On Monday nights, I harbor fleeting hopes that dinner will cook itself. Until that miracle arrives, you’ll find me making Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken Caprese. It’s easy, cheesy, and as close to a zero-effort dinner as I can come, without involving the digits “711-PAPA.”
Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken Caprese is a dinner for nights when the act of even thinking about cooking is exhausting, and all you want to do is call Papa John’s for pizza—and those fluffy wonder breadsticks (personal weakness alert!).
I adore cooking (and breadsticks), but some nights I barely have the energy to put together a peanut butter sandwich, let alone an entire meal (which is interesting considering that I always have the energy for a pan of brownies, but I digress). My mood not to cook, however, has zero impact on my mood to eat, which is a force as fierce and persistent as the rising sun.
Monday nights are typically when cooking sounds the least appealing to me, so I try to anticipate the agony with easy meals like this Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken Caprese. It’s simple, filled with sweet Italian flavor, and you probably have everything you need to make it in your pantry rightthissecond.
As its name suggests, Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken Caprese is bursting with the classic tastes of caprese salad: basil, tomato, and mozzarella. It’s a summertime triple threat—cool flavors for warm weather that I find myself eating as often as possible these dog days.
I adore drizzling my caprese salad with a glossy balsamic reduction to give it a sweet tangy somethin’ somethin’ that ties all of the flavors together, but the extra stove time it requires to prepare is a no-cook night no-no. For our Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken Caprese, let’s create a similar effect by pouring balsamic vinegar right into the slow cooker with the chicken. As it cooks, the balsamic sweetens like a reduction, with less effort (and one less pan to wash.)
Along with the balsamic, toss in a can of diced tomatoes, garlic, a red onion, and a few spices. Set the dial, and voila! Dinner will appear. All we need is a smother of gooey mozzarella cheese and sprinkle of lively fresh basil to complete the caprese picture.
Monday night may do its worst. We have a big, yummy pot of Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken Caprese to keep us full, healthy, and happy and to ward away the delivery boy.
Unless the delivery boy has breadsticks, in which case please open the door immediately.
Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken Caprese
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14 ounces)
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 small red onion diced
- Shredded mozzarella cheese for serving
- Thinly sliced fresh basil for serving
- Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Place chicken on top of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl, stir together the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, garlic, bayleaf, basil, and onion. Pour over the chicken.
- Cover and cook on low until chicken is no longer pink, juices run clear, and the chicken reaches 155 degrees F on an instant read thermometer about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours for breasts or 4 to 5 hours for thighs, depending upon your slow cooker. (Chicken is considered safe to eat at 165 degrees F, but the temperature will continue to rise as the chicken rests. Do not over cook or the chicken will be dry.)
- Transfer the chicken to a plate, cover, and let rest 5 to 10 minutes (keep the slow cooker on so that the sauce mixture in it stays warm). To serve, uncover the chicken then use a slotted spoon to scoop the tomato-balsamic slow cooker sauce over the chicken. Top with mozzarella and fresh basil. Enjoy immediately.
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