A delightfully simple but flavorful sandwich with pan-seared chicken, sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil and pesto on toasted bread. A wonderful lunch or quick dinner that's ready in only 15 minutes!
Ah, the harmonious combination of basil, tomato, and fresh mozzarella cheese. This classic combination will always be satisfying and super refreshing! With this chicken caprese sandwich, you can enjoy these amazing flavors in an even more satisfying form, with well-seasoned, pan-seared chicken and warm toasted bread! Oh, and did I mention, also pesto to add some extra moisture and flavor to the party?
And, you can make this sandwich in only 15 minutes, start to finish. So, this is a wonderful lunch or even dinner when you want a satisfying, but not too heavy, meal and don't want to wait for it!
- Thin-sliced chicken breast (aka "chicken cutlets"): you will need either 1 or 2 pieces depending on the size of the piece(s); use your best judgement based on your bread size and how hungry you are! See the Tips and tricks section for more info on thin-sliced chicken and how to make them yourself!
- Bread: I used white bread that I sliced myself, but feel free to use your own favorite type of bread. I recommend something that has structure to it (so not too pillowy soft, to maintain the integrity of the sandwich). I also think something that isn't too strongly flavored works better, so the tomato and basil flavor can shine. So maybe not a really dense whole wheat or Asiago cheese bread for example.
- Tomato: since the tomato is one of the primary flavors in caprese, try to find a nicely ripe tomato if you can! I also find that larger tomatoes make better slices on the sandwich. Heirloom tomatoes are nice to use here if you can find them.
- Fresh mozzarella: for that classic caprese flavor, you will need fresh mozzarella, not low-moisture mozzarella (the kind for lasagna and pizza). I bought pre-sliced fresh mozzarella, but you can get a large piece and slice your own if you want.
- Pesto: I used store-bought pesto, which I thought worked well for this application. But, if you have homemade pesto that would be amazing too! I also give some substitution ideas if you don't like or don't have pesto in the FAQ section below.
Step by step photos
1. Season chicken generously on both sides with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic powder (don't be shy with the seasonings!).
2. Cook the seasoned chicken in a skillet until nicely browned and cooked through.
3. While the chicken cooks, cut the tomato slices and remove the stems from a few leaves of basil. If your mozzarella isn't pre-cut, cut a couple slices.
4. After the chicken is done, remove it onto a plate. If the pan is dry, add a couple more drops of oil. Then, cook the bread for a couple minutes on each side until nicely toasted.
5. Then just assemble the sandwich! I like to layer it as follows from the bottom up: (1) bread; (2) pesto; (3) chicken; (4) mozzarella; (5) tomato (it's nice to add some extra salt and pepper on top!); and finally (6) basil. Top with second slice of bread that's been spread with more pesto.
Tips and tricks
How to slice chicken into cutlets (aka "thin-sliced" chicken breasts)
I like thin-sliced chicken breast for this chicken caprese sandwich because it cooks in only a few minutes, and makes a much better ratio with the other ingredients in the sandwich (meaning, there are roughly even proportions of chicken, mozzarella and tomato). You can buy them from the store pre-cut (usually labeled "thin-cut" or "thin-sliced"), or you can cut them yourself. Here is how I like to do it:
1. First, lay a whole chicken breast on a cutting board, and place a hand flat on top. With a knife in the other hand, cut a thin horizontal slice towards the top of the breast.
2. You can peel the slice back as you cut to make it easier to cut through and see what you are doing better. I like to do this in a couple long strokes, rather than sawing back and forth.
3. Then, just repeat the process, cutting another horizontal slice. I found I can cut about 3 pieces from one breast with this process.
Pieces from the store are usually around ⅓ of an inch thick, which can be tricky to cut by hand (in my opinion!). If your pieces are a little thicker, that's ok. You can either just cook them for longer, or if you want to, place a piece of plastic wrap over the piece and pound it thinner with a rolling pin or even a wine bottle! (And if you want to see another recipe with thin-cut chicken breast, check out my recipe for Lemon Butter Chicken!)
Other tips & tricks
- Make sure you remove the stems from the basil before adding them to the sandwich. They can be a little tough and stringy in the sandwich depending on how large your basil is.
- The ingredient amounts in the recipe aren't set in stone. If you want to add more cheese, tomato, or pesto (or all three), go for it! You could even make a double-decker chicken caprese sandwich with two chicken pieces and two layers of tomato, cheese and basil.
You can cook the chicken ahead of time and keep it covered in the fridge for 3 - 4 days. Then, you can either assemble the sandwich with cold chicken, or re-heat the chicken first.
To re-heat, I like to add a bit of oil to a skillet set on low heat, then add the chicken and cover it with a lid. The cover helps the chicken from drying out! Remove the chicken once it's hot, flipping once during the re-heating process (but don't cook too long or it may dry out).
Yes you can! You can use a larger pan and cook multiple pieces of chicken at once, or work in batches. If you want to toast the bread all at once, just brush a thin layer of oil on both sides of each piece, then toast in a toaster oven or broil each side until nicely browned.
If you don't like or don't have pesto, there are other options; try a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or even a layer of mayo (mayo and tomato are a classic pairing!).
If you’ve tried this Chicken Caprese Sandwich recipe, please leave a star rating and/or review in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And sign up for my weekly newsletter to get recipes delivered straight to you!Print
A simple, quick but flavorful sandwich with pan-seared seasoned chicken breast and fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato.
- 1 - 2 pieces thin-cut chicken breasts (about ⅓ inch thick)
- Italian seasoning, to taste
- kosher salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- garlic powder, to taste
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more if needed
- 2 slices fresh mozzarella (about 2 ounces)
- 2 - 3 slices tomato
- 3 - 4 fresh basil leaves
- 2 slices hearty white bread
- 2 tablespoons pesto (store-bought or homemade)
- Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. While pan is heating up, generously sprinkle both sides of the thin-cut chicken breast(s) with kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning.
- When the oil is hot, add the chicken. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes per side, or until the chicken is nicely browned and cooked through (to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees).
- While the chicken is cooking, slice the tomato, and the cheese and bread (if not already pre-sliced). Rinse the basil and remove the stems.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the skillet onto a plate, but do not turn the burner off. If the skillet is dry, add a few more drops of oil. Add the bread and let cook over medium heat for 1 - 2 minutes per side, or until the bread is golden brown.
- Assemble the sandwich: Spread half the pesto onto the bottom slice of bread. Then add the chicken on top, followed by the cheese, then tomato. Sprinkle the tomato with coarse salt and black pepper (optional but delicious!). Add the basil leaves, then top the sandwich with the second slice of bread that has been spread with the remaining pesto. Serve immediately.
You can make this sandwich with either 1 or 2 pieces of thin-cut chicken breast, depending on the size of the pieces and what would fit best on the bread you have chosen (or how hungry you are!)
If you don't have thin-cut chicken breasts, cut a regular chicken breast horizontally into thin slices. Each piece should be around ⅓ of an inch thick. If you can't cut each piece thin enough, that's ok! If they are close, you can just cook the pieces for a little longer. Or, you can cover the pieces with plastic wrap and pound them thinner with a meat mallet or even a wine bottle or rolling pin.
The ingredient amounts for the sandwich are flexible and can be adjusted to suit your own tastes; feel free to add more or less tomato, cheese, pesto, etc.
The chicken breasts can be cooked ahead of time and kept in the fridge for 3 - 4 days in an airtight container. To reheat, heat a bit of oil in a skillet on low heat and add the chicken. Cover the pan to help keep the chicken from drying out and cook on low, flipping once, until heated through.
If you want to make more than one sandwich, use a larger skillet to cook multiple pieces of chicken at a time (or work in batches). To toast multiple pieces of bread at once, brush some olive oil on each side of the bread and toast in a toaster oven, or broil for a minute or two on each side until the bread is nicely browned.
Keywords: chicken sandwich, chicken breast sandwich, caprese, caprese sandwich