Never underestimate the power of the classic combo of mozzarella, basil, and tomato: these superb ingredients make also this simple and easy keto-friendly 5-Ingredient Caprese Stuffed Chicken unbelievably flavorful. When drizzled with good-quality extra virgin olive oil and baked at low oven temperature, the meat becomes succulent and juicy. This dish doesn’t please only the palates of keto dieters, it’s perfect for anyone who loves tasty food — and who wouldn’t! Read below the secrets to one of the best and easiest chicken recipes ever.
How to prepare the Caprese Stuffed Chicken
Don’t let the word “stuffed” put you off: preparing this dish is easy! In case you want to make it anyway even easier, scroll down to the “How to Vary the Recipe” section to find it out.
Use preferably sun-dried tomatoes that are preserved in olive oil — not in sunflower oil or other vegetable oil. Olive oil is much healthier than inferior and rancid vegetable seed oils. And olive oil is tastier, too. In case you’ll find sun-dried tomatoes preserved in good-quality olive oil, by all means, use the olive oil in the jar for drizzling over the stuffed chicken breasts before putting them into the oven. Otherwise, choose a flavorful — preferably a bit peppery — extra virgin olive oil to get even more flavor to the dish. Olive oil is a must-have ingredient with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil!
Be sure to cut deep enough pockets to the chicken breasts: you’ll want the stuffing to reach every corner. A super-sharp knife does the trick. Just watch out not to cut your fingers — as I did with my brand-new super-sharp knife when shooting the video!
Even I prefer to salt my food very enthusiastically, I didn’t have any need to add more salt to this dish. The sun-dried tomatoes are pretty salty, so they are giving enough saltiness, in my opinion.
You might wonder why I don’t sear the chicken breasts in a skillet before putting them into the oven. There are two reasons for this: first, to avoid AGEs and second, to make things easy. AGEs, (i.e., advanced glycation end products) form when food is cooked at a high temperature. AGEs are harmful to your health. AGEs also tend to accumulate in your body over time. They cause oxidative stress and inflammation. They also may affect your metabolism and weight. All this might make you more prone to diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, kidney failure, and heart disease. Plus, they might cause premature aging. Personally, I don’t have any reason to let more AGEs accumulate my body — that’s why I prefer to skip pan searing, especially for the dishes I prepare in the oven. In fact, this dish is so tasty that searing wouldn’t really bring anything more to the taste!
Moreover, pan searing would also be a too messy business with these stuffed chicken breasts: the cheese would just ooze out onto the skillet, leaving a mess. How would you get the melted cheese from the skillet to the baking dish anyway? So, no need for pan searing for this dish.
Oh yes: and to keep the chicken juicy and succulent, I use lower oven temperature — that also prevents the AGEs from forming.
But let’s take a look at how to prepare this unbelievably tasty Caprese Stuffed Chicken:
Take all ingredients ready:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup = 120 ml chopped drained sun-dried tomatoes
16 large basil leaves
7 oz = 200 g mozzarella cheese
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
In addition, you’ll need some toothpicks.
Pat the chicken breasts dry with a kitchen towel. Cut deep pockets into the chicken breasts. Make the pockets as deep as you can.
Stuff each chicken breast with 4 basil leaves…
…2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes…
…and 1/4 of mozzarella you have.
Close the pockets and secure them with toothpicks, using 1-2 toothpicks per chicken breast. This helps keep the stuffing inside.
Place the stuffed chicken breasts into a baking dish.
Drizzle the olive oil on top.
Bake at 350 °F (175 °C) for about 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear.
Remove the toothpicks.
Serve with the juices from the baking dish as sauce.
How I came up with this the Caprese Stuffed Chicken recipe
You might remember that last week I had the eternal question of chicken and egg, so which one comes first — except this time, I was pondering which recipe to post first, egg recipe or chicken recipe. Because of Easter last week, I thought egg recipe would be more appropriate. So, this week is for the chicken recipe.
I have quite some easy chicken recipes in my pocket. But which one of those to post now? Something really tasty — maybe a bit colorful as well. I went through my chicken recipe ideas that I have collected in my file with ideas. Yes, I have a file where I write down all ideas for recipes I would like to develop and publish here on my blog.
I had a few chicken recipe candidates for this week, and finally chose a Caprese-themed Italian-style recipe where I would combine chicken with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. I was planning to use chicken breasts as they are so common and easy to get (or so I thought!). But the question was: should I stuff the chicken breasts with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, or just top the chicken breasts with those ingredients and bake? Topped chicken breasts would be easy, but on the other hand, stuffed chicken breasts sounded more fascinating. And since I seldom prepare stuffed chicken breasts, this would be something different for a change.
As regular tomatoes are so mild and watery, I decided to use sun-dried tomatoes. They would lend more flavor, and they would be nicely salty as well. I was sure fresh tomatoes would just release all the water and make the mozzarella also watery, so sun-dried tomatoes sounded like a perfect option here.
Caprese salad contains both balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but I didn’t want to use balsamic vinegar to my stuffed chicken. However, I decided to drizzle the stuffed chicken breasts with good-quality extra virgin olive oil.
After calculating the amounts of ingredients, I was ready to do some shopping. I was astonished how difficult it was to find regular thick skinless and boneless chicken breasts! The shelves were filled with various types of marinated chicken, several brands of chicken slices, and numerous thin or small versions of chicken breasts — that are very popular here in Finland. But for this dish, I needed thick chicken breasts because I wanted to cut pockets into them and stuff the breasts. Finally, I found two varieties — none of them was really thick, as you can see from the photos — and took four boxes of the better-quality one.
It was also challenging to find sun-dried tomatoes that would NOT have been preserved in sunflower oil. Again, there were several different brands of sun-dried tomatoes — but all of them were preserved in sunflower oil. It indeed sounds sunny: sun-dried tomatoes preserved in sunflower oil. However, the truth behind this is not that sunny. It’s just because sunflower oil is so much cheaper for the food industry than, let’s say, good quality olive oil. I would gladly pay for a better taste and quality if that was available. Finally, I found a jar of sun-dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil — but from another store.
At home, I was ready to conduct my first experiments. Actually, after calculating the amounts carefully, I was so sure that the dish will be a success (you simply cannot fail with that excellent ingredients!) that I took the photos when I was doing my first experiment.
Indeed, the result was even tastier than I had expected. Even I forgot to add salt, it didn’t matter, since the ingredients were providing enough flavor. Especially the sun-dried tomatoes were tasty and salty enough to lend enough saltiness to the whole dish.
My family was happily gulping down all the batches I made. To my surprise, also my 9-year-old son liked the chicken even he is usually not a big fan of sun-dried tomatoes. This is so simple, tasty, and easy dish that I will certainly make it many times in the future — hope it will also become your favorite!
Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy:
|Per serving if 4 servings in total
How to vary the recipe
Instead of stuffing, an easy variation to this dish is to top the chicken breasts with basil leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella (in this order) and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and the juices of the chicken run clear. You might want to pound the chicken breasts thinner, or use thin chicken breasts, to make them tastier and more succulent.
Instead of soft mozzarella balls, you can use grated mozzarella — especially if you make the topped version instead of the stuffed version of this dish. Just make sure that the grated mozzarella doesn’t have any added starch or any food additives, and the carb count is pure zero.
If you want even more flavor to the dish, add thinly sliced garlic to the stuffing. You can mix it with the sun-dried tomatoes to ensure even distribution.
Capers also provide salty and characteristic flavor — feel free to mix a tablespoon of capers to the sun-dried tomatoes before stuffing the chicken breasts.
You can also swap the basil to another herb, like oregano — that is also very Italian.
For a tasty twist, replace the sun-dried tomatoes with chopped black or green olives. Like that, the carb count will also be reduced as olives have much less carbs than sun-dried tomatoes.
This has been yet another busy week — regardless of the lockdown. Since my work is mostly online and I’m anyway working from home, there are practically no changes to my daily routines. The grocery stores are normally open anyway, so I get everything I need for my recipe development — and to feed my family. Of course, I won’t be able to visit many places, but that’s how things are, and hopefully, these weird times will be over soon. Luckily everybody in my family has been healthy so far. Hope you have also stayed healthy!
Well, I finally took the last photos to my upcoming book and made the final edits. I already submitted the final manuscript to the editor – who, in turn, will give it to the publisher tomorrow. Then, it’s just waiting for the layout to be done. Yay! Actually, I should have written one magazine article, but I didn’t have time for that — maybe I should have been again in Athens (Greece) for writing… Last December, I managed to write thousands of words for my book as well as two magazine articles during one week when I was in Athens. I still have two books to write this year and at least one magazine article, so I think I will travel somewhere as soon as things are back to normal and it’s safe to travel again. Anyway, here are the last photos for the book I took this week:
By the way, those cauliflower poppers you see in one of the photos were really tasty as a side of this Caprese Stuffed Chicken.
I have also had many linguistic tasks during this week. I’ve done tasks for Catalan, Danish, and Swedish. And before I’ve even finished the one related to the Swedish pitch accent, I’ve got an urgent assignment to revise the phoneme inventory for Burmese and fix a Burmese lexicon. And I have to do those now during this weekend!
Oh yes. I’m just terrible with sharp knives. For this recipe, I got a brand-new super-sharp knife that was just perfect for cutting the pockets to the chicken breasts. Boy, did it a good job and fast! But like always when I get a very sharp knife, I cut my fingers or my hands. That just happens every time I use a sharp knife. Every. Single. Time. You can imagine the dozens of scars in my hands that I’ve got over the past 40 years of using sharp knives!
It still has been snowing each day here. Yep, I know. It’s soon May — and it’s snowing! Luckily the snow has melted away during the day, but each night we’ve got a pure white cover on the ground.
Stay well, stay safe!