Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast

5 from 10 votes
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Spinach stuffed chicken breast is a flavorful one-pan meal that’s easy to prepare. Each serving contains a seasoned and seared protein filled with leafy green vegetables and cheese. Your weekly chicken dinner just got more exciting!

Spinach stuffed chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet.

The next time you find yourself pondering what to do with that multi-pack of chicken breasts, I’ve got just the recipe. My Tuscan stuffed chicken was such a hit with the family that I tweaked the ingredients and created another stunning dish loaded with flavor. The preparation is easy, mix, stuff, sear, and bake. 

I use three types of cheese to bind the spinach filling while delivering extra savory bites. The stuffed chicken pieces sear in a hot skillet first to add surface flavors, then finish cooking in the oven to prevent them from drying out. It’s an excellent meal for those looking for low-carb and keto meals. Plus, it reheats well for meal prep!

Spinach selection

I use fresh spinach as the base of the filling. Select the baby variety for a very tender and mild flavor. You don’t have to precook the leaves if you cut them into tiny pieces. This technique makes it easy to combine with the cheese mixture and doesn’t dilute the taste as the leaves expel moisture.

The process enhances the filling flavors and turns it into a vibrant green. Roughly 4 cups of spinach is reduced down to about 1 cup chopped.

Substituting frozen spinach

Alternatively, you can use frozen chopped spinach but squeeze out as much water as possible. Use about 5 ounces or ½ cup packed as the leaves are already wilted and compressed tightly together. Chop it down into more refined pieces to stir into the filling.

Cheese selection

Use three types of cheese; cream cheese, shredded low-moisture mozzarella, and grated parmesan. When combined, the sticky cream cheese helps bind all ingredients together to create a thick paste-like texture.

When the mozzarella melts, it adds a nice gooey consistency. The parmesan cheese is aged, adding a pleasant salty kick and nutty taste.

To make the filling

I recommend softened cream cheese as it’s easier to mix and spread with the other ingredients. Combine the cheeses, chopped spinach leaves, minced garlic, basil, salt, and pepper. As the filling warms in the hot pan, it gets hot and bubbly.

The herbs and garlic add lovely savory and fresh aromatics while the chicken bakes. You can make the filling up to 3 days in advance for faster preparation.

Chicken selection

Look for boneless skinless chicken breasts that are at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces. This size is large enough for stuffing. Because we finish the cooking process in the oven to reduce the risk of drying out the pieces, adjust the time based on size.

Four chicken breasts on a sheet plan stuffed with spinach filling.

Cutting the pocket

Locate the thickest side of the meat, and cut a pocket to add the filling. Use a small utility or paring knife for more effortless movement without cutting too deep. Hold the sharp knife parallel to the work surface, and cut about a 5-inch slit down the side. 

Cut into the chicken only about 2 to 3 inches deep. Ensure not to puncture through or slice all the way down the side. Otherwise, the filling will ooze out. Season with salt and pepper before filling it, as it’s easier to flip over. 

Stuff the chicken

The spinach mixture makes about 1 ¼ cup of filling. Depending on the size of the breast and pocket, I use about 3 to 4 tablespoons. I find it helpful to close the open edge with toothpicks. This technique reduces the amount of flavorful filling that bubbles out.

As the proteins cook and contract, the pieces will ultimately shrink and push out the filling through any openings. I don’t mind. It tastes good when sizzling in the pan, and I will serve those drippings alongside the meat.

Sear for better taste

Searing the surface of a chicken breast in a pan.

An oven-safe 12-inch skillet is handy for a one-pan meal, leaving less to clean up. I use a cast iron skillet or a wide dutch oven. The heat retention in these pans is excellent, and they’re both capable of creating a golden-brown crust when the breasts sear in the hot olive oil. When cooking chicken on the stovetop, more color translates into more flavor and texture contrast.

Bake to finish cooking

Transfer the pan to a 375ºF (191ºC) preheated oven to finish cooking. The enclosed space more evenly circulates the air around the meat, and the residual heat from the pan continues to cook the bottom by conduction through direct contact. If you don’t have an oven-safe pan, transfer the chicken to a foil-lined sheet pan or baking dish.

Checking for doneness

Chicken breast with spinach stuffing oozing out into the pan.

This process can be done visually or with an instant-read thermometer. Look for the proteins to go from raw and pink to opaque and ivory. The juices should be light pink to clear when poking the meat.

If using a thermometer, place the probe parallel through the thickest part. Check both the top and bottom since the breasts are cut into two. Resting for a few minutes before serving helps to redistribute the juices throughout the pieces.

Sauce suggestions

This stuffed chicken breast with spinach has tons of flavor. However, try these options if you want to dip the pieces in a sauce. Homemade gravy adds a comforting pairing, while hot marinara or creamy alfredo sauce plays up the Italian flavors in the filling. 

Serve this with

Chicken breast cut in half showing the spinach filling inside.

Two cooking methods are better than one

When the chicken comes into direct contact with the fat in the hot pan, the proteins start to cook and form a golden crust due to the Maillard reaction. Hundreds of new flavors form on the surface once it hits 300°F (149°C). The heat transfer happens much quicker on the stovetop than in the oven alone. However, too much time under intense direct heat risks drying out the meat. Transferring the pan into an enclosed space cooks using convection to surround and finish the pieces gradually.

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast

A delicious spinach stuffed chicken breast one-pan meal that's easy to prepare. Your weekly chicken dinner routine just got more exciting!
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened 60 to 65ºF (15 to 18ºC)
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups baby spinach, loosely packed, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic, or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast, about 2 ½ to 3 pounds total
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat to 375ºF (191ºC).
  • Make the Filling – In a large bowl, combine softened cream cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, spinach, basil, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Set aside, or cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.
  • Cut the Chicken – On the thickest side of the chicken breast, cut a 4 to 5-inch long slit. Continue to cut a 2 to 3-inch deep pocket, leaving about a 1-inch uncut area to keep the other sides connected. Make sure not to cut through the bottom. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
  • Season the Chicken – In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Evenly season each side of the chicken with the mixture.
  • Fill the Pocket – Evenly spread the filling into the pocket of each chicken breast, about 3 to 4 tablespoons, do not overfill. If available, close the opening with toothpicks to secure the filling inside.
  • Brown the Surface – Heat a large oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil. Add the chicken, presentation-side down, and lightly press 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 necessary.
  • Bake the Chicken – Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the meat is no longer pink and the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness. Rest for 5 minutes, remove the toothpicks, and serve hot.

Notes

  • Making the Filling Ahead: Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 366kcal (18%)Carbohydrates 3g (1%)Protein 32g (64%)Fat 25g (38%)Saturated Fat 10g (50%)Trans Fat 1gCholesterol 120mg (40%)Sodium 1302mg (54%)Potassium 653mg (19%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 3405IU (68%)Vitamin C 10mg (12%)Calcium 208mg (21%)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. Laurie Hadler says

    The recipe sounds wonderful. I am not a cheese lover and was wondering if I could eliminate the cheese and just use the vege filling. I am Jewish and do not mix milk and meat together. Please let me know and if you have other substitutes that I can use instead of the cheese I would really appreciate that. thanks very much. Laurie Hadler
    One other item of discussion: If a baking recipe calls for butter, and I do not want to use it, what would be the portion size if I used pumpkin puree or applesauce.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Laurie- Yes, you can make a vegetable filling but I would chop them up and cook them first. This will eliminate extra moisture and keep the shape of the filling once the chicken is cooked. You can replace applesauce or pumpkin puree 1:1 with butter, however, it will be drier. I often use another type of oil plus the substitute for a better balance in the baked good.