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Baked Chicken Breasts with Mozzarella

5 from 2 votes

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Baked chicken breasts topped with melted mozzarella in a thick and spicy tomato sauce. This easy one-pan recipe has intense flavor and is ready to serve in about 30 minutes. Bookmark this recipe for your weeknight menu!

Chicken breasts with melted cheese and fresh basil leaves in a pan.
Tender, juicy chicken with melty mozzarella, fresh basil and a rich and spicy tomato sauce.

Of all the chicken recipes I make, melty mozzarella chicken has my family’s heart. The aroma that fills the kitchen while it’s baking (garlicky, herby, savory) will have you salivating. I have no problem saying that this easy dinner is SO MUCH BETTER than anything you’d get in an everyday Italian restaurant!

While I often prefer to cook boneless chicken thighs, I used chicken breasts to create this recipe. They’re mild and meaty and when baked in the oven along with a boldly seasoned tomato sauce they turn out moist and tender.

Sliced chicken breasts in tomato sauce on a serving plate, with a fork and spoon.

The dish is finished with a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves and a layer of grated cheese that melts into gooey deliciousness on top of the chicken breasts.

  • I wanted to make a sauce that was more like a rustic Southern-Italian version of Caprese chicken — a classic dish typically made with raw tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella.
  • To achieve that, I use pantry ingredients like canned tomatoes, jarred roasted red peppers, lots of garlic, anchovies, dried herbs and chili pepper to really boost the flavor of the sauce. It’s rich, chunky and so, so good!
A tray with four raw chicken breasts and a cutting board with chopped onion, roasted red peppers, garlic, anchovies and shredded cheese.
Chicken breasts and pantry ingredients are all you need.

Ingredients for the recipe

Instead of using a jar of ho-hum marinara sauce, you’re going to make a flavor-packed homemade pan sauce, but don’t worry it is incredibly easy! Here’s what you need to get cooking:

  • Chicken breasts: Choose medium-large boneless and skinless chicken.
  • Canned tomatoes: One 14 or 15-ounce can. I recommend crushed tomatoes because they’re packed in puree and less watery than diced ones.
  • Roasted red peppers: Use jarred peppers for convenience and great flavor.
  • Fresh basil: Trim off the tough stems and pick just the leaves.
  • Anchovy: Just a couple of oil-packed anchovies deliver the “secret” layer of flavor in the sauce. They literally melt away and only you will know they’re in there!
  • Garlic: Use 4 plump cloves and grate them with a rasp grater or use a garlic press.
  • Onion: Yellow, red or white onion are all good.
  • Mozzarella: Don’t use fresh water-packed mozzarella for this because it doesn’t melt as well. You want basic low-moisture mozzarella packaged in a block or pre-shredded.
  • Olive oil
  • Dried Oregano: Italian seasoning will work as well.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes and fennel seeds

Recipe steps:

The beauty of this recipe is that it goes straight from the stovetop to the oven.

Chef Tip: Choose your largest skillet or saute pan, 12-14 inches in diameter. The more surface area, the quicker the sauce will cook, thicken and intensify in flavor.

When the cheese melts, remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with torn basil leaves. Transfer to a platter or serve straight from the pan (be sure to cover the pan handle with a towel to prevent burns).

What to serve with chicken mozzarella:

  • Of course, this chicken is perfect to serve with any kind of pasta, such as spaghetti, penne or whatever you like.
  • I’ve made this into a satisfying low-carb meal served over zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice tossed with basil pesto sauce.
Chicken breasts with melted cheese and fresh basil leaves in a pan, with a dish towel on the handle.

How to store:

  • The chicken keeps up to 5 days refrigerated. You can also freeze it for up to a month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat at 350 degrees about 15 minutes, or until the portion is heated through.
Chicken breasts with melted cheese and fresh basil leaves in a pan.

Baked Chicken Breasts with Mozzarella

Karen Tedesco
Baked chicken breasts topped with melted mozzarella in a thick and spicy tomato sauce. This easy one-pan recipe has intense flavor and is ready to serve in about 30 minutes.
Print Pin
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Chicken
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 (1.3 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 2½-3 pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 3 oil-packed anchovies, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed, optional if using Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more/less to taste
  • 1 15-ounce (30 g) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 (220C) degrees.
  • Season the chicken generously on both sides with salt and black pepper.
  • Put a large (12-14-inch) ovenproof skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook the onion until it's softened and translucent, 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, anchovies, oregano, fennel seed and crushed red pepper to the pan. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and roasted red peppers. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then arrange the chicken on top of the sauce and turn off the heat. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake 15 minutes.
  • Flip the chicken breasts over. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top of the chicken and bake 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted.
  • Sprinkle the basil over the chicken and serve.

Notes

  • Serve with your favorite pasta.
  • For a low-carb meal, toss zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice tossed with basil pesto sauce and serve with the chicken.
  • The chicken keeps up to 5 days refrigerated. You can also freeze it for up to a month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat at 350 degrees about 15 minutes, or until the portion is heated through.

Nutrition

Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 991mg | Potassium: 608mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 902IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 276mg | Iron: 2mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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