The BEST simple, 30-minute traditional chicken skillet meal is this quick chicken marsala dish, which contains golden brown, delicate chicken breasts with mushrooms and shallots in a rich, sweet, and savory marsala wine sauce.
You might probably find chicken Marsala on the menu of your favorite Italian restaurant, tucked in amid dishes like pasta primavera, Caesar salad, and the ever-loved chicken parmesan. However, chicken marsala, like the other dishes described above, isn’t strictly Italian. This supposedly famous Italian dish is actually American in origin, but the translation went a little off when the veal was replaced with chicken. Its glittering, glazey sauce’s sweet Italian marsala wine certainly contributed to its identity dilemma. Hey, bella!
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All that counts, though, is that chicken marsala—which can be prepared in 30 minutes or less—is a family favorite chicken supper regardless of where its passport is stamped. It’s simply one more fantastic reason why food tastes better when cultures coexist.
What is Chicken Marsala Sauce Made of?
The main surprise, given the dish’s abundance of taste, is how little ingredients it contains.
Here’s what’s in chicken marsala:
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts
- All-purpose flour
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Canola oil—for frying the chicken (I like canola oil here because of its higher smoke point, but you can totally use extra-virgin olive oil)
- Butter—use it at the beginning and end of this recipe
- Mushrooms—button, brown, shiitake, porcini, or cremini mushrooms, or a combination all add their savory flavor
- Dry Marsala wine—(all of the alcohol evaporates), but make sure you get Marsala wine (in the liquor area, near sherry and vermouth), not “Marsala cooking wine.”
- Chicken stock
- Parsley—a garnish of flat-leaf Italian parsley or curly parsley add sprinkles of freshness and color
How to Make the Chicken Marsala Sauce
- First, butter provides taste. Flavor is added by adding fat when shallot and mushroom are sautéed in melted butter. Save the remaining butter and only use half of it here.
- Marsala adds sweetness. According to some recipes, add the chicken broth after the marsala wine has cooked down and combined with the mushrooms. Although I had previously used that strategy, I later realized it was insignificant after missing to complete it in two phases. I’ve discovered that adding the chicken stock and marsala to the shallots and mushrooms at the same time enhances the taste of the sauce as it decreases.
- One final touch: add additional butter! The sauce gets its body and shine from a traditional method of adding butter when the sauce is reduced at the end. It provides a rich, creamy layer and thickens the sauce.
- ADVICE: Avoid reducing the sauce to the point where it evaporates and vanishes! Once the sauce has reduced by half, the thickening and mellowing of the wine taste will be noticeable.
- Don’t confuse the sauce for gravy either. It ought to remain shiny, light, and pourable.
How to Prepare the Chicken Breasts
- For skillet dishes like this one, boneless, skinless chicken breasts are perhaps the most popular cut. Here’s how to get them ready to cook.
- Rather of bashing it out, slice. Although pressing the chicken breasts thin is recommended in many chicken marsala dish directions, I omit that step. To get that slimmer impression, I instead cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise.
- Just season. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken, then gently coat it in flour, shaking off any excess.
- Power of flour. When the chicken is almost done cooking, towards the conclusion of the recipe, dredging it in flour thickens the sauce in addition to adding a browning effect.
- Choose your frying pan. Use a 12-inch cast iron or aluminum skillet to give the chicken cutlets plenty of room to brown. Cook the chicken in batches rather than packing the pan full. For the second batch, add an additional oil swirl if necessary.
What Can You Use in Place of Marsala Wine?
Try brandy, sherry, Madeira wine, or even dry white wine if you don’t have marsala; just be aware that the flavors will be different. Marsala is a very unusual tasting dry but sweet Italian fortified wine.
More Recipes You Might Like
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper divided
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 6 tablespoons butter divided
- 2 cups brown mushrooms quartered
- 2 tablespoons shallots finely chopped
- ¾ cup marsala wine
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons parsley finely chopped
- After removing any extra fat, cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Dredge each chicken breast in the flour, brushing off any excess, and season both sides equally with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
- Two tablespoons of canola oil are heated over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add 4 chicken pieces and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Move to a baking sheet or plate, then cover with foil. Proceed with the remaining chicken, adding another tablespoon of oil if necessary, and when it’s finished, transfer the cooked chicken to the platter.
- Add the shallot and mushrooms to a pan with 3 tablespoons melted butter. When the shallots are wilted and the water from the mushrooms has evaporated, sauté over medium heat, stirring periodically (approximately 10 minutes). Stir in the chicken stock and the marsala wine. After bringing to a boil, add the remaining ½ teaspoons of black pepper and kosher salt for seasoning. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is reduced by half. For five minutes, add the chicken and simmer. Serve over rice, polenta, mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or spaghetti with a sprinkle of parsley.
- If you can’t get Marsala wine, use brandy, sherry, or Madeira, but be aware that the flavors may change. Marsala wine is a distinctive wine with a rich, sweet flavor.
- Please read blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.