This easy recipe for Caprese chicken salad takes the classic mozzarella, tomato and basil combo and adds some chicken to the mix for a perfect summertime supper!
I am head of the Caprese Salad Appreciation Committee (this is a self-appointed position) and I can and will caprese up just about anything, including a tender, summery Caprese chicken salad.
There may be some things more delectable than a plate full of tender grilled chicken surrounded by sweet tomatoes and basil leaves and chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese, but they are definitely few and far between.
I did run into one recently…this is Fynn.
He was one of our houseguests for a few days, and while I really, REALLY wanted to keep him forever, his owners were insistent about having him back.
I mean. THAT FACE.
Back at the recipe, let’s discuss the wonder that is all things Caprese!
What is a Caprese salad?
A traditional Caprese salad is made of sliced tomatoes, basil leaves, slices of mozzarella cheese and a little olive oil. It’s a staple on Italian menus, and sometimes it also includes balsamic vinegar (more on that in a sec).
And as you can imagine, when we are talking in-season local tomatoes and fresh basil and the really good milky mozzarella, this salad is the best of the best of the best.
So of course I needed to mess with it just enough to make it into a main course, and I did that by adding some grilled chicken to the mix, and by using olive oil and balsamic vinegar as both a dressing to drizzle on and as a marinade for the chicken, and oh my goodness.
What is balsamic vinegar?
The wonderful Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes has a fabulous article about all things balsamic vinegar-wise, but in brief, true balsamic vinegar is thick, kinda sweet and syrupy vinegar that is made from grape juice that has been made into a concentrate, fermented, and aged for at least (hold onto your hat) 12 years.
It is as far as you can get from regular vinegar and still be vinegar. It’s AMAZING. And like a fine wine, it’s not cheap, but it’s so extraordinary that I am never, ever without a bottle of it on hand.
Year ago a friend of mine gave me this variety as a gift, and I’m here to tell you that once I came into the kitchen and the Southern husband was literally taking a swig of it from the bottle. TRUE STORY.
There are many kinds of this vinegar that you can get for much less $$ – they tend to be balsamic mixed with other kinds of vinegar – but it will give you some sense of what it’s like if you want to try it before spending the big bucks.
How to make Caprese chicken salad
Combine a half cup of olive oil, a quarter cup of that balsamic vinegar, a couple cloves of peeled and smashed garlic and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
Save 1/4 cup of it for the dressing and pour the rest into a zippered plastic bag. Add 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, seal the bag, turn it around a few times to coat the chicken and let it marinate in the fridge for a few hours. At least one hour, but all day is fine!
Ready to cook? Heat the grill to high. Grill the chicken (discarding the marinade in the bag) for 4 minutes per side. Remove and let sit for about 5 minutes before slicing it up.
While the chicken is resting, combine a small head of romaine or leafy green lettuce that you have washed and torn up, a pint of halved cherry tomatoes and a cup of cubed mozzarella cheese (or you can use the kind that comes in little ball shapes) in a large bowl.
Drizzle with most of the reserved dressing, tasting as you go to make sure you don’t overdress it. Save a little dressing for the chicken.
Slice the chicken and divide the lettuce mixture among 4 plates. Top with sliced chicken and basil, drizzle the remaining dressing on the chicken and serve!
More tips for making Caprese chicken salad!
You can – the only thing you will be missing is having had the chicken marinate in the glorious dressing before it cooks. But using already cooked chicken is a way to speed this recipe up if you need to make it in a hurry.
Yes and no. You can definitely make all the components ahead of time – cook the chicken, slice the tomatoes, etc – but as with all dressed salads, it is best to combine those ingredients right before you serve it up.
I didn’t convince you with all my rhapsodizing about balsamic vinegar? If you don’t have or can’t find balsamic, you can go with red wine vinegar.
Now THIS is a chicken salad that I can get truly excited about, especially during fresh tomato and basil season!
And don’t worry, I haven’t stopped looking around for things I can still Caprese-ize.
Want to round out your meal? This recipe pairs well with...
This easy recipe for caprese chicken salad takes the classic mozzarella, tomato and basil combo and adds some chicken to the mix!
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- Pinch each of salt and pepper
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- 1 small head of romaine or green leafy lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 cup of mozzarella balls (known as bocconcini) or regular mozzarella cut in cubes. The best you can find!
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Save 1/4 cup of it for the dressing and pour the rest into a zippered plastic bag. Add the chicken, seal the bag, turn it around a few times to coat the chicken and let it marinate in the fridge for a few hours. At least one hour, but all day is fine!
- Heat the grill to high. Grill the chicken (discarding the marinade in the bag) for 4 minutes per side. Remove and let sit for about 5 minutes before slicing.
- While the chicken is resting, combine the lettuce, tomatoes and cheese in a large bowl. Drizzle with most of the reserved dressing, tasting as you go to make sure you don’t overdress it. Save a little dressing for the chicken.
- Slice the chicken and divide the lettuce mixture among 4 plates. Top with sliced chicken and basil, drizzle the remaining dressing on the chicken and serve!
Need to add something to your kitchen equipment to make this recipe? Below are some of the items we used in the Framed Cooks kitchen to help cook this up. These are affiliate links to things we use and love, which helps to pay for all that bacon I keep buying (without any extra cost to you)! Thanks for using them to keep our kitchen cooking…xoxo!
Updated (and made even more delicious!) from a previously published Framed Cooks post!