recipes

Richard Olney's ricotta stuffed chicken

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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11 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Angela O

    I made this tonight following the directions and it was not done enough even though I cooked it to the temp. given in the directions. I believe it should be 180 . The smells while I was making the stuffing were amazing but the flavor just didn’t come through into the chicken. I probably wont make this again. ( I read the comments after making it and see people talking about mint and raisins and I’m not sure what recipe they are commenting on as this did not contain those ingredients.)


  2. Kimborloni

    i am making this right now and it smells amazing. I over seasoned the chicken inside and out so that it will be perfect after baking in the oven at 350. It looks amazing and everyone is pacing in front of the oven waiting for it come out. Also, i didn’t have any of the spices on hand so used SPIKE and a little mediterranean spice, but had the fresh parsley used twice the amount and 3 cloves of garlic.
    I will report back with the taste but i am sure if it taste like it smells it will be amazing!

  3. Wino Lisa

    I am lactose intolerant but have found a “fake” cottage cheese that I use in lasagna instead of ricotta. Do you think cottage cheese will work in this recipe or will I have a huge mess on my hands? Thanks!

    No idea. But if you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  4. Megan

    I made this with boneless skinless chicken breast and I’m almost certain that was my first and last mistake. The flavor just wasn’t there. Although it could be that I’m not much of a ricotta fan. However, my husband is and he enjoyed this dish.

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Linda

    This sounds yummy! I would love to try making this with boneless, skinless breasts instead of a whole fryer. I hate the skin and only eat white meat. I wonder if I could just slice the breast and stuff it with the cheese filling and then throw it on the grill? Anyone try doing it that way?

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