Baked Balsamic Chicken with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pesto

We walked nearly 20 miles during our weekend in Savannah (according to my Fitbit, that is), and our aimless meandering about the city included a dozen or so passes by Paula Dean’s Lady and Sons restaurant.  I’ve liked Paula Dean since the first time I stumbled upon her TV show.  I adore her southern charm, youthful excitement, and penchant for using a stick of butter (or two) in every friggin recipe.  When it comes to ingredients, I don’t possess Paula’s steadfast dedication to any one particular item, but rather four:  onions, garlic, Frank’s Red Hot, and balsamic vinegar. These are my four superstars, and I believe any one of them can take a meal from blah to brilliant.  In another life, I’ll write cookbooks dedicated to each of them.  Promise.

Tonight’s dinner was all about *BALSAMIC VINEGAR* Chicken (1 of 5)

Baked Balsamic Chicken with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pesto (serves 4)

Adapted from Eat, Live, Run Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Mozzarella and Pesto

  • 4 chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs, or 6 ounces each)
  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 4 ounces mozzarella (preferably fresh)
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto (try my basil almond pesto recipe)
  • S&P
  • Dried oregano

Step One:  Season chicken breasts with S&P.  Place chicken, 4 cloves garlic (minced OR roughly chopped, your call), and one cup of balsamic in a ziploc baggie or Tupperware and marinate in fridge for 1 hour.  Don’t exceed the one hour mark as the vinegar may start to break down the chicken in weird ways.

Step Two:  While the chicken marinates, heat 1 cup of balsamic vinegar over medium high heat for 15-20 minutes until liquid has reduced by half.  Remove from heat, and use a spatula to pour the reduction into a small bowl or serving pitcher to cool.

Step Three:  Cover a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.  Remove chicken from balsamic marinade, place on prepared baking sheet, and bake at 375 for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Remove chicken from oven and turn on the oven broiler.  Top each chicken breast with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese then sprinkle with S&P and dried oregano.  Leaving the oven door slightly ajar, broil chicken for 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Top each breast with 1 tbsp pesto and a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.

Balsamic Chicken (4 of 5)

“I’d rather die with a potato in my mouth than a piece of lettuce.” – Paula Deen




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  1. Paula Dean has diabetes and she had better stick to diabetes diet like I’m currently having to do in order to not have to take awful meds. This recipe sounds yummy. Each breast is 6 oz. I could eat 3 oz of it.

  2. My mom actually loves the balsamic vinegar from Trader Joe’s and I know she would love this recipe too! I’m allergic to nuts but make my own “special” pesto. I’ll have to try this out – consider it bookmarked!

    1. Hey Jamie! Thanks for the comment — I’d love to check out your nut-free pesto if you email me the recipe!

  3. This dish if wonderful! Thank you for sharing. Served this over a bed of orzo, wih sauted onions, red peppers, tomotoes and parsley in oilive oil and butter. YUMM!!!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Marueen! I love your spin on the dish–it sounds like one delicious dinner!

  4. This was excellent. I skipped the pesto as I did not have the ingredients on hand but the rest was fabulous. As another commenter suggested, I too served with orzo. I used the pan drippings to flavor the orzo and added chopped cherry tomatoes to the orzo. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs. My new favorite cut of chicken. Thanks for the great recipe. So quick and easy and all my kids (under 6) loved it!)