30 Minute Mozzarella Chicken in Homemade Tomato Sauce
Mozzarella chicken is a simple weeknight dinner recipe! It’s pan seared chicken smothered in a homemade tomato sauce and melty mozzarella — ready in just 30 minutes!
Top of the week to ya!
I’m thinking this week is lookin’ pretty darn’ good when we’re kickin’ it off with a simple mozzarella chicken recipe for you to try out. And the best part is it’s count ’em, 123456789…10 ingredients and just 30 quick minutes away from having dinner on the table.
I’m gonna to be straight with you. This recipe is probably a true Italian food lovers worst nightmare! Because in reality its a hodgepodge of everything. A simple chicken breast that’s been seared, nestled in a quick marinara and then topped with a slice of mozzarella cheese and broiled for 1-2 minutes until the cheese was all bubbly and golden and delicious. And let me just clarify about that sauce – we’re talking a quick 30 minute homemade tomato sauce that’s been jazzed up with a secret ingredient that makes this taste like it’s been slow simmered ALL FLIPPIN’ DAY LONG.
When I say it’s a 30 minute recipe, know that i’m being extra generous with the time. It’s more like a 6-10 minute chicken-searing-while-the-pasta-is-cooking-in-a-pot recipe. Then it’s a zippy 10 minutes to slow simmer that sauce and voila! Before you know it it’s on the table and the whole family can smell it from miles away because it’s chicken smothered in homemade sauce and it’s topped with melty, stretchy, cheesy goodness.
30 minute mozzarella chicken (44 seconds):
This little mozzarella chicken recipe has been hidden deep in the files since early spring. I’ve been itching to bust it out along with my sweaters, soup recipes, fuzzy socks, and jar of pumpkin spice since the first day of autumn. And though i’ll be honest, it was 95ºF this weekend, I went to the mall, bought an oversized sweater, virtually shopped for boots, and enjoyed a cozy bowl of homemade soup for lunch on Sunday. Believe me, i’m so determined, it WILL get cooler soon.
But you know, whatever the weather may be, I’m all in with this mozzarella chicken dinner. That slow simmered homemade tomato sauce is everything. Here we are. We’re talking a quick an easy sauce that is bright, tangy, and beautiful.
It all starts with 4 small chicken breasts. A big pinch of salt and pepper on both sides and into a hot pan with a little olive oil they go. You want them to cook all the way through so give them 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Once that’s done, take them out onto a plate and allow them to just hang out while you start on that luxurious tomato sauce.
We’ll use all those leftover chicken pan drippings to cook the chopped onions and garlic first — because, what is sauce without aromatics? Once we’ve got them going in a pan and they soften a bit, we add in a whole can of crushed tomatoes. It’s all simple seasonings for this one. A little salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dried basil, and italian seasoning. And have you guessed the secret ingredient yet? It’s 1 tablespoon of sun-dried tomato pesto.
If you’re an LSJ regular, you know I use it in a lot of my soup recipes and now this mozzarella chicken recipe. The pesto really helps boost those natural flavors. When was the last time you cooked a tomato sauce in 10 minutes that tasted like it simmered for hours? Regular pesto would also work for this recipe too if that’s all you have. But I really need you to make this with a tomato pesto at least once. Trust me, it makes this recipe.
When the sauce is ready, nestle the chicken breasts back into the pan. Use a tablespoon to cover the chicken breast with a little sauce. You don’t want them to dry out in the oven. Top them with shredded or sliced mozzarella. Even provolone would work for this recipe. And give it a quick broil to just get that cheese HOT and BUBBLY. Top with fresh basil or parsley.
I serve this with linguine because that homemade marinara just needs to hug some pasta. Fork twirling is an activity we often partake in. And if you’re being extra good, serve it with slices of crusty bread. That sauce is just begging to be mopped up.
Isn’t it obvious?
This easy, cheesy mozzarella chicken recipe is everything.
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30 Minute Mozzarella Chicken in Homemade Tomato Sauce
Mozzarella chicken is a simple weeknight dinner recipe! It's pan-seared chicken smothered in a homemade tomato sauce and melty mozzarella -- ready in just 30 minutes!
- 4 small chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon EACH: olive oil AND minced garlic
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon EACH: Italian seasoning AND red pepper flakes (see notes)
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato pesto (homemade
- salt and pepper + ¼ cup water
- 4 slices mozzarella cheese (or 1 cup shredded)
- chopped parsley or basil + pasta or crusty bread
- CHICKEN: Sprinkle the chicken with a pinch of salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for about 3-5 minutes per side or until the chicken is completely cooked through, remove to a plate. If you are planning on serving this with pasta, get the water going and cook the pasta according to package directions.
- TOMATO SAUCE: Preheat the oven on the broiler setting. Add the onions to the oil remaining in the pan. If there isn't any, add in about ½ teaspoon and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes until they soften, add the garlic and let cook for 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, dried basil, and pesto and stir to combine. When the sauce reaches a simmer, add a ¼ cup of water, lower the heat, cover and allow to simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the sauce thickens a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- ASSEMBLE: Nestle the chicken breasts into the sauce and using a spoon, cover the chicken with sauce. Top each breast with a slice of cheese. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese gets nice and bubbly and just melts. Top with chopped parsley or basil ribbons. Serve with pasta or crusty bread and a salad.
- Though I do recommend using sun-dried tomato pesto for this recipe as it really enhances the flavor of the sauce and makes it taste like it was simmered all day, basil pesto will also work in the recipe.
- Also, you can use more or less red pepper flakes to taste. Omit for a milder sauce.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
Garlic Butter Tomato Baked Chicken with Mozzarella
I could not stop viewing your site, everything looks so finger licking yummy good. I realized I had not commented. It’s 10:22pm, and you prepared dishes are making my mouth water. Yum!
Thanks for taking a look around, Ivory! 🙂
Just made this, wow! Wow! Is all I kept hearing from my family. Thank you!!!
Making this now, exactly how it’s written and I just got a spoonful of my sauce! OMG!! Umh umh good.. I just couldn’t resist, it smelled so good!! This is my sauce for everything now!! Bye Bye Jars!!
Can you substitute the chicken breast with chicken thighs?
Sure! If you use boneless, skinless chicken thighs the cooking time should remain the same.
I made this basically as written (butterflied and pounded the chicken a bit, used diced tomatoes because it’s what I had lol) and it was delicious! Easy, beautiful and so yummy.
I served it simply with a big side of steamed broccoli, as we try to eat sort of low-carb. I’m always on the lookout for new skillet meals, this is definitely going in the rotation!
Where do I find the pesto in the grocery store?
Tracy my grocery store carries it in the same aisle as the spaghetti sauce! Hope you find it! 🙂
You can find it in Kroger in produce with the jarred garlic.
Just made the recipe, sooo good ??
It was really good!
Marzia: Were were you when my kids were young? Quick, easy, and delicious—it held up to much more complicated and time-consuming versions…
So happy to hear that Maureen — thank you for taking the time to comment! 🙂
Delicious. So full of flavor. Thank you for sharing
Omg I made this today and I can’t keep my hands out of it… Great Recipe
Could I make this in the slow cooker?
Sorry, not really sure about the slow cooker, I’ve only tested this as written for the stovetop.
I think this would be perfect for the slow cooker. Add onion, garlic, tomatoes, pesto, seasonings and chicken and cook on slow 6 to 8 hours. Cook pasta seperately. Put chicken and sauce into oven safe dish, the with mozzarella and broil for a minute or two.
Chicken might fall apart due to slow cooking, but I bet it is still amazing since the sauce is simmering all that time to bring out more flavor.
This is fantastic!!! It smelled soooooo good, my kids kept coming in the kitchen asking if it was ready yet! Even my picky 5 year old ate two helpings. It was a hit! Also, the sun dried tomato pesto was fabulous as well!!!
5star thank you for sharing! It’s a new family favourite ?
I have made this twice now and we absolutely love it! It’s a new family favorite! My husband asked that I make it for his “birthday dinner” 🙂
Great recipe! Thank you!!!
Love love love your tomato sauce! Do you know if it works well to make up a large batch and freeze? Trying to figure out a way to make meals quicker and easier.
Glad to hear it, Dawsey! Yes, I think a large batch of this stuff would freeze well.
This was absolutely amazing, even my 4 year old daughter turned around unprompted, looked at me with big eyes and said, “This is good, mommy.” The sauce flavor was perfect. I will definitely be making this many more times!!! DELICIOUS!
Recipe is amazing! Tonight I am making it for the second time. Everyone in my family loved it.
This sauce was amazing! Does it also work as a meat sauce (adding ground beef)?
Glad you enjoyed it, Paige! Yes, I think it would work well as a meat sauce too, you may need to play around with it a bit to get the right consistency though, maybe more tomato or a little more liquid but I do think it should work!
What should the broiler setting be on? 500?
I think it would be fine anywhere between 500-550ºF.
Made this today with the homemade pesto. Used chicken tenderloins in a pressure cooker, threw together the sauce (had to add a bit more water as it was too thick). Shredded mozzarella on to in the broiler. To keep this low carb, I used edamame spaghetti. Good flavor.
Thanks for sharing this fabulous recipe.
I made this today and it was da bomb! Was freaking out a little bit since I wasn’t entirely sure what to lower the heat to, so I just lowered it to 350 threw the chicken and cheese and there and prayed for the best. It came out perfect. I think next time I’ll make the sauce in the crockpot that way when i wake up I can just whip up the chicken real quick and then pour on the cheese so that way I can bring it in for lunch. Thank you for bringing a new flavor to my kitchen!
This was so incredibly delicious !! I made it at home & 3 days later I made it for my niece & her husband, & they loved it
Thank you for this recipe
I was tired of just plain baked or fried chicken breast. Was looking at some mozzarella cheese in the refridge, and wondered: what can I prepare with this? So I typed in “recipes for chicken breasts and mozzarella cheese, and voila! This (among other delicious looking dishes) came up. This one was supposed to be simple and quick (30 minutes it said). so I tried this recipe tonight, but had to improvise: crushed a can of diced tomatoes; used garlic powder; had NO pesto; and only had angel hair pasta, and no red pepper. With all the substitutions and missing ingredients, this dish was still amazing! I will make this again very soon, when I have all the necessary ingredients. Can’t wait. My husband and I really enjoyed it. Thanks for recipe!
It was delicious. We are on keto so even without the noodles it was very good!
My niece and I made this. It came out very well we added our own seasoning to the chicken. We also both love cheese so we went heavy there. Great recipe