Baked Garlic Butter Chicken with Mozzarella
The easiest garlic butter baked chicken with mozzarella. Tender chicken breasts cooked in garlic butter sauce then topped shredded mozzarella cheese. Comes with the most flavorful pan sauce for your quinoa, rice, pasta, or veggies!
Holy moly! Garlic Butter Chicken!
Here’s the perfect way to kick off a Monday. With a side of garlic butter sauce covered mashed potatoes and chicken breasts that are topped with bubbly, melty mozzarella cheese. The top of the week is looking better already!
We’re doing another take on my oven chicken dinners today. Last time, I shared with you a tomato baked version, today I’m bringing you chicken that’s been cooked in light garlic butter broth that you can mop up with crusty bread or go full out comfort food with and serve it with a generous dollop of mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.
Regardless of how you decide to serve my garlic butter chicken, it’s one that you’ll certainly want to add to your regular dinner rotation.
Meals like this garlic butter chicken are my favorite to toss together on weeknights.
Being just the two of us means that we’ll have plenty of chicken and garlic butter sauce leftover for a second round. But that I can slice or dice up the chicken and toss it into something else. I’ve even used the leftover sauce to make a rice pilaf out of it, and I kid you not, this meal just keeps on getting better and better! This recipe is inspired by both my tomato baked chicken and my skillet chicken in lemon garlic cream sauce. It seems you guys love garlic as much and we do, and that gives me the so much joy I can’t even convey it to you. So this time I decided to swap out the lemon cream sauce and adding in a handful of shredded mozzarella into the mix. Cheese just makes everything better, doesn’t it?
But let me take a second to talk to you about that garlic butter sauce. It’s so darn delicious I could slurp it all up with a spoon. The chicken breasts almost poach in it in the oven so they have a chance to soak up all that flavor and then you can use it on just about anything you like! Me? I never toss it out, I use what’s leftover as the cooking liquid for rice, and I kid you not, it’s the BEST rice I’ve ever made!
Brine the chicken for our baked garlic butter chicken:
First off, what is brining? Brining the process where we soak protein in a saltwater solution that is often flavored with sugar, or herbs and spices to ensure the meat (or poultry) has tons of flavor on the outside as well as the inside.
I like to brine poultry with three key ingredients in equal parts. Here’s what you’ll need:
- kosher salt
- granulated sugar
- soy sauce (or GF tamari)
You can soak the chicken for as little as 15 minutes or up to overnight. Keep in mind that the longer you soak, the more flavorful your chicken will be. I usually let chicken brine covered in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Making the pan sauce for our garlic butter chicken:
Once you’ve brined your chicken, you’ll need to prepare the pan sauce. It’s a sauce that I often make with lemon butter for salmon. This time we’re using chicken broth in place of the lemon and making a sauce that would be ideal to use on mashed potatoes, over rice, or even to toss with quinoa!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- chicken broth
- cold butter
- minced garlic
- fresh thyme
- red pepper flakes
We’ll start by heating the minced garlic and the chicken broth in a saucepan. Allow the stock to come to a boil then, lower the heat, so the liquid simmers and let it just hang out for 5 minutes and reduce. This allows the chicken broth to concentrate in flavor and will leave us with a more concentrated sauce at the end. Next, we’ll add in little cubes of butter, 1 – 2 at a time and swirl the saucepan using the handle to let them melt in. You could also whisk them in. Repeat with all of the butter and what you’ll be left with at the end is a thick gravy. Stir in the thyme, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Putting the garlic butter chicken together:
Once you’ve made the pan sauce, it’s as simple as putting it all together and tossing it in the oven. We’ll lay the chicken breasts out in the baking pan, Sprinkle the breasts with a simple combination of onion powder, thyme, and garlic powder. Pour the prepared sauce into the pan and allow the chicken to cook almost all the way through.
During the last 5 minutes, you’ll add shredded mozzarella to the top and pop the chicken back under the broiler just long enough for it to get warm and bubbly on top. You can make my garlic butter chicken without the mozzarella too if you’d like. We prefer it with cheese though – so much tastier that way!
TIP: you can also use provolone if you happen to have some on hand!
How to serve garlic butter chicken:
I’ve now served this a couple of different ways. Here’s what I suggest:
- over rice with steamed veggies on the side
- over pasta with roasted vegetables
- with roasted potatoes and green beans
- with mashed potatoes (ladle that sauce on top) and steamed broccoli
- over quinoa with a side salad
- with crusty bread and a side salad
There’s really no wrong way to serve this!
Garlic Butter Chicken is exactly what the doctor ordered for Monday night dinner!
- 4 chicken breasts (about 1 ½ pounds)
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons EACH: kosher salt, sugar, AND low sodium soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon EACH: onion powder AND thyme
- ¼ teaspoon: garlic powder
Garlic Butter Chicken:
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons cold butter (cut into small cubes)
- 10 cloves garlic (4 minced, 6 whole)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon chopped thyme (or ¼ dried)
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 - 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- chopped parsley, for topping
- BRINE: Add the water, salt, sugar, and soy sauce to a medium bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the chicken breasts and allow them to marinate for as little as 15 minutes, or ideally 4-12 hours. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- SAUCE: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the chicken broth, minced garlic, and allow the chicken broth to come to a boil, then lower the heat so it just simmers. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Add in 1 tablespoon of butter, remove the pan from heat and swirl so the butter starts to melt or use a whisk to melt the butter melt. Place back on the heat for a few seconds, remove and continue to swirl until butter melts. Repeat with the remaining butter. When the butter has completely melted and thickened the sauce, remove from the stove. Stir in the pepper, thyme, and red pepper flakes.
- ASSEMBLE: Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and pat dry using a paper towel. Combine the remaining onion powder, thyme, and garlic powder in a small bowl and sprinkle over the chicken breasts evenly. Place the chicken breasts in an oven-safe baking dish. Carefully pour the prepared sauce around the chicken breasts and drop the 6 remaining whole garlic cloves into the broth.
- BAKE: Bake uncovered for 19-25 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked through (it should register 165F on a thermometer.) Add the mozzarella cheese to the chicken breasts and broil just long enough for the cheese to melt. Top with chopped parsley (or basil) and serve warm with crusty bread, pasta, rice, or steamed veggies!
- I suggest shredding your own mozzarella for this recipe. Pre-shredded mozzarella didn’t yield such great results for me, unfortunately!