Discovering recipes that are not only delicious but also healthy are a win! To top that, this recipe is also made in the slow cooker, allowing you to whip up a week’s worth of meal prep in one pot and with minimal prep time.
Perfect for mid-week dinners or a tasty lunch, you will find yourself making this slow cooker balsamic chicken frequently. Balsamic vinegar is the key component of this dish that gives it all of its flavor, while keeping it healthy. It is worth investing in a good balsamic vinegar for the best results when you cook, however, good balsamic vinegars tend to be pricey and used in moderation. While you may not be using a ‘true’ balsamic vinegar, it will still give this dish a wonderful depth of tangy flavor balanced with just enough sweetness. You can also replace the vinegar with balsamic glaze (or syrup) or a herbed flavored balsamic.
Our recipe calls for skinless, boneless chicken breast, preferably organic, making it the healthiest option. Chicken thighs or legs could be used but would increase the calorie content and will require slightly longer to cook. We find one of the best ways to prepare the chicken for this dish is to hasselback each breast; this will allow you to add garlic slivers into the crevices, as well as the chicken to soak up the amazing flavor as it slow cooks. Alternatively, you could slice the chicken into pieces.
We also recommend using cherry tomatoes rather than normal tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes tend to be a bit tangier which helps create the perfect flavor of this dish. They add a lovely zingy ‘pop’ as you bite into them. Halving the tomatoes will still allow for a bit of a pop, but you can leave them whole too!
This dish is best served over rice or pasta to soak up the wonderful sauce the slow cooking creates. As you will want to keep your carb choice healthy, opt for whole-wheat pasta or brown rice; you could also use quinoa or lentils. Remember, regardless of whichever you choose, measure it out before serving so that you don’t go over excess in calories. To give you an idea of the calorie content of each of the above, see below:
- Whole-wheat pasta: 2oz = approx. 200 calories
- Brown rice: ½ cup = approx. 75 calories
- Tri-color quinoa: ½ cup = approx. 126 calories
- Red lentils: ½ cup = approx. 113 calories
- Puy lentils: ½ cup = approx. 144 calories
Depending on your goals, you may find that one of these sides are more suitable. Without measuring them out, it is too easy to go overboard with your calories without even realizing it!
Let’s get cooking! You will only need about 5 minutes prep time (Serves 6):
- 6 chicken breasts, 4oz each (preferably organic)
- 3 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 12 basil leaves, thinly chopped
- ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1.5 tsp Italian seasoning
- Pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper
- Make slits along each chicken breast, but not deep enough to cut through the breast; this is referred to as hasselback. Season each breast on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Slice the shallots, garlic, cherry tomatoes and basil. Put half of each into the bottom of your slow cooker.
- Place the chicken breasts into the slow cooker. Slot a slice of garlic into each of the slits on the chicken breast. Top with the remaining shallots, tomatoes, garlic and basil.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and sprinkle in the Italian seasoning.
- Cook on low for 6 hours, or high for 3. Taste before serving and adjust seasoning where necessary.
- Cook the side of your choice (as discussed above) according to the package instructions.
For meal prep, portion out your side into containers and top with one breast and a hearty drizzle of the balsamic sauce. These can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days, so you may want to freeze one or two if they won’t be used before this time.
If you do freeze, store in an airtight container. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To defrost, place the container in the fridge overnight. Heat in the microwave for a few minutes, checking that it is warm throughout before serving.
For more healthy recipes check out our blog here.