Skillet Chicken Pesto Panini with Mozzarella Recipe

Chicken, pesto, basil, and mozzarella panini grilled in a cast iron skillet.

The ultimate panini recipe. Skillet chicken pesto panini with fresh mozzarella

The chicken pesto panini recipe is actually a revision of a much older post. Same recipe but a slightly different method. About a month ago someone found their way to my site by Googling “chicken pesto panini without the grill” No idea who they were but it inspired me. I see you, chicken pesto panini without the grill!

How to Make a Panini without a Press

So how would I make a panini without a grill or press? CAST IRON. The only way to go. Bite into this crispy golden chicken masterpiece and you would never guess it was made using a skillet on the stove. The secret is in the olive oil brushed on the panini bread. It gives you a crispy golden, toasted finish like yuh dream about. Like a grilled cheese, only crunchier.

I’ve played around with getting the chicken JUST right. The trick is using thinly sliced chicken and further flattening it out with a rolling pin. Like when preparing chicken Parmesan, but thinner. Otherwise, it’s near impossible to eat. 

You know when you take one bite out of a sandwich and pull the entire contents out with your teeth? Total disaster, I know. Flattening the chicken will prevent that.

The best part about this chicken pesto sandwich? You can do it all in one pan. Sear your chicken first in the cast iron skillet and then assemble the panini right in the same skillet. Grilled chicken, grilled sandwich.

Layer the panini bread, basil pesto, grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella, and tomato. Pro tip: Place the mozzarella on top of the chicken when assembling so the heat will melt the cheese better. Use a spatula to firmly press down on either side of the panini as it heats up so it flattens and all melts together. This acts as your panini press.

Is there anything a cast iron skillet can’t do?

Chicken for chicken pesto panini
Chicken is ideal if it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
The ultimate panini recipe. Skillet chicken pesto panini with fresh mozzarella
The ultimate panini recipe. Skillet chicken pesto panini with fresh mozzarella

Cast Iron Chicken Pesto and Mozzarella Panini Recipe

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 2 1x



  • 2 thinly sliced chicken breasts, flattened to 1/4 inch thick
  • 4 slices white panini bread
  • 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 4 slices tomato (thinly sliced)
  • 23 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, for bread
  • 45 fresh basil leaves (optional)


  1. Thinly slice the tomato and fresh mozzarella into 1/4 inch thick slices. Set aside.
  2. Flatten each chicken breast using a rolling pin to 1/4 inch thick slices. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat cast iron skillet to medium heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil and fully cook chicken through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside. Take a paper towel and carefully wipe up excess juices (if any).
  4. Spread 1 teaspoon of olive oil on one side of each slice of panini bread (oiled sides facing the skillet when searing). Assemble each panini right on the skillet starting with one slice of bread, pesto sauce, chicken breast, mozzarella slices, tomato slices, and top with the other slice of panini bread.
  5. Sear for 2-3 minutes per side, periodically pressing down firmly with a spatula on both sides so the panini sticks together and cheese fully melts. The panini is done when the bread is golden brown and crunchy.


Cook on medium heat to avoid burning panini. It will cook quickly so carefully monitor.