Another day, another chicken dinner. Our Baked Chicken Saltimbocca is a classic, with a twist. We take plump chicken breasts and stuff them with gooey fontina cheese, wrap them in sage and prosciutto, and then sear them in a mixture of butter and olive oil. The cheesy chicken breasts are then cooked in an easy marsala lemon sauce and served with plenty of fresh sage.
Baked Chicken Saltimbocca
It wouldn’t be a complete week around here without a recipe for an easy chicken dinner, would it?
Between our Cheesy French Onion Chicken Skillet, our Poblano Chicken, this Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken and today’s Cheesy Chicken Saltimbocca (oh and allll of these), we’ve got your chicken dinners covered.
Today’s chicken dinner is definitely my favorite as of late, not only because it’s delicious and easy to make, but because it’s a copy off of our favorite mom and pop Italian restaurants here in KC.
Our version aka their version, takes many of the same notes as the original, which means we see a perfectly moist chicken breast wrapped in sage leaves and prosciutto, seared and then served with a very concentrated, delicious gravy, usually studded with lemon.
What you won’t find in the original is that sage and prosciutto-wrapped chicken breast oozing with melty fontina cheese and served in a marsala and lemon-infused gravy. While it’s not completely uncommon to find marsala wine in chicken saltimbocca, the more customary acid is a combination of white wine and lemon juice.
Unlike a tradition chicken marsala which uses the marsala wine as the star, in chicken saltimbocca, we pair the marsala wine with a good bit of lemon juice, and salt, which creates a super rich, light gravy that’s slightly sweet, a little acidic, and seriously delicious.
Ingredients in Baked Chicken Saltimbocca
Chicken. You want to use chicken breasts on the smaller side, but you also want to make sure they are large enough to cut a pocket in them for the fontina.
Fontina. Fontina is a really great melting cheese and perfect for stuffing. It has a slight nutty flavor, but is very mild and super creamy. I’m kind of obsessed with it.
Sage. This time of year, I’m ALL ABOUT sage. I don’t typically eat it raw, but when it’s cooked in butter or simmered in sauce, the herb-y, lemon, and woodsy flavors come out, and I can’t get enough of it. We not only wrap the sage around the chicken and under the prosciutto, but we fry it up in butter before adding the ingredients for the sauce.
Prosciutto. My favorite prosciutto to work with prosciutto de parma, it’s paper-thin, perfectly salty, and SO buttery. However, any very thin prosciutto will work great.
Butter + olive oil. I’ve talked about this before, but I love the combination of butter AND olive oil when searing meats. Butter adds flavor, but the milk solids in it make it a good candidate for burning. The olive oil has a high smoke point, so it prevents the chicken and prosciutto from burning before they’re ready to be flipped.
Marsala wine. I do not recommend buying marsala wine from the grocery store (unless your grocery store sells liquor). I always go to the liquor store and pick out a good-quality marsala that doesn’t break the bank. This is my go-to.
Lemon juice. We need a strong hit of acid to balance out the sweetness in the marsala wine, plus lemon is an essential part of a classic saltimbocca. We use the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Ours was very juice, if yours isn’t I’d use a whole lemon – your’re looking for about 2 tablespoons.
Chicken stock. As always, we want to use low-sodium chicken stock or broth.
Let’s make Bake Chicken Saltimbocca
Stuff the chicken. Cut the fontina cheese into four rectangles. Use a small pairing knife to make a slit in the thickest part of the chicken. Gently push the knife to make a pocket big enough to fit a piece of fontina cheese. Push the cheese in as far as it will go.
If you don’t want cheese to ooze out of the chicken, you can secure the opening with a toothpick or two. I don’t find this to be necessary, as I love when the cheese oozes out of the chicken and into the sauce.
Wrap the chicken. Once the chicken is stuffed, lay three sage leaves on top of each chicken breast. Gently take the prosciutto and wrap it around the chicken.
Sear the chicken. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet. Once the butter melts, and the pan is hot, add the chicken sage-side down. Sear until easily releases from the pan, the chicken is golden brown, and the prosciutto is crispy.
Make the sauce. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add in the marsala wine and let it reduce for a second or two. Add in lemon juice, chicken stock, and a little bit of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken back to the pan.
Bake. Place the whole skillet in the oven until the chicken has reached 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
Serve! Serve over noodles, with veggies, or mashed potatoes.
Can I make baked chicken saltimbocca ahead of time?
This is one dish, I really wouldn’t make ahead of time. Although, you can PREPARE it ahead of time. Stuff the chicken, wrap in sage and prosciutto, and then you’re ready to go. The whole dish takes less than 45 minutes to make, prepping it ahead of time will save you about 15 minutes before dinner time.
Variations on Chicken Saltimbocca
- The version I have at my favorite restaurant actually uses veal, and pounds it out very thin. Because we stuff the inside of the chicken, I’d actually recommend using a veal chop.
- After stuffing the chicken, you can use a rolling pin to pound out the chicken to about 1/2-1-inch thick.
What to serve with Baked Chicken Saltimbocca
- Our number one way to serve our baked chicken saltimbocca is with mashed potatoes to catch all that delicious sauce. Our classic Creamy Dreamy Mashed Potatoes or our Five-Ingredient Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes.
- Another great option would be our Creamy Garlic Parmesan Pasta. So.much.flavor.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Make sure your pocket is big enough to not only hold the fontina cheese in its solid state, but to accommodate it as it expands when it melts. If you’re worried about too much cheese oozing out, use toothpicks to secure the chicken.
- If you don’t have marsala wine, you can swap our dry white wine.
- To add even more flavor, brown the butter before adding the olive oil. (You can find instructions on how to brown butter here.)
- Try not to move the chicken once you start to sear it. Once it’s ready to release from the pan after about five minutes, it should easily release from the pan to flip over.
- If you can’t find fontina, you can swap out mozzarella.
- 4 small chicken breasts
- 4 oz fontina
- 20 sage leaves
- 2.5 oz prosciutto de parma
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 cup marsala wine
- juice of half a lemon, about 2 tablespoons
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- Large skillet
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut the fontina into four rectangles. Use a sharp pairing knife to cut a small slit in the thickest part of the top of the chicken. Gently use the knife (while it's in the slit) to create a pocket inside the chicken, but be sure you don't cut all the way through to the sides of the chicken. Stuff the chicken with the fontina. Place three sage leaves on top of the chicken and then wrap with a piece of prosciutto.
- Heat a large skillet to a medium heat. Once it's hot, add the butter and olive oil. Swirl the pan to coat. Place the chicke in the pan sage-side down and sear until the chicken is golden brown and the prosciutto is crisp, it should take about 5 minutes. The chicken will release easily when it's ready to flip. Flip the chicken over and sear on the other side.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the marsala wine. Simmer for 1 minute. Add lemon, chicken stock, and salt. Stir. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the pan. Turn the heat off and transfer the chicken to the oven. Bake another 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through - it's fully cooked when the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
- Season sauce with salt and pepper. Serve with mashed potatoes.