Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breast

5 from 6 votes
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Juicy mozzarella-stuffed chicken breasts filled with melted cheese and pesto sauce. The pieces are seared and then baked to perfection for maximum flavor. It’s an easy dinner served with a creamy tomato sauce, made all in one pan!

For more low-carb recipes, try my caprese stuffed chicken and baked chicken breast.

Four chicken breasts and a creamy marinara sauce inside a dutch oven.

Are you tired of the same chicken dinners on repeat? Look no further than this irresistible low-carb recipe for mozzarella-stuffed chicken breast! Made with simple ingredients and a few pantry staples for quick and easy preparation.

The chicken is filled with an herbaceous pesto sauce and slices of gooey mozzarella. The meat is pan-seared and gently finished in the oven to develop a flavorful crust to ensure juicy bites. I’ll show you how to make a creamy tomato sauce with the savory juices left in the pan. Serve with vegetables or pair with your favorite pasta for a complete Italian feast.

Recipe ingredients

Ingredients needed to make this mozzarella stuffed chicken breast recipe.
  • Chicken: Use boneless skinless chicken breasts between 8 to 12 ounces in size. The smaller the piece, the faster it will cook, and the less cheese will fit in the pocket.
  • Cheese: Use whole milk mozzarella cheese, the ones pressed into a firm ball so it’s easy to slice. Cut the pieces into halves so that they fit neatly inside the chicken. Use 1 to 2 ounces per breast.
  • Pesto: Try my basil pesto sauce for the most aromatic and robust flavor. It combines fresh basil, pinenuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil. Alternatively, refrigerated options sold at the grocery store will give the closest taste because they are jarred and heat-treated.
  • Tomato Sauce: Use my homemade marinara sauce recipe or store-bought sauce if short on time. You’ll need 2 cups.
  • Cream (optional): Heavy whipping cream adds a rich texture to the marinara sauce.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (191ºC).

Prepare the chicken

Person butterflying open a chicken breast on a white cutting board.

Step 2: Use a sharp knife to butterfly the chicken open to create a pocket that the filling will go into. Keep one side intact to hold the piece together. Season the surface with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to enhance the savory taste of the poultry.

Stuff the chicken pocket

Placing pesto sauce inside the pocket of a chicken breast.

Step 3: Add 1 generous tablespoon of pesto to the inside of the butterflied chicken.

Person placing two slices of mozzarella inside a chicken breast.

Top with two halved slices of mozzarella.

Stuffed and seasoned chicken breasts sealed closed with toothpicks.

Fold the piece over, then secure the edges with a toothpick to keep the filling locked in. It’s okay if you don’t seal it, but the cheese will ooze out more as the protein shrinks during cooking. One ounce of cheese fits nicely into the pocket, but you can add two ounces, knowing some will seep out.

Sear the surface

Tongs flipping over a chicken breast cooking in a large pan.

Step 4: I use a heavy-bottomed oven-safe pan to cook the chicken. Pan-sear the chicken in hot olive oil until both sides are golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. This creates a stunning and tasty crust. Check the chicken’s temperature; if it reaches 160 to 165 degrees, it does not need to be further baked.

If you don’t have a pan that can be placed in a hot oven, transfer the chicken to a foil-lined sheet pan to finish cooking. Smaller pieces between 8 to 9 ounces may cook quicker than larger ones.

Bake to cook completely

Step 5: If using pieces of chicken, 10 to 12 ounces in size, it will need to be baked to complete the cooking process. Baking prevents the meat from drying out in the hot pan. Add the seared chicken pieces to an oven set at 375ºF (191ºC).

Target an internal temperature of 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC) measured in the thickest part of the chicken. Transfer the pieces to a clean plate and cover while you make the sauce.

Make the sauce

Step 6: After baking the chicken, there will be delicious pan drippings. Don’t let them go to waste! Remove the chicken and make a quick tomato sauce.

Add two cups of marinara sauce. I like using it because it’s already thickened with tomato paste and seasoned. Simmer it for a few minutes then turn off the heat and stir in heavy whipping cream. This is optional, but it will transform it into a luxurious texture.

Cooked chicken breasts sitting in a pot of tomato sauce.

Step 7: Serve the chicken on a plate with the tomato sauce and garnish with freshly sliced basil.

Flavor variations

This mozzarella-stuffed chicken recipe is easy to customize! Try these tasty swaps when you make your next batch:

  • Cheese: Use grated mozzarella or fresh mozzarella for a caprese-style chicken. Add smoked mozzarella or soft buffalo mozzarella. Add in parmesan, Pecorino Romano, or Parmigiano Reggiano for a nutty, saltier, and sharper flavor. Add brie for a buttery flavor.
  • Herbs: Swap out the pesto sauce with freshly chopped herbs like oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and basil. For an extra concentrated flavor, sprinkle Italian seasoning over the cheese.
  • Vegetables: Fill with sauteed spinach, kale, mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, caramelized onions, or sundried tomatoes.
  • Sauce: Instead of a marinara sauce, try a mushroom gravy or alfredo sauce.
  • Bread Crumbs: Make a crispy crust by dredging the stuffed chicken in flour, egg, and bread crumbs—Pan-fry until crispy, just like my stuffed chicken parmesan.

Serving suggestions

Frequently asked questions

What are some seasoning options for the chicken breast?

Besides salt and pepper, try garlic powder, onion powder, sweet or smoked paprika, chile powder, cayenne, or chipotle. Alternatively, use a chicken marinade for extra seasoning and juiciness before stuffing.

Can I use a different type of cheese instead of mozzarella?

Sure! Smoked gouda, gruyere, swiss, brie, pepperjack, and cheddar are all great options. As long as the cheese melts together when heated, it is a good substitute for mozzarella.

Can I prepare the stuffed chicken breast ahead of time and cook it later?

The chicken breasts can be butterflied and stuffed with the pesto sauce and cheese up to 2 days before cooking. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

Stuffed chicken breast on a plate cut open with mozzarella cheese oozing out.

Keep the mozzarella from melting out

The muscle fibers naturally contract and shrink when cooked, causing some cheese to get pressed out as it melts. The best solution is to use about two toothpicks to seal the edges to reduce as much cheese from seeping out. It also helps to add the right amount of cheese. For an 8 to 10-ounce piece, 1 ounce of cheese works well. For larger 10 to 12 ounces breasts, use up to 2 ounces.

Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breast

I absolutely love making stuffed chicken breast because it combines juicy, flavorful chicken with a delicious surprise inside. The melted mozzarella oozing out adds a beautiful gooeyness and irresistible cheesiness that takes this dish to another level.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast, 2 to 3 pounds total
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup basil pesto sauce
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 semi-circles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, optional
  • 1 tablespoon sliced basil

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat to 375ºF (191ºC).
  • Prepare the Chicken – Butterfly the chicken breast in half lengthwise, leaving about a ½-inch uncut area on the other side. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
    In a small bowl, combine salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Evenly season each side of the chicken with the mixture.
  • Stuff the Chicken – Evenly spread 1 tablespoon of pesto sauce into the pocket of each chicken breast. Add 2 slices of mozzarella on top. If available, close the opening with toothpicks to secure the filling inside.
  • Sear the Chicken – Heat a large oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil. Add the chicken, presentation-side down. Lightly press the meat to make contact with the pan. Cook until golden brown on the surface, about 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and cook for 5 minutes.
    If using smaller chicken breasts, check for doneness, as baking may not be needed.
  • Transfer to the Oven – Place the pan in the oven and bake until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC) on a meat thermometer, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness.
  • Make the Sauce – Don't touch the handle; it will still be hot from the oven! Transfer the chicken to a clean plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Leave the juices in the pan. Heat the pan over medium heat. Add the marinara sauce and simmer until hot, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the heavy cream.
  • To Serve – Remove the toothpicks from the chicken. Serve with the sauce and garnish with basil.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Cheesier Filling: Use 8 ounces of mozzarella, cut into 8 halved pieces.
  • Make Ahead: The chicken can be stuffed 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.
  • Storing: Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Reheating: Cover and reheat in the microwave on high heat in 15 to 30-second increments until hot.
  • Baking 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.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 418kcal (21%)Carbohydrates 9g (3%)Protein 33g (66%)Fat 28g (43%)Saturated Fat 10g (50%)Polyunsaturated Fat 2gMonounsaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0.01gCholesterol 113mg (38%)Sodium 1620mg (68%)Potassium 826mg (24%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 6g (7%)Vitamin A 1288IU (26%)Vitamin C 10mg (12%)Calcium 203mg (20%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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  1. Judy says

    Jessica, I haven’t tried this yet but it looks swoon-worthy. Thanks for another lovely recipe for family and friends. Judy