If you love stuffed chicken breast recipes then this will be sure to catch your attention because a stuffed chicken breasts is even better!
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.
Why You’ll Love This Stuffed Chicken
This stuffed chicken breast recipe isn’t your typical one. Why? Two reasons.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
How to Make Spinach Stuffed Chicken
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat the oven and prepare a baking dish or sheet.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade, tapping to take off any excess sauce and placing them onto the baking sheet.
- 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.
- Return to the oven until the cheese melts and spinach wilts.
- Remove and rest for 5 minutes before garnishing with the fresh basil and Maldon sea salt.
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.
More easy chicken recipes:
- Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
- Chipotle Chicken Rice Bowls
- Arugula Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken
- Cream Cheese Chicken
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Pesto Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- 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.