For the weeknights when you need a quick and healthy meal, whip up a delicious chicken saltimbocca recipe. The fresh basil, artichokes and tasty prosciutto will transport you to an Italian family dinner table. You can get this on the table in under 30 minutes!
This chicken saltimbocca recipe, while rich in flavor, is easy enough to make on a busy weeknight. The chicken is so tender and the flavors are amazing. It only takes about twenty minutes to prepare which is so nice when you want something special for dinner but don’t want to be in the kitchen all night.
Saltimbocca is a classic Italian dish that traditionally uses veal, salty prosciutto and sage. It’s considered a Roman dish but is thought to have originated in Brescia where prosciutto is made. You’ll find it on the menu of most traditional Italian restaurants.
My version is a little different. It starts with chicken and prosciutto, but since I only like sage in small doses, I use fresh basil instead. Then at the end, I add chopped artichokes to the sauce. You still get the salty prosciutto flavor, with a subtle twist from the artichokes.
The recipe needs fresh basil. Every summer I grow a pot of it in my backyard, it’s really easy to grow and so much cheaper than buying it fresh and you’ll always have it on hand for when you want to make this easy chicken saltimbocca recipe.
You might not think that the prosciutto and basil would stay attached to the chicken, but somehow they do, no toothpicks required.
If you have extra basil, try using it for Cheese and Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken Breasts, or Mini Zucchini Pesto Quiches. It’s also great just sprinkled on top of Carbonara with Shrimp and Corn, or added to a marinara sauce for Meatloaf Muffins. If it’s the dead of winter, you’ll have to bite the bullet and get fresh from the grocery.
Basil is an annual which means it dies out at the end of the season, so unless you have a greenhouse, or a very sunny spot indoors, your pot will not survive the winter. However, you can freeze extra basil for soups, check out Gardening Know How for some handy tips.
Those little pots you get in the grocery can actually last for a while if you have direct sunlight. I just learned today that instead of adding water to the top, you’re supposed to put the pot in a bowl and add water to the bowl so that the water can be absorbed by the plant.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Get a restaurant quality meal at home, in under 30 minutes
- Juicy and tender chicken breasts
- Using fresh ingredients like basil boosts the flavor profile
- I love a one pot meal
What you’ll need
- Chicken breasts – skinless and boneless, you can also use chicken cutlets. If you have time, letting them soak in buttermilk will make sure you have super tender chicken.
Pro tip: If you’re out of buttermilk, you can make your own with just two ingredients. Here are three different methods for how to make your own buttermilk.
- Prosciutto – you need thin slice of prosciutto to wrap around the chicken, for the best flavor, have it cut at the deli section of your grocery.
- Basil – it needs to be fresh, you can substitute fresh sage leaves if you like.
- Artichoke hearts – packed in water not oil
- Marsala or white wine – you can substitute chicken broth but wine adds more flavor. I keep a bottle of Marsala in my pantry. Unlike other wines, it is fortified which means it can last a long time after opened. When choosing a Marsala wine to cook with, you should always choose “sweet” and not dry. It’s not actually sweet but adds more flavor than a dry. If using a white wine, try a dry wine.
- Chicken broth – a base for the sauce
- Flour – just a little
Pro tip: For the most tender chicken breasts, soak them in buttermilk for at least 30 minutes or over night. Don’t have buttermilk, just add a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk.
How to make chicken saltimbocca recipe
Step 1 – First you need to pound the chicken so that each breast is the same thickness. A good way to do this is to place them between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them with a meat mallet.
On the rough side of the chicken, place the basil leaves and then cover with thinly sliced prosciutto. Place them in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.
Step 2 – Cut the chicken in half and dredge in a little flour and cook over medium heat in a large skillet for about 2 minutes on each side depending, on how thin they are. Use a meat thermometer and remove with it registers 155º. They will cook some more at the end. Remove to a plate while you make the sauce and cover with tin foil to keep it warm.
Step 3 – For the chicken saltimbocca sauce, add wine to the skillet and scrape up all the brown bits that got stuck on the bottom of the pan. Let the wine cook off, then add drained artichokes and chicken broth and let it simmer until reduced. Add the chicken back to the skillet to re-heat.
What goes with Saltimbocca
In Italian restaurants it will typically be served over angel hair pasta, but try serving it over mashed potatoes or rice. Add some veggies or salad and you have a complete meal.
The USDA recommends cooking chicken breasts until the internal temperature is 165º. However, the chicken breasts will continue to cook in this recipe so I remove them from the skillet when they are 155-160º.
You can store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to three days, or freeze and re-heat covered in the oven.
- You can add a little cream to the sauce at the end.
- Add some cheese, you can sprinkle with parmesan or try adding a slice of fontina to the top of each piece and let it melt before serving.
- You can also adds saute some mushrooms after you have removed the chicken from the skillet
FAQs and tips
Traditionally chicken saltimbocca is thin chicken breasts wrapped in prosciutto and sage. I prefer basil over sage but you can easily change the recipe and use sage leaves instead of basil leaves.
This term means “jump in your mouth”, and it’s a good description for how delicious the sauce is.
You will need to use skinless boneless chicken breasts for a saltimbocca recipe.
You will need a large skillet, a cast iron works great, but any skillet is fine.
This chicken dish is great all by itself, but even better over angel hair pasta to soak up the sauce.
You might think that saltimbocca is salty because of the prosciutto in the dish. However, the chicken is wrapped in very thin slices of prosciutto which adds flavor but does not create a salty dish.
More weeknight dinner recipes
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- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 12 basil leaves
- 12 thin slices prosciutto
- ⅓ cup flour
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅓ cup white wine/marsala
- 14 ounces canned artichoke hearts chopped, packed in water
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Pound chicken breasts until about ¼ inch thick.
- Place 2-3 basil leaves on the less smooth side of each breast. Cover with prosciutto and press until they adhere. Cover and chill for 10 minutes. Cut each in half crosswise.
- Place flour in a pie plate. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Coat chicken with flour.
- Heat 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce to medium heat. Saute half the chicken, 2 minutes per side or until the pieces are golden and just cooked through. A thermometer should read 155-160º. Remove to a plate, cover and repeat with the remaining pieces.
- Add wine to the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan, and simmer for a minute or until the pan is almost dry.
- Drain and coarsely chop the artichoke hearts and add to the skillet along with the chicken stock. Simmer until reduced by half. Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer just until reheated. Add butter to the pan and swirl until it has melted.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- If you have time, marinate the chicken breasts overnight or for at least 30 minutes in buttermilk. Rinse and pat dry before using.
- You will need to use fresh basil leaves for this recipe, you can use sage leaves instead.
- Use thinly sliced prosciutto to make it easier to wrap around the chicken, you can have it sliced at the deli section of the grocery or buy it pre-sliced.
- This is great served over angel hair pasta.