This chicken marsala recipe is an Italian-American classic! It has juicy pan-fried chicken smothered in a creamy wine and mushroom sauce. It's a 30-minute dish that's simple to master in your own kitchen.
Why you'll love it
Many restaurants have chicken marsala on their menu, but why not replicate it at home? It's actually really effortless and quick, so it's ideal for everything from a dinner party for easy entertaining to a weeknight meal when you're craving something a little special.
What's surprising to a lot of people is how few ingredients you need to make homemade chicken marsala. All it involves is a few pantry essentials along with a variety of wine that's easy to get your hands on, and that's it!
What is marsala?
- Marsala is an Italian fortified wine, which means a spirit has been added to it, in this case brandy. It's got a kind of nutty, caramelized flavor when used in sauces. I recommend using either semi-secco (semi-sweet) or secco (dry) marsala for this recipe. I used Cantine Pellegrino Fine I.P. Marsala here. Don't use sweet!
Ingredients for it
- Chicken - we're using two boneless/skinless chicken breasts cut into 4 smaller cutlets
- Garlic powder, salt & pepper, flour - for seasoning and dredging the cutlets to get a good crust, and flour will thicken the sauce
- Olive oil and butter - for sautéing
- Mushrooms - I love cremini mushrooms for their earthy and rich flavor that perfectly balances with the flavor profile of the marsala wine
- Garlic - use even more if you're a garlic aficionado. I like using a garlic press to mince it without peeling.
- Marsala wine - this gives our sauce its signature taste
- Heavy cream - the key to making the sauce luxurious
- If you prefer, you can pound the chicken so it's thinner vs. cutting it in half lengthwise like I suggest. You may then want to use four chicken breasts and sear the chicken in batches. Making smaller cutlets so that it cooks faster and remains nice and tender is my favorite shortcut, though!
How to make chicken marsala
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Prep and season your chicken, and then sear it on both sides until golden in a cast iron skillet. Transfer it to a plate. Fry the mushrooms in the same skillet with the remaining butter.
Add the garlic and marsala wine, and let the sauce reduce for a couple of minutes. Stir in the cream, and add the chicken back into the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
Tips for success
- This particular version of chicken marsala is meant to be cooked at a fairly high temperature throughout. To get the nice sear on the chicken and to quickly brown the mushrooms, it's necessary that the pan is nice and hot!
- Only turn the heat down if it's splattering like crazy or you're using copper or cast iron cookware since they conduct heat much more than the regular stuff most of us use on a daily basis.
- Be careful not to overcook it. If you're in doubt, chicken is safe to eat at 165F as indicated by a meat thermometer.
Substitutions and variations
- Since this is chicken marsala, you probably don't want to substitute the marsala for anything, but if you're in a pinch, madeira or sherry will work.
- You can definitely use chicken thighs instead, but I recommend doing the searing step for a bit longer.
- I don't recommend substituting the heavy cream with anything else. Half-and-half or milk will yield a thinner sauce. You may need to add more flour or cornstarch to thicken it up effectively. With that said, some readers have replaced the cream with extra chicken broth and had good results.
- On the other hand, if you love an extra creamy sauce, go ahead and increase the amount of heavy cream to 1 cup. Carpe diem!
What to serve with it
- Chicken marsala is delicious served over pasta. Try my Quick & Easy Garlic Butter Noodles. Also, Garlic Mashed Potatoes or rice are equally tasty with the sauce.
- Serving it with this easy asparagus recipe makes a great vegetable pairing.
- A slice of crusty bread, garlic bread, or a side salad with this easy Italian dressing would be fantastic as well.
Leftovers and storage
- This chicken will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
- To reheat, place in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally until it's warmed through.
- I wouldn't recommend freezing this one because of the dairy in the sauce.
I hope you'll love this dish. I think it's the absolute best chicken marsala recipe, but I'm maaaybe a little bit biased. Questions? Let me hear from you below!
Easy Chicken Marsala
- 2 large chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Flour for dredging
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- 7 ounces cremini mushrooms sliced fairly thin
- 1 large clove garlic minced
- 3/4 cup marsala wine
- 1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream
- Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise and trim off any remaining fat. Season the chicken with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Coat each piece in flour.
- Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken and sear it for 4-5 minutes/side or until golden. Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside (it'll finish cooking in the sauce).
- Add the remaining butter and mushrooms to the skillet and cook them for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned.
- Add the minced garlic and marsala wine to the skillet and let it bubble for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the cream to the skillet, and then add the chicken back in. Cook for another 4-5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened up a bit. Season with extra salt & pepper if needed. I added a little bit of chopped parsley to finish it off (optional).
- If you have smaller chicken breasts, there's no need to cut them in half lengthwise, but you will need to cook them a bit longer.
- I recommend using either semi-sweet or dry marsala for this recipe. See blog post for more info.
- Chicken is safe to eat when it's reached an internal temperature of 165F. Use an instant read thermometer to test for doneness.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
This recipe was originally published on December 9, 2015. It's been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!