Ricotta stuffed chicken is the perfect weeknight meal with seared chicken breasts and creamy ricotta cheese. Stuffed with shredded zucchini and garlic, it's a flavorful and easy meal that is ready in 30 minutes!
Using a good quality ricotta cheese is important for the best texture and flavor, and I'll tell you all about which brands are my favorite for this ricotta chicken. Once the ricotta and zucchini are mixed, they are stuffed into a spiced chicken breast and seared on both sides. Then they are transferred to the oven for another 10 minutes to finish baking all the way through, and allow the cheese to melt.
If you're a big fan of cheese stuffed chicken, don't miss out on my Boursin Stuffed Chicken recipe!
I made this recipe at the end of summer as a way to finish up some zucchini I had in the fridge and it was perfect! But this ricotta stuffed chicken would be great without a hidden veggie, or stuffed with wilted kale or spinach as well.
Here are a few reasons you'll love this recipe:
- 30 minute meal - This ricotta chicken looks fancy, but is very easy to make. It takes about 8 minutes to sear on both sides, then 10 minutes to bake.
- Hidden veggies - Adding in zucchini squeezes in a few extra veggies making this recipe very filling while still creamy and cheesy.
- Low carb - If you're carb conscious, this is the perfect recipe for you!
- Special diet friendly - This recipe is also gluten free, migraine diet friendly and low histamine.
Choosing the Best Chicken
One thing I always tell my readers is that it is best to select "air chilled chicken". This is chicken that has been processed by going through chambers of air, rather than passed through solution. Not only does it grill better, sear better, and roast better, it also tastes better.
With a recipe like this one, that doesn't have a heavy sauce to mask the flavor, air chilled chicken will give you the best golden brown sear.
- Chicken Breasts - Look for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You either want the full sized chicken breasts that are larger and you can slice into them, or thin-sliced chicken breasts that are really large and you can fold them over.
- Zucchini - A small to medium sized zucchini should be enough for this meal. If you have leftovers, use it in an omelette the next day.
- Ricotta - Look for brands like Liuzzi, Calabro, BelGiosio, or any other brands without a lot of gums or carrageenan added. This will give you the best, creamiest texture. Brands with gums are often less expensive and gritty in texture.
- Mozzarella - I love to use thin mozzarella slices for these! It gives a great texture contrast to the ricotta when cutting into the chicken for that extra cheesy pull.
- Garlic - Garlic powder and a garlic clove are used to boost the flavor on the inside and outside of the chicken.
- Sumac - You could also use paprika if you don't have sumac on hand, but this provides a great tart flavor.
How to Make Ricotta Stuffed Chicken
Step 1: Prepare Chicken
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the size of the chicken breasts, they may need to be pounded to about ¾ inch thickness. To do this, place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and top with a sheet of parchment paper. Use a kitchen mallet or rolling pin to pound out the chicken breasts to the desired thinness. Then using a sharp chefs knife, slice down the middle of the chicken breasts to the end without cutting all the way through. (photos 1 and 2 above) Set aside.
Step 2: Make Ricotta Stuffing
Meanwhile use a cheese grater to shred the zucchini into small pieces, then place in a paper towel and squeeze out any excess moisture. Place shredded zucchini in a small bowl with ricotta cheese and minced garlic, a tiny pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Mix together.
Step 3: Sear Stuffed Chicken
Season both sides of the chicken breasts with the spice mixture which is garlic powder, salt and sumac mixed together (photos 3 and 4 above). Spoon the filling inside the chicken breasts and place a mozzarella slice on top. Use toothpicks to secure the breasts on both ends. Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron pan over medium high heat. Sear the chicken breasts for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until just golden brown. You may need to work in batches to give the chicken enough space to brown.
Step 4: Bake Ricotta Chicken
Place all the chicken breasts in the cast iron skillet or in a large baking dish if making a bunch. The toothpicks can be removed after searing, or you can leave them in. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10-12 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve with a salad and rice, potatoes, or warm bread.
- Zucchini - If you want to substitute zucchini, try chopped spinach, kale, or shredded summer squash.
- Mozzarella - The mozzarella is just included for that lovely cheesy texture, but if you want to omit it, it's still great with the ricotta alone.
- Ricotta - I haven't tried to substitute this, but I imagine cream cheese would also work well.
- Sumac - Use ground paprika.
- Make sure all the water is squeezed out of the zucchini. This will prevent the ricotta mix from getting watery and it will be thick and creamy.
- Use good quality ricotta without gums or thickeners. I cannot stress this enough. It makes a huge difference in flavor and texture.
- A cast iron pan is the best way to cook this ricotta chicken if you have one. This way you can transfer it from the stove, directly to the oven. One less dish to clean!
This ricotta stuffed chicken pairs well with so many side dishes, but here are a few of my favorites:
You can keep stuffed chicken breasts in an air tight container for up to 3 days. To reheat, just cover with a paper towel and microwave in 30 second increments till warmed through.
To freeze - Wrap individually and freeze for up to 3 months. I recommend defrosting overnight in the fridge before covering with foil and re-warming in the oven at about 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes or until warmed through.
Please note, ricotta can sometimes become grainy after it has been frozen.
Ways to Use Extra Ricotta Cheese
If you have extra ricotta cheese, there's always this question of how to use it up.
Using a large chicken breast and a sharp chefs knife, place your hand on the top of the chicken breast an run your knife parallel into the side of the chicken. Slice just till you reach the end, but don't cut all the way through! This creates a boundary for the stuffing.
Use toothpicks to secure the ends, and don't overstuff the chicken! However, a little bit of cheese melted out the side is still delicious.
Yes, this would just require more dishes. But you can easily cover it with parchment paper to help with clean up. Sear the chicken in any pan you like best.
Yes! Ricotta stuffed chicken is awesome to make ahead. Just prep up until stuffing with cheese and then fasten with toothpicks. Place in the fridge until you are ready to sear.
For more amazing recipes like this ricotta stuffed chicken, check out these creamy chicken recipes!
Ricotta Stuffed Chicken
- 1 cast iron pan or sheet pan
- 1¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3)
- ¾ cup shredded zucchini (about 1 small)
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground sumac
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2-3 slices mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. To shred zucchini, place a paper towel or kitchen towel under a cheese grater, grate the zucchini and squeeze out excess moisture as much as possible. Transfer to a small bowl and add minced garlic and ricotta cheese, along with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
- Depending on the size of the chicken breasts, they may need to be pounded to about ¾ inch thickness. To do this, place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and top with a sheet of parchment paper. Use a kitchen mallet to pound out the chicken breasts to desired thinness.
- Using a sharp chefs knife, slice down the middle of the chicken breasts to the end without cutting all the way through. Mix together the garlic powder, sumac, kosher salt, and black pepper. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with the spice mixture. Spoon the ricotta filling inside the chicken breasts and place a mozzarella slice on top of the ricotta filling. Use toothpicks to secure the breasts closed on both ends.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil in a large cast iron pan over medium high heat. Sear chicken breasts for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until just golden brown. You may need to work in batches to give the chicken enough space to brown. The toothpicks can be removed after searing on both sides.
- Place all the chicken breasts in the cast iron skillet or in a large baking dish or sheet pan if making a bunch. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees F. Serve warm with a salad and rice, potatoes, or warm bread.
- Depending on the size of the chicken breasts, this will make either 2 large or 3 smaller servings.
- Use good quality ricotta - no gums, carrageenan, etc. These are brands like Calabro, Liuzzi, BelGiosio. These brands are smooth and creamy, not gritty, and it makes a difference in texture and flavor.
- Mozzarella can be omitted, but it's great for extra cheesy texture.
- Using a cast iron pan or one that can transfer to the oven makes for easy clean up! If cooking for a crowd, transfer the stuffed chicken breasts to a sheet pan or baking dish.
- For low sodium, omit any added salt suggestions.