Last Updated October 15, 2021
Grilled Chicken Margherita is one of those dishes that looks super elegant but can be made in just 30 minutes on your outdoor griddle.
Disclosure: This recipe was sponsored by Cuisinart. All opinions are my own.
You’re probably familiar with Margherita Pizza, which is basically a cheese pizza topped with mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil. Well, this dish carries those same classic Italian flavors with the added protein of chicken.
When I think of Italy, fresh, ripe tomatoes combined with basil and melted mozzarella automatically come to mind. I have fond memories of the first time I dined in Florence and was served a plate pasta with this simple trio of ingredients.
To this day, it’s my favorite way to enjoy pasta and pizza.
Anytime my family wants to dine at an Italian restaurant, I always look for Grilled Chicken Margherita on the menu. On days, when I’m counting carbs, I order it with a side of broccoli, and on days when I want to splurge, I add a side of fettuccine Alfredo.
What you need to make Grilled Chicken Margherita
Chicken: This dish calls for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Each breast will be pounded out to make two servings.
Fresh tomatoes: I like using grape tomatoes for this recipe. I slice them lengthwise, so they are flatter. You can also use cherry tomatoes or Roma tomatoes. Look for tomatoes that are bright red and plump.
Basil pesto: If you have the time and energy to make fresh basil pesto, go for it. It will make this dish even more amazing. But if you’re looking for that quick, 30-minute meal, it’s okay to buy pre-made pesto. You can find it in the refrigerated pasta section.
Mozzarella cheese: While I love a big ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, I prefer using the pre-packaged mozzarella cheese slices that you find with all the other bags of shredded and sliced cheese. You just want a thin blanket of cheese to melt over the chicken.
Garlic lemon butter: This is the touch that puts this recipe over the top. You simply melt butter in a pot and add garlic and lemon juice. It adds a richness and final pop of freshness.
How to make Grilled Chicken Margherita
The secret to making this dish so quickly is pounding the chicken. Making it thin allows it to cook in less than 10 minutes.
You start with one whole boneless, skinless chicken breast and place it between two sheets of waxed paper. Then, using the smooth side of a meat mallet, pound it until it is about 1/4-inch thick.
If you start with large chicken breasts, you can slice the flattened breast into two servings.
Once it’s flattened, rub it with good olive oil and give it a good sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper.
Set the chicken aside while you get the other ingredients together and heat up the griddle.
The advantage of using an outdoor griddle
If you’ve followed me for very long, you know I love cooking on my Cuisinart 360 XL Griddle. With its 30-inch diameter griddle top, it has more than 700 square inches of cooking surface, which means I can cook multiple components of my meal at once.
The large cooking surface and full-surround drip tray also helps keep your patio clean from splatters. And it has three burners, so you can work in different cooking zones.
When making Grilled Chicken Margherita, start by heating two burners to medium heat. Leave one burner off.
Place a small sauce pot on the warm section of the griddle. Add the butter, garlic and lemon juice. Once it’s melted, move it to the side of the griddle where the griddle is turned off.
Next, spoon some of the lemon butter onto the warm area of the griddle and add your chicken breasts. Cook for 4-5 minutes and flip. Then, top with more lemon butter.
While the chicken is cooking, place the tomatoes on the griddle with more lemon butter.
Top the chicken with a slice of mozzarella, a spoonful of pesto and those tender tomatoes.
Once the cheese is melted, plate it up with some noodles or vegetables. I recently made this for my parents when they came to town, and they actually asked me if I ordered it from an Italian restaurant and had it delivered. I consider that a fantastic review.
Grilled Chicken Margherita
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 16 grape tomatoes
- 4 slices mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup pesto sauce
- Flatten + Season Chicken: Place each chicken breast in between two sheets of waxed paper and pound until they’re about 1/4-inch thick. Cut each breast in half. Rub both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Prepare Sauce: Heat the griddle to medium heat. Place a small pot on the griddle. Add the butter. Once melted, stir in the lemon juice and garlic.
- Cook Chicken: Place four separate spoonfuls of lemon butter onto the griddle. Add chicken on top of each spoonful. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip the chicken. Ladle another spoonful of butter onto each.
- Cook Tomatoes: While the chicken is cooking, place the tomatoes on the griddle. Add a spoonful of butter onto the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes, tossing occasionally.
- Finishing Touches: Add a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each piece of chicken. Top with a spoonful of pesto sauce and a spoonful of cooked tomatoes. Continue cooking until the cheese is melted.