Hasselback Fajita Chicken

This Hasselback Chicken is exploding with your favorite fajita flavors and veggies stuffed right into the chicken!  Keep it low carb or bake with rice/cauliflower rice, corn and beans for a meal-in-one!

This Hasselback Chicken is deceptively easy to make, gluten free, low carb, and utterly delicious!  The fajita chicken is slathered in a chili lime spice rub, stuffed with bell peppers and red onions then blanketed in Monterey Jack cheese and baked to golden, ooey gooey melty perfection.  This recipe includes the option to bake the chicken on top of a bed of rice/cauliflower rice, corn and beans so there are zero extra side to prepare or simply top the Hasselback Chicken with your fajita favorites like guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo.  You can prep the entire recipe ahead of time then refrigerate and bake when ready for a hypnotic blend your whole family will adore. 

Fajitas are a satisfying combination of juicy, chili citrus spiced protein and tender crisp onions and bell peppers in every bite. We’re so obsessed with the combo over here, I’ve created everything fajita from Hasselback Chicken to chicken fajitas, shrimp fajitas, steak fajitas, pork fajitas, crockpot chicken fajitas, chicken fajita soup chicken fajita salad, sheet pan salmon fajitas and fajita seasoning!

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How to Make Hasselback Chicken Video 

up close of Hasselback chicken with fajita bell peppers, onions and cheese

About Hasselback chicken

This Hasselback Chicken is every bit as drool worthy as it looks but easier to make then it looks – winning! Here’s why this recipe works:

Flavor!  The chicken isn’t just stuffed and baked. It’s enveloped in reader’s favorite, chili lime wet rub which is a chili forward fiesta seasoning blend all brightened by fresh lime juice and lime zest. It makes the recipe!

Quick to prepare:  You don’t need to wait hours for the chili lime rub to work its magic.  Simply slice the chicken, slather it in the wet rub, then slice the bell peppers and onions while it marinates for 20 minutes or so. Stuff the chicken then pop it in the oven while the intoxicating aroma reminds you of what deliciousness that awaits.

Low carb:  This Hasselback Chicken stuffs your favorite fajita flavors and ingredients into the chicken itself instead of a tortilla.  Every bite is juicy, cheesy, chili lime forward and so filling that you won’t even miss the carbs!

Meal-in-one with rice or cauliflower rice option:  I love serving my Mexican recipes with rice or low carb cauliflower rice, so why not bake everything in ONE pan which means super easy prep and clean up?  I borrowed this one-pan technique from my Salsa Chicken and it’s every bit as satisfying with this Hasselback Chicken recipe. Simply line the stuffed chicken on a bed of salsa, corn, beans and rice and bake it all together for a complete meal-in-one!

The salsa does the work: You will be amazed at just how flavorful the rice, corn and beans become thanks to the salsa which is a pre-packaged powerhouse of tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapenos and cilantro.  This means you get all the flavor with just the twist of a lid!  And bonus, the chili lime rub from the chicken seeps into the bed of rice as it bakes for even more tantalizing flavor.

Prep ahead:  You will love that this recipe can be assembled completely up to 8 hours in advance.  Prep it in the morning and then just pop it in the oven at dinner time!

Hasselback chicken lined in a baking dish showing how to cook it

WHAT IS HASSELBACK CHICKEN?

Hasselback Chicken can thank the popular Hasselback Potato for its unique cooking technique   Hasselback Chicken is made by slicing slits across the top of the chicken breasts to make pockets and then stuffing the slits with any desired filling from dip to veggies to cheese.  Using the Hasselback technique helps the chicken cook more quickly and evenly, and delivers pockets of flavor in every bite. 

  • What is the origin of the term Hasselback? The Hasselback Potato was created and named for the Hasselback restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden in 1953 by chef trainee, Leif Elisson. It is made by cutting thin, horizontal slits across the potato without slicing through, then stuffing the slits with melted butter, cheese and/or bacon.
  • What is the Hasselback technique? Today, Hasselback has come to mean a specific technique of making small slices along the top of any food, only cutting about half-way through and stuffing with a variety of fillings for additional flavor and texture.   
  • What can you Hasselback?  In addition to Hasselback Chicken and Hasselback Potatoes, you can use the Hasselback technique on virtually anything!  Stuff bread with anything, melon with prosciutto, zucchini with tomatoes and mozzarella, hard boiled eggs with smoked salmon and capers, apples with peanut butter or cheese, baked apples with streusel and caramel, and on and on!

WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS FOR HASSELBACK CHICKEN?

This Hasselback Chicken can be divided into three categories:  the chicken and fajita veggies, the chili lime wet rub and the optional rice, beans and corn.  Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need (measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post): 

Chicken and Veggies

  • Chicken:  Hasselback chicken is best made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You want them to be thicker rather than long and skinny so the slits sandwich the filling without it falling out. Please do not use chicken thighs – they are not thick enough for this recipe and the bell peppers will just fall out.
  • Bell peppers:  You will need 1 ½ total bell peppers. I like to use half of one red, green and yellow pepper but you can use more or less of any color you like. Red, yellow and orange will be the sweetest and green will taste more earthy.
  • Red onion:  You’ll need about a quarter to a half of on onion depending on its size. 
  • Cheese:  I love using freshly shredded Monterey Jack because it melts beautifully with a mild buttery flavor.  Cheddar is a little overpowering in my opinion but it can also be used.
up close of a piece of Hasselback chicken topped with cheese

Chili Lime Rub

  • Olive oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.  The olive oil adds moisture and the oil-soluble flavors evenly distribute the marinade throughout the chicken so it’s permeated with flavor.
  • Lime juice and lime zest:  Please use fresh limes for this recipe because you also need the zest.  Their fresh tanginess is the perfect complement to the smoky, earthy blend of seasonings.  You can also squeeze fresh lime juice over the Hasselback Chicken after it’s baked. You can freeze extra lime juice by the 1 tablespoon ice cubes so it’s always handy.  
  • Honey:  Always a favorite with lime and chili. It cuts through the sourness of the lime and the earthiness of the chili powder. You may substitute with brown sugar if you don’t have honey on hand.
  • Seasonings: Aromatic fiesta spices of chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic and onion powder are mixed with olive oil and lime juice to tenderize the chicken so its oh so juicy and flavorful. 

The only seasoning you might not be familiar with is chipotle chili pepper.  It is a seasoning is made of dried, smoked jalapeño peppers crushed into a powder.  It boasts smoky, moderate heat with fruity undertones as opposed to pure heat like cayenne pepper.  It is easy to find at your grocery store under any of the following names: “chipotle chile pepper,” “ground chipotle chile,” or “chipotle powder.”  If you don’t want to make a special trip, add just a dash of cayenne pepper instead.

Rice, Corn and Beans

  • Rice: 2 cups pre-cooked rice.  You can use your favorite variety of any rice or grain such as jasmine, basmati, brown, wild, quinoa, cauliflower rice, etc.
  • Corn:  One can sweet corn or 2 cups frozen (thawed) or fresh corn.
  • Black beans:  One can black beans rinsed and drained.
  • Salsa:  Use my incredible Homemade Salsa recipe, your favorite recipe or store bought.  If you want more of a kick, use medium salsa.  Chunky salsa will give you a great texture, but if your favorite salsa isn’t chunky, then just add a can of fire roasted tomatoes – which is exactly what I do when using my favorite salsa (Mateo’s) which isn’t chunky.
  • Green chiles:  Use one 4 oz. can mild diced green chiles.  They are not spicy, just add tangy flavor, just take care you get the MILD vs HOT.  I have mistakenly purchased the hot diced green chiles before and they will knock your socks off!

HOW TO MAKE Hasselback CHICKEN

Are you ready to see just how easy this Hasselback Chicken recipe is to make?  Let’s take a closer look with step-by-step photos or you can watch the recipe video in the recipe card or the top of the post. (See recipe card at the bottom of the post for full measurements.)

  • Step 1:  Slice the chicken.  Create 5-6 slits/pockets in each chicken beasts by slicing each breast ¾ of the way through, about 1-inch apart.
showing how to make Hasselback Chicken by slicing slits across the chicken breast without cutting through
  • Step 2:  Spice rub the chicken.  Whisk the chili lime rub ingredients together and pour it over the chicken in a tight dish, I use an 8×8 square baking dish. Turn the chicken a few times until it’s evenly coated. Let the chicken rest while you slice the bell peppers and onions and prep the optional rice and beans, preferable 30 minutes.  You can also refrigerate the chicken at this time for up to 8 hours.  
a collage showing how to make Hasselback Chicken by whisking together chili lime rub ingredients in a bowl of olive oil, chili powder, lime juice, lime zest, cumin, garlic powder and paprika
showing how to make Hasselback Chicken by marinating chicken before stuffing
  • Step 3:  Mix rice and beans together (Optional).  Add beans, corn, rice, green chilies, and salsa to 9×13 baking dish. Stir to combine then spread into an even layer.
showing how to make Hasselback Chicken by adding rice, beans, corn and salsa to a 9x13 baking dish
  • Step 4:  Stuff chicken.   Slice the bell peppers and red onion into very thin strips, about 1/8-inch or just smaller.  Stuff each slit with one slice of red onion, and one red, green and yellow bell pepper.  Lay the chicken on top of the rice mixture.
showing how to make Hasselback Chicken by stuffing the slits with slices of red onion and green, yellow and red bell peppers
  • Step 5:  Bake.  Bake the chicken until it’s almost cooked through, about 155 degrees F.  Add the cheese on top of the chicken and continue to bake for additional 5-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is melted. 
showing how to make Hasselback Chicken by adding cheese on top of baked Hasselback chicken
  • Step 6: Dig in!  I love Hasselback Chicken with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro but feel free to get as fun and flirty as you wish!
showing how to make Hasselback chicken by baking until the cheese is melted

WHAT TEMPERATURE DO YOU BAKE CHICKEN BREASTS?

Chicken breasts should be cooked to 165 degrees F.  The only way to accurately check for doneness without cutting into the chicken and losing valuable juices is to use a meat thermometer.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BAKE A CHICKEN BREAST IN THE OVEN?

The baking time of chicken in the oven all depends on the size of the chicken breasts.  Small chicken breasts will take around 25-30 minutes and thicker chicken breasts can take 45-60 minutes.  I recommend checking your chicken at 25 minutes then continue to bake if needed. 

hasselback CHICKEN TOPPING IDEAS

Toppings elevate this Fajita Hasselback Chicken with the explosion of tangy, creamy, and crunchy.  Toppings are also a fun way to let everyone customize their own chicken.  Here are some tasty topping ideas to choose from:  

  • Sour Cream: Its refreshing, bright, silky creaminess contrasts and cuts through the robust flavors – a must for me!   You may also substitute with Greek yogurt but it’s amped up on the tangy scale.
  • Avocados: Chopped avocados are the easiest avocado option and add a wonderful creaminess.
  • Avocado Crema:  A marriage of avocados, sour cream and lime juice that’s wonderfully silky, tangy and just takes minutes in your blender – SO good!
  • Guacamole:  Use my homemade guacamole recipe (amazing!), your favorite recipe or even use store bought.
  • Cilantro:  Adds a fresh, zesty flair.
  • Pickle red onions: Add a zesty, tangy, fantastic crunch. My homemade recipe is super easy to make with marinade time of only 30 minutes!
  • Jalapenos: Ramp up the heat with fresh jalapenos or I love pickled jalapenos. 
  • Hot Sauce: Pass around the hot sauce for an easy, delicious way to customize heat.
Hasselback chicken with fajita bell peppers baked in a casserole dish

 TIPS FOR hasselback CHICKEN

  • Use thicker chicken breasts:  Try and select chicken breasts that are about the same size and thickness so they cook evenly. Look for medium, thicker chicken breasts because they hold all the goodies in place better.  You don’t need to pound them to an even thickness because the slits help them bake evenly. 
  • Don’t cut the chicken all the way through: Be careful when cutting slits into the chicken that you don’t cut too far.  We need the chicken to stay connected at the bottom so it doesn’t fall apart. 
  • Cut far enough:  On the opposite end of the spectrum, cut far enough down so the slit can open wide enough to fit all the veggies.  If you start stuffing and the slit isn’t opening, then gently slice further.
  • Slice the veggies thinly:  Don’t slice the veggies wider than 1/8-inch otherwise they won’t all fit in the slits.   If they aren’t fitting, then you can slice them thinner or alternate slits with different colored peppers.
  • Please use freshly shredded cheese: Pre-shredded packaged cheeses use anti-clumping chemicals which prevent them from melting as well. 
  • Don’t overcook the chicken: Chicken, especially chicken breasts, are juiciest when not overcooked. Chicken breasts are done when they register 160 degrees F and allowed to rest for 5 minutes to reach 165 degrees with this carryover.
  • Be flexible with baking times:  I have made this Hasselback Chicken recipe several times and each time the baking time is different because the size of the chicken is never exactly the same.  The best and most efficient way to check for doneness is to insert a meat thermometer into the chicken.  I’m obsessed with my digital probe meat thermometer that bakes with the chicken – you will never cook any protein again!
  • Let the chicken rest:  Allow 5-10 minutes before slicing the chicken. The resting time allows for the reabsorption of the juices that have pushed to the outside of the meat when cooked. If you cut into the chicken right away, you will lose the amazing juices which means you lose some of the juiciness and tenderness.
  • To halve this recipe:  You can halve this recipe by using the sliding scale that appears when you click on the servings and change the servings to 2.  Bake in an 8-inch square baking dish. The cooking time will remain the same.

RECIPE VARIATIONS

This Hasselback Chicken recipe is extremely versatile and easy to mix and match ingredients to make it your own.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Swap rub: Use your favorite chicken rub or marinade like chipotle or fajita.
  • Swap bell peppers:  Use all of one color or two colors.  Swap some bell peppers for spinach, tomatoes, etc.
  • Spice it up:  Increase the heat by using medium salsa and/or adding pickled jalapenos to the rice, increasing the chipotle chili pepper and/or adding cayenne pepper to the spice rub.
  • Rice substitutes:  Swap the rice for quinoa or low carb alternatives such has cauliflower rice.  You can also omit the rice completely and either increase the beans and/or corn or keep the beans/corn the same and decrease the amount of salsa.
  • Salsa swap: Try salsa verde, or enchilada sauce.
  • Swap beans:  Swap the black beans for your favorite beans such as pinto beans or kidney beans.  You can even omit the black beans and spread a layer of refried beans on the bottom of the greased casserole dish for a creamy layer.
  • Swap the cheese: Spice up the salsa chicken by swapping the Monterey Jack cheese for pepper Jack cheese.
  • Add tomatoes:  If you use a smooth salsa, I recommend adding fire roasted diced tomatoes. Fire roasted tomatoes have been roasted which gives them a complex smokiness which I prefer to just diced tomatoes, but diced tomatoes will work if that’s all you have on hand.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH hasselback CHICKEN?

This Hasselback Chicken is almost a complete meal-in-one with protein, grains, veggies and carbs, so you can serve as is or add a simple salad and fruit.  Here are a few side serving ideas: 

a spatula scooping up Hasselback chicken with fajita bell peppers baked in a casserole dish showing how juicy it is

HOW TO MAKE Hasselback CHICKEN AHEAD

This Hasselback Chicken makes a great make ahead meal!  To make ahead:

  • Completely assemble according to recipe directions but don’t add the cheese.
  • Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.  You don’t want to refrigerate longer because the lime juice can eat away at the chicken and make it mushy.
  • When ready to bake, let the dish sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  • Bake according to recipe directions, adding an additional 10 minutes to the cooking time.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT Hasselback CHICKEN

  • Storage: Store in airtight container for up to 5 days. 
  • Freezer:  I do not recommend freezing this dish because the bell peppers become a soggy, unpleasant texture once thawed.
  • Reheating leftovers:  Reheat in the microwave for 90 seconds then for 20 second intervals or in a skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through or bake at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes or until warmed through.

What to Stuff Hasselback Chicken With?

Don’t limit yourself to this fajita version, you can stuff Hasselback Chicken with anything!  Think of your favorite dip, sandwich, burger, wrap or pizza and turn it into Hasselback Chicken!  For all of the options below, I recommend spice rubbing the chicken or marinating first.  Here are just a few options:

  • Caprese Hasselback Chicken:  Stuff the chicken with slices of tomato, mozzarella, basil and maybe some spinach and drizzle on some balsamic reduction.  Try it with my Greek chicken marinade – yum!
  • Bacon Ranch Hasselback Chicken:    Stuff the chicken with softened cream cheese mixed with ranch seasoning and cheddar along with some crumbled, cooked bacon and possibly cooked broccoli.  Top with cheddar cheese.
  • Spinach Dip Hasselback Chicken:   Stuff the chicken with your favorite spinach dip and top with mozzarella cheese.  
  • French Onion Dip Hasselback Chicken:  Stuff the chicken with your favorite onion dip and top with Gruyere.  You can also add spinach or bacon.
  • Jalapeno Popper Hasselback Chicken:   Stuff the chicken with jalapeno studded softened cream cheese mixed with some cheddar.  You can also add cooked and crumbled bacon if you’d like.
  • Pizza Hasselback Chicken:  This can encompass practically anything!  Stuff the chicken with pepperoni, ham, bacon, olives, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc. then top with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  • Hawaiian Pizza Hasselback Chicken:  Stuff with pineapple and green bell peppers, slather with barbecue sauce and top with cheddar, Gouda, or mozzarella.
  • Loaded Italian Hasselback Chicken:  Stuff the chicken with your favorite Italian sandwich toppings such as roasted red peppers, red onions, tomatoes, pepperoncini, olives, basil, spinach, Genoa Salami, Capicola or smoked ham and top with provolone. 
  • Reuben Hasselback Chicken:  Marinate the chicken in Russian dressing then stuff the with sliced corned beef and sauerkraut then top with Swiss cheese. See my recipe for the BEST Russian Dressing.
  • Cuban Hasselback Chicken:  Marinate the chicken in mojo marinade then stuff with mustard, dill pickles, smoked ham and/or mojo Cuban roast pork and top with Gruyere.
  • Cranberry:  Stuff the chicken with cranberry sauce and brie. 
up close of Hasselback chicken showing how to stuff the slits with bell peppers and onions

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up close of a piece of Hasselback chicken topped with cheese

Fajita Hasselback Chicken

This Hasselback Chicken is deceptively easy to make, gluten free, low carb, and utterly delicious!  The fajita chicken is slathered in a chili lime spice rub, stuffed with bell peppers and red onions then blanketed in Monterey Jack cheese and baked to golden, ooey gooey melty perfection.  This recipe includes the option to bake the chicken on top of a bed of rice/cauliflower rice, corn and beans so there are zero extra side to prepare or simply top the Hasselback Chicken with your fajita favorites like guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo.  You can prep the entire recipe ahead of time then refrigerate and bake when ready for a hypnotic blend your whole family will adore. 
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 55 mins

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Ingredients

CHICKEN AND VEGGIES

  • 4 6-8 oz. chicken breasts
  • 1/2 each red, yellow and green bell pepper
  • 1/2 small red onion (may not use all of it)
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Cilantro (optional for serving)
  • Sour Cream (optional for serving)
  • Guacamole (optional for serving)

CHILI LIME WET RUB

RICE AND BEANS (OPTIONAL)

  • 2 cups cooked rice (any kind, including cauliflower)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, drained (optional if not using chunky salsa)
  • 1 4 oz. can mild chopped green chiles
  • ¼ tsp EACH EACH salt, pepper

Instructions

  • Make 5-6 slits/pockets in each chicken breast ¾ of the way through, about 1" apart; set aside. DO NOT cut through – keep the base of the chicken breasts intact.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the Chicken Lime Rub ingredients together. Pour the rub over the chicken in a small dish (I use an 8×8 baking dish). Turn the chicken a few times so it’s evenly coated. Let the chicken rest while you prep the veggies and rice (preferable 30-60 minutes at room temperature) or refrigerate up to 8 hours then bring to room temperature before cooking. Meanwhile:
  • Optional: Add all of the Rice and Beans ingredients to a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. Stir to combine then spread into an even layer.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice bell peppers and red onion into very thin strips, about 1/8-inch thick. Stuff each slit with one slice of red onion and one red, green and yellow bell pepper. Line chicken overtop the rice mixture or in a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish if not using rice.
  • Bake (uncovered) at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, until chicken is mostly cooked through. Add the cheese on top of the chicken and continue to bake for an additional 5-10 minutes OR until the cheese is melted and the chicken is cooked through (reaches 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer). Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts, you may even need to cook an additional 15-20 minutes. I recommend using a digital instant read thermometer to know exactly when the chicken is done.
  • Serve chicken with optional garnishes such as guacamole, sour cream, cilantro and an extra squeeze of lime juice if desired.

Video

Notes

HOW TO MAKE AHEAD

  1. Completely assemble according to recipe directions but don’t add the cheese.
  2. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.  You don’t want to refrigerate longer because the lime juice can eat away at the chicken and make it mushy.
  3. When ready to bake, let the dish sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  4. Bake according to recipe directions, adding an additional 10 minutes to the cooking time.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT 

  • Storage: Store in airtight container for up to 5 days. 
  • Freezer:  I do not recommend freezing this dish because the bell peppers become a soggy, unpleasant texture once thawed.
  • Reheating leftovers:  Reheat in the microwave for 90 seconds then for 20 second intervals or in a skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through or bake at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes or until warmed through.

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4 Comments

  1. BJ says

    What if you wanted to cook this in an air fryer? Any ideas about the temperature and the timing?

    • Jen says

      Hi BJ, I did a quick search for air fryer chicken breasts and found this: “Cook at 360° for 9 minutes (for 8 oz chicken breast). Then flip the chicken breast over and cook for another 9 minutes. Larger chicken breasts need more cook time, and smaller ones need less time.” Good luck!

  2. Diana says

    DELICIOUS! Made the chicken as written, minus the extra heat. It was so moist and tender. A mouth-watering flavor explosion! The hubby loved it and chicken is not his favorite protein. Served with a side of your cilantro lime black bean rice. Will be making it again! Thanks for the awesome recipes!

    • Jen says

      YAY! Thanks so much Diana, I’m so pleased it was a hit even with your non chicken-loving husband! Thanks for making my recipes and for taking the time to comment!

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