You ever wish your favorite tomato soup was a sauce for more than just dipping grilled cheese? Creamy Tomato Basil Chicken combines the best of both worlds, and does it all over skillet-seared chicken breasts. Canned tomatoes plus fresh basil and a dollop of heavy cream make a bright, yet robust sauce that brings out the best in the perfectly tender, juicy meat.
I may be a big proponent of bone-in, skin-on chicken – especially when it comes to skillet chicken recipes – but do not mistake my enthusiasm for disdain of the humble boneless, skinless chicken breast. Au contraire!
Seared chicken doesn’t just mean seared, crispy skin. Searing boneless, skinless chicken breast in a skillet helps lock in the flavor on the outside and the juices on the inside for impossibly tender and moist meat. And that, my friends, is the first step to avoiding bland, boring breasts.
Because we’ve all been there before. You buy the family pack and think “My god, what have I done?” And then you all sit around the table, glaring at each other with grimaces, trying to choke down the same snoozefest chicken breast recipe 3 nights in a row…
This tomato basil chicken recipe not only promises superior chicken breast texture, but this easy dinner recipe was the most delightful flavor surprise we’ve had in awhile. So much so that my husband actually swooned like he was on Bridgerton and declared tomato basil chicken was the “object of all [his] desires.” So I did what any spouse would do in this situation… and challenged the leftovers to a duel.
In all seriousness, there was, in fact, some fighting over the leftovers, because creamy chicken dishes are usually worth fighting for. From creamy lemon chicken to creamy mushroom chicken to creamy italian chicken to my new creamy tomato basil chicken, the secret to battle-worthy breasts is “sear, then smother.” And it works every time.
Tomato Basil Flavor, Anytime
‘Tis my curse that I am ALWAYS ready for fresh tomatoes – and almost always disappointed when I try to eat them off season. No slight to hothouses, but it ain’t the same.
But you don’t have to wait for tomato season to enjoy this beloved flavor combination. Canned fire-roasted tomatoes work brilliantly alongside fresh basil in this tomato basil chicken skillet meal. Good, fresh basil is always available, and canned tomatoes actually work better than fresh for a substantial, creamy sauce.
If you’re not already keyed into fire roasted tomatoes, stock your pantry now. (I guarantee you’ll find plenty of uses for them). Tomatoes are charred over an open fire. This process both cooks the tomatoes and caramelizes their natural sugars, creating a sweet and smoky flavor full of depth that regular canned tomatoes can’t touch. They pair particularly well with cream and butter (i.e. in tomato basil chicken), resulting in a flavor that’s so rich, you’ll swear it was cooked for hours.
How to Make Creamy Tomato Basil Chicken
We love an easy dinner recipe that gives complex flavor with no heavy lifting and a little heavy cream. Creamy Tomato Basil Chicken is a one-pan wonder you’ll want in regular rotation. Skillet chicken breasts are super moist, and you’ll be amazed how good this sauce is just from zhuzhing up canned tomatoes with a spark of fresh basil. And yes, a little heavy cream.
- Pat chicken dry, then pound to even thickness about 1”.
- Mix dry seasonings in a small bowl, then season the chicken all over.
- Heat 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and butter. Heat until butter melts then foams. Add chicken breasts in a single layer. Sear 5 minutes until golden brown, flip and sear other side 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, until very fragrant.
- Pour in broth to deglaze skillet, scrape up browned bits from bottom, then add diced tomatoes. Bring liquids to a simmer and cook 10-20 minutes. Stir sauce occasionally, gently crushing tomatoes with the back of a wood spoon. Continue this process until sauce thickens and the tomatoes are deep red.
- Add heavy cream and 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, then stir to combine. Nestle chicken into the pan sauce. Cover and cook 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and reaches 165°F using an instant read thermometer.
- Serve tomato basil chicken immediately over rice or fresh pasta. Garnish with remaining 2 tablespoons of fresh basil and serve immediately.
- Lightly pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness – they’ll cook evenly, and the pounding will help tenderize chicken breasts. Place one breast at a time onto a sheet of parchment paper, then fold the paper over the chicken. Use a rolling pin to pound to an even thickness of about 1 inch.
- Sear pounded chicken breast for 5 minutes on each side, for a total of 10 minutes.
- Cook the chicken to at least 165°F – check the temperature using an instant read thermometer.
- Simmer the tomato basil chicken skillet sauce a minimum of 10 minutes, but up to 20 for a thicker body.
- Use fire-roasted canned tomatoes in this chicken skillet recipe – charring tomatoes over an open fire caramelizes their natural sugars and creates a depth of flavor that regular canned tomatoes can’t touch.
What to Serve with Tomato Basil Chicken
- This dish is just begging for pasta! Serve tomato basil chicken over thin (but not too delicate) noodles, like bucatini or spaghetti; or toss it with shorter, heftier gemelli, caserecci, or even gnocchi!
- Rice also works really well with this skillet chicken dish. Long grain white or brown is fine; choose arborio for a starchier finish.
- Serve skillet chicken breasts alongside vegetable favorites that will complement but not compete, like roasted asparagus or crispy brussels sprouts, garlic green beans, roasted broccolini, steamed broccoli, sautéed spinach or kale, or braised swiss chard.
- Can’t do carbs or starches? Use the instructions in this recipe to swap for zucchini noodles (zoodles) or try it alongside roasted cauliflower.
Got Breasts? 5 Easy Dinners with Big Flavor!
- Healthy Tuscan Chicken
- Lemon Garlic Chicken and Asparagus
- Baked Parmesan Crusted Chicken
- Creamy Mushroom Chicken and Bacon
- Kickin’ Cajun Chicken
Did you make this creamy tomato chicken recipe? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- Pat chicken very dry, then pound to an even thickness. To do so, place one chicken breast onto a sheet of parchment paper, then fold the paper over the chicken. Use a rolling pin to pound the chicken breast to an even thickness of about 1”. Set aside and repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.
- Combine the salt, pepper, basil, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Mix until well combined. Season the chicken all over with the seasoning blend.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and butter and heat until the butter melts then foams. Add the chicken breasts in a single layer. Sear 5 minutes until golden brown, then flip and sear on the other side 5 minutes more. Transfer chicken using tongs to a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute, until very fragrant.
- Pour in the chicken broth to deglaze the skillet, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom, then add the diced tomatoes. Bring the liquids to a simmer and cook at least 10 minutes and up to 20; stir the sauce occasionally, and when doing so, gently crush the tomatoes with the back of a wood spoon. Continue cooking and gently crushing until the sauce thickens and the tomatoes are deep red.
- Pour in the heavy cream and 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, then stir to combine. Nestle the chicken into the pan sauce. Cover and cook 5 minutes more, or until the chicken is cooked through and reaches 165°F using an instant read thermometer.
- Serve immediately over rice or fresh pasta. Garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of fresh basil and serve immediately.