Pesto Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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  • If you love stuffed chicken breast recipes then this will be sure to catch your attention because a stuffed chicken breasts is even better!

    angle of chicken breast with pesto, cheese and sun dried tomatoes

    Pesto Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts are boneless skinless chicken breasts stuffed with gooey mozzarella cheese, sun dried tomatoes and spinach. Marinated in a yogurt and basil pesto sauce, they are moist and flavorful.

    Greek Yogurt as a Marinade

    One of my new staple ingredients is Greek yogurt and one of its primary uses is for excellent marinades. It keeps meats and fish nice and moist, while gently flavoring vegetables. Plain yogurt is like a blank canvas waiting to be spiced and flavored with whatever your heart desires, in this case, garlicky basil pesto.

    overhead of yogurt pesto marinade with chicken breasts

    Why You’ll Love This Stuffed Chicken

    This stuffed chicken breast recipe isn’t your typical one. Why? Two reasons.

    1. The chicken is marinated before being cooked. Italian dressing is a little tangy but will also help tenderize the chicken making it tender. Since we don’t actually tenderize the chicken flat and roll it, you need the marinade to break down those fibers. Some recipe pound it out and then roll it, but then you risk losing all the yummy stuffing ingredients.
    2. I don’t initially stuff it and cook. I cook, then stuff, then cook more. Backwards from most. Why? Because I hate when my baked stuffed chicken has dry stuffing. Or worse, all the cheese melts out! Oh, the humanity of lost cheese! Making the incision before cooking and then stuffing a little over halfway through prevents the issue. It is fairly easy to stuff even though it is hot. Simply use two forks and jam it all in there.
    close up of melted mozzarella cheese in chicken

    Ingredients

    • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts– For any stuffed chicken recipe, the bigger the better. Larger pieces of meat mean you have a higher likelihood to not rip the meat while cutting a pocket, stuffing and baking.
    • Plain Greek Yogurt- I promise this will soon be a staple in your fridge after you realize the versatility. It’s thick, creamy and acidic making it perfect for sauces and marinades.
    • Pesto- Use my homemade basil pesto sauce or grab a jar at the store.
    • Coarse Kosher Salt– Use a coarse salt for better saltiness and less metallic flavor. If you using fine sea salt, reduce the amount by half.
    • Julienned Sun dried Tomatoes in Oil– I much prefer the marinated tomatoes over the bagged ones. They stay tender instead of dry and chewies. Just make sure to drain them well so there isn’t too much. I get the ones already cut into strips (julienned) but if you get whole ones, just take the extra step to slice them yourself.
    • Baby Spinach– Baby spinach just has smaller leaves, making it fit into the pocket better. Regular spinach can be used, but you might want to tear the leaves a little smaller. Stems don’t bother me, but they can be torn off, if preferred.
    • Mozzarella Cheese– Using a low moisture cheese for any stuffed chicken breast recipe is also important. We’ve all had our chicken sitting in a pool of liquid or a pool of cheese. Some can’t be helped, but starting with low moisture cheese gives you a better chance. If water does pool in the dish, simply poor it off.
    • Fresh basil– If there is one herb I suggest growing at home, it would be basil. I use additional fresh basil for garnish, but if you don’t have any, don’t worry about it, the pesto sauce should be adubnant with fresh herby flavors.
    • Maldon Sea Salt – Another staple in my kitchen, you can also grab a tin of Jacobson, as long as it is a flaky sea salt, these littles prisms add crunchy texture and loads of pure salt flavor without being overly salty. Yes, it is a little pricey, but you’ll only use a small amount each time, so it lasts.
    overhead angle of stuffed chicken breast with salad on serving plate

    How to Make Spinach Stuffed Chicken

    1. Prepare the chicken by using a very sharp knife and carefully cutting a pocket into the side of the chicken breast that is about 1/2″ shy of cutting completely through the other side and ends. This works best if you place your palm on top of the chicken and hold it tight while cutting, being careful to not cut through to your hand, of course.
    2. Combine the chicken breasts, Greek yogurt, pesto and Kosher salt in an airtight plastic bag, massaging ti in well. Marinate in the refrigerator from 1 to 24 hours- the more time, the better flavor.
    3. Preheat the oven and prepare a baking dish or sheet.
    how to cut chicken to stuff it
    1. Remove the chicken from the marinade, tapping to take off any excess sauce and placing them onto the baking sheet.
    2. Bake until nearly cooked to 160°F and then using two forks, stuff each pocket with evenly divided mozzarella cheese, sun dried tomatoes and spinach. You can mix this ahead of time, but I find it easier to do it by single ingredient.
    stuffed chicken on a baking sheet
    1. Return to the oven until the cheese melts and spinach wilts.
    2. Remove and rest for 5 minutes before garnishing with the fresh basil and Maldon sea salt.
    bite of pesto stuffed chicken with tomatoes and cheese

    Storage & Freezing

    Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 five days. Reheat in the oven at 300°F for 10 minutes or the microwave. 

    Cooked chicken breasts can be frozen in airtight containers. To thaw, place frozen breast into a 350°F oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.

    pesto spinach stuffed chicken breast recipe for pinterest

    More easy chicken recipes:

    Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken
    garlic parmesan chicken on a white plate with asparagus
    Garlic Parmesan Chicken is an easy weeknight meal option that kids love! Just 6 ingredients and dinner is made!
    Arugula Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken
    Gruyere and Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken is topped off with a silky tomato and shallot sauce. While this looks like a restaurant caliber meal, it only takes about 1 hour!
    Arugula Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken is topped off with a silky tomato shallot sauce. Baked chicken recipes are great, but cheese stuffed chicken breasts are even better! 

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    close up of cheese in a stuffed chicken breast
    close up of stuffed chicken breast
    Print Recipe
    5 from 1 vote

    Pesto Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

    Pesto Spinach Stuffed Chicken are chicken breasts stuffed with gooey mozzarella cheese, sun dried tomatoes and spinach. Marinated in a yogurt and basil pesto sauce, they are moist and flavorful. 
    Prep Time10 mins
    Cook Time35 mins
    Total Time45 mins
    Course: Main Course, Main Dish
    Cuisine: Italian
    Keyword: stuffed chicken breasts
    Servings: 4
    Calories: 513kcal
    Author: Jessica Formicola

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    • Prepare the chicken by using a very sharp knife and carefully cutting a pocket into the side of the chicken breast that is about 1/2" shy of cutting completely through the other side and ends.
    • Combine the chicken breasts, Greek yogurt, pesto and Kosher salt in an airtight plastic bag. Massage marinade into chicken breasts, including the pocket. Marinate in the refrigerator from 1 to 24 hours.
    • Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
    • Remove the chicken from the marinade, tapping to take off excess sauce. Discard marinade and place chicken onto the prepared baking sheet.
    • Bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven. Cooking times may vary depending on the size of the chicken, so make sure they reach 160°F.
    • Using two forks, stuff each pocket with evenly divided mozzarella cheese, sun dried tomatoes and spinach. Return to the oven for 10 minutes.
    • Remove, allow to rest for 5 minutes and garnish with the fresh basil and Maldon sea salt.
    • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.

    Notes

    Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 five days. Reheat in the oven at 300°F for 10 minutes or the microwave. 
    Cooked chicken breasts can be frozen in airtight containers. To thaw, place frozen breast into a 350°F oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 513kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 1527mg | Potassium: 746mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2005IU | Vitamin C: 16.4mg | Calcium: 314mg | Iron: 1.4mg

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