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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- 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.
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