Juicy, flavorful, easy to prepare chicken is wondrous! Chicken breasts can dry out easily so when I find a recipe that results in perfect chicken, it brings me joy. This recipe has earned its spot as one of my favorite chicken dishes and I make it for the family and when we have dinner guests. The presentation alone is beautiful – the flavor makes the chicken the pièce de résistance. I have only received compliments on this dish!
I love how all the flavors come together beautifully. The recipe looks a bit tedious but, in actuality, it is quite easy. If you have everything prepped for each stage, preparing the chicken breasts is easy. Check the Notes section for some helpful information!
I like to serve this with roasted vegetables, sautéed zucchini, roasted butternut and acorn squash, or risotto. There are so many sides that will complement this dish perfectly!
4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. Italian seasoning mix
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Cracked Pepper
1 Tbsp. Lemon zest
3 tsp. garlic – minced and divided (2 tsp. and 1 tsp.)
⅛ tsp. red pepper/chili flakes – optional
12 Asparagus stalks – ends trimmed
1 oz. Sun-dried Tomatoes – chopped
4 slices Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
2–3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. butter
Preheat your oven to 400° F.
Prepare the Chicken
In a small bowl, combine the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
Place the chicken on a clean chopping board, cut a pocket on the underside about ¾ of the way through – Be careful not to cut all the way through – (See Notes). Pat each chicken breast with a paper towel to dry.
Lightly coat each chicken breast with olive oil all over then sprinkle the herbs and spice mixture on all sides of, including in the pocket, each piece of chicken.
Sprinkle the lemon zest and garlic in the pockets of each piece of chicken.
Stuff the Chicken
Toss the asparagus with 2 tsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. minced garlic, and red pepper flakes if using.
Place 2 slices of fresh mozzarella, 3 sprigs of asparagus, and a couple of pieces of sun-dried tomatoes in the pocket of each chicken breast.
Close each pocket with 2-3 toothpicks.
Sear the Chicken
Heat 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large cast iron skillet (or oven-proof skillet) over medium-high heat.
When the pan is hot, add the chicken and sear it until nicely golden brown, about 5 minutes per side but it may take longer.
Keep searing until you reach a nice golden brown and then turn the chicken breast over and sear the other side.
Remove from heat. Pour the lemon juice and 1 tsp. minced garlic in the skillet and cover the skillet with the lid or foil.
Finish Chicken in Oven – Immediately after Searing
Place the skillet in the preheated oven (if not cast iron, skillet must be oven-proof).
Bake the chicken for 10-15 minutes covered then remove the lid or foil and bake for about 5 minutes more – use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of each breast has reached 165° F.
Remove skillet from oven, cover and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
Be sure to remove toothpicks before serving.
Spoon a little of the pan juices over the chicken when serving.
- Cheese such Swiss-Gruyère and Provolone work nicely and taste wonderful if you would like to use a different cheese.
- CUTTING THE BREAST FOR STUFFING – Lay the chicken breast flat with underside facing up and use one hand to stabilize chicken breast. Using a sharp knife, making sure not to cut all the way through, carefully make a slice lengthwise to create a pocket starting from the top thick middle part of the breast. Be careful and keep your fingers clear of the knife and not to press so hard that the knife goes through the chicken breast. The cheese will melt out of the pocket if the cut goes through. If you accidentally do cut through, pinch the meat together and use toothpicks to close the hole as best you can.
- HOW TO SEAL STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST – We have found that the best and easiest way to seal a stuffed chick breast is by using 2-3 toothpicks to attach the edges of the chicken together to seal them. This will ensure that the stuffing stays in the chicken and doesn’t flow out when it condenses while cooking.
- FREEZE COOKED STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST – You may freeze leftover the cooked stuffed chicken breast for up to 3 months. Make sure you wrap the chicken breasts in plastic wrap and then in a freezer bag or airtight container.