Asparagus stuffed chicken breast filled with salty prosciutto, fresh vegetables, and melty provolone cheese! It’s an easy and delicious low carb meal.
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Chicken breast is a dinner-time staple, but switching things up is good to prevent flavor fatigue. One of the easiest ways to pack more protein and veggies into each serving is to stuff the poultry. I’ve experimented with sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and now, asparagus.
Asparagus has a sweet earthy taste and pairs well with cured ham and gooey provolone cheese. The prosciutto adds flavor but locks the vegetables together as they cook for a stunning presentation. For his recipe, I use a two-step cooking process; a quick sear in a hot pan, then finish in the oven.
The subtlety sweet, crisp stalks are available year-round, with their peak season from March to June. Look for bright green, firm stems and tips. The width of the stem from the bottom should ideally be at least ½-inch thick to prevent the high-moisture vegetable from shriveling up and getting mushy.
Avoid those skinny stalks! You’ll need a pound of asparagus to give about 4 to 6 pieces per chicken. I find that to be a hearty amount of vegetables per serving. Trim the woody stem ends to yield about 7-inch long pieces.
Season the vegetables
The asparagus spears get coated with fruity olive oil before cooking. Garlic powder, salt, pepper, and dried Italian seasonings further enhance the delicate flavor. You can also add other herbs like oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, or rosemary. Just grab what you have available in your pantry.
Thin pieces of prosciutto, salt-cured and dry aged, complement the asparagus. One slice or about half an ounce is the right amount without being overpowering. Salami is a good substitute, or pepperoni if you like a spicier flavor. Chopped pieces of cooked bacon could also be used and sprinkled into the filling.
Use a high melting, flexible cheese thinly sliced to wrap around the asparagus bundles. I like semi-hard provolone because it melts quickly and gives the filling an aged flavor and aroma. I find that it’s easy to fold when it’s been sitting at room temperature.
For a more mild taste, use mozzarella cheese. If you have any issues wrapping, just cut the pieces in half and place the asparagus in between when filling the chicken breast.
Select boneless skinless chicken breasts between 8 to 12 ounces. This weight gives a large enough piece for stuffing. The size will determine its time to finish cooking in the oven. You will need about five more minutes for larger pieces.
Butterfly the chicken
Typically I create a pocket in the side of the breast when stuffing the breast. However, since the asparagus spears extend beyond the chicken, you’ll need to butterfly cut them instead. Simply cut the breast in half lengthwise, like opening up a book.
Make sure to keep one side intact so that the filling stays inside. Season the surface with salt and pepper to add flavor throughout.
Stuff the chicken
Add one asparagus bundle inside each butterflied piece of chicken breast. Use toothpicks to close the open sides. This technique limits the amount of cheese that melts out as it cooks. We want to lock in as much flavor as possible! If not cooking right away, you can cover and refrigerate the stuffed chicken breast for up to 2 days if meal prepping.
How to cook asparagus stuffed chicken breast
To make this a one-pan dish, use a 12-inch oven-proof skillet. A cast iron skillet or wide dutch oven works well. Sear the chicken in olive oil for 5 minutes over medium heat on the stovetop, then flip and cook the other side for about 3 minutes.
Don’t move the chicken! Let the hot pan cook the meat’s surface, and it will release when a crust forms and reveals a stunning golden exterior. The browning gives a contrast of colors and texture to the meat. To gently finish cooking and prevent it from drying out, bake for about 10 to 15 minutes in a 375ºF (191ºC) oven.
Checking for doneness
The asparagus should be tender but not mushy and lightly browned on the tips. Since the chicken breast is split in half, check for doneness on the top and bottom. The meat should be opaque and ivory in color. The juices will be light pink to clear and form a delicious pan sauce that you can brush onto the chicken before serving.
When checking with an instant-read thermometer, place it parallel to the thickest sections of the meat. It should read between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving to redistribute the juices and allow any carryover cooking.
Serve this with
Any cheese with higher moisture and melts well is great for the filling. Mozzarella, fontina, brie, gouda, or swiss cheese can be layered inside. Some may not be wrappable, but just place two pieces surrounding the asparagus.
No, you can omit the cured ham if desired. If you like a different type of salty pork, then salami, cooked bacon, or pepperoni will work well in the filling.
Yes! Instead of searing the chicken on the stovetop first, you can bake for the entire time. Place the chicken on a greased foil-lined rimmed baking sheet—Bake at 425ºF (218ºC) for about 20 to 25 minutes. The crust will not be as golden brown.
Why you should oil the asparagus before cooking
Coating the asparagus with olive oil adds flavor and prevents it from losing too much moisture. The fat layer acts as a lipid barrier to the heat of the hot pan. The stems don’t dry out as quickly and hold their structure over the prolonged cook time.
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Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breast
- 1 pound asparagus, about 20 spears
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 ounces prosciutto, 4 slices
- 4 slices provolone cheese, or mozzarella, room temperature
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast, about 2 ½ to 3 pounds total
- Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the lower-middle position and the temperature to 375ºF (191ºC).
- Prepare the Asparagus – Wash and thoroughly dry. Trim off the tough fibrous ends to give about 7-inch long spears. Evenly coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.
- Wrap the Asparagus – Divide the seasoned asparagus into 4 even-sized bundles, about 5 stalks. Tightly wrap one slice of prosciutto and one slice of provolone around the center of each bundle. Set aside.
- Prepare the Chicken – Butterfly the chicken breast in half lengthwise, leaving about a ½-inch uncut area to keep the other side connected. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Season the Meat – In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Evenly season each side of the chicken.
- Stuff the Chicken – Inside each chicken breast, add the asparagus bundle. Close the opening on the side with toothpicks to secure the filling.
- Sear the Chicken – Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chicken, presentation-side down, and lightly press it to make contact with the pan. Cook until golden-brown on the surface, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook for 3 minutes. If using smaller chicken breasts, check for doneness as baking may not be necessary.
- Bake – Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until no longer pink and the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness.
- To Serve – Transfer to a serving dish and rest for 5 minutes. Remove the toothpicks and serve while still hot.
- Storing: Cool completely and store in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: Cover and reheat in the microwave on high heat for about 30-second increments until hot.
- Make Ahead: The chicken can be stuffed, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days before cooking.
- Baking-Only Directions: Place stuffed chicken on a greased foil-lined sheet pan. Bake at 425ºF (218ºC) for about 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness.
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