Balsamic Chicken Skillet

$5.66 recipe / $0.94 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.79 from 19 votes
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Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! Sometimes I get really excited about recipes. Can you tell? This Balsamic Chicken Skillet is one of those recipes. It’s just so freaking easy, the flavor is big, and it looks all pretty and fancy. :D I love it and I hope you will too.

The marinade for this Balsamic Chicken Skillet is super simple and uses basic pantry staples, which means you can probably whip it up any time you want. When the delicious marinade hits the skillet it cooks down to a gloriously thick and rich glaze that coats the chicken in flavor. Using chicken thighs is key for this recipe because they are small and cook quickly, but always stay moist and tender. Plus, they’re really inexpensive, especially when you buy a value pack like I did, which will help keep this recipe affordable. 

Overhead view of a skillet full of balsamic chicken thighs with melted mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and chopped parsley on top.

Whole Milk Mozzarella is Key

Another key to making this recipe so scrumptious is whole milk mozzarella. None of that “part-skim” stuff here. Whole milk mozzarella melts 100x better than part-skim mozz, and has a really rich flavor. Fresh mozzarella (the kind packed in water) also melts beautifully and would work well in this recipe.

Top Your Balsamic Chicken Skillet with Herbs

If you happen to grow basil, slice up a few leaves and sprinkle them over the chicken after it cooks. I don’t have a basil plant anymore, so I just used some fresh parsley to keep things budget friendly. Either way, a little bit of fresh green makes all the difference.

How to Serve Balsamic Chicken Skillet

You can serve this Balsamic Chicken Skillet over rice or pasta, but served some Marinated White Beans with the chicken this time.

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Balsamic Chicken Skillet

4.79 from 19 votes
A simple marinade, creamy mozzarella, and fresh tomatoes turn simple chicken thighs into a fast and easy weeknight dinner in this Balsamic Chicken Skillet.
Servings 6
Prep 45 mins
Cook 25 mins
Total 1 hr 10 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ( $0.22)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.08)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar ($0.39)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce ($0.09)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • Freshly cracked pepper ($0.05)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs ($3.02)
  • 4 oz. whole milk mozzarella ($0.91)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes ($0.54)
  • 1/4 bunch fresh parsley ( $0.20)

Instructions 

  • Prepare the marinade by stirring together the olive oil, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, minced garlic, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill).
  • Place the chicken thighs in a gallon-size zip top bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over top. Stir to coat the chicken in the marinade. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 8 hours, turning occasionally to redistribute the marinade.
  • When ready to cook the chicken, heat a large skillet over medium flame. When the skillet is hot, carefully take the chicken thighs out of the marinade and place them in the hot skillet. Cook the chicken thighs until cooked through and browned on each side (about 5 minutes each side). While the chicken is cooking, slice the mozzarella into six pieces, slice the tomatoes (at least 12 slices), and roughly chop the parsley.
  • Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it to a clean plate. Pour the remaining marinade into the skillet and let it boil over medium heat, stirring often, until it has reduced to a thick and rich glaze.
  • Turn the heat under the skillet down to medium-low, return the chicken to the skillet, and spoon some of the glaze over each piece. Place a slice of mozzarella on top of each piece of chicken, followed by two slices of tomato. Place a lid on the skillet and let it heat through until the mozzarella is melted. Top the chicken with the chopped fresh parsley, then serve.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 290.83kcalCarbohydrates: 8.28gProtein: 26.7gFat: 16.8gSodium: 413.17mgFiber: 0.35g
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Side view of balsamic chicken in the skillet with melty mozzarella and tomato slices on top

Overhead view of the finished Balsamic Chicken Skillet

Step by Step Photos

Balsamic Marinade in a small white bowl with a spoon

Prepare the marinade first, by stirring together 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and some freshly cracked pepper.

Chicken Thighs Marinating in a zip top bag

Place six boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a gallon-size zip top bag, or in a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over top and stir to coat the chicken in the marinade. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 8 hours.

Chicken browning in the skillet

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat a large skillet over medium flame. When the skillet is hot, carefully add the chicken pieces (there will likely be some sputtering and splattering). Cook the chicken on each side until browned and cooked through (about 5 minutes on each side).

Reduce Balsamic Marinade in the skillet with a spoon

Remove the cooked chicken to a clean plate and pour in the remaining marinade. Let the marinade boil until it is reduced to a thick glaze. Stir the marinade often while it boils.

Sliced Whole Milk Mozzarella

While the chicken and glaze are cooking, slice the mozzarella into six pieces (one for each piece of chicken). I bought a one pound block, so I cut it into quarters, then sliced one quarter into six slices.

Sliced Roma Tomatoes

Slice two Roma tomatoes, making sure you have at least twelve slices, or two for each piece of chicken.

Return Chicken to skillet and Add Mozzarella

Once the glaze is thickened, turn the heat down to medium-low and return the cooked chicken to the skillet. Spoon a little of the glaze over each piece of chicken, then top each one with a slice of mozzarella.

Add Tomato slices on top of mozzarella

Place two slices of tomato on each piece of mozzarella. Place a lid on the skillet and let the chicken heat through until the mozzarella is melted.

Parsley added on top of melted mozzarella and tomatoes

Once the mozzarella is melted, sprinkle chopped fresh parsley over top and serve. I also added a touch more cracked pepper.

Balsamic glaze being drizzled over a piece of chicken with mozzarella and tomatoes

You can also drizzle a little of that glaze from the bottom of the skillet over top… Oooooh yeah. This Balsamic Chicken Skillet is gonna earn you some POINTS.

A simple marinade adds big flavor to this fast and easy Balsamic Chicken Skillet with creamy mozzarella and fresh tomatoes. BudgetBytes.com
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  1. One of our weeknight absolute favorites! So easy and so delicious! Thank you Beth!

    1. Maybe, but I’d need to do some testing before offering instructions.

  2. Hi–since I’m cooking for two and only needed three pieces of chicken, I halved this recipe, used a smaller skillet, and crossed my fingers that it would work out. Unfortunately, the glaze BURNED almost immediately when I put the chicken in the pan. Any idea why that happened? Heat too high? [The burner on my gas stove was set on medium.] Brown sugar too old? [Package said “best by May 2020” and it’s August. What could I do to avoid this next time? Thanks!

    1. Yep, it sounds like the heat was too high. Unfortunately there isn’t really any standardization for burner settings and the type of cookware you use can also make a big difference with how they heat up and retain heat. Cooking is one of those things that is very intuitive and you have to get a feel for as you learn over time (usually through failures). I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you this time!

  3. Whoops – anything bad going to happen if the chicken marinates for 24 hours instead? This will be Easter (eve) dinner with your fluffy garlic herb mashed taters … yum!

    1. The only thing that may happen is that it’s possible for the chicken to over tenderize from the acid, but it’s hard to say how noticeable it will be, if at all. :)

  4. I just made this over the weekend, and like everything else I’ve tried from your website, it was a hit. My dad went so far as saying it was the best homemade chicken he’s ever had – that’s high praise. I used 3 chicken breasts, sliced into two pieces each, and pounded to an even thickness. Also used shredded mozzarella vs. pieces as shown in your recipe – it turned out amazing. No dryness at all.

    Thank you for your hard work in perfecting these recipes for us!

  5. When trying to reduce the remaining marinade into a glaze it seemed to separate. I got thick clumps of balsamic goop swimming in a yellow oil. Any idea what may have happened? Chicken was great and family loved it, so I definitely want to try again. Note that I did sub coconut sugar for the brown sugar – which hasn’t been an issue for me in other sauces to date.

    1. Hmm, I’m not sure about that one! Try using a whisk to dissolve the browned bits from the skillet after you added the remaining marinade. That might help.

  6. Probably the best recipe I’ve found for chicken yet. Pairs nicely with half mashed red potatoes.

  7. So because it’s last minute, I have chicken breasts thawed to use. Can I sub the thighs for the breasts?

    1. Yes, just make sure to either pound them out to a equal thickness, or filet them in half to be two thinner pieces to make sure they cook through. :)

  8. This is absolutely delicious! The balsamic marinade is fantastic. I’ve made your other one in the oven as well, and I definitely think the glaze on the stove is superior. Can’t wait to enjoy last night’s leftovers!

  9.  This recipe is delicious. both kids and husband loved this recipe. Don’t know how I had dinner without it for all these years.

  10. Hi Beth,

    I tried this recipe today and the glaze tasted a bit burnt. Is it meant to? I followed your instructions – turned the heat right n
    down and stirred regularly until it thickened.

    1. It sounds like butter may have gone just past brown to burned. It can be tricky and the timing/heat levels can depend greatly on the thickness of your cookware.

      1. Beth! I made this before and I’m making a portobello version for my veg friends this weekend. You mention butter here, but it’s not in the recipe. Is the glaze supposed to be “mounted” with butter? Thank you!