Golden brown chicken breasts with mushrooms and shallots in a lush, sweet and savory Marsala wine sauce makes THE BEST easy, 30-minute classic chicken skillet dinner.
But just like those other mentioned recipes above, chicken Marsala isn’t technically Italian. This presumed Italian classic is actually an American recipe that got slightly lost in translation once chicken was used instead of veal. The sweet Italian marsala wine that makes up its glitzy, glazey sauce probably added to its identity crisis.
But no matter where its passport gets stamped, all that really matters is chicken marsala is a certified family favorite chicken dinner that can be made in 30 minutes or less.
It’s just another great reason food tastes better when borders mingle.
What is Chicken Marsala Sauce Made of?
With all the flavor loaded in this dish, the big surprise is it’s short ingredient list.
- 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 olive oil)
- Butter—use it at the beginning and end of this recipe
- Mushrooms—button, brown, shiitake, or porcini or a combination all add their savory flavor
- Marsala wine—all of the alcohol evaporates
- Chicken broth
- Parsley—flat-leaf Italian parsley or curly parsley add sprinkles of freshness and color
How to Make the Chicken Marsala Sauce
Butter adds flavor first. Sautéing the shallot and mushroom in melted butter adds fat, and that adds flavor. Use half of the butter here, and save the rest.
Marsala makes things sweet. Some recipes suggest adding the marsala wine first to cook down with the mushrooms, then adding in the chicken broth. I’ve followed that technique before, but after forgetting to do it in two steps, I discovered it didn’t matter. Now I add the Marsala and chicken broth to the mushroom and shallots at the same time, where I found doing so infuses deepens the sauce’s flavor even more as it reduces.
The last touch—more butter! Adding butter while reducing the sauce at the end, a classic technique, gives the sauce its body and gloss. It thickens the sauce and adds another layer of lush creaminess.
TIP: Don’t reduce the sauce too much where it can evaporate and disappear! Taste the sauce as it reduces by half, where the wine flavor will mellow and the sauce will thicken.
Also, don’t mistake the sauce for gravy. It should still be glossy, light, and easy to drizzle.
How to Prepare the Chicken Breasts
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are probably the most popular cut for skillet recipes like this. Here’s how to prepare them for cooking.
Slice instead of pound it out. While many chicken marsala recipes instructions include pounding the chicken breasts thin, I skip that step. Instead I slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to achieve that thinner effect.
Simply season. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, then dredge lightly in flour, tapping off the extra.
Flour power. Dredging the chicken in flour not only adds a browning effect but also thickens the sauce when the chicken finishes cooking near the end of the recipe.
Select your skillet. Use an aluminum or cast iron 12-inch skillet for maximum browning ability and room to brown the chicken. Avoid crowding the pan and cook the chicken in batches. If needed, add an extra swirl of oil for the second batch.
What Can You Use Instead of Marsala Wine?
This dry, yet sweet Italian fortified wine is totally unique tasting, so If you don’t have Marsala, you can definitely try brandy, sherry, or Madeira, but know that the taste will be different.
When reduced, the alcohol evaporates so all that’s left is it’s delicious flavor. But, if you want a non-alcoholic substitute for Marsala wine, try grape juice or this combination of grape juice, vanilla, and sherry vinegar.
What to Serve With Chicken Marsala
- Arugula Salad With Shaved Parmesan Three Ways
- Sautéed Spinach with Garlic
- Easy 5-Minute Parmesan Zucchini
- Easy Parmesan Buttered Noodles
- How to Make the Best Mashed Potatoes
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
The Best Easy Chicken Marsala
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 6 tablespoons butter , divided
- 2 cups brown mushrooms , quartered
- 2 tablespoons shallots , finely chopped
- 3/4 cup Marsala wine
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons parsley , finely chopped
- Trim any excess fat from the chicken breasts and slice in half lengthwise. Season both sides of the chicken breasts evenly with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, then dredge each breast in the flour, shaking off any excess.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 pieces of the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter or sheet pan and cover with foil. Continue with the remaining chicken (add another tablespoon of oil if needed) and and add the cooked chicken to the platter when done.
- Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the skillet and add the mushrooms and shallot. Sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are wilted and the water from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the marsala wine and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and season with the rest of the kosher salt and black pepper. Stir in the remaining butter and cook over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with egg noodles, pasta, polenta, mashed potatoes, or over rice.
More Easy Chicken Dinner Ideas
- The Best Greek Chicken Marinade
- Easy Chicken Piccata
- 30-Minute Creamy Mushroom and Leek Chicken Breasts
- Potato Chip Crusted Chicken Breasts Recipe
- 30-Minute Caprese Chicken Recipe
- Easy Chicken Breasts With Creamy Mushroom Sauce
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