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A classic chicken Marsala recipe, with thin slices of golden brown chicken breast, sautéed mushrooms with garlic and thyme, and a pan sauce enriched with cream, chicken broth and dry Marsala wine. Without a doubt, this is one of my absolute favorite Italian restaurant-style chicken dinner recipes to savor at home!
Chicken Marsala is an Italian-American dish that exudes comfort, warmth and elegance. It’s one of a few wonderful chicken breast recipes my grandmother would make once or twice a year when I was growing up — always something we looked forward to!
Sit down, pour some wine and celebrate a special dinner with family or a stay-at-home weekend date night.
Chicken Marsala ingredients
- Chicken: Traditional veal Marsala is the starting point for this recipe. Thin-sliced boneless meat — scaloppine — refers to escalopes, the French word for cutlets. Chicken breast sliced into scaloppine doesn’t need to be pounded, cooks more quickly and turns out more tender than whole chicken breasts. Cur boneless skinless chicken breasts into scaloppine following my tutorial below, or ask your friendly meat counter for thinly sliced chicken cutlets.
- Marsala: Adding complexity to the sauce, this fortified wine from Sicily is blended with white wine and brandy. It’s available in dry or sweet styles — you want dry Marsala for this recipe. Avoid bottles labeled “marsala cooking wine.” They aren’t true Marsala, plus they don’t taste good, contain preservatives, added sugar and water. In a pinch, you can substitute dry sherry or equal parts (1/4 cup each) dry white wine and brandy.
- Mushrooms: You can use plain white button mushrooms, brown cremini mushrooms, or my favorite, a mixture of the two.
- Olive oil and butter: Both of these fats add their distinctive flavor to the dish. The oil also helps to prevent the butter from burning during the cooking process.
- Cream: Heavy cream mellows the acidity in the wine and adds an unctuous element to the sauce. You can omit the cream for dairy sensitivity. Half and half or evaporated milk won’t thicken properly so I don’t recommend using them.
- Shallot: Shallots have an intriguing sweet taste that’s milder than onion when cooked. Yellow onion is a fine substitute.
- Flour: Use all purpose flour or a gluten-free flour blend.
- Herbs: Fresh or dried thyme pairs up beautifully with the earthy tasting mushrooms. To finish the dish, there’s nothing like fresh chopped parsley to add color and freshness.
- This recipe is totally achievable for beginner and experienced cooks. The key to success is to get your ingredients prepped and organized before turning on the stove. Cooking the dish takes about 25 minutes start to finish.
- The thin-cut tender chicken is lightly coated in flour and browned. Sliced mushrooms with herbs, shallots and garlic cook in the same skillet to add depth of flavor to the creamy Marsala wine pan sauce.
- Serve with al-dente cooked pasta, roasted potatoes or olive-oil mashed potatoes.
- If you have leftovers or would like to cook chicken marsala ahead, cool completely and transfer to an airtight container. Reheat in a 350F oven until warmed through.
Trattoria-Style Chicken Marsala with Cream
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves, about 1½ pounds total weight
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour, or gluten-free flour blend
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound brown or white button mushrooms, sliced
- ½ cup chopped shallot
- 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ cup dry Marsala wine, or 50/50 mixture of brandy and dry white wine
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- To slice chicken scaloppine: Arrange the chicken breasts sideways and slice them in half. With the knife blade parallel to the cutting surface, slice them in half again, making 4 scaloppine slices per chicken breast.
- Generously sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Spread the flour on a large plate. Dredge the chicken in the flour to coat both sides, shaking off any excess. Transfer the floured chicken to a piece of parchment or wax paper as you go.
- Place a large (preferably 12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon each of the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted and stops foaming, add the mushrooms to the pan.
- Cook in one layer without stirring until the mushrooms are golden brown on one side. Stir in the shallot, garlic, thyme and ¾ teaspoon salt. Cook 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallots are translucent. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter and olive oil. When the butter has melted, add the dredged chicken pieces to the pan. Cook about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown on both sides. If you're pan isn't large enough to hold all the chicken without crowding, cook them in 2 batches.
- Pour the Marsala into the pan — it should begin to boil instantly. Cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated and reduced to a sticky glaze. Add the cream, chicken broth and mushrooms (including all the juice they exuded), nudging the chicken here and there while gently stirring the sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is lightly thickened, 5-7 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Sprinkle the parsley over the chicken and serve.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Instead of slicing the chicken into scaloppine, you can use thin-sliced chicken cutlets.
- I tested the recipe with regular all-purpose and gluten-free flour blend with success.
- Be sure to use dry Marsala wine, found in some grocery stores that sell wine and beer, and most liquor stores. In a pinch, you can substitute dry sherry or equal parts (1/4 cup each) dry white wine and brandy.