Easy Chicken Marsala
Chicken Marsala is one of the true classics that has stood the test of time for a reason. It’s easy to make and absolutely delicious, with a creamy Marsala sauce, baby bella mushrooms, and fresh thyme. It takes less than 30 minutes to make, and it’s all done in one pan!
My first experience with this classic dish was at a restaurant I worked at in high school, which is unsurprising given the fact that this is so often served in dining establishments of all kinds.
A lot of times people assume that restaurant food is hard to make, but that’s definitely not true here. This is one of the easiest recipes you can prepare yourself. The reason they serve it at a lot of restaurants is because it’s such a delicious recipe!
What Does It Taste Like?
Chicken Marsala is a type of creamy braised chicken dish with mushrooms. Breast pieces are dredged in flour, browned in the pan, then braised in a creamy mushroom Marsala wine sauce.
It’s very aromatic from the mushrooms, garlic, fresh thyme, and the Marsala wine, which has such a complexity of flavor. It’s hard to describe the wine if you’ve never tasted it, but if you’ve cooked with any type of wine before, you’re already familiar with how much it can elevate a dish.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Satiating and delicious – This is a pretty mighty main course, with plenty of protein, rich dairy, and mushrooms. It has great flavor and is one of my favorite meat sauces.
Made in one pan – The entire dish is cooked in one pan, so dishwashing is kept at a minimum.
Less than 30 minutes to prepare – This is quick and easy enough to qualify for any weeknight meal. The entire recipe is cooked in less than 30 minutes.
Leftovers keep beautifully – So often leftovers are not as good as the freshly made recipe, but that’s not true here. The leftovers are just as good, and this can easily be reheated in the microwave.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
The Chicken Marsala ingredients you’ll need are chicken breasts, baby bella mushrooms, fresh thyme, heavy cream, all-purpose flour, butter, garlic, chicken broth, and Marsala wine.
What Kind of Wine To Use
Marsala is a fortified wine originating from Sicily, and it ranges from dry to sweet varieties.
The best marsala wine for chicken marsala would be any kind that’s on the dry side, but truth be told, most grocery stores I see only carry one kind anyway. Don’t stress too much over this. Even if you can only find sweet marsala, this dish takes well to it because the dairy already has a natural sweetness.
Step by Step Guide
As an overview, here’s what this recipe involves:
- Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
- Dredge each piece in flour.
- Brown meat in skillet, then remove from pan.
- Cook mushrooms with thyme, Marsala wine, and garlic.
- Add cream and chicken broth, then add meat back.
- Simmer until the meat is cooked through and the sauce thickens.
Season the Meat
Traditionally, chicken breast cutlets are used for this dish, which ensures quick cooking and a nice ratio of sauce to meat.
Because the breast pieces I had today were pretty small and not too thick (5 breasts totaling 1.5lbs), I left them whole. However, most storebought chicken breasts are huge, so if this is what you have, I recommend cutting them. I share how to cut breast pieces into thin cutlets in my Chicken Milanese post, or you can purchase these already cut at the store. Make sure the meat is no thicker than a half inch. Pound it out with a meat mallet or rolling pin if needed.
Season the boneless skinless chicken breasts on both sides with salt and black pepper:
I do this by eye, but 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat is a good guideline. Keep in mind that table salt is typically “saltier” than kosher salt.
Dredge In Flour
After the meat has been seasoned, coat each piece well in all-purpose flour, shaking off the excess back into the shallow dish.
This flour coating will help the exterior brown, and also thicken the creamy marsala wine sauce.
Brown the meat
Melt butter (or olive oil) in a large skillet or braising dish over medium-high heat, and add the chicken breasts.
Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until nearly cooked through and golden brown on the exterior. I find I can get them to about 150F here, which is sufficient for now. It’s better not to cook them fully to 165 right now so we can ensure tender chicken breasts at the end.
Cook the mushrooms
Remove the meat to a plate temporarily, leaving the browned bits in the pan.
Then add sliced baby bella mushrooms, fresh thyme, and a dry Marsala wine, to deglaze the pan:
Can you use other mushrooms?
Baby bella mushrooms are my favorite choice here for flavor and cost. These are also called cremini mushrooms, and are actually just a more mature version of the white button mushrooms that you see next to them at the grocery store.
Feel free to use any variety of mushrooms that you enjoy that sautees well. Wild mushrooms are a splurge, but excellent. I recommend hen of the woods and oyster varieties.
Cook this mushroom mixture for about 3 minutes until the wine has mostly cooked off, then add fresh garlic:
Cook the garlic for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
Add the rest of the braising liquid
To finish the chicken marsala sauce, add heavy cream and chicken broth (or chicken stock):
Bring the liquid to a simmer, then add the meat back to the sauce, along with any leftover juices from the plate. Be careful not to let the liquid reach a raging boil, or the dairy may curdle.
Braise the meat
Let the meat cook gently as the creamy sauce simmers and reduces, basting the tops with the sauce as it cooks.
After about 5 minutes, the rich marsala wine sauce should be fairly reduced and thickened, and the meat should be completely cooked through to 165F.
Great Side Dishes That Pair Well
If you’re wondering what to serve with this creamy Chicken Marsala, simple starches are the perfect choice. Options like Rice Pilaf and Crispy Smashed Potatoes are my go-to choices because they play so nicely with the marsala sauce without stealing the show. Brown rice is even nice here for its nutty flavor. Angel hair is also a classic choice.
You can also try simple vegetables like Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Carrots, or Roasted Sweet Potatoes for great chicken marsala sides, and you can cook them in the oven while this is cooking on the stove. Simple roasted vegetables benefit from the savory sauce.
Enjoy your delicious chicken marsala!
Recipe FAQ and Tips
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I don’t recommend freezing, because dairy sauces always curdle in the freezer.
It won’t be the same, but this dish would still taste good with other options such as Madeira, Sherry, or Port. You can also try a half amount of Brandy, or other types of dry white wine.
Definitely! Hen of the woods mushrooms are great, as are porcini and chanterelles. Any mushroom that sautes well is a good choice.
Yes, but cook time will be longer. Cook to 175F using an instant read thermometer.
Easy Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms
- 1.5 lbs chicken breasts* (I had 5) no more than 1/2" thick
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
- 4 tbsp butter salted or unsalted
- 8 oz baby bella mushrooms sliced
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme plus extra for garnish
- 1/2 cup Marsala wine**
- 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
- Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat is a good guideline if you are not seasoning your meat by eye. Keep in mind that table salt is typically "saltier" than kosher salt.
- Place the flour in a bowl and coat the chicken breasts evenly, shaking off any excess.
- Over medium high heat, melt the butter in a large skillet or braiser (I used a 14" Le Creuset braiser pan), then brown the flour-dredged chicken for about 5 minutes each side, until 150F inside. We want to mostly cook them through, but they don't need to be completely cooked at this point.
- Remove the chicken to a plate, then add the mushrooms, thyme, and Marsala wine. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, until the wine has mostly cooked off.
- Add the garlic, and stir for 1 minute.
- Add the heavy cream and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken back to the pan, including any juices on the plate. Simmer for about 5 more minutes, basting the chicken in the sauce, until the sauce has thickened and reduced down, and the meat is fully cooked with an internal temperature of 165F. Garnish with extra thyme leaves, then serve and enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.