Transport yourself to Sicily with this Chicken Marsala recipe featuring juicy chicken bathed in a rich marsala wine sauce that will have you saying “Buon appetito” in no time. 

Looking for an easy chicken marsala recipe?

This classic dish is an Italian-American classic with tender chicken breasts covered with a rich marsala wine sauce. It’s like Olive Garden but better.

Like pasta carbonara and spaghetti alla carbonara, chicken marsala uses pancetta (aka Italian bacon) to give the dish a deep flavor. However, the key ingredient that sets it apart from other dishes is the marsala wine. The rich flavors from the marsala wine, like brown sugar and and vanilla, lend to an indulgent comfort food that will satisfy you for days. 

What Is Chicken Marsala?

Legend has it that during the Napoleonic wars, French families living in Sicily wanted a dish like the ones they had in their old country, with a flavorful gravy. A Sicilian chef who lived with one of these families created the dish to match their request. The dish became popular during the Italian migration to the U.S. in the early 1900s. Since most Italian immigrants were from Sicily, they adapted their regional dish using ingredients found in the United States. This is why the dish is more popular in the U.S. than in Italy; you won’t find it on restaurant menus in Florence, Rome, or Venice unless the restaurant is targeting tourists.

Why you’ll love this recipe

This delicious chicken dinner is the perfect solution for a dinner party or weeknight meal. The savory Marsala wine sauce adds a rich and savory element to the tender chicken, creating a mouthwatering combination that will leave everyone wanting more. 

Ingredients

  • Chicken breasts: These are the main stars of the dish, providing you with that hearty and satisfying chicken flavor. They soak up all the tasty goodness from the sauce.
  • All-purpose flour: Think of this as the magic dust that gives the chicken a crispy coating. It also helps to make the sauce just the right thickness.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil: This is what keeps everything from sticking and adds a bit of moisture to the chicken. No dry chicken here!
  • Pancetta: Imagine bacon’s fancy cousin. It adds a rich and savory flavor, making the dish more interesting. If you don’t have pancetta, sub for bacon.
  • White mushrooms: These little guys bring an earthy and meaty vibe to the party. They’re like the perfect sidekick to the chicken.
  • Garlic clove: The superhero of flavors. It swoops in with its aromatic power to make everything taste better.
  • Tomato paste: It’s like a concentrated tomato flavor bomb, making the sauce pop.
  • Sweet Marsala wine: The secret sauce! It brings sweetness and a whole lot of flavor to the party. If you don’t want as much sweetness, use dry marsala wine instead. 
  • Lemon juice: A little dash of tanginess to balance out all the richness in the sauce.
  • Unsalted butter: The smooth operator. It adds creaminess and richness to the sauce.
  • Chopped fresh parsley: The finishing touch! It adds a burst of freshness to your dish, making it look and taste even better.

How to Make Chicken Marsala 

Prep the Chicken

First things first, set your oven to 200F and place the oven rack in the middle position. Now, it’s chicken prep time! Halve those chicken pieces horizontally, cover them with plastic wrap, and give them a good pound until they’re an even ¼ inch thick. In a shallow dish or pie plate, sprinkle some flour.

Coat the Chicken

Once your chicken is all set, pat it dry with some paper towels and season it generously with salt and pepper. Now, one cutlet at a time, coat it in the flour mixture, shake off the excess, and transfer it to a large plate.

Cook the Chicken

Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer. Time to cook those cutlets! Place four of them in the skillet and let them get golden brown on the first side for roughly 3 minutes. Flip them over, reduce the heat to medium, and let them cook until they’re no longer pink and lightly browned on the other side, about 2 minutes more. Transfer them to a large oven-safe plate. Wipe out the skillet and repeat the process with the remaining two tablespoons of oil and the rest of the cutlets. Tent them loosely with aluminum foil and pop them into the oven to stay warm while we whip up the sauce.

Make the Sauce Base

In the same skillet, cook the pancetta over low heat until it’s nice and crisp, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Scoop out the pancetta with a slotted spoon and let it hang out on a paper towel-lined plate. Now, throw those mushrooms into the skillet, crank up the heat to medium-high, and cook them until they’re softened and lightly browned, around 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste, add the crispy pancetta back in, and let it all mingle until the tomato paste starts to brown, about 1 minute.

Add the Wine

Time to introduce the Marsala wine into the mix! Off the heat, stir it in, scraping up any delicious browned bits. Bring it back to high heat, let it have a vigorous simmer, and cook it down until the sauce is thickened and measures about 1 ¼ cups, approximately 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and any juices hanging out from the chicken. Now, for that extra touch of richness, whisk in the butter one piece at a time.

Serve

Finally, stir in the parsley, season it with salt and pepper to taste, and pour this glorious sauce over your chicken. Serve it up immediately on top of some angel hair pasta or homemade pasta!

Expert Recipe Tips 

  • Want creamy sauce? Add in some heavy cream when you add the marsala wine. Let it simmer and reduce down to form a thick, creamy sauce. 
  • Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound out your chicken. 

How to Store Leftovers & Reheat

Store your delicious leftovers for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. 

Before reheating, make sure your dish comes to room temperature. 

To reheat:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Place your chicken and sides in a baking dish. 
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until warm. 

For convenience, you could microwave your dish for at least 1 minute, adding 30-second intervals until warm. 

What to serve with this delicious chicken marsala recipe

Chicken marsala is typically served over pasta but pairs well with russet potatoes or creamy mashed potatoes. You could also add some crusty bread like this braided Italian bread to soak up that delicious sauce. 

Recipe FAQs

What is marsala wine?

Marsala wine is a type of Italian fortified wine that has a rich and sweet flavor with hints of nuts. It gets its unique taste from a special process involving brandy. This makes Marsala a great option for adding extra flavor to different dishes in the kitchen.

Is there a substitute for marsala wine?

If you don’t have Marsala wine, you can use substitutes like cooking sherry, chicken broth, or dry white wine. Each of these options can add a different but delicious flavor to your chicken Marsala. Although, it won’t quite be the same as the real thing.

Can I use chicken thighs instead?

Yes! Chicken thighs offer a richer flavor, making them perfect for this classic recipe. 

More Italian recipes 

This classic Italian-American dish is your one-way ticket to the little island of Sicily. Tender chicken and an indulgent wine sauce create a flavorful dish that will satisfy your Italian food cravings with every bite. If you try this recipe, please rate the recipe card and leave a comment down below to help out the next reader! 

 

Chicken Marsala

4.38 from 8 votes
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Author: Kita

Ingredients

  • 4 6-8 oz chicken breasts - boneless skinless, tenderloins removed and trimmed
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 oz pancetta - cut into pieces 1 inch long and 1/8 inch wide
  • 8 oz white mushrooms - trimmed and sliced thin
  • 1 garlic clove - minced
  • 1 teas tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet Marsala wine
  • 4 1/2 teas lemon juice
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter - cut into 4 pieces and chilled
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Halve chicken horizontally, then cover chicken halves with plastic wrap and pound to an even 1/4 inch thickness with meat pounder. Place flour in a shallow dish or pie plate.
  • Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with 1 cutlet at a time, dredge in four mixture, shaking off excess, and transfer to large plate.
  • Heat 2 tbs oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place 4 cutlets in skillet and cook until golden brown on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip cutlets, reduce heat to medium, and cook until no longer pink and lightly browned on second side, about 2 minutes longer; transfer to large oven safe plate. Wipe out skillet. Repeat with remaining 2 tbs oil and remaining cutlets. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and transfer to oven to keep warm while making sauce.
  • Cook pancetta in now-empty skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally and scraping up any browned bits, until crisp, about 5 minutes. remove pancetta with slotted spoon and transfer to paper towel lined plate. Add mushrooms to skillet, increase heat to medium-high and cook stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste, and crisp pancetta and cook until tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Off heat stir in Marsala, scraping any browned bits. Return to high heat, bring to a vigorous simmer, and cook stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and measures 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice and any accumulated chicken juices. Whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

Notes

Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook
Sub bacon for pancetta

Nutritional informations provided as a courtesy and is only an approximatation. Values will changes based on ingredients used.

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50 Comments

  1. That looks scrumptious 🙂 Chicken Marsala is always my favorite non-pasta choice when I go out to Italian restaurants!!

  2. sigh, it totally is a busy hobby to have..but it’s fun and delicious at the same time 🙂 your chicken marsala looks so good. mine always looks so colorless and sloppy. I need to try this recipe!

  3. It is hard work havnig a blog! I hear ya. This looks wonderful- love chicken marsala! So does Lloyd, but he “hates” mushrooms, so I get all of his!

  4. My to make list grows much faster than the rate I make them. As a result I very rarely make anything twice. If I do, it must be freaking outstanding haha.

  5. I love chicken marsala, and have been craving it lately. Now I need some for sure!

  6. Such a classic – perfect comfort food, since I am a huge mushroom fan anyways. Looks yummy!

  7. Great looking chicken Marsala and I can totally relate. Even though he’s a great sport, sometimes I just have to cook a favorite meal for Brian and not worry about photographing it or blogging about it.

  8. I’m so making this for din-din! And I’m totally with you about the steps it takes to operate a food blog. The hubby hates it because, like you mentioned, nothing is ever repeated. So when I make this he better enjoy every bite, cuz he’ll never see it again!

  9. This looks delicious. I love chicken marsala and have never made it before. It looks like I’ve found a good recipe so I’m going to give it a whirl. Thanks 🙂

  10. Pancetta and marsala are not good flavor matches and the lemon juice is an unnecessary acid added, the tomato paste should be plenty.

  11. Chicken marsala is always a hit or miss meal when we go out – but it definitely looks like you, my friend, have hit the nail on the head with this one! And PS – I love my Slow Cooker Revolution =)

  12. This chicken turned out beautifully – so hearty and rich looking. And the mushrooms look like there were cooked to perfection. Jenn from I’m Cookin in My Kitchen blog recommended this post for a feature in today’s Friday Food Fetish roundup (with a link-back and attribution) – and I completely agree. Please let me know if you have any objections. As always, it’s a pleasure to be following your creations…

  13. Ooooh, yummy. Looks like a great date night dinner to me!

  14. I have the same problem sometimes. My creative efforts are met with lackluster response from boyfriend. He also refuses to eat seafood and pork… It’s tricky. I think he would like your chicken though!

  15. Chicken marsala is one of my favorite dishes. And I love TJ’s spinach-chive linguini.

    And there’s no need for a salad here. You have plenty of veggies here, you know with the mushrooms and all 🙂

  16. looks a lot like the recipe I use, except I thought chicken Picatta had lemon juice and not Marcalla

  17. Made this tonight and instead of using 4 chicken breast, used just one large breast, sliced 4 ways and pounded down, dredged in cornstarch instead of flour, substituted turkey bacon for the pancetta, and finally added 1 angel hair pasta nest (50 cal) for each piece of chicken breast to rest upon. Fantastically light dish!

  18. I have this featured today on Mouth Watering Mondays. Come on over to see it at http://www.noshingwiththenolands.com I am also following you on FB, Twitter and Pinterest and I would love it if you followed us back. Cheers, Tara

  19. Jenngnova says:

    I just made this for lunch, OMG it was good. I didnt have Bacon or Panceta so I left that out. Also at the end I wanted more of a thinner sauce so I reduced it with some chicken broth. YUM YUM!!! I’m thinking this is the best Chicken Marsala I’ve ever had, even at a restaurant.

  20. I never leave comments…. so this is a special occasion, because this recipe was AMAZING!!! Even my 6,11 and 13 year olds loved it (who don’t like mushrooms). Thanks for posting this! Delicious!!

    1. Thank you Liz! I am glad to hear everyone liked it. 🙂 (I don’t like mushrooms either, but I made an exception for this dinner too!)

  21. You stole this recipe from Americas Test Kitchen recipe book…it’s funny, you can remember this Friday night bike ride but….. Manage a food blog. What’s wrong w people! Right down to the Julie n Julia esque daily recipe blog.

    1. Funny, you must have missed the link to the book and the credit given to the recipe directly below the title. My mad writing skills must have had you so blown away you simply forgot to check. What’s wrong with people!

      1. I was interested in your recipe but I’m going to actually follow your blog just because of this reply. Beautiful.

  22. I just made this tonight! I substituted the flour for gluten-free flour. I have to say this is one of the best Chicken Marsala recipes I’ve tried! Thanks for sharing!

  23. Made this tonight and it was wonderful! Thanks for the recipe.

  24. Delish! Hubby said it was restaurant quality! I substituted bacon for panceta and pinot grigio for the marsala, still yummy. Thank you for posting this 3 and half years ago.

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed this! It is great to hear when someone puts these recipes to use!

  25. I’m going to make on Saturday, what I serve with this main course? Green salad, cheese asparagus and mini cheese cake for desert.
    what do you think. pasta or no? I’m a rice eater being Asian and all. LOL

    1. I am so sorry for just getting to this Marlene. I was traveling and just got in yesterday. What did you end up serving it with?

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