There's no better sandwich quite like a panini. I love a good crispy exterior, warm, gooey inside, filled with all my favorite ingredients. My go to of all time is a caprese panini, and this one tops the charts with thinly sliced chicken breast and pesto. Yes, I am still hung up over pesto. This chicken Caprese pesto panini recipe is calling your name, and takes just five ingredients.
This type of panini recipe is great all year long, and even more incredible when the tomatoes and basil for the pesto are in peak season, around summertime. There's no real season for making paninis, just a matter of making them when you want to!
What are the ingredients for this panini?
This panini calls for a few ingredients, five in total if you count the bread. Here's the extensive list of what you'll need:
- Bread: I love using fresh sourdough, but you can use focaccia or krispina, ciabatta, or a standard bread!
- Chicken: I opted for oven roasted chicken breast sliced from the deli counter.
- Pesto: store-bought is perfect here, or make my recipe!
- Roasted red peppers: to me, a panini is best with these!
- Mozzarella: fresh is best!
See the recipe card below for specific information about quantities.
How do I make this recipe?
There are a few different ways to make the panini itself, meaning how to crisp up the bread and "press" the sandwich, so for this particular version, here's how to do it.
Preheat your panini press (or cast iron skillet) to a medium heat. Then, take two pieces of bread and spread an even amount of pesto on both sides.
Fold 2-3 pieces of chicken breast onto one side of the bread, then top with the cheese and roasted red peppers.
Place the other slice of bread on top, pesto-side down, then add to the panini press or the cast iron skillet.
Close the panini press and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the mozzarella melts and the top of the bread gets crisp. If you are using a cast iron skillet, weigh down the panini with a heavy pot or plate, flipping halfway through, for approximately 20 minutes. Slice and serve.
HINT: Overstuffing the panini will cause a lot of the ingredients to fall out as the sandwich gets pressed, so ere on the side of caution when layering in the ingredients. Trust me, I've learned from experience.
Recipe Swaps and Substitutions
As always, I like to offer some swaps and substitutions for my recipes in case theres an allergy or a dietary restriction. For this panini, these are subs and swaps I suggest:
- Bread: If you have a favorite gluten-free bread to eat, use that for this recipe!
- Cheese: Use your favorite dairy-free cheese instead of the cow's milk cheese.
- Pesto: Since pesto typically contains parmesan or some sort of cheese, you can opt for a vegan pesto like Trader Joe's version, or simply omit and add whatever type of sauce you'd prefer.
Recipe Variations and Serving Suggestions
In order to really make this recipe your own, here are some of the ways you can do just that:
- Add Green: You can add a little sprinkling of arugula in the sandwich for some added peppery crunch.
- Garlic Bread: Melt two tablespoons of butter and mix together with garlic. Spread the garlic butter on each side of the bread and grill. It's going to taste fabulous!
- Chicken: If you would prefer grilled chicken or even a chicken cutlet, like my chicken cutlet recipe, you can use that instead of sliced chicken breast from the deli.
- Tea Sandwiches: Make a few of these sandos and cut them into smaller pieces, arrange on a cute platter, and serve as a tea sandwich.
- With Soup: As the colder months roll in, make your favorite stew or soup to pair with this. It's giving Panera vibes, but at home.
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
I have always wanted a panini press, and thankfully I had the opportunity to receive one a few months ago. It's quite large, but when I want to make a few sandwiches (or even grill food), it's a great piece of portable equipment to have on hand.
If you don't have one, or want to buy one, you can use a cast iron skillet to make the sandwich.
Other kitchen tools and equipment include:
- Cutting board
- Bread knife or sharp knife
- Heavy plate or pot (if you're using the cast iron skillet to make the sandwich as it will weigh the sandwich down as it crisps)
How do I store this recipe?
You can wrap the leftovers of the sandwich in some aluminum or place in a ziplock container. To warm up, you can place in the microwave for a few seconds, or heat in a 300º oven for 5-10 minutes. You could also wrap this in plastic wrap, then freeze and defrost in the fridge a few hours before eating!
Hungry for more?
Check out these other incredible recipes to add to your meal planning:
Chicken Caprese Pesto Panini Recipe
- 1 panini press optional
- 1 cast iron skillet if you don't have a press
- 1 heavy bottomed pot
- 1 cutting board
- 1 bread knife or sharp chef's knife
- 4 slices bread
- 6 slices chicken breast
- 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
- 4 pieces roasted red pepper
- 3 tablespoon pesto divided
- Preheat your panini press (or cast iron skillet) to a medium heat.
- Then, take two pieces of bread and spread an even amount of pesto on both sides.
- Fold 2-3 pieces of chicken breast onto one side of the bread, then top with the cheese and roasted red peppers.
- Place the other slice of bread on top, pesto-side down, then add to the panini press or the cast iron skillet.
- Close the panini press and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the mozzarella melts and the top of the bread gets crisp. If you are using a cast iron skillet, weigh down the panini with a heavy pot or plate, flipping halfway through, for approximately 20 minutes. Slice and serve.