The most comforting, cozy, and delicious Pizza Chicken with Mozzarella! All the flavors of a fully-loaded pizza combined with tender chicken thighs and luscious tomato sauce. The combination of bacon, anchovies, capers, garlic, and onion make this especially flavorful — plus all that gooey mozzarella!
Pizza Chicken with Mozzarella
One of my favorite winter meals is one-pan Pizza Chicken with Mozzarella. A baked chicken dish that’s a cross between chicken caciatore and pizza casserole. Hearty, cozy, and comforting. With a fantastically flavorful sauce, you’ll be mopping up with a side of bread!
ALL the flavors of pizza. With tender chicken thighs swimming in a sea of tomatoes. And gooey puddles of cheese melting into molten ooze. Plus BIG flavors from anchovies, capers, and garlic!
So good! So tasty! You’ll be mopping up every bit of the luscious tomato sauce!
Layers of flavor make this dish truly spectacular:
- Chicken. Skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs work best. Juicy and flavorful, the chicken stays moist and tender.
- Bacon. Browing the chicken in rendered bacon fat adds another layer of flavor.
- Canned Tomatoes. Canned whole tomatoes make a luscious, rich sauce. I recommend San Marzano.
- Anchovies, Capers, Italian Dried Chili Flakes. The umami flavor bomb adds depth and loads of flavor to the sauce! If you’re worried about the anchovies, the final dish doesn’t taste fishy at all. The anchovies melt into the oil and disappear, adding another rich layer of flavor.
- Onions + Garlic. The aromatics make the base for this rich sauce.
- Mozzarella. Cubed low-moisture mozzarella makes for melty, gooey goodness.
Think of this dish as an opportunity to create layers of flavor. Each step is a building block, moving towards the finished dish.
- Fry bacon. In a little oil, fry bacon until crisp and the fat has rendered out. Remove and set aside.
- Brown chicken. Add chicken thighs, skin side down. Brown on both sides until golden and crispy. Remove and set aside.
- Make sauce. Add anchovies and cook down briefly. Add onion, garlic, capers, and dried chili flakes. Add tomatoes and break down with a wooden spoon (or potato masher).
- Add chicken. Nestle chicken thighs into the tomato sauce.
- Bake. Let the oven do the work for you. Transfer to the oven and bake until the chicken is tender and the sauce reduces to a thick, rich gravy.
- Add mozzarella. Cube mozzarella and add between the chicken thighs. Transfer to the oven andmelt slowly in the oven’s residual heat.
- Serve. Garnish with basil. Scatter reserved bacon all over. Serve immediately, preferably with crusty bread.
Watch how to make:
What can I serve with Pizza Chicken?
A loaf of crusty bread makes it easy to dip into the gooey cheese and mop up all that delicious tomato sauce. Or, serve with spaghetti noodles. So good with all that saucy chicken and cheese! For a gluten free, low carb meal — opt for a light, crisp salad instead.
What kind of Mozzarella should I use?
Since Pizza Chicken finishes baking in the oven, any mozzarella will work. Low moisture mozzarella melts especially beautifully, even better than fresh mozzarella. Cubed chunks melt into gloriously gooey puddles of cheese. But if you’d prefer, shredded cheese creates a smothered, baked chicken casserole vibe instead!
Can I use chicken breast instead?
Yes, you can definitely can. Chicken breast with bones and skin is preferred, as it will stay moist and tender. The skin browns nicely and adds more flavor, too. But boneless, skinless chicken breast will also work.
More chicken recipes:
- Korean-style Rotisserie Chicken Salad
- Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Wings
- Cheese Buldak (Fire Chicken)
- Chicken Bulgogi
- Korean Gochujang Chicken
Pizza Chicken with Mozzarella
- Shallow braiser or oven-safe skillet
- 4 slices bacon
- 8 chicken thighs, (skin-on, bone-in) (about 2-3 lbs)
- 4 anchovies
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 Tbsp capers, drained
- 1 tsp Italian dried chili flakes (use 1/2 tsp for less spicy version)
- 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
- 1 8 oz ball mozzarella (low-moisture), cubed
- basil (for garnish)
- Preheat oven to 425F/215C.
- Heat a shallow braiser to medium heat and add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add bacon and fry until crisp on both sides, about 5-6 minutes total. Remove and set aside.
- Season chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Add to the hot pan, skin side down. Cook until browned and crispy, about 4-5 minutes on the first side. Flip to the other side and cook until brown and crispy, about 2-3 more minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate. It's ok if the chicken is not fully cooked; the chicken will finish cooking in the oven.
- If the pan has an excessive amount of oil, remove all but 2 Tbsp. In the same pan, add anchovies. Stir and break the anchovies into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, about 1 minute. They should melt into the oil, leaving a few pieces behind.
- Add onion, garlic, capers, and dried chili flakes. Mix with a wooden spoon until onion has softened and looks translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and break down with wooden spoon (or potato masher). Cook for 10 more minutes until thick and rich, stirring from time to time.
- Add chicken, skin side up, directly on top of the tomato sauce. Transfer to the oven and bake until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.
- Remove shallow braiser from the oven and turn off heat. Add cubed mozzarella in between chicken pieces, directly into the sauce. Transfer to the oven and let the residual heat melt the mozzarella gently into gooey puddles, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with basil. Sprinkle more dried chili pepper flakes, if desired, and a few more grinds of black pepper. Eat immediately, preferably with crusty bread!