It’s time to spice up the usual (boring) chicken dinner. Say hello to your new favorite 4-ingredient protein entree!
There are only 5 minutes of actual active prep time to make this, so you don’t have to worry about hovering over the stove tonight.
To make things super simple, you could buy your salsa verde at the store. But I am a big advocate of homemade salsa verde. The tangy tomatillo sauce has extra fresh flavor when it’s homemade, and you can customize the spice level to your liking.
So, how do you make this super easy recipe?
Start off by seasoning the poultry with salt and pepper on both sides, then place it in a baking dish.
The idea here is to make sure that the breasts fit in there snugly. You don’t want them to be too spread apart when you add the cheese on top.
After this, you pour the sauce on top of the poultry and all around the sides. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the meat is almost cooked all the way through.
Once the poultry reaches about 150˚F, you top the whole bake with cheese. Place it back in the oven to let the meat finish cooking, with gooey, melty cheese on top.
Before you serve it, make sure the poultry has reached the right temperature. Fully cooked poultry should be 165˚F, and you can check this easily with a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part. If it’s not quite there yet, stick it back in the oven for a few minutes.
This recipe is so wonderfully simple to make if you’re in the mood for an entree that’s spicy and full of flavor. And it’s a one-pan protein entree that you can pair with so many different sides.
My personal favorite option is to serve the juicy and tender meat over rice. You can choose fluffy white rice, brown rice, or even rice pilaf if that appeals to you. You can take it one step further by using the chicken and rice as the main components of a colorful Mexi-bowl.
The best part is when you pour some extra salsa verde on top before serving, and the salsa combines with the juices in the chicken, flavoring the bed of rice below.
Don’t forget to top it all off with a final sprinkle of freshly chopped cilantro, which gives the dish a final hit of freshness and herbaceous flavor.
As an added bonus, cleanup is super easy because everything is prepared in one dish.
If you don’t happen to eat all of that juicy, tender goodness in one fell swoop, you can easily store the leftovers to enjoy them later. I love to make this on a Sunday as part of my meal prep so I can portion out my chicken and rice for the next few days.
Stored in the fridge in an airtight container, this dish will last for about 3 to 4 days. Simply reheat in the oven or the microwave until it’s warmed all the way through.
You can even add a little additional shredded cheese on top before reheating if you want. I mean, do you really need a reason to add a little extra cheese? Who can resist?Print
This delicious and easy salsa verde chicken bake only requires 4 ingredients and one pan to make it. With a cheesy topping, it’s a quick protein option.
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 4 lbs total weight)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 16 ounces jarred or homemade salsa verde, plus more for serving
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Season chicken breasts evenly on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place chicken breasts in a baking dish so they fit relatively snugly.
- Pour salsa over the top of the chicken.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 150˚F.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with cheese. Increase temperature to 400˚F and return pan to oven.
- Bake for 5-8 more minutes, or until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbling. The poultry is done when the internal temperature reaches 165˚F.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro, and extra salsa if you like. Serve warm over rice, or with your choice of sides.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: chicken, salsa verde, cheese
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Chop Cilantro and Measure Remaining Ingredients
Chop enough cilantro leaves until you have 1/4 cup total.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.
Preheat your oven to 350˚F.
Step 2 – Assemble
Season the chicken breasts with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides. Pre-ground pepper is fine to use if that’s what you have on hand, but freshly cracked it provides so much more flavor!
Add the breasts to a baking dish that is big enough to fit all four snugly inside. My dish was 10 by 4 inches. Pour the salsa on top.
Step 3 – Bake
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The internal temperature of the chicken should be 150˚F at this point.
To avoid overcooking, make sure you are using an oven thermometer and know where the hot spots are in your oven. If you the chicken is already at a temperature higher than 150˚F, be sure to only bake for 5 more minutes, to avoid overcooking the poultry.
Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top in an even layer.
Increase the oven temperature to 400˚F. Place pan back in the oven.
Bake for 5 to 8 more minutes, until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling. The chicken should be 165˚F internally when it is done.
Garnish with cilantro and serve warm over rice. I like to add a little extra homemade salsa as well.
The Spicier, The Better
When it comes to spice, I like more heat. If you want to amp up the spice level of this dish, make sure you select a medium or hot salsa verde at the store. If you use mild, you won’t get enough heat.
If you are making a homemade salsa verde and you want to make it more spicy, simply add the seeds of the jalapeno to the salsa. You can also just add more jalapeno without the seeds, if you are afraid of making it too spicy.
Do you like your salsa mild, medium, or hot hot hot? Tell us in the comments below. And be sure to come back and rate the recipe after you try it!
Looking for more baked chicken recipes to serve for dinner? Try these Foodal favorites next:
- Crunchy Buffalo Baked Chicken Cutlets
- Lemon Sage Garlic Chicken
- One-Pan Roasted Spiced Chicken with Vegetables
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on July 8, 2012. Last updated on June 20, 2020.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.