Hasselback (Stuffed) Chicken Caprese
Chicken caprese blends tender juicy chicken, gooey mozzarella cheese, basil and tomatoes into a fast dinner. Use the leftovers to make an easy lunch and fuel yourself for the day. No time to slice and stuff each breast? Just pile everything on top and go.Jump to Recipe
Baked chicken is the most boring meal on the planet in most cases. But fear not–this version will spice up your dinner love life again.
Gluten free, low carb and super filling, it’s a great one to have in your arsenal.
What does “hasselback” mean?
The term “hasselback” comes from a potato preparation that originated in Stockhom, Sweden when a chef decided to start slicing potatoes very thinly, but not all the way through before baking them to perfection.
The chef worked at a restaurant called Hasselbacken, hence the name of the preparation.
This recipe uses the same preparation except instead of using potatoes, it uses chicken breasts.
Adding flavor with the classic Caprese combination
“Caprese” is an Italian word that translates to “in the manner of Capri”.
Capri is an island off of the coast of Naples that is known for its invention of the classic Caprese salad.
For this stuffed chicken breast recipe, I use the classic ingredients found in that very salad: tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil.
Boost flavor with a balsamic glaze
Balsamic glaze is a wonderfully versatile, flavorful ingredient often used in Italian cuisine. This recipe utilizes it as a marinade for the chicken.
The glaze contributes a punch of flavor and a nice, golden brown color to the meat. The longer you can marinate, the better. An hour is great, 24 hours would be even better if you have time.
I suggest saving a bit of the marinade after mixing but before it comes into contact with the raw chicken so you can brush it over the chicken Caprese when it comes out of the oven.
Handy tip: Buy a good balsamic vinegar
Just like olive oil, baslamic vinegars can vary widely in quality and flavor. Most at the grocery store are watery, thin and bitter. I prefer a thick, smooth, sweet balsamic. This 25 Star Balsamic is my favorite.
How to keep baked chicken juicy
It is far too common to end up with dry chicken. No one wants that.
In order to keep your chicken tender and juicy, I suggest being vigilant about its internal temperature and don’t overcook it.
Use a meat thermometer and stick it into the thickest part of the largest chicken breast. You are looking for it to read 165 degrees F.
I suggest checking the temperature a couple of minutes before the prescribed bake time is up. If you haven’t reached 165 degrees F quite yet, just pop the chicken back in the oven to cook for a bit longer.
Another important step in ensuring juicy chicken is allowing the cooked meat to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing into it. This will allow the juices to settle.
Avoid tough and rubbery chicken
Sometimes a tough or rubbery chicken holds its root in how that chicken was raised, processed and stored.
Conventional chicken is soaked in a chlorine bath. This can remove harmful bacteria, but it also changes the texture of the meat making it mushy and rubbery at the same time.
I bet you’ve bought at least some chicken like that in the past.
So, next time you are buying chicken, opt for an organic or “air cooled (or chilled)” product. These are not soaked in chlorine. Pastured chicken is always the gold standard if you can find it locally.
Once you have the right chicken, make sure not to overcook it to prevent drying it out.
Variations to put in Caprese chicken
Caprese chicken is pretty close to heaven as is, but feel free to have fun with it.
I enjoy adding bacon or prosciutto for a little extra savory flavor.
Sautéed spinach, garlic, and/or caramelized onions are all wonderful additions as well.
If you are looking to step a little outside of the box, try adding a more flavorful cheese such as blue cheese or Gruyere.
Meal Prep Tips
This recipe is perfect for meal prep. Bake as many chicken breasts as you want then slice and store for topping greens or throwing in with some scrambled eggs for a hearty breakfast. While the chicken is baking, add a sheet pan of asparagus, zucchini, or radishes to roast alongside. You could also marinate and freeze the chicken before baking (unstuffed)and thaw for busy nights.
What to serve with stuffed chicken breasts
This entree loves a good side dish to compliment it. Here are some of my favorites.
- Salads. Make your favorite garden salad or try my Caesar salad recipe or this pear salad with gorgonzola and walnuts.
- Bread. Focaccia is an excellent choice here if you do gluten, but I often find sautéed zucchini or eggplant as a nice replacement for bread.
- Pasta, Rice or Vegetable Noodles. A simple spaghetti marinara or fettucini alfredo would be delicious here if you tolerate it. Gluten free or grain free pasta in moderation or soaked rice would also be okay if your diet allows. I like Palmini noodles which are made from hearts of palm.
How to store leftover hasselback chicken
Allow the dish to cool to room temperature before sealing it in an airtight container and placing it in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to enjoy your baked chicken, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, place the desired portions in a baking dish, cover and bake for 15 minutes or until heated through.
Hasselback (Stuffed) Chicken Caprese
- 3 chicken breasts about 2 pounds total, boneless skinless thighs work too
For the Marinade
To Assemble the Chicken
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
- 4 roma tomatoes or other golf ball size tomatoes
- 10 basil leaves depending on how large your chicken breasts are
- salt and pepper to taste
- balsamic vinegar for drizzling, optional
- In a rimmed 11×7 or equivalent baking dish, add the chicken, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and mix to coat the chicken on all sides. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator as long as possible. 30 minutes all the way to 24 hours.
- To bake, it's fine to leave the chicken in the marinade, but you can transfer your chicken to a clean rimmed baking dish if you prefer. Preheat the oven to 400 and add the baking dish to the oven during the preheating phase so your dish doesn't break in the heat.
- Bake until the chicken is about half done; 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a knife to make slits 1/2 inch apart about 3/4 of the way through the chicken. Don't cut all the way through.
- Into each slit, add a half slice of tomato, a leaf of basil and a slice of mozzarella.
- Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and pepper over each chicken breast and return to the oven.
- Bake until the chicken is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 165, and the cheese is melted: Another 10 to 12 minutes.
- Allow the chicken to rest 10 minutes before serving.