Cheesy Sausage and Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


I am showing my age again by telling you this, but back when I was in high school, Ontario still had Grade 13. They were the only province that still had it, and they phased it out about a decade after I graduated. It was an interesting system, because you could actually graduate from high school by the end of Grade 12, as long as you had 30 or more high school credits. But you couldn’t go to university unless you had 6 or more Ontario Academic Credits, or OACs as we called them. By the time I finished Grade 13, I had 9 OACs, mostly in the liberal arts like English and the Social Sciences. But I did have a Chemistry OAC as well. It wasn’t my most spectacular grade, but it wasn’t my worst either (that dubious honour belonged to Calculus). As the sciences went, I enjoyed Chemistry, the mixing of several ingredients with known properties and expecting a certain result. I suppose it’s why I also like cooking, although cooking has the added advantage of producing something edible, and presumably delicious, at the end.

Apparently this view is shared by my assignee for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, whose blog is aptly named The Cookin’ Chemist. I couldn’t find her real name anywhere on her blog, so for the purposes of this post, she will forthwith known as The Chemist. Or perhaps the Pharmacist, as that is her listed occupation. Whatever she is called, she has a great blog, with lots of wonderful recipes to choose from. When I found out my assignment, I poked around a little and had tons of ideas from that first foray. I was very tempted by these Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas, and was scheming how to sub in thinly sliced eggplant for the tortillas. But then I made a return visit, and the minute I saw this recipe, I knew it was the one. Chicken breasts stuffed with cheese and basil…easy to put together, delicious, and something the whole family would love.

But you know I couldn’t leave well enough alone, I had to change up the recipe in a few ways. First of all, the bread crumb topping had to go, being neither low carb nor gluten free. I considered replacing it simply with almond flour or other ground nuts, but then the idea of sliced almonds popped into my head, and I knew that would do very well. The idea of adding sausage to the filling was just plain old fashioned last-minute inspiration. And although cherry tomatoes would have been lovely, I couldn’t justify buying a pint when I had some of the last of my summer tomatoes ripening on my counter. So I quartered and seeded those to use instead.

The Results: I am so glad I took the time to go back to The Cookin’ Chemist before I decided what to make! Because if I hadn’t, I would have missed this little gem entirely. It is so, so good, and it’s a basic enough recipe that many people have the ingredients on hand at any given moment. It’s pretty easy to throw together, too, so it makes for a great weeknight meal.

Although it’s not part of the original recipe, I highly recommend brining the chicken breasts beforehand and have added that step into the instructions. This recipe may be very good regardless, but I guarantee you it is a little better with this step included. I’ve made a lot of chicken in my day, and breasts baked in the oven can get dry, no matter what goodies they are stuffed with. Brining the breasts for an hour makes them juicy and tender, every time. But don’t brine too long…they can get too salty if you leave them for more than an hour or so.

Cheesy Sausage and Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 chicken breasts
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled sausage
2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper to taste
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup tomatoes, coarsely chopped and seeded

To brine the chicken, fill a large bowl halfway with water and add the kosher salt. Stir until most of the salt has dissolved. Add chicken breasts and refrigerate for one hour (don’t let it sit too much longer, the chicken will get really salty).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded cheese, sausage, basil, cream, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

Remove each breast from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Cut a pocket in the thickest part of each breast. Stuff with cheese/sausage mixture and seal using a toothpick to help keep the slit closed (I found I had to use two toothpicks per breast). Transfer the stuffed breasts to a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Spread mayonnaise evenly over the tops and sides of the prepared breasts, then sprinkle with sliced almonds, salt and pepper.

Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange the tomatoes in the baking dish in and around the chicken. Bake until sliced almonds are light golden brown and chicken is cooked through (165F in thickest part of breast).

Serves 4. Each serving has 5 g of carbs (including the tomatoes).

Check out all the great posts for this month’s Secret Recipe Club!

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  1. Helene Dsouza says

    This looks like a killer dish, like a cordon bleu just totaly different. I love your idea with the sliced almonds, it looks so pretty and makes u wonder what surprise filling awaits u inside (if u wouldnt know the filling of course).

    I ll make that for my sister when she comes to visit me for new year!

  2. Sandra says

    This looks very tasty and I'm always looking for a new way to liven up chicken. I also agree with you about the difference brining makes.

  3. Rosemary says

    They sure look beautiful; and I understand your recommendation about brining, too. It's a time-consuming, plan ahead step but worth it.

  4. healthyfoodietravels says

    I love that oozing stuffing :) looks incredibly delicious!
    In Germany, we had a half year of grade 13, which was also quite odd. It worked out though!

  5. sarah k @ the pajama chef says

    this sounds awesome. i don't think i'd even miss the bread crumbs, this seems complete without it. :)

  6. Karen says

    I can see why you chose this recipe. Yum! Love the changes you made too. This is one of those simple dishes that is also perfect for company, too.

  7. Island Vittles says

    This looks really delicious — and I don't say that alot about chicken! The sliced almond "crust" looks lovely. Theresa

  8. Susie says

    I am with you on the brining business, and the stuffing looks soooo delicious! I may give them a whirl as my husband says"not chicken again"…..

  9. RavieNomNoms says

    What a great job you did! This looks irresistible! I love stuffed chicken, you can do so many different yummy things!

  10. Krista {Budget Gourmet Mom} says

    This is one knock-out combination and they look beautiful! We are somewhat fanatics of sausage so I'm sure this dish would go over very well at our dinner table

  11. Cookin' Canuck says

    I still tell people about Ontario's grade 13 and they look at me like I have two heads. Love the Canadian memories you bring up! These chicken breasts look incredibly good.

  12. Megan says

    Awesome! I love it – I never made it to Calculus and Chemistry…. well, that wasn't my forte either!

    Recipe looks divine, I always love what you post from the Secret Recipe Club!

    Hope you are well – xoxo meg

  13. Ann says

    This looks absolutely delicious! I like the original recipe – AND what you did with it! Using almonds is brilliant!

    I never knew that Canadian schools used to have 13 years!

    Long over due – I'm your newest follower via Google Follower!

  14. Tessa says

    Glad you were able to adapt this. I would have never thought of adding sausage, but I can see how it would go right in with the other flavors!

    Sorry about my name being absent… it's Tessa :)

  15. Ruby says

    Perfect dinner to welcome my hubby back from a week away – stuffed chicken is his fave and this recipe looks amazing. Thanks for the brining tip too – I'll try it!

  16. kita says

    I cant tell you how excited I am about this dish. It sounds fantastic and delicious – and a great way to dress up 'boring' chicken!

  17. Terra says

    Oh my hubby would love this recipe, he loves chicken, and he loves sausage! We have been trying to be more gluten free in our lives, so he would adore that! Seriously it looks wonderful, love how you changed it up:-) Hugs, Terra

  18. Sandra says

    I think this is much try..look amazing, and interesting with all the ingredients! Lovely photos too! Thanks for sharing Carolyn!

  19. Tiffany says

    I'm always looking for new dishes to make for my meat eating friends… and THIS is definitely going to be my next go to recipe! It looks great!

  20. Gina says

    Bring on the juicy breasts, lol. I love the almonds on top. This is a good idea for a week night. Hope you are having a great week.

  21. says

    I literally had water in my mouth while I read the stuffing. Have to eat this one. Delishious!

  22. Melanie says

    This was delicious! I had pinned it to pinterest but never made it. Well, someone made it for me when they brought me a meal after I had my baby! (They’d re-pinned it from me!)

  23. Brooke says

    Hi there! I made this last week and it was literally the best chicken I have had in a loooong time!! It was so filling, I could barely finish my plate! I am so glad I made extras! I’m planning on making it for my wonderful man on valentines day but I was wondering if I could brine the chicken ahead of time like a few hours or even a day before I actually cook it. I may not have time to brine an hour right before I cook it but I could tell it had so much more moisture. Thanks again!
    Oh another note, this recipe was so QUICK and easy! The brining obviously takes a while but you aren’t doing anything with it for an hour so that let me do other things. Then I made the stuffing, stuffed it and cooked it in no time! My tummy had just started to growl when the oven beeped! Can’t wait to make it again!

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