Saucy burst tomato basil chicken comes together entirely in one pan! You start by seasoning the chicken and sauteing it in a hot skillet. Then, we’ll use that same pan and simmer and cook down fresh tomatoes and basil to make a hearty sauce!

hands holding a skillet with tomato basil chicken

Tomato basil chicken is the recipe to make when you have an abundance of summer tomatoes and basil that you want to use up. We might be getting ready to get out all the fall decor, pumpkin spice lattes, and comfy clothes, but if there’s one thing I’m not ready to let go of just yet, it’s the beautiful summer tomatoes and basil crops.

And really, does anything go together with tomatoes the way basil does? Okay, maybe peanut butter and jelly, you got me there. But really, this is the savory equivalent to that dynamic duo. Picture this: seasoned chicken breasts nuzzled in slow-simmered tomato sauce, speckled with robust garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh basil, and just to let it all roll off the tongue, a knob of butter.

Tell me you aren’t falling in love with this one already.

hand lifting chicken filet on spatula from cast iron skillet

Living in Texas sure has its perks, but the 1000% chance of humidity is not one of them. Not when I just blow-dried my hair, walked outside, and within minutes I look like a cross between Hagrid and Hermoine Granger. But what I do love about summer is the abundance of beautiful tomatoes and basil. And how gorgeous they are both served cold, like in a salad, soup or warm, like in this tomato basil chicken recipe.

And the fact that I’ve managed to keep my basil plant alive for almost two months in nothing short of a miracle. I’m celebrating by making a batch of tomato basil chicken every week until the basil runs out!

prepared tomato basil chicken in speckled bowl on white marble near striped tea towel

Ingredients you’ll need to make tomato basil chicken:

  • Boneless skinless chicken: You can use chicken breasts, thighs, or even tenders for this recipe.
  • Seasonings: we’re using garlic powder, salt, and pepper to season the chicken. We’ll use some sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes to season the tomato basil sauce later on.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil is used to cook the chicken in and also the tomatoes for our sauce.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes of any sort will work! Previously. I had the recipe listed for the recipe to be made with cherry or grape tomatoes but since then, I’ve made it with Campari tomatoes, Romas, and even plum tomatoes. All of them worked pretty well for this recipe.
  • Tomato puree: Just a quarter cup of tomato puree is used to amp up the tomato flavor. If you don’t happen to have tomato puree on hand, you can also use two tablespoons of tomato paste mixed two tablespoons of water.
  • Minced garlic: Fresh garlic helps flavor the sauce. You can use a little if you aren’t a fan of a lot if you like garlic.
  • Basil: Fresh basil is used for the sauce while it’s simmering and as a garnish on top.
  • Butter: We add a knob of butter at the end to help thicken the sauce and add more flavor. Before the butter, the sauce lacks a bit of that richness. So I used this little restaurant tip (as I do often) to help add a little more richness and shine to the sauce!
metal bowl holding grape tomato halves

How to make the best tomato basil chicken:

  1. Season the chicken breasts. Combine the seasoning in a bowl first, then sprinkle both sides generously. Heat a pan with a generous swish of olive oil and allow the oil to get hot, just below the smoking point.
  2. Sear and cook the chicken on both sides until brown. Remove it to a plate.
  3. Allow the oil to cool down before you move forward. I just add the tomatoes to the pan, turn off the heat and let them sit for 1-2 minutes. Then, turn the heat on and let the tomatoes heat through as you drizzle in the olive oil.
  4. Let the tomatoes cook down into a chunky sauce along with the tomato puree. Then, season them with sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and half of the basil.
  5. Stir in the knob of butter and allow it to melt in. The butter helps emulsify the sauce, so it coats the pasta once you toss it. When the butter melts, add the chicken back into the skillet, nuzzling it under the sauce, so it soaks up all the flavor. Sprinkle the remaining half of the basil on top before you serve.
prepared sauce in cast iron skillet with wooden spoon

Can I use different types of tomatoes for this recipe?

You can swap the cherry/grape tomatoes for plum, Campari, or even Roma tomatoes if you’d like. I suggest chopping the tomato down a bit if you decide to use larger tomatoes so that they don’t take forever to cook.

Why do you sear the chicken in the same pan before you make the sauce?

By searing the chicken first, we create layers of flavor in the pan that we will then use in the tomato basil pan sauce. When you cook seasoned chicken, it leaves behind all these brown bits (or fond) and that is like hitting a gold mine in the flavor department. So when we add the tomatoes to the pan, the acid in the tomatoes releases (or deglazes) all the flavor bits left behind by the chicken and adds free flavor to the pan sauce!

showing browned chicken filet in tomato basil sauce

How can I serve tomato basil chicken?

Just about any way you like! I like to serve the sauce tossed with spaghetti. I feel it coats the pasta nicely once thickened with a knob of butter. You can also serve it over cauli-rice, regular rice, or even with a side salad and crusty bread.

If you want to get extra fancy, I would drizzle crusty bread with a little olive oil and toast it on a grill pan or in the oven and then rub it with the cut side of a garlic clove. Homemade Caesar salad would be so good alongside that.

Tomato Basil Chicken has the last days of summer written all over it.

speckled plate holding three browed chicken filets with sprigs of fresh basil in tomato basil sauce

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Yield: 4-5 servings

Saucy Burst Tomato Basil Chicken

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Saucy Burst Tomato Basil Chicken comes together in one pan! You start by seasoning the chicken and searing it in a pan. Then, we’ll cook fresh tomatoes down to make a delicious pan sauce that you can use over pasta, rice, or serve alongside crusty bread.

Saucy Burst Tomato Basil Chicken

Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 1 ½ pound of chicken breasts (cut thicker breasts in half, horizontally)
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: kosher salt AND garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Oil, for cooking

Tomato Basil Pan Sauce:

  • 24 ounces (1 ½ pound) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • ¼ cup tomato puree (see notes)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon EACH: salt AND red pepper flakes (less or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned
  • Cooked pasta, for serving

Instructions

  1. CHICKEN: Combine the salt, garlic powder, and black pepper in a small bowl. Place the chicken on a cutting board in a single layer and season evenly on both sides with the seasoning.
  2. COOK CHICKEN: Heat a big swish of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken in a single layer and cook the chicken for roughly 3-5 minutes per side or until cooked through. If all the chicken does not fit at once, repeat this process; do not overcrowd the pan or the chicken won’t brown. Remove the chicken to a plate.
  3. TOMATO BASIL SAUCE: Turn the heat source off. Add the tomatoes and alow the pan to cool down for 2 minutes. Add a swish of oil if the pan is dry. Turn the heat back on to the medium heat setting. Add the tomato puree and allow the tomatoes to start sizzling and softening for a couple of minutes. Then using a wooden spoon and fork burst any tomatoes that need a little help. Scrape the pan to lift all the fond. Cook for roughly 12-15 minutes or until the tomatoes soften and become a chunky sauce. Season with the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt, and ½ the basil at this point and continue to cook the sauce for another 2 minutes. If at any point the tomatoes start to dry out, add a small splash of water, I didn't need to. Add the butter and allow it to slowly melt into the sauce while you stir. Once the butter has melted, nestle the chicken breasts back into the sauce so they can soak up that flavor. Sprinkle with the remaining basil on top. Serve over pasta, cooked rice, cauli-rice, or with crusty toasted bread on the side. 

Have you made this recipe?

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