My chicken florentine recipe is a mouthwatering weeknight meal that takes 30 minutes from start to finish. Decadent pan-fried cutlets are soaked in a decadent wine, garlic, and spinach sauce and topped with a layer of bubbling, melted cheese. It’s absolutely delicious!
Though it’s a French dish, the heart of chicken florentine lies in Florence, Italy. It’s said that Queen Catherine de Medici, a Florence-born noblewoman who became queen of France, craved Florence-style cuisine. To appease her, French chefs concocted several recipes a la Florentine for her to have a taste of home.
At least, that’s how the legend goes about the origin of the creamy, indulgent dish that we enjoy today! This particular Florentine recipe is pan-fried and served in a thick, creamy sauce of garlic, white wine, and spinach.
Table of Contents
Two words that describe my chicken florentine recipe are “rich” and “creamy.” Some other Mediterranean meals that fit that description are savory zuppa toscana soup and delicious Tuscan chicken — both classically Italian!
- Chicken – Use either boneless, skinless breasts or tenderloins. If the cut is particularly large, slice into cutlets for even cooking.
- Garlic – A defining flavor in any chicken florentine recipe is garlic. As such, be sure to use fresh garlic for the best flavor!
- Dry White Wine – The best non-alcoholic substitute is broth, either poultry or vegetable, with a little bit of something acidic – balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, etc.
- Heavy Cream – You can still achieve a viscous sauce with half and half, if desired.
- Spinach – If using fresh, measure 1 cup of spinach. If using frozen, you’ll need to thaw, drain, and remove the excess water from two 10-ounce packages.
- Mozzarella – The cheese serves as a topping, so it must melt well. Provolone and Gouda cheese are both great substitutes.
- Ground Nutmeg – Warm and nutty, this spice also has a citrusy edge that marries wonderfully with the wine sauce and brightens the dish. Allspice, cardamom, and ground cloves are good alternatives.
- Parsley – Chop some fresh parsley and avoid dried. For a substitute, try tarragon, oregano, and chervil.
Florentine – French or Italian?
The term “Florentine,” which refers to the city of Florence in Italy, is synonymous with dishes that incorporate spinach, but is actually more French than Italian. It’s believed that the term was coined by French chefs in honor of Catherine de Medici, a Florence-born noblewoman who became queen of France in the mid-16th century. A lover of spinach, Catherine introduced this leafy green to the French court, and it soon became a hallmark of dishes prepared “à la Florentine.” [source]
- Prepare Tools. Heat a skillet on medium and melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Meanwhile, lightly grease the casserole dish and set aside.
- Pan Fry. Add the meat to the skillet. Cook each side for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a plate to rest, and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Begin Florentine Sauce. Melt another 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet, add the onions, and sauté for 4 minutes. Follow with the garlic and sauté for another minute.
- Reduce Sauce. Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape the garlic and chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil until reduced by half. Add the cream, bring back to a boil, and reduce again by half.
- Add Spinach & Reduce Again. Now add the spinach and any juice that has leaked from the cutlets. Cook until the spinach wilts and allow the sauce to simmer and thicken. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to broil.
- Broil. Place the chicken in the prepared dish and pour the sauce over top. Top with the mozzarella. Transfer to the oven and broil until the cheese bubbles and browns.
- Serve. Remove from the oven, plate, and garnish with the nutmeg and parsley.
- Skillet – As this dish requires a fair bit of liquid and even more simmering, a deeper skillet with tall edges is best.
- Casserole Dish – I recommend a 9×13″ casserole dish or baking pan to hold all of the sauce and facilitate a good layer of melted cheese.
Storing and Reheating
Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. As the days pass, the breading will become soggier and the spinach will wilt, so eat as quickly as possible!
Reheating is easy — slide the casserole dish back into the oven until warmed through. I recommend adding some more cheese and giving it a quick broil!
Florence-style dishes will vary a bit from recipe to recipe, but a dish cooked in a Florentine sauce always features spinach. More often than not, the spinach will be wilted and cooked with butter and garlic.
The sauce will also be thick and creamy, reminiscent of a béchamel sauce or a roux, and will often contain grated cheese — or at least a layer of melted, bubbling cheese on top, like my chicken florentine recipe.
Chicken florentine is tricky to prepare in advance. You don’t want the breading to get soggy, and you don’t want the sauce to lose those brighter, fresher flavors.
I would simply prepare and store the cutlets and sauce separately. About 15 or so minutes before serving, combine the meat and sauce in the pan. Then, sprinkle the mozzarella over top, broil, and serve.
Chicken florentine is always prepared with white wine.
I recommend a crisp and refreshing Pinot Grigio. Light, dry, and lemony, it’s a fantastic wine to pair with chicken in general. And if serving this chicken florentine recipe with pasta, Pinot Grigio goes great with that, too!
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Creamy Chicken Florentine Recipe
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins (See Note 1)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 4 tbsp butter divided
- 1/2 medium yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine or chicken broth (See Note 2)
- 1 cup heavy cream or half and half
- 1 lb fresh spinach or frozen (See Note 3)
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
- Grease a 9×13″ casserole dish or baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper, then lightly dust each side with flour.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
- Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side (3 for cutlets, 5 for entire breast).
- Place cooked chicken on a plate and cover with foil to keep it warm.
- Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another 1 minute.
- Add wine (or stock) to the skillet and stir to pick up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Bring to a boil and reduce wine by half. Add the cream and bring to a boil then reduce by half.
- Add the fresh spinach and any accumulated juices from chicken; continue cooking until spinach wilts.
- Simmer until sauce thickens again (See Note 2). Season to taste. Preheat oven broiler.
- Arrange sautéed chicken in bottom of pan. Spoon spinach sauce mixture on top of chicken and evenly distribute mozzarella cheese on top.
- Place under the broiler for several minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Garnish with nutmeg and parsley before serving.
- If breasts are large, slice horizontally in half to make chicken cutlets.
- Any of these dry white wines work well: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscadet, Albariño, Pinot Grigio.
- Feel free to substitute two 10 ounce packages of thawed and drained frozen cut-leaf spinach for the 1 pound fresh spinach. I prefer fresh spinach, but it takes longer to reduce sauce. Using frozen is easier and quicker.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.