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chicken marsala post

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Enjoy making this beautifully delicious Italian homemade chicken marsala recipe that is easy to make, and healthy too.  Yes, healthy!

This recipe is simple, avoiding unnecessary ingredients that either over-complicate the dish or add a bunch of calories and sodium we don’t even need. 

You’ll find my recipe doesn’t use chicken broth, heavy cream, or egg.    I’m glad to share this recipe so you too can have an easy, absolutely delicious and healthy chicken marsala recipe of your own!

Basics for How to Make a Chicken Marsala Recipe

One of the discoveries I found when ordering chicken marsala at restaurants is the variations in which this recipe is made. 

Some places bread their chicken, others don’t. Some use egg, others don’t (this was discovered the hard way as my husband is very sensitive to eggs, especially non-organic ones). 

Furthering my research by looking at recipes, whether on Pinterest or cookbooks I have here at home, I found more variations.   

For example, the use of heavy cream vs. milk.   The use of sherry vs. marsala.  And keep in mind that marsala wine for dessert is different than marsala for cooking.   

I’ve purchased both and taste tested this myself to see the actual difference.   For the inquiring mind, the marsala cooking wine is drier than a marsala dessert wine.   

 In the end, the concept is the same for explaining what a chicken marsala recipe actually consists of.  It the most general sense, it is chicken breasts cooked over the stove and then added to a marsala sauce typically consisting of alcohol and mushrooms.   

That is the most basic black and white description.   Now let’s talk about all the gray areas.

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Let’s talk about what the Chicken Marsala Recipe Ingredients are

 

The Chicken Breasts

raw chicken breasts

What Type of Breading?  

Some people bread their chicken the same as you would breaded chicken cutlets.   

I use just  flour.  No egg.  No breadcrumbs.     I consider this an easy way to make a healthier chicken marsala. 

The chicken breasts similar to chicken cutlets need to be thin – not super paper thin but thin, no more than a 1/4 inch for sure.  I shoot for 1/8th. 

A thick chicken breast will not fry well nor will it have the marsala flavor.  This is a must.

You can achieve getting your chicken breasts get this thin in two ways:

  1. Be an expert at perfect chicken breast slicing or
  2. Do your best at slicing the chicken breasts lengthwise however thin you can cut them and then pound them to the desired thickness. 

Pounding is my preferred method, plus the pounding actually tenderizes the meat.  This means the chicken isn’t tough.   Anymore scientific of a reason is beyond me at the time of writing this. 

As for how to pound the meat, well, I place them in a plastic ziplock bag so they are flat ( a few at a time), and then use a rolling pin to pound them.  Remember they will need space to spread out.  Pound too much and they will get too thin and tear.  

I keep forgetting we don’t have a real meat tenderizer mallet until it comes time to actually use one.   

So if you’re in the same boat – use a rolling pin or get a nice mallet here.  You can purchase one for under $15. 

The chicken breasts are not baked, they are fried as shown below. 

But not deep fried, you want them lightly fried but cooked through.   You only cook them in the oil for a few minutes on each side till golden brown.   

Once done, you set them aside on a paper towel on a plate to absorb any excess oil.   You then use the left over bits and pieces that left are in the pan for the sauce.  You never want to toss that out, even if it has a few small burnt bits in there. 

The Mushrooms

sliced mushrooms

Some people ask if mushrooms are required in this recipe. 

For a real chicken marsala recipe, my opinion is yes.   Of course, if you prefer just chicken with the sauce, that’s your prerogative.  I haven’t done any regional Italian culinary research on this topic. 

The mushrooms really add a nice depth to the sauce, and being that the marsala cooking wine (or sherry if you prefer) has a distinct flavor that blends very well with the mushrooms so neither one overpowers the other.   

I use button mushrooms (brown or white) in my recipe.   They suit the purpose perfectly. If I really wanted to impress for a special occasion perhaps I would try other types of mushrooms, but frankly, button mushrooms are fine for a homemade version.  

Oh and you want to slice not dice. 

Dredge in Flour

chicken coated in flour

As stated above, I coated these chicken breasts in flour, not egg or breadcrumbs. 

An egg mixture is certainly doable and can give more of a fluffy texture to the batter.   Plus it will also alter the taste that some people really like while others don’t. 

Minced Garlic

minced garlic

This is used for the sauce, you’ll want to mince about two cloves.  Cook this up after the mushrooms.

Olive Oil

This is used for frying the breasts and then for the sauce.   The quantity used completely depends on the quantity of chicken you want to fry.   

If too little is used, your chicken breasts will start to burn or just simply not get the nice golden brown texture you are looking for. 

If too much is used… well, is there a thing as too much olive oil?

The Marsala Wine (or do you use Sherry)

There are two types of marsala wine as I mentioned at the start.   

  1. Marsala for cooking
  2. Marsala for dessert.   

The type of wine you want to use for this recipe is a dry marsala wine for cooking.

The cooking wine is less sweet and provides a better sauce with the mushrooms and garlic.   Marsala dessert wine is a very sweet wine that is sipped, not consumed in large amounts. 

This recipe calls for a cup of the marsala, so a difference can be detected. 

As for sherry, it is used by some as a substitute, known to go well with nuts and mushrooms (earthy flavors).  But I haven’t used it so I really can’t say much beyond that.   But it is can be used as a substitute.  

This recipe is without cream, but uses some half and half

Lastly, let’s talk about the use of cream, no cream, or half and half, or even milk for that matter. 

If you look online at places like Pinterest, you can see many pictures of chicken breasts in a pan or skillet full of a marsala creamy and milky looking sauce. 

I tested my recipe two ways. 

1- The first method I used had no dairy at all. 

The dish still tasted good, and I would make it for a friend or family member who could not have dairy due to dietary restrictions.   

So a chicken marsala without dairy is possible.

2- However, the second method was using half and half.   

Yes whole milk could be used, but it would be too liquidy in my opinion if you want a cream-style version.   So I used half and half, after all it’s only a 1/4 cup worth – that’s 3 Tablespoons.   

This marsala sauce is not a cream-based sauce, even though it uses the half and half.   

The amount of half and half I use adds just enough to get that smoothness you’re looking for without sacrificing the flavor of the wine, mushrooms, or chicken.    

This is a chicken marsala recipe, not a chicken marsala cream soup.  🙂 

Let’s get on with the recipe!  Read further below for additional cooking and storage tips. 

Easy and Healthy Chicken Marsala

Here's a delicious Italian chicken marsala recipe that is low cal, healthy and easy to make.

Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Easy Healthy Italian Chicken Marsala
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 6 oz sliced mushrooms do not discard the stems. Dice them up to use as well.
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 cup marsala cooking wine
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper each

Instructions

  1. Prepare the mushrooms, garlic, and wine and set aside

  2. Slice the chicken breasts into 1/4" thick fillets and pound to 1/8" (this tenderizes the chicken as well)

    raw chicken breasts
  3. Liberally coat with flour

    chicken coated in flour
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan/skillet over medium high heat

  5. Add chicken to pan and fry for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown

  6. When done, set aside on a paper towel on a plate to absorb excess oil. Don't worry, we'll reheat them in the sauce.

  7. Turn down to low/simmer and add in another tablespoon or so of olive oil

  8. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are cooking down - about 4 minutes or so. Add 1/2 cup water if necessary.

  9. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute

  10. Add in the wine and half and half

  11. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and let it reduce by 1/2. This will not take long, so be sure to monitor it.

    sliced mushrooms cooked down with marsala sauce
  12. Reduce heat and heat chicken to warm it through about 1 to 2 minutes on Low.

Recipe Notes

  1. Prep your ingredients prior to frying the chicken or making the sauce.  When frying the chicken in the skillet you won't be able to have time to prep the ingredients for the sauce.  You need to tend to the chicken.   Yes, speaking from experience. 🙂 
  2. When you are ready to make the sauce using the scrapings left over from the frying, I added about 1/2 cup water to the pan and then used a spatula or whatever to scrape those bits up.  The water turns light brown from the scraps and that is good.  That's where a lot of the flavor is. 
  3. I used 6 oz of button mushrooms.  This was equal to 8 medium button mushrooms.  The reason I measured the weight is because I know that button mushrooms range in size, sometimes they are really small and others they are rather large.     Feel free to increase the quantity used.  
  4. I added the salt and pepper to the sauce, not the flour mixture because not all the flour is used, therefore not all of the salt and pepper would be either.   

 

Tips for Making a Quick Chicken Marsala Recipe at Home

  1. Prep your ingredients prior to frying the chicken or making the sauce.  When frying the chicken in the skillet you won’t be able to have time to prep the ingredients for the sauce.  You need to tend to the chicken.   Yes, speaking from experience. 🙂 
  2. When you are ready to make the sauce using the scrapings left over from the frying, I added about 1/2 water to the pan and then used a spatula or whatever to scrape those bits up.  The water turns light brown from the scraps and that is good.  That’s where a lot of the flavor is. 
  3. I used 6 oz of button mushrooms.  This was equal to 8 medium button mushrooms.  The reason I measured the weight is because I know that button mushrooms range in size, sometimes they are really small and others they are rather large.     Feel free to increase the quantity used.  
  4. I added the salt and pepper to the sauce, not the flour mixture because not all the flour is used, therefore not all of the salt and pepper would be either.   

How do you Freeze or Store Chicken Marsala?

You can freeze this dish.  When it comes time to use it for dinner, take it out the night before or enough time for it to thaw.  Then slowly reheat over the stove all together.   Store in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.  

Can you Bake Chicken Marsala

I’m sure you can.   I haven’t so I can only give a description on how I would do it if I were to try it. 

I would use bake the thin and pounded chicken breasts with a coating of oil, not flour.  Perhaps I would use breadcrumbs, but we aren’t going for a crispy chicken cutlet, so I’d probably still skip the breadcrumbs.   

I’d bake them at 375F for about 10 minutes or until fully cooked (guessing at the time).  This also depends on the thickness of each breast/cutlet. 

Then I’d make the sauce in a pan or skillet over the stove, and then add in the baked breasts and simmer for 10 minutes.

What to Serve with Chicken Marsala

When serving chicken marsala, serve with pasta or mashed potatoes.

Pasta

For pasta, use  without red sauce or alfredo. You want the pasta to be cooked plain, al-dente with a drizzle of olive oil.   

Use the marsala sauce for the pasta.  For a fancy presentation place the chicken breasts on the pasta itself.  

Use long pasta such as angel hair or spaghetti or even fettuccine or linguine. 

Mashed Potatoes 

For mashed potatoes, you can use garlic mashed potatoes which are easy to make.  

Serve also with some vegetables, such as broccoli with garlic, broccoli rabe, or whatever else you prefer. 

Thanks and I hope you enjoyed the recipe.   You may also like:

 

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