Simple grilled Chicken Caprese is a recipe I look forward to as soon as tomatoes come into season. The classic caprese combination of fresh mozzarella, ripe juicy tomatoes and peppery fresh basil is irresistible over tender grilled chicken breasts, especially after being drizzled with a splash of aged balsamic. There aren’t any complicated techniques or ingredients in this quick and easy dinner recipe – just simple, real food ingredients that truly shine.
Quick, easy, seasonal dinners don’t get much better than Chicken Caprese.
We’re talking about charred juicy chicken topped with briny fresh mozzarella, sweet tomatoes, and peppery basil, finished with a drizzle of sweet aged balsamic. Shut the front door! The head to the backyard, fire up the grill, and get ready for tastytown, because the train is rolling in, and you want to be on it.
In less than 30 minutes, you can be slicing into this little piece of Italian heaven. And I do mean heaven, because these classic flavors are a summertime delight.
What Does Caprese Mean?
Caprese refers to a classic Italian salad made with fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, and basil. At it’s most authentic, a caprese salad is seasoned with salt and pepper and dressed with good quality olive oil. Balsamic vinegar or pesto are common variations. It’s often stacked, sometimes tossed, and if you want to get fancy, the individual pieces can be skewered onto sticks for an appetizer.
But caprese needn’t be limited to salads. These classic flavors are a no-fail combination, so you can and should extend them into main courses – toss them with pasta and sausage for a fresh and hearty dinner, layer them in a sandwich, or as we’re doing here, use them to dress grilled chicken.
Ingredients For Chicken Caprese
The list of fresh ingredients in this recipe is short, so use the best quality you can find and afford:
- Fresh mozzarella is a must. The flavor is sweet, delicate and slightly briny. If you can find buffalo mozzarella, it’s an excellent upgrade with its richer, creamier flavor.
- Fresh tomatoes are also a must, and preferably locally sourced – head to thy farmer’s market! The varietal doesn’t matter as long as they’re ripe, sweet, and juicy.
- Keeping in line with fresh-is-best, you have to use fresh basil here – it’s bursting with flavor and completes the classic trio.
- I like to dress my caprese chicken with a splash of traditional (or aged) balsamic vinegar. This is not the condiment you’re accustomed to cooking with or tossing into a salad dressing. It’s a very specific vinegar that has a viscous texture and sweet flavor. It’s expensive AF, but a little (like a teaspoon per serving) goes a long way and it’s worth seeking out. If aged balsamic is out of your budget, feel free to use balsamic glaze, which is readily available at most grocery stores and a reasonable approximation if you’re on a budget. For everything you ever wanted to know about balsamic vinegar, this guide from Serious Eats is utterly comprehensive.
How to Make Chicken Caprese
You won’t believe how easily and quickly this simple Caprese Chicken comes together. I’ve cooked this on my grill and grill pan with equally good results (although I’m always partial to using our kettle grill in the summer!). This chicken is very impressive for a dinner party or gathering, and doubles easily – see the recipe notes for my doubling hack if you’re limited to using just a grill pan.
Prepare the boneless skinless chicken breasts for quick, even grilling by pounding them to an even thickness. There are many ways to achieve this, but using parchment paper and a rolling pin is my go-to method, and it doesn’t require any fancy tools.
Place the chicken breast onto a large sheet of parchment paper, then fold the paper over the chicken. Using a rolling pin, gently pound the top ¾ of the chicken (the thicker part) until it’s an even thickness with the lower fourth.
The resulting chicken will be less than an inch thick. I used the same piece of parchment for all 4 chicken breasts and it held up well.
In a small bowl, combine the italian seasoning, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.
Brush each chicken breast generously with olive oil, then sprinkle each side of the chicken with the seasoning.
Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Heat the grill pan for at least 5 minutes, then test with a few drops of water to ensure its heated properly – if the water droplets evaporate quickly, the pan is ready. If not, wait a little longer.
Grill the chicken breasts 5-6 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 155°F (it’ll come to proper temperature in the next step).
Place two slices of fresh mozzarella over each chicken breast. Continue grilling until the cheese melts slightly and the chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F, 2-4 additional minutes. Use a meat thermometer friends!
Note: you may want to place a cover over the grill pan (or simply close your grill) to help the cheese melt. I use an inverted 9″ x 12″ cake pan as a “cover” for my grill pan. Make sure you use an oven mitt to remove it!
Remove the chicken breasts from the grill and place onto a platter or individual plates. Top with several slices of sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Just before serving, drizzle the balsamic over the tomatoes.
Tips for Making Perfect Chicken Caprese
- Use the freshest and best quality ingredients you can source and afford. Check the ingredients section above for my must-haves
- Use chicken breasts of even size and pound to an even thickness so they cook at the same rate.
- Do not overcook the chicken in Step 4! It will become dry and overcooked. I promise it will come to proper temperature after you’ve added the cheese and allowed it to melt.
- Use an instant read thermometer to ensure your chicken is cooked to temperature (165°F).
- Finishing the chicken with a dusting of flaky sea salt, like maldon, will bring out the sweetness in the tomatoes – it’s a really extra special touch!
- This recipe is excellent to serve for a crowd (and very impressive!) and doubles easily. If your grill isn’t large enough to cook 8 chicken breasts, or you’re using a grill pan, here’s a hack: grill the chicken breasts in batches to 155°F, then transfer to a baking sheet and cover with an inverted rectangular pie pan to keep them warm. Once all the chicken breasts are cooked, top them with fresh mozzarella, then transfer the baking sheet into a heated 500°F oven. Bake 2-4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the chicken reaches 165°F.
More Easy Chicken Recipes
- Artichoke Chicken with White Wine Pan Sauce
- Lemon Garlic Chicken and Asparagus Skillet
- Healthy Tuscan Chicken
- Grilled Lemon Thyme Chicken Skewers
- Creamy Rosemary Garlic Chicken
- Crispy Chicken Thighs with Burst Tomatoes
Did you make this Caprese Chicken? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 4 5-7 oz chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness
- 2 tsp italian seasoning
- 2 tsp sea or kosher salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into 8 even pieces
- 2 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced into ½″ slices
- fresh basil, to taste
- aged balsamic or balsamic glaze, to taste
- Prepare the chicken. Place one chicken breast onto a sheet of parchment paper. Fold the paper over the chicken. Using a rolling pin, pound the chicken breast to even thickness of a little less than 1″. Set aside and repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.
- Combine the italian seasoning, sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
- Brush the chicken with olive oil, then sprinkle with the seasoning blend. Flip the chicken oven, then oil and season the other side.
- Top each chicken breast with 2 slices fresh mozzarella. Continue grilling 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the internal temperature reads 165°F.
- Place the chicken breasts onto a platter or individual plates. Top each chicken breast with 2-3 slices of fresh tomatoes, then sprinkle with fresh basil and additional salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction. Serve immediately.
- Do not cook the the chicken to proper temperature in Step 4 or it will be overcooked and on the dry side by the time the cheese is melted.
- You may want to place a cover over the grill pan (or simply close your grill) to help the cheese melt. I use an inverted 9″ x 12″ cake pan as a “cover” for my grill pan. Make sure you use an oven mitt to remove it!
- Always use an instant read thermometer to check for proper meat temperature, but especially for this recipe where you cannot use the pressure test due to the cheese.
- To double this recipe (for a crowd) using a grill pan: grill the chicken breasts in batches to 155°F, then transfer to a baking sheet and cover with an inverted rectangular cake pan to keep the chicken warm. Once all the chicken breasts are cooked, top them with fresh mozzarella, then transfer the baking sheet into a heated 500°F oven. Bake 2-4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the chicken reaches 165°F.
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