Elevate your dinner experience with a crispy, stuffed chicken parmesan artfully filled with an irresistibly oozy mozzarella core. This simple, one-pan dish promises a golden-brown delight to win over your family’s hearts and taste buds!
Table of Contents
I’ve added a twist to my classic chicken parmesan for this recipe. I cut a pocket into the meat and stuff it with mozzarella. It only takes a few extra minutes, but the texture contrast is worth it! This version has a moment of anticipation when cutting a slice and seeing the melty cheese ooze out.
Once the cheese is stuffed inside the chicken, it’s time to fry. I use the standard breading procedure to create a crisp parmesan crust on the outside of the meat. Pan-frying in hot oil and then baking the pieces ensures juicy bites. The chicken cooks in a rich marinara sauce, which you can pair with your favorite pasta. My family never leaves a crumb on the plate when I make this meal.
- Chicken: Use boneless skinless chicken breast, between 8 to 12 ounces in weight. This size makes a hearty portion easy to fill with the proper ratio of meat to cheese. Avoid the mega-sized pieces, over 12 ounces, as they take too long to cook through and get dried out easily.
- Cheese: I use two types of cheese for the topping and filling. Mozzarella is aged for less time, giving a more stretchy melt as it’s heated. I use whole milk, low moisture mozzarella. You can slice it up or shred it. Parmesan has been aged for at least ten months, giving a more aged, nutty taste. It’s a drier cheese, making it great for sprinkling and adding a salty taste.
- Breading: I use the standard breading procedure with flour, eggs, and panko breadcrumbs.
- Sauce: Use a traditional tomato marinara sauce to serve with the crispy chicken.
- Olive Oil: The fruit oil adds a complementary flavor to the Italian stuffed chicken when pan-frying.
- Seasoning: The pieces are seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Herbs: Garnish the chicken dish with freshly sliced basil and chopped parsley.
See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425ºF (191ºC). The chicken will finish cooking in the oven after fan-frying.
Prepare the chicken
Step 2: Place the chicken down on the cutting board. Use a sharp knife, like a utility or paring knife, to create a pocket, about a 5-inch slice down the side. Cut a deep enough area to add the cheese, but keep the other side intact.
Step 3: To enhance the flavor, I season the surface with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
Stuff with filling
Add the shredded mozzarella.
Add the parmesan and Italian seasoning.
Step 4: Add mozzarella, parmesan, and Italian seasoning into the created pocket. Secure the open edge with toothpicks to ensure the cheese stays inside and for easier breading. Otherwise, carefully maneuver the pieces when coating and cooking.
When cooked, the chicken will contract and shrink, so you may notice some cheese seeping out. It’s still tasty, so scoop and serve it with the chicken if this happens.
Bread the chicken
Coat in flour.
Dredge in egg wash.
Step 5: Use shallow bowls for each ingredient in the station. Start with flour to dry the surface. It’s like the primer. Then dip in an egg and olive oil mixture for a tacky layer. The last coat is in a crunchy panko, parmesan, and Italian seasoning mixture. I like to use coarse and porous panko bread crumbs for a super crispy texture.
Pan-fry the surface
Step 6: The stuffed chicken breast is pan-fried to turn the coating into a golden brown and crispy exterior. I use a 12-inch cast iron skillet or shallow Dutch oven, like a braiser, to make this a one-pan recipe. Use a refined olive oil or light variety with a milder taste and higher smoke point than extra-virgin olive oil. Other neutral-tasting oils like vegetable, peanut, or avocado oil can also be used.
The pieces cook in shallow oil with moderate heat to ensure a crunchy crust. This process primarily cooks the chicken but will finish in the oven. The process takes about 4 to 5 minutes per side. If you don’t have a heatproof skillet, fry it in a nonstick pan, then transfer it to a baking dish with the marinara sauce to bake.
Add the sauce and cheese
Step 7: Add a flavorful tomato sauce to the pan before finishing the chicken in the oven. I like to use my homemade marinara sauce, or jarred store-bought products work well if you’re short on time. You’ll need about 2 cups for the recipe. It’s not as thick in texture compared to other pasta sauces, which is what you want because it will concentrate down as some moisture evaporates.
Before I pop it into the oven, I add a bit of the marinara sauce on top of the chicken, not coating the surface completely. Plus, some mozzarella, because who doesn’t love some extra gooey cheese?
Bake the chicken
Step 8: Bake the chicken skillet at 425ºF (191ºC) to finish cooking. This temperature helps the surface stay crisp with the added sauce. It takes about 15 minutes to finish cooking the dish. If you don’t want to bake the chicken in the sauce, leave it in the oven-proof skillet, add the toppings, and bake. Alternatively, transfer to a foil-lined sheet pan.
Use an instant-read thermometer to check the thickest parts of the chicken. Test the top and bottom since the mozzarella stuffing is in the center. It’s ready at 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC).
Garnish and serve
Step 9: Garnish with fresh basil and parsley, then serve with your favorite side dish. We love a big plate of cooked pasta like spaghetti or cavatappi spiral tubes.
Now that you know how to make this stuffed chicken parmesan recipe, it’s easy to customize! Try these flavorful variations:
- Breadcrumbs: I find that homemade breadcrumbs give a similar taste to panko. You can use traditional breadcrumbs, but they have a finer crumb and tend to be less crunchy. Use gluten-free breadcrumbs for any dietary restrictions.
- Cheese: Try ricotta, cottage cheese, Boursin, cream cheese, provolone, Parmigiano Reggiano, or Pecorino Romano. .
- Herbs: If you want to add some herbs to the stuffing, try freshly chopped basil, parsley, oregano, or dried Italian seasoning.
- Your favorite type of pasta.
- Minestrone soup
- Caesar salad
- Focaccia bread
- Roasted red potatoes
- Zucchini noodles for a low-carb option
Frequently asked questions
Yes! Parmesan cheese is the American style, a hard grating cheese aged at least 10 months. Parmigiano Reggiano is slightly more expensive because it’s a regulated cheese from specific regions in Italy, made with cow’s milk in a particular way and aged for at least 12 months. It will have a more robust flavor than parmesan.
When melted, the hot mozzarella cheese will turn from a solid to a molten-like texture. To reduce the amount that comes out of the stuffed chicken recipe, use a few toothpicks to secure the edges.
When pan-frying the chicken, it’s essential to use hot oil to create a dried, crisp crust with the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. The temperature should be between 325 to 375°F (163 to 191°C). Above 400°F (205°C), the breading can brown too quickly. The oil will be shimmering when it’s ready to add the meat. You can test with the bottom of a wooden spoon. If bubbles form and float around it in the oil, it’s ready.
Baking instead of pan-frying the chicken
If you’d rather skip the pan-frying, you can bake the chicken using a high temperature of 425ºF (218ºC) to get it browned and crisp. Place it on a foil-lined baking sheet with a wire rack set on top, allowing the hot air to circulate without flipping. It takes about 20 to 25 minutes to cook through. Once the chicken reaches about 160ºF (71ºC), add it to a baking dish with the marinara and cheese, and bake for about 5 minutes.
Stuffed Chicken Parmesan
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast, 2 ½ to 3 pounds total
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, divided
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
- 1 ¼ cup panko bread crumbs, or regular
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- ¼ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
- Preheat Oven – Set the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat to 425ºF (191ºC).
- Prepare the Chicken – Thoroughly dry the chicken breasts with a paper towel. On the thickest side of the breast, cut a 4 to 5-inch long slit. Continue to cut a 2 to 3-inch deep pocket, leaving a ½-inch uncut area to keep the other side connected. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Season the Surface – In a small bowl, combine salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Evenly season each side of the chicken with the mixture.
- Stuff with Filling – Add 3 tablespoons mozzarella, 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, and ⅛ teaspoon Italian seasoning into each pocket. Close the opening with toothpicks to secure the filling inside.
- Bread the Chicken – In one shallow bowl, add the flour. In a second shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and olive oil. In a third shallow bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs and ¼ cup parmesan cheese.Dip the chicken in flour, shaking off any excess coating. Next, dip in egg wash, coat completely, and drain any excess. Lastly, dip in the breadcrumbs, pressing to coat evenly. Repeat the process with the remaining pieces.
- Pan-fry the Coating – Heat a 12-inch oven-proof cast iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil. Once shimmering, add the chicken pieces, presentation-side down, to the pan. Fry until golden brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Add Sauce and Cheese – Add 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce to the top of each chicken breast. Spoon the rest of the sauce into the empty spaces of the pan. Add the remaining mozzarella on top of each chicken.
- Finish in the Oven – Bake until the cheese is melted, lightly browned, and the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC) on a meat thermometer, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness.
- Garnish and Serve – If the marinara sauce is too thick, stir in some water until the desired consistency is reached. Right before serving, garnish with sliced basil and chopped parsley.
- Storing: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: Reheat individual pieces in the microwave on high power in 30-second intervals until warm. Alternatively, place on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake at 375 degrees until lightly crispy and warmed through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Breadcrumbs: Traditional fine Italian breadcrumbs can be used but won’t be as crunchy.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs.
- Baking Directions: Place stuffed chicken on a wire rack set on top of a foil-lined sheet pan. Bake at 425ºF (218ºC) for about 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness.
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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