Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Cheesy. Basil. Stuffed. Chicken.

What the recipe title fails to mention is: Golden. Garlic. Basil. Bread. Crumbs. On. Top. Of. The. Chicken. Surrounded. By. Roasted. Juicy. Tomatoes.

Dude. Seriously. If this meal hadn’t been real, I would have dreamed it in my dreams of dinners I want to dream of forever.

Similar in stuffing-technique to this chicken, this relatively simple dish is such a unique and wonderful way to change up chicken dinner night.

What To ServeI served it with this Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Pasta (oh my!). Perfect. Meal.

I do have to admit that the deliciousness of this meal may have been due, in part, to the fact that my amazing friend, Mariann, was visiting and er, well…she did most of the work. Why is it that food tastes so much better when someone else makes it? I’ll ponder that thought while inhaling the Maple Pumpkin Hazelnut bread (smothered in Nutella…oh yes siree) my sister-in-law just made this very evening while she stays with us for a few days. I swear, I’m not this bad of a hostess all the time. I just can’t pass up the opportunity to beg-slash-guilt someone into making food for me. I hope we can all still be friends.

Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts

One Year Ago: Fresh Strawberry Lemonade
Two Years Ago: Old-Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie
Three Years Ago: Sugar Gems

Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Yield: Serves 4 (more, if you can cut the chicken in half after baking to serve kids)

Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Note: the chicken breasts called for in this recipe need to be on the thicker side because a pocket is cut into the thickest part of the chicken breasts (similar to this recipe) and the delicious cheese-basil filling is stuffed inside. Thinner chicken breasts won’t work well for that crucial step.


  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, lowfat or regular
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded cheese, 2 tablespoons of the minced basil, cream, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  2. Cut a pocket in chicken breasts (like in this recipe), stuff with cheese mixture and seal, using a toothpick to help close the slit, if necessary. Transfer the stuffed breasts to 13 by 9 inch baking dish and spread tops evenly with mayonnaise.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, remaining garlic, remaining fresh basil, and one tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle crumb mixture over chicken, pressing lightly to adhere.
  4. Toss tomatoes with remaining tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange the tomatoes in the baking dish in and around the chicken. Bake until the crumbs are golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (registering 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer) about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.


Make Ahead Instructions: Follow the recipe instructions with the following modifications: unless you are baking right away, don’t preheat the oven until you are ready to bake the dish. Stuff the chicken as stated in the recipe and place them in the baking dish. Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, basil and olive oil and transfer to a small resealable plastic bag or tupperware. Arrange the tomatoes that have been tossed with the oil/salt/pepper around the chicken. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate the chicken and the bread crumb topping separately for up to 10 hours. Before baking, sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the chicken. Bake as directed, adding an additional 10 minutes, if needed since the dish was refrigerated.

Recipe Source: from Cook’s Country Cookbook: Rediscovering America’s Home Cooking

62 Responses to Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts

  1. Haley says:


  2. Lisa says:

    Made this for dinner tonight! It was awesome. I used the remaining of the heavy cream and made an Alfredo sauce with fresh tomatoes (I.e. Pink sauce basically). For a veggie baked fresh asparagus drizzled with olive oil and Parmesan cheese!!
    My boyfriend loved it!
    Thank you!!

    • Lisa says:

      I thought I’d mention that I used a little xtra cream and regular tomatoes, cut up. I read in the comment about cooking the chicken close together. Mine were very moist. They were fairly close together with just enough room for a row of tomatoes in between.
      I also saved some cheese mixture and put more in chicken breast after I pulled out of oven.

  3. Andrea says:

    Are we allowed to be honest on food blogs? I always am honest on Cooking Light and review the good AND not so good so people really know how recipes turn out and whether or not it’s worth making. It seems like all the comments on food blogs are only people saying things LOOK so good or they PLAN to make it. I try at least one new recipe every week. I see there are some peopled who actually made this and liked it a lot. But this one didn’t quite work out for me. I followed the recipe exactly. Mine looked the same as the picture, but the chicken was dry and it was sitting in about an inch of water that the tomatoes put out–always a turn off. It was edible, but I thought it was a lot of work and not worth making again.

  4. Adebo119 says:

    My-oh-my! This family from London, UK say thanks so much 🙂 Absolutely delicious!

  5. Anissa says:

    Super yummy meal. My kids, who rarely like anything, chowed it down. Thanks!

  6. Mama Carmody says:

    My husband and I eat a lot of vegetarian…not vegan so the cheese is okay with us….so I tried this recipe with large portabella mushrooms instead of chicken breasts. We both loved it. Will definitely use this recipe again.

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  10. Mel says:

    Ace, sure, I’d go ahead and bake like normal. The breading might be slightly more moist but it should be ok. Hope the new mom likes it!

  11. Ace says:

    Sounds delicious. Needed a recipe to take to a new mom. Decided to make one “ahead” for her and one for us tonight. Well, I got wrapped up about making sure I doubled everything and went ahead and breaded her chicken. Think this might be ok in fridge tonight, fully prepared, covered in plastic and foil, then baked tomorrow around 6?

  12. Ashley says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I made it for my husband and I on Saturday night and it was delicious! I couldn’t believe how quick it was to make – the part that took the longest was baking it since I had pretty thick chicken breasts. I did leave the mayo out of mine, but for anyone who doesn’t like mayo I would recommend using plain greek yogurt as a substitute. I also used Italian Panko breadcrumbs and those gave the chicken a nice crispy outside. This was the first recipe I made from your blog and I can’t wait to try more 🙂 Thanks!

  13. […] but when he gets off we’re going to have steaks, corn, and mixed grilled veggies.Tuesday: Mozzarella stuffed chicken breasts with tomatoes and basil. I just love this site. All of her recipes look fantastic. She served it with a cheesy pasta and a […]

  14. Holly says:

    This chicken turned out moist and oh so delicious. The fresh herbs really make this dish. Thanks Mel for for this fabulous, easy recipe. My family loves it! I also took your suggestion and made it with the Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Pasta…brilliant!

  15. Mel says:

    Hey Deb – try plain yogurt or even sour cream. I bet it would work just fine.

  16. Deb says:

    Hey Mel! What could I replace the mayo with??

  17. Susan Bowman says:

    Mel, This was so dang good. My family gobbled it up. It was easy and really good. I’d make it for company in a heartbeat! Another winner!

  18. Emily says:

    What a stellar recipe! I could not have loved it more. The perfect sunday dinner, company over dish!

  19. tonya says:

    Let me first say that I am a joke in the kitchen. Culinary-challenged, for sure. For supper tonight I made this along w/ the Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower Pasta & it was A LOT of work for this girl. The pasta was ready before the chicken ever went into the oven. I know, I know – go ahead & laugh! ANYWAY, both dishes were DELICIOUS!! And I will make them both again. Next time I’ll know what I’m doing ahead of time & I’ll be more organized. The end result was definitely worth the time it took for me to figure things out – it was a good learning experience for me. I know I should be ashamed for telling how backward I am when it comes to cooking, but I’m just happy to be improving! As always, an excellent recipe from your table to mine – thanks!!

    One more confession (get ready to be appalled): This was on my menu for Tuesday, but the week did not go as planned. Everything has been “off” so one night I threw together a quick, last minute meal & used the mozzarella cheese that was meant for this chicken. I forgot that I had done it so NO MOZZARELLA tonight. I could either wait on my husband to make a trip to the store or I could use cheddar (gasp!). (This is a good time to recall that the pasta was finished before the chicken ever went into the oven.) With much moaning & groaning I used the cheddar. Though I’m not the best cook I am one of the best eaters – I know the difference between mozzarella & cheddar & I know this was a weird substitution. However, the dish is already so good & flavorful, it handled the cheddar just fine. Quite the experience for all involved. :o)

  20. Emily says:

    I’ve been dying to try this recipe and this sunday is the day! But I’m just wondering if you think I could assemble it all pre-church, store it in the fridge and then pop in the oven when we get home?

    I adore your blog and make many of your recipes often, haven’t been disappointed once!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Emily – I think assembling beforehand would work, but if I were you, I’d keep the bread crumb topping separate and put it on top just before baking. Hope you love it!

  21. Nicole says:

    I am embarressed at how loud I was while eating this…I think it was one of the first times ever that I had to verbally say “Yumm” and “Ohh!” with every bite! LOL Who needs a resturaunt? This is amazing! Both my sisters made it last week and raved over it so I had to try it too- It’s my new favorite dish, even over sweet and sour chicken. And great to entertain with too (as long as I can keep my mouth closed while eating it) I served mine with some bowtie pasta tossed in garlic, olive oil and parmesan. MMMmmmmMM! 🙂

  22. Christy says:

    I LOVE Cook’s Country Cookbook. SO great! I found this recipe a few years back and I always thought it was better-than-a-restaurant good!! Thanks for posting it, I am going to make it again tonight! And your picture looks a whole lot better than my first try at this recipe. Let’s see if I can recreate your deliciousness! 🙂

  23. Beth says:

    I’ve been looking for some low-carb dinners since finding out I have gestational diabetes (boo!), and this looked like a good one. The family loved it. The flavours were fantastic. I accidentally cut through the “pocket” in the chicken breast on the first one, so I decided to pound them flat with mallet and fold them over the cheese mixture and secure with toothpicks like I do for another stuffed chicken recipe. The cheese mixture stayed in place, and the cooking times still worked out (just in case someone else does the same thing). We will definitely make this one again.

  24. Sarah says:

    Just finished eating this for dinner. Wow. So good! I think I will try fresh mozzerella next time though. The block mozzarella didn’t seem to get all ooey gooey even after being shredded. Either way, it was delicious. To fill in the extra place in the pan I tossed some spinach with the tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper (doubling the latter three) and it turned out delicious! The spinach left some liquid in the bottom but it didn’t affect the dish. I also served it with a side of noodles and then toped them with the tomatoes and spinach. Delicious! Thanks Mel for your delicious recipes. Many of them have become staples in our home :o)! Oh, for dessert we had the S’mores Cookie Bars… they won’t be lasting long.

  25. This looks amazing! I’ve linked you to my blog post on Jessiker Bakes for “Fabulous Friday Finds” ! You can check it out here

  26. Stacie A. says:

    This was quite tasty. My chicken was a bit tough/dry, but I’m thinking it was because of the chicken itself, not the cooking method. The flavors were fab! Most of the filling seemed to seep out during baking, so next time I will definitely toothpick them. Also, did you grease the pan before you put them in? And your breasts look a lot closer together in your picture than mine did… they four of them filled the pan length wise, but not width wise- maybe that’s why they dried out a little? Mixed with the cherry tomatoes, they dryness wasn’t too bad. I’m excited to try this again, hopefully with better chicken breasts. Do you think covering it with foil for the first 15 min or so would help??

    • Mel says:

      Stacie – you might be on to something with the space in the pan causing a drier piece of chicken. A smaller pan size might help with that (I had doubled the recipe and made a larger pan full). I didn’t grease the pan. I think a smaller pan size or your tip of covering with foil might help with baking a moister piece of chicken.

  27. YUM! This looks so delicious; I would love this over some nice pasta.. mmm.

  28. Christina says:

    This was really good, I made it for supper tonight along with the recommended side dish. It took some time, definitely not a quick night meal but it was worth the time (and the dishes, lol). On a side note, I am not a mayo fan and i couldn’t even tell it was there.

  29. Tina says:

    Made this tonight and loved it! I also used the dry spaghetti noodle instead of toothpicks trick and was amazed that it really did work! A friend gave me your citrus water recipe and I’ve been a Mel’s Kitchen Cafe convert ever since.

  30. […] recipe comes from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, and she also shared a hot tip on how to stuff them without cheesesplosions happening: get big […]

  31. Kristen says:

    Just wanted to let you know we had this today and LOVED it…another keeper! Thanks so much Mel, your site is the only recipe blog I trust completely. I know that if Mel posts it, it is going to be fantastic! Thank you!

  32. Kim says:

    I made this last night using 6 chicken breasts. I too, am a mayonnaise-hater, but I used it and it was DELICIOUS. my 16 yo & 12 yo inhaled it. Both the tomatoes & basil were from my garden. Thank you Mel!

  33. Our Family's adventures! » Blog Archive » Menu for the week says:

    […] Cheesy Basil stuffed chicken breasts […]

  34. These are always fun to make Mel. Like chicken pockets 🙂
    Dishes cooked for you always taste better, I’m practically positive of that.

  35. Jerelyn says:

    I don’t know if you have ever tried this; but instead of toothpicks to hold the chicken I use dry spaghetti noodles. The noodles soften and cook and magically disapear : )

  36. Kim in MD says:

    This looks delicious, Melanie! I am making stuffed chicken for my party on the 10th, and had been going back and forth between several recipes. Now I think I am going to make this one. If you love it, I know my family and guest will love it! I think the chicken can be stuffed and assembled in the baking dish the day before the party. Just before baking I will top the chicken with the breadcrumbs and tomatoes. What do you think? Would that work?

    I have to confess that I am not a mayo lover, but I have used it to top fish (sprinkled with Old Bay) before, and it is delicious! Mayonnaise is just oil and eggs, so it does an amazing job of keeping the fish or chicken moist, which I’m sure this chicken was! Thanks so much for sharing your amazing recipes! 🙂

  37. Yummy! What a great comfort meal, love these flavors!

  38. Tessa says:

    I would have never thought of combining these things in this way, but it sounds so good!

  39. Elaine shannon says:

    Going to try this one this weekend, but PLEASE can I have the maple pumpkin hazelnet bread recipe too??

  40. Kristin says:

    this looks incredible. your description makes me want to make it all the more:) thanks!

  41. Oh my, this looks wonderful! I think it’s going on the menu this weekend =) Thank you for sharing!

  42. Jessica says:

    I think I have everything on hand to make this. Thanks so much! Lots of cherry tomatoes in the garden right now….a bonus!

  43. Looks wonderful! Can’t wait to try it!!

  44. Becky says:

    I agree with Amanda- do u have a mayo substitute?? I want to make this so bad we just don’t do mayo!!

    • Mel says:

      Becky and Amanda – if it makes any difference, my friend, Mariann, that was here making this with me, HATES mayo with a passion. She nearly gagged while making it but then confessed she couldn’t even taste it. However, if you really are averse, I’d just leave it out and press on the breadcrumbs or try sour cream.

  45. Vieve says:

    Going on the menu. Pinning as well…did you know you are popular on Pinterest???

  46. Amanda says:

    Can you use something other than mayonnaise? I can’t stand the stuff! 🙂

  47. Rachel Moody says:

    I’m totally on a fresh basil kick and I have a bunch of fresh tomatoes out in the garden right now! All I need is some mozzarella and I will be eating this! (oh, and heavy cream – don’t stock that either).

  48. Claudia says:

    Oh my gosh this sounds awesome. Just looking at the picture induced serious mouth-watering. Can’t wait to try it. I mean, what’s not to like about cheese and basil?

  49. I love any stuffed chicken breast! I am so happy to have another recipe to add to my collection. Also thank you for sharing a side recommendation! I struggle with coming up with side dishes besides our go to broccoli and rice (which quite frankly I am so sick of).

  50. Auntie Patch says:


  51. Mariann says:

    Please. Seriously.

  52. This looks and sounds delish! I just pinned it to make for a later date.

  53. Lisa Evanoff says:


  54. Stephanie says:

    Looks very delicious! Oh, and please post the recipe for the maple pumpkin hazelnut bread. That’s 4 of my favorite things in one recipe title!

  55. This looks really tasty!! We don’t stuff chicken breasts often, so this is a good recipe to have for a special occasion.

  56. Barbara says:

    Going on the menu for next week! Have a great labor day weekend!

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