Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts like these can be moist and flavorful, not dry and tasteless. Follow this recipe and tips to create a memorable meal!

I recently had a post-COVID dinner party and I wanted to treat my guests to a great meal they would talk about for months. What made things a little more difficult is that some guests don’t eat red meat, leaving me with a chicken or fish protein. Fish can be finnicky to serve to six people, so I settled on chicken.

The problem with chicken is that, unless you want to serve bone-in, you’re stuck with breast meat, and chicken breast meat can be dry, dry, dry. I certainly didn’t want that to happen, so I did some studying.

I settled on Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts, with a sauce of parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. So far so good.

But how to guarantee the breasts would be moist and flavorful?

The secret to juicy chicken breast is brining. Soaking the breasts in a salt water solution causes the meat to draw in moisture, while flavoring and tenderizing. And it doesn’t have to take long! I placed mine in the brine at about 11 am, and had them split and stuffed by 5 pm.

Brining Directions

Brining meat couldn’t be simpler. The basic brine is made by combining 4 tablespoons of salt for every quart of water. Some recipes insist on kosher salt, but common table salt will work just fine.

Mix the brine in a very large bowl – I use a cheap, plastic bowl I picked up at the Thrift Store for pennies. Place the meat in the bowl, cover loosely with wrap and refrigerate. That’s it. Any amount of brining will help, but the larger the piece of meat, the longer you should anticipate letting it soak. I let my six large chicken breasts soak for about five hours, but even two hours can be worthwhile!

If you like, you can throw in some aromatic herbs while you’re at it. A sprig of rosemary, sage or thyme would provide a little extra flavor to your meat.

The Spinach Stuffing

While your meat is brining, you can work on the stuffing to let it develop it’s flavor as well.

First, I washed the spinach well in a colander under running water. Then I removed the largest stems from the leaves (that’s just me – I’m not fond of the texture of the stems!)

Once they’re cleaned and drained, I chopped the fresh spinach into small pieces using the rolling method. Just make a pile of washed spinach leaves, roll them up tightly, and while one hand holds the roll, chop the leaves from one end to the other. (I think this video gives you a great, simple view of how to do all this:)

Now you’re ready. Just mix together the softened cream cheese, parmesan, spinach, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parsley, chives, garlic, salt and pepper. Make sure it’s combined well, cover and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to stuff – even overnight would not be a terrible idea.

Stuffing the Breasts

Once your breasts are brined, remove them from the brine and dry them with paper towels. On a cutting board, hold the breast flat with the palm of one hand, and with a sharp knife cut a 4-5 inch slit into the thickest side of the breast. Cut through the breast, leaving about 1-inch as a “hinge”. Repeat for all the breasts.

Divide your stuffing into equal parts for each breast, and spoon the mixture into the center.

Close each breast and secure with Cooking Twine. (I used some stretchy bands that came with my rotisserie oven.)

Browning the Breasts

You do not want to skip this step. Browning the breasts provides a nice, crispy texture to the outside of the meat, while also providing a fond that will develop your sauce.

Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil from your sun-dried tomatoes in a large, heavy skillet until it’s hot (you’ll use it to make the sauce later.) Working two or three at a time, brown each breast for about five minutes per side, just until you get a nice pale golden crust. Add a little more oil as needed. Remove to a platter. Save that pan!

Baking the Breasts

Preheat your oven and a large baking dish to 375°F. Place the browned breasts in the dish and cover with a lid or foil and bake the breasts for 15 minutes. Remove the lid or foil and test for doneness – the meat should be about 160°F, so if not, keep baking, uncovered, until it is. Once it’s ready, remove, cover with foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Making the Sauce

While the meat is baking, you can make the sauce. It helps if you have everything ready and measured out before you start. If you’re like me, you can easily forget an ingredient!

Melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for just 30 seconds or until you can smell that nutty, garlic aroma. Stir in your flour and toast it in the hot butter until it’s golden – about one minute.

Add the broth and scrub the bottom of your skillet to loosen the fried chicken breast fond you made earlier. Whisk until smooth and bubbly. Whisk in the cream and stir until thickened. Add the cheese and melt it, stirring until smooth. And finally, add the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir gently until the spinach is wilted.

Serving your Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast

Remove the twine from each breast, place on the plate and spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with parsley.

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast

Chicken breast stuffed with spinach, parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, served with a parmesan cheese sauce.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time30 mins
Brining Time5 hrs
Total Time7 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast
Servings: 4 Lg Breasts
Author: Don Herman

Ingredients

Chicken and Stuffing

  • 4 Lg Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless 3 lbs total
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese grated
  • 2 cups Baby Spinach cleaned, stemmed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Oil chopped; separate and save the oil
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Basil chopped
  • 1 tbsp Parsley chopped; plus a few whole leaves for garnish
  • 1 tbsp Chives snipped
  • 1 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt divided
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper divided

Parmesan Cheese Sauce

  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp Flour
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Broth
  • 3/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 cups Baby Spinach cleaned, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan grated

Instructions

  • Brine the chicken breasts in a brine solution of 4 tbsp salt to 1 quart of water – enough to cover. Brine for at least 2 to 6 hours.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, basil, parsley, chives, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • On a cutting board, hold the breast flat with the palm of one hand, and with a sharp knife cut a 4-5 inch slit into the thickest side of the breast. Cut through the breast, leaving about 1-inch as a "hinge". Repeat for all the breasts.
  • Divide your stuffing into equal parts for each breast, and spoon the mixture into the center.
  • Close each breast and secure with cooking twine.
  • Preheat your oven to 375°F
  • Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil from your sun-dried tomatoes in a large, heavy skillet until it’s hot (you’ll use it to make the sauce later.) Working two or three at a time, brown each breast for about five minutes per side, just until you get a nice pale golden crust. Add a little more oil as needed. Remove to a baking dish. 
  • Cover the baking dish with a lid or foil and bake the breasts for 20 minutes. Remove the lid or foil and test for doneness – the meat should be about 160°F. If not, keep baking, uncovered, until it is. Once it’s ready, remove, cover with foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Parmesan Cheese Sauce

  • Melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for just 30 seconds or until you can smell that nutty, garlic aroma. Stir in your flour and toast it in the hot butter until it’s golden – about one minute.
  • Add the broth and scrub the bottom of your skillet to loosen the fried chicken breast fond you made earlier. Whisk until smooth and bubbly. Whisk in the cream and stir until thickened. Add the cheese and melt it, stirring until smooth. And finally, add the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir gently until the spinach is wilted.
  • Remove twine from each breast and spoon sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Notes

Don’t skimp on the quality of the sun-dried tomatoes! It really makes a difference since you’re using every element of the jar. 
Fresh herbs will be the difference between a dish and your guests will enjoy to one that they will rave about for months. I used the leftover herbs in tomato sauces for pasta, cottage cheese, and salads.

Looking for More Recipes?

I served my Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Bread Machine Dinner Rolls, which were also a big hit. I used the bread machine to do the kneading for me and they couldn’t have been simpler.

Questions or Comments?

Leave me a note below and let me know how it turned out for you.

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