top of page

"The Ultimate Guide to Making Chicken Saltimbocca A Step-by-Step Recipe"

Updated: May 15

Chicken Saltimbocca is a mouthwatering Italian dish that's renowned for its rich flavors, combining tender chicken with the salty punch of prosciutto ham and the creamy texture of cheese. Its name, which translates to 'jumps in the mouth,' perfectly encapsulates the burst of flavor this dish promises. While traditionally made with veal, chicken serves as a popular and versatile substitute. This dish is not only a staple in Italian restaurants but also simple and enjoyable to prepare at home, offering a delightful culinary experience that's both accessible and customizable.

Key Takeaways

  • Chicken Saltimbocca is a flavorful Italian dish that features chicken wrapped in prosciutto with cheese, offering a delicious blend of savory and salty tastes.

  • While veal is the traditional meat used in Saltimbocca, chicken is a widely accepted substitute, providing a different texture and flavor profile.

  • The dish is simple to prepare and can be a fun cooking experience, making it a great option for both novice cooks and seasoned chefs.

  • Pairing Chicken Saltimbocca with a simple side dish, such as a light salad or a starch like risotto, can complement its rich flavors without overwhelming the palate.

  • When serving Chicken Saltimbocca, consider presentation and wine pairings to enhance the dining experience and provide an authentic Italian meal.

The Fundamentals of Chicken Saltimbocca

Understanding the Core Ingredients

At the heart of Chicken Saltimbocca lies a harmonious blend of core ingredients that are essential to its distinctive taste. The dish traditionally includes tender chicken breasts, thinly sliced prosciutto, and fresh sage leaves. These components are layered together, with the sage nestled between the chicken and prosciutto, and then secured with toothpicks before cooking.

To ensure the best results, it's important to select high-quality ingredients. The chicken should be fresh and preferably organic, while the prosciutto must be thinly sliced and of Italian origin for authenticity. Fresh sage leaves are preferred over dried, as they impart a more vibrant flavor. Here's a quick rundown of the key ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts: The base of the dish, providing a tender canvas for the flavors.

  • Prosciutto: Adds a savory depth and saltiness to the dish.

  • Sage leaves: Contribute an earthy and slightly peppery taste.

  • Olive oil: Used for cooking, it enhances the overall richness.

  • White wine: Often used in the deglazing process to add a subtle acidity.

Remember, the quality of these ingredients will directly influence the final taste of your Chicken Saltimbocca.

The Role of Prosciutto in Enhancing Flavor

Prosciutto, a type of dry-cured ham, is not just a component of Chicken Saltimbocca; it's a flavor enhancer that elevates the entire dish. The salty richness of prosciutto complements the lean chicken breast, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that is both satisfying and indulgent.

When preparing Chicken Saltimbocca, the prosciutto should be wrapped around the chicken in a manner that allows it to impart its flavor while cooking. This not only adds a touch of saltiness but also helps to keep the chicken moist and tender. As the prosciutto crisps up, it provides a delightful contrast in texture to the succulent chicken.

For those looking to experiment, consider the addition of mozzarella inside the chicken before wrapping with prosciutto. The melting cheese adds a creamy dimension that pairs beautifully with the crisp prosciutto exterior.

Preparing the Chicken: Tips and Techniques

To achieve the perfect Chicken Saltimbocca, begin by pounding the chicken breasts to an even 1/4-inch thickness. This ensures even cooking and tender meat. Season each breast with salt and pepper, then top with sage leaves, followed by a slice of prosciutto, pressing it to adhere.

Here's a quick checklist for the preparation phase:

  • Pound chicken to 1/4-inch thickness

  • Season with salt and pepper

  • Place sage leaves on chicken

  • Press a slice of prosciutto on top

  • Roll and secure with toothpicks

Remember, the prosciutto not only adds a layer of flavor but also helps to keep the chicken moist as it cooks. For a golden and crispy exterior, roll the chicken in almond flour before searing.

Mastering the Cooking Process

Cooking Techniques for Perfect Saltimbocca

Achieving the perfect Chicken Saltimbocca requires a blend of skill and attention to the cooking process. Attention to detail is paramount, ensuring that each component of the dish complements the others harmoniously. Begin by lightly seasoning the chicken cutlets with salt, then layer each with fresh sage leaves and wrap them in prosciutto strips. This combination of ingredients not only infuses the chicken with flavor but also helps to retain moisture during cooking.

Cooking should be done over medium heat, allowing the chicken to cook through evenly without burning the prosciutto. A common technique is to pan-fry the chicken until golden brown, then finish in the oven if necessary. This method ensures that the chicken remains juicy and tender, while the prosciutto becomes crisp, providing a delightful contrast in textures.

Remember, when serving Chicken Saltimbocca, to pair it with a simple side dish. The complexity of the main dish is best complemented by sides that are understated yet flavorful, allowing the Saltimbocca to shine as the star of the meal.

Adjusting Cooking Times for Chicken vs. Veal

When preparing Saltimbocca, the cooking time is pivotal to achieving the perfect texture and flavor. Chicken, being leaner and more delicate than veal, requires careful attention to avoid overcooking. Typically, chicken breasts should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), ensuring they are fully cooked while retaining moisture. Veal, on the other hand, can be cooked to a lower temperature, usually around 145°F (63°C) for medium-rare, as it is naturally tender and moist.

Here's a quick guide to help you adjust cooking times:

  • Flatten the chicken to an even thickness before cooking to ensure uniform heat distribution.

  • Cook chicken Saltimbocca over medium-high heat for approximately 4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.

  • Veal Saltimbocca may require less time, about 2-3 minutes per side for medium-rare doneness.

  • Rest the meat for a few minutes after cooking to allow juices to redistribute for optimal tenderness.

Ensuring Proper Doneness and Moisture Retention

Achieving the perfect doneness while keeping the chicken moist is a delicate balance in preparing Chicken Saltimbocca. Gently flattening the chicken breasts to an even thickness is a critical step. This ensures that the chicken cooks uniformly, preventing the exterior from drying out before the interior is done.

When cooking, use a meat thermometer to check for the ideal internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the safest temperature for chicken, indicating that it is fully cooked yet still juicy.

After cooking, it's important to let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more succulent bite. Remember, cooked chicken saltimbocca can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and reheated gently to maintain its moisture and flavor.

Pairing with the Perfect Side Dishes

Selecting Complementary Flavors and Textures

The art of pairing side dishes with Chicken Saltimbocca revolves around complementing the rich flavors and tender texture of the chicken wrapped in savory prosciutto. Select sides that offer a contrast in texture or a refreshing counterbalance to the dish's richness.

  • Roasted vegetables, such as asparagus or bell peppers, provide a charred, earthy element.

  • Creamy polenta or mashed potatoes serve as a smooth base that absorbs the dish's juices.

  • A crisp green salad dressed with a vinaigrette adds a necessary bite and lightness.

Recipes for Classic Italian Sides

When it comes to complementing the rich flavors of Chicken Saltimbocca, classic Italian sides are a must. Selecting the right side dish can elevate the meal to a truly authentic Italian dining experience. A variety of options are available, ranging from starches to vegetables, each bringing its own unique texture and flavor to the table.

For a hearty and traditional choice, consider lemon and herb risotto, which pairs beautifully with the savory notes of the saltimbocca. If you're looking for something lighter, an arugula Caprese salad offers a fresh and tangy contrast. Here's a list of some classic sides that are known to complement Chicken Saltimbocca perfectly:

  • Lemon and herb risotto

  • Broiled Italian tomatoes

  • Arugula Caprese salad

  • Make-ahead mashed potatoes

  • Radish and cucumber salad

  • Gnocchi in mushroom marsala cream

  • Roasted parmesan green beans

  • Rustic Italian crusty bread

Innovative Twists on Traditional Accompaniments

While traditional sides are a staple, introducing innovative twists can elevate the dining experience. Consider the Ultimate Chicken Pizzaiola Recipe, a dish that harmonizes with a variety of sides. For a touch of spring, lemon tahini asparagus offers a fresh and zesty complement.

For those seeking a heartier addition, polenta squares provide a versatile and satisfying option. They can be served warm, room temperature, or cold, allowing for advanced preparation. Here's a quick list of sides that can be paired creatively with chicken saltimbocca:

  • Lemon and herb risotto

  • Broiled Italian tomatoes

  • Arugula caprese salad

  • Mashed potatoes with a twist of truffle oil

  • Gnocchi in a rich mushroom sauce

Each side dish offers a unique texture and flavor that complements the main course, ensuring a memorable meal.

Serving and Presentation Tips

Plating Chicken Saltimbocca for Visual Appeal

The presentation of Chicken Saltimbocca is as important as its preparation. A visually appealing plate enhances the dining experience, inviting the diner to savor the flavors even before the first bite. To achieve this, consider the following steps:

  • Lay the Chicken Saltimbocca neatly in the center of a warm plate.

  • Drizzle any pan juices artistically around the meat, using them as a flavorful garnish.

  • Add a sprig of sage or a lemon wedge on the side for a pop of color.

Remember, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Pair Chicken Saltimbocca with a simple side that won't overshadow the star of the show. A light, crunchy salad or a portion of creamy risotto can be the perfect accompaniment, allowing the rich flavors of the chicken and prosciutto to shine.

Balancing the Dish with Simple Sides

When it comes to complementing the rich flavors of Chicken Saltimbocca, simplicity is key. Selecting the right side dishes can enhance the meal without overshadowing the main attraction. A few well-chosen sides can provide a refreshing contrast and complete the dining experience.

  • Lemon and herb risotto offers a zesty and aromatic accompaniment.

  • Roasted asparagus adds a tender, yet crisp texture.

  • An arugula caprese salad brings a burst of freshness with its peppery greens and juicy tomatoes.

Remember, the goal is to achieve a balance of flavors and textures that will allow the Chicken Saltimbocca to shine as the centerpiece of your meal.

Suggested Wine Pairings for an Authentic Experience

To elevate your Chicken Saltimbocca to a truly authentic Italian dining experience, selecting the right wine is crucial. A well-chosen bottle can complement the flavors of the dish and enhance the overall meal.

When considering wine pairings, white wines are often a top choice for chicken dishes. A crisp Pinot Grigio or a delicate Chardonnay can balance the savory notes of prosciutto and the subtle taste of chicken. For those who prefer reds, a light-bodied Chianti can provide a harmonious match without overpowering the dish.

Here's a simple guide to help you select the perfect wine:

  • Pinot Grigio: A zesty white that pairs well with the saltiness of prosciutto.

  • Chardonnay: Its buttery notes can complement the chicken's texture.

  • Chianti: A red with enough acidity to cut through the richness of the dish.

Ultimately, the best pairing is one that suits your personal taste and the specific flavors of your Chicken Saltimbocca.

Variations and Customizations

Substituting Chicken with Veal or Other Meats

While chicken is a popular choice for Saltimbocca, the dish's versatility allows for various substitutions. Veal is the traditional meat used in classic Saltimbocca recipes, offering a delicate texture and flavor that pairs beautifully with the savory prosciutto and aromatic sage. When substituting with veal cutlets, be mindful of the cooking times, as they may differ from chicken.

For a leaner option, turkey breast can serve as an excellent substitute. It's crucial to pound the turkey to an even thickness to ensure uniform cooking and to monitor the internal temperature for proper doneness.

Here's a quick reference for meat substitutions:

  • Chicken breasts: A versatile base, easy to find and prepare.

  • Veal cutlets: Traditional choice, requires careful cooking time adjustments.

  • Turkey breast: A leaner alternative, ensure even thickness for cooking.

Experimenting with Different Cheeses and Herbs

While traditional Chicken Saltimbocca is known for its use of prosciutto and sage, experimenting with different cheeses and herbs can transform the dish into a new culinary experience. Incorporating various cheeses such as mozzarella, fontina, or gorgonzola can add depth and creaminess to the flavor profile. Pairing these cheeses with herbs like rosemary, thyme, or basil can also introduce fresh and aromatic dimensions to the dish.

For those looking to customize their Saltimbocca, here's a simple guide to get started:

  • Choose a cheese that melts well for a gooey texture.

  • Opt for fresh herbs over dried for a more vibrant taste.

  • Experiment with mild to sharp cheeses depending on your preference.

  • Balance the flavors by considering the saltiness of the prosciutto.

Remember, the key to a successful variation is to maintain a harmonious balance between the new ingredients and the traditional components of the dish.

Adapting the Recipe for Dietary Restrictions

Adapting Chicken Saltimbocca to accommodate various dietary restrictions doesn't mean compromising on taste or tradition. Substitutions can be made to ensure everyone can enjoy this classic dish. For those with gluten sensitivities, almond flour can replace traditional flour for dredging the chicken. However, if nut allergies are a concern, coconut flour is an excellent alternative, though it's more absorbent—use half the amount to start.

Here's a quick guide to some common substitutions:

  • For Gluten-Free: Replace regular flour with almond or coconut flour.

  • For Nut-Free: Opt for coconut flour or another nut-free alternative.

  • For Dairy-Free: Use plant-based cheese or omit cheese entirely.

  • For Lower Calories: Reduce oil or use cooking spray instead of butter.

Remember, the key to a successful adaptation is to balance the substitution without losing the essence of the original recipe.


In conclusion, Chicken Saltimbocca is a delightful Italian dish that tantalizes the taste buds with its harmonious blend of chicken, cheese, and the distinct saltiness of prosciutto ham. Its simplicity in preparation makes it an irresistible choice for both restaurant menus and home cooking. Whether you opt for the traditional veal or the popular chicken variation, serving it with a well-chosen side dish can elevate the meal to a memorable dining experience. From the crispness of a lemon and herb risotto to the freshness of an arugula Caprese salad, the right accompaniment can complement the rich flavors of the Saltimbocca. As you prepare this dish, remember that the joy of cooking is not just in the eating but also in the creation of flavors that 'jump in the mouth,' living up to its name and leaving a lasting impression on anyone who savors it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Chicken Saltimbocca?

Chicken Saltimbocca is a popular Italian dish featuring chicken breasts topped with sage and wrapped in prosciutto ham, often pan-fried to golden perfection and served with a savory sauce.

Can I substitute chicken with another type of meat for Saltimbocca?

Yes, traditionally Saltimbocca is made with veal, but you can also substitute chicken with thin veal cutlets or other meats. Adjust cooking times accordingly to ensure proper doneness.

What are some side dishes that pair well with Chicken Saltimbocca?

Complementary side dishes include lemon and herb risotto, broiled Italian tomatoes, arugula Caprese salad, make-ahead mashed potatoes, radish and cucumber salad, and rustic Italian crusty bread.

How do I ensure my Chicken Saltimbocca is cooked properly?

To ensure proper doneness, cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Keep an eye on moisture retention by not overcooking and consider using a meat thermometer.

What makes Chicken Saltimbocca a standout dish in Italian cuisine?

The dish's name means 'jump in the mouth,' and it lives up to that with its burst of flavor from the chicken, cheese, and salty prosciutto ham, making it a favorite in Italian dining.

Are there any tips for presenting Chicken Saltimbocca?

For visual appeal, plate the Chicken Saltimbocca with garnishes like fresh sage leaves and serve with simple sides to let the main dish shine. Consider wine pairings for an authentic experience.

29 views0 comments


Noté 0 étoile sur 5.
Pas encore de note

Ajouter une note
bottom of page