This Tomato Basil Chicken recipe is made in one-pan and comes together fast! A simple marinara sauce is made using Whole30 compliant canned tomatoes, basil, garlic and onion. It’s low carb, paleo, gluten free and Whole30.
I grew up on the Jersey Shore where we had SAUCE for dinner every Sunday night and on major holidays. Red sauce or sometimes called Gravy (which is fucking weird to me) is an Italian American staple and reminds me of growing up.
Truthfully, it’s been ages since I’ve made a traditional Italian sauce like my mother and grandmothers used to make.
Moving away from New Jersey after culinary school, my cuisine choices changed drastically from the fresh island food of Hawaii to the dense comfort food of the south here in Charleston.
🌟 Recipe Highlights
Contrary to popular belief, marinara sauce is super simple to make. In fact, the pan sauce for tomato basil chicken is so easy, the entire meal comes together in about 35 minutes.
The simple fresh ingredients make it inherently nutritious and delicious. This is a great one to feed the family!
This recipe is a great way to utilize an abundance of fresh summer basil!
There’s only a handful of ingredients -most of which you might already have on hand!
🍅 Ingredients You’ll Need
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast – Chicken breasts with minimal visible fat and about ½” thickness work best when quickly cooking them in a pan.
- Garlic Powder – I like to season chicken breasts with a bit of garlic powder in most recipes. Garlic makes everything better.
- Salt & Pepper – We will be using salt and pepper in the sauce as well, but I always season the chicken as well because no one likes bland chicken.
- Olive Oil – Olive oil’s smoke point makes it one of the harder oils to burn and ruin a meal with. It’s great for pan-frying chicken. We’ll be using it for the chicken and the sauce.
- Canned Crushed Tomatoes – Unless it’s the height of the season, fresh tomatoes are pretty hit or miss. With canned crushed tomatoes, you know exactly what you’re going to get.
- White Onion, Fresh Garlic & Basil – All of which are essential for a delicious homemade marinara sauce!!
- Unsweetened Coconut Milk – Canned coconut milk is a great dairy-free way to thicken soups and sauces. The coconut milk purchased should be unsweetened without any sugar or preservatives that are not whole30 compliant. The brand Thai Kitchen is my favorite coconut milk to use in dairy-free cooking.
🥫 Are Canned Tomatoes Whole30 Approved?
Canned tomatoes are compliant on a round of Whole30, but make sure you check the labels. Ideally, the ingredients should just be “tomatoes,” but they should definitely not contain sugar, chemicals or other off-plan ingredients
Check out this official forum post about Whole30 tomato paste and Whole30 canned tomatoes HERE.
📖 How To Make Tomato Basil Chicken
1️⃣ Start by prepping the chicken breast. Slice the breasts lengthwise into thin cutlets (about ½” thick). Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
2️⃣ In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.
3️⃣ Gently place the seasoned chicken cutlets into the hot pan and cook until the chicken is lightly browned and almost cooked through – about 4 to 5 minutes per side (If you haven’t already, while the chicken is cooking is a good time to dice the onion, mince the garlic and chop the basil).
4️⃣ Remove the chicken and set it aside on a clean plate. Keep your skillet warm because we’re not quite finished with it!
5️⃣ Moving on to the pan marinara sauce, heat 2 more teaspoons of olive oil. Add the diced onion and minced garlic to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and garlic are soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes).
6️⃣ To that same pan, add the canned crushed tomatoes and about half of the chopped basil. Continue to stir until the sauce comes to a boil. Once the sauce is bubbling, lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the coconut milk.
7️⃣ Remember those cooked cutlets we set aside? Go ahead and add them back into the skillet with the sauce and simmer on low heat until the chicken, tomato and coconut milk are cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and plate each serving with a sprinkle of more fresh chopped basil. Dig in!
👩🏻🍳 Chef’s Tips
Most supermarkets stock chicken cutlets, which will save you time on prepping the chicken. If it isn’t stocked on the shelves, the meat counter will usually slice it for you.
The best way to know if the chicken is cooked through is with a meat thermometer. Chicken is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. For perfectly cooked chicken, move the chicken from the pan just before it reaches temperature (145-155). When you add it back in with the sauce it will finish cooking through.
Coconut milk separates in the can. Give the can a vigorous shake before opening it to mix everything up.
Instead of chicken cutlets, this recipe would also be delicious with pork cutlets. Chicken and pork cook similarly, so simply swap out the chicken with pork, follow the rest of the recipe and you should be good to go.
The pan marinara sauce also goes well with seafood! Add cooked shrimp to the finished pan sauce for a quick home-cooked meal.
For a more robust tomato sauce, add chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the sauce with the onions and garlic.
Yes, just make sure they’re the same size and thickness as you would chicken breast.
You can, but it tastes much more flavorful with fresh basil.
To keep things simple, I’m going to recommend you stick to canned crushed tomatoes on this one. Balancing the acidity of fresh tomatoes in homemade sauce is a whole thing.
The possibilities are practically endless. Tomato basil chicken is great served over fresh-cooked penne, couscous, rice, etc.
Pasta is not compliant on a round of Whole30 nor is it ever low carb, but there are plenty of alternatives. Zucchini noodles, butternut squash noodles, sweet potato starch noodles, green bean noodles and spaghetti squash noodles are all satisfying low carb Whole30 compliant options.
This recipe is inherently low in carbohydrates but it’s also pretty low in fat. To amp up the fat content for your Keto lifestyle, swap out the coconut milk for full-fat heavy cream and finish the dish with a generous sprinkle of fresh grated parmesan.
More Quick & Easy Chicken Recipes
More recipes to check out:
- Rosemary Mustard Pork Tenderloin
- Cajun Cauliflower Rice
- Jalapeno Popper Chicken Casserole
- Dairy Free Creamy Tuscan Chicken
Tomato Basil Chicken
- 1 lb Chicken Breasts boneless, skinless
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
For Tomato Basil Sauce:
- 1 can Crushed Tomatoes 14oz
- 1 small White Onion diced
- 2 tsp Fresh Garlic minced
- 1 cup Basil loose packed and chopped
- 5 oz [Unsweetened Coconut Milk]
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
- ½ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Ground Black Pepper
For Chicken Breasts:
- Slice your chicken breast length wise in to thin cutlets
- Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder
- Add 2 tsp olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat
- Add seasoned chicken cutlets and cook about 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
- Once chicken is cooked, set aside on a plate and keep the pan hot
For Tomato Basil Sauce
- Add 2 tsp of oil to the pan that chicken was cooked in along with garlic and onion. Saute for 5 minutes or until everything begins to soften
- Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes and half of the chopped basil, stir and bring the sauce to a boil continuing to stir. Once sauce is boiling, bring it down to a simmer and stir in coconut milk.
- Add chicken breasts back into sauce and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes or until raw tomato and coconut milk is cooked through.
- Serve over pasta, spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles and top with the remaining fresh basil.