Grilled Chicken Margherita

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This super easy, Grilled Chicken Margherita is incredibly tasty and is ready in less than 30 minutes! Start with savory herb chicken and top it with with melty mozzarella cheese, pesto, and tomato basil garnish for a rave-worthy, quick and simple weeknight dinner.

two cooked chicken breasts topped with melted cheese, peso, and tomato bruschettaIn the mood to grill? Try Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce, the BEST 15-minute Steak Marinade, and Caribbean Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

I first made this chicken during our second kitchen remodel because, well, the oven was in the basement, so outside to the grill we went ā€” every single day! This grilled chicken margherita is perfectly juicy and seasoned, topped with gooey, melty mozzarella cheese, 5-minute pesto (the BEST EVER!) and tomato basil relish.

This is one of the dishes that saved us then, and saves us time and time again when life gets busy or the kitchen is torn apart or I just need an easy, 30-minute, summery meal!

overhead view of grilled chicken on plate topped with melted cheese, pesto sauce, and tomatoes

Why this recipe works

  • Easy, fresh ingredients: made with chicken, cheese, tomatoes, and pesto (homemade or store bought), you can find all these ingredients year-round (though, admittedly, they are best in the summer).
  • Great leftovers: grill once, eat again and again! Just leave the toppings off any extra chicken and add later, when you’re ready to eat!
  • Easy substitutions: Use marinara if you don’t like pesto, or use store-bought pesto if you don’t want to make your own.
  • Stays moist: The mozzarella cheese helps seal in the Italian seasonings and keeps the chicken from drying out, too! 

Here’s how you make it

1. First, combine chicken, salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning in a large bowl. Toss with tongs or your hands to combine.

2. Grill the chicken over medium-high heat for about 6-8 minutes on each side, or until it’s cooked all the way through.
3. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese on each piece of chicken, and cook for another minute or so until it’s melted over the top of the chicken breast. 

4. In a clean bowl, toss together the tomatoes, lemon juice, and basil. 

5. Top each chicken breast with about 3 tablespoons of pesto, a scoop of tomatoes, and some freshly cracked black pepper and serve.

up close view of fork cutting into cooked chicken with cheese, pesto, and tomatoes

What is margherita chicken?

This chicken dish is a popular one that features cheese, cherry tomatoes, and basil pesto. Think of a margherita pizza: you have pesto sauce (or marinara), topped with mozzarella hunks, and basil. So it’s like pizza on top of the chicken, except minus the crust, of course. 

Is it margherita or margarita?

It’s very easy to confuse these two words. Kind of like marsala and masala. (What is it with these similar-sounding “m” words, anyway?)

But “margherita” refers to the aforementioned pizza typically, while “margarita” refers to an alcoholic cocktail made with tequila and lime juice. 

overhead view of pesto sauce in food processor

What do you eat pesto with? 

I personally love pesto on everything! In addition to a topping for chicken, you can also use it in: 

  • As a sauce for pasta
  • As a dip for veggies.
  • Swirled into a savory bread. 
  • As a topping for sandwiches instead of the usual mustard, mayo, etc. 
  • Used as a salad dressing. 
  • As a substitute sauce for marinara in lasagna
  • Scrambled into your eggs. 
  • As a dip for roasted potatoes. 
  • Instead of pizza sauce on a pizza
  • As a garnish to finish off a hot, steaming bowl of Italian soup

Expert Tips

  • You can totally use store-bought pesto sauce in this recipe, but if you have five extra minutes, that’s all it takes to make my super easy, homemade basil pesto sauce. If you don’t have or don’t like pine nuts, you can use walnuts or cashews as well!
  • I almost always use fresh-squeezed lemon juice in my tomato topping, because I think it has the best flavor. But, you might not have a fresh lemon laying around. If that’s the case, feel free to use bottled lemon juice or even lime.
  • After placing the cheese on top of the chicken, I always close the grill lid to help the cheese melt faster and keep the chicken from drying out.
  • I also like to use cherry tomatoes for the garnish because they are small and easy to cut. Plus, they taste so good and are in season right now. But you can use any kind of tomato you like, just be sure to dice it small enough to be able to top the chicken with.
  • To make your own Italian seasoning for this chicken, simply combine 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, and 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme and sprinkle all over the chicken. 
  • Swap out Italian seasoning for Herbs de Provence (one of my most favorite cooking tricks!).

two grilled chicken breasts on plate topped with cheese, pesto, and tomatoes

More quick and easy chicken recipes

Did you make this recipe? I’d be thrilled if you would give it a rating

 

Grilled Chicken Margherita | lecremedelacrumb.com

Grilled Chicken Margherita

Easy, healthy grilled chicken margherita topped with melted mozzarella cheese, pesto, and tomato basil garnish.
4.92 from 45 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to less than 1 inch thickness
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (OR 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano + 1/4 teaspoon dried basil + 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto (try my Easy 5 Minute Pesto Recipe - it's the best!!) https://www.lecremedelacrumb.com/easy-5-minute-pesto-15-ways-to-use-it/
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves, very thinly sliced
  • cracked black pepper

Instructions

  • In a large bowl combine chicken, salt and pepper, olive oil, garlic power, and Italian seasoning. Toss to combine.
  • Grill chicken over medium-high heat for about 6-8 minutes on each side until cooked through. Top each piece of chicken with a slice of mozzarella cheese and cook another minute or so until melted.
  • Toss tomatoes, lemon juice, and basil together. Top each chicken breast with about 3 tablespoons pesto, a scoop of tomatoes, and some freshly cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • You can absolutely use store-bought pesto sauce in this recipe, but if you have five extra minutes (you do!) I highly recommend my super easy homemade basil pesto. You can easily sub out the pine nuts for another nut like cashews or walnuts too!
  • I almost always use fresh-squeezed lemon juice in my tomato topping, because I think it has the best flavor. But, you might not have a fresh lemon laying around. If that's the case, feel free to use bottled lemon juice or even lime.
  • After placing the cheese on top of the chicken, I always close the grill lid to help the cheese melt faster and keep the chicken from drying out.
  • To make your own Italian seasoning for this chicken, simply combine 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, and 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme and sprinkle all over the chicken OR swap out Italian seasoning for Herbs de Provence (one of my favorite cooking tricks for boosting flavor!).
Did You Make This Recipe?Tag @cremedelacrumb1 on Instagram and hashtag it #cremedelacrumb!

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Comments

Thank you for the information! very good article!

    I aI am interested in trying out some new recipes I am getting tired of the old same old same old

Unexpectedly bland. Followed recipe exactly. Used jarred pesto. Decent but I won’t make it again.

5 stars
My family loved this recipe! I will DEFINITELY make it again. Thanks!

    So thrilled to hear that!! šŸ™‚

5 stars
AbsolUtely majnificent dish. Restaurant worthy. I used a whole tomato cut into chunKs. Very pretty & scrumptious. Used your 5 minute pesto. Will make again. Highly recommend this dish.

5 stars
Made this Last night. Loved it and was so easy. I dont have a Grill so i used my cast iron grill pan on the stove instead.

    So glad it turned out delicious for you that way! Thanks, Jackie!

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