Chicken Marsala

4.83 from 89 votes
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This chicken marsala recipe is a flavorful Italian entree with sauteed mushrooms, and lean white meat simmered in a creamy wine sauce. Cook up a restaurant-quality dish your whole family will enjoy!

Love mushrooms? Give these recipes a try: mushroom risotto, sauteed mushrooms, and stuffed mushrooms.

Delicious chicken marsala in a large pan.

Chicken marsala sounds fancy, but it’s a quick and easy meal on the stovetop. This recipe takes nuances from the traditional Italian Scaloppine, which has thin pieces of meat dredged in flour and then fried. The chicken breasts are lightly breaded and then pan-seared to create a golden-brown crust. The sweet marsala wine sauce is reduced and simmered until a creamy glaze sticks to each piece.

The key is to flatten the meat to an even thickness for faster cooking and prevent it from drying out. Big slices of mushrooms are cooked with sweet marsala wine and cream to complement the chicken for a savory flavor. Serve with a big plate of pasta, crisp salad, and a glass of wine for the ultimate chicken dinner.

Key ingredients

Ingredients to make an Italian chicken dinner.

Chicken selection

Look for boneless skinless chicken breasts that are about 6 to 8 ounces in size. This cut is very lean and cooks quickly in a hot skillet. If the pieces are huge, they’ll be too big to pound and flatten. Instead, cut them crosswise into two separate cutlets.

Flatten for even cooking

Mallet flattening a chicken breast inside a plastic bag.
Step 1. Flatten the chicken

When cooking chicken on the stove, be sure that the thickness of the meat is about the same. The breast portion is thicker on one end and tapers down on the other, which can cause dry sections. Flattening helps ensure an even cooking time.

I use a meat mallet, but a rolling pin works well too. Aim for about 1/2-inch thick pieces. Alternatively, make thinly sliced pieces by cutting them in half lengthwise into cutlets.

Dredge the surface with flour

Dip the chicken cutlets in flour to give a light crust on the surface. I do this for my chicken piccata recipe, and it’s delicious! Season the meat with salt and pepper and then flour to avoid tasting bland.

The proteins brown and stick to the surface, creating a lovely contrast of textures. Make sure to shake off the excess flour. You only need just enough to coat.

The pan-frying technique

Metal tongs flipping a piece of chicken cooking in a pan.
Step 3. Cook the chicken

Chicken breasts are high in protein, low in fat, and cook very quickly. Start cooking in a large skillet over medium-high heat to ensure juicy pieces. Adding to the hot olive oil quickly creates a golden-brown crust. 

To prevent the pan fried chicken from drying out, reduce the heat and flip. Cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). This process takes about 5 minutes per side. There will be lots of fond (browned bits) and juices in the pan, perfect for making a marsala wine pan sauce.

Wine selection

Marsala is a fortified wine originating from Sicily. It adds a nutty caramelized flavor to sauces. When reduced, the residual sugars create a syrupy glaze, perfect for clinging to chicken. You can purchase it as either sweet or dry. I recommend the sweet variety because it provides more body and residual sugar in the sauce, enhancing the rich flavor. 

Sweet Marsala wine has a taste that’s similar to port wine. You can find marsala wine easily at major grocery stores in the dessert wine section. Use the Fino or Fine version, which is of a lower quality level and better for cooking versus sipping.

How to make marsala sauce

Start by cooking the chopped onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter to add lovely aromatics to the sauce. Then, slice brown mushrooms to deepen the umami flavor of the dish. I season them with salt and pepper to draw out the moisture as they cook, allowing more seasoning to infuse into the vegetables. 

Deglaze the pan with the wine, stir, and let it rapidly simmer until reduced by half. This process helps cook off most of the alcohol and concentrate the aged grape notes. You’ll know that the alcohol has evaporated when you can’t smell it anymore. Chicken stock or broth is added and reduced to balance the sweetness of the wine. Heavy cream adds a luxurious thickness to the sauce.

Serve this with

Frequently asked questions

What is chicken marsala?

An Italian-American dish using flattened chicken breast or cutlets cut into thin pieces (escalopes). It’s a variation of scallopine where the meat is coated in flour, pan-fried, and served with a marsala wine reduction sauce.

What is chicken marsala sauce made of?

It’s a reduction of fine sweet marsala wine, chicken stock, and heavy cream. Mushrooms, garlic, and onion are added as aromatics and to enhance the savory notes.

What are marsala wine substitutes?

Madeira, port, grape juice plus 2 teaspoons of brandy, riesling, or Moscato d’asti. Non-alcoholic substitutes include red grape juice, adding ½ cup of chicken stock plus 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 1 ½ teaspoon of sugar.

Can you exclude the heavy cream?

You can remove the heavy whipping cream from the recipe for a less creamy consistency. After reducing the wine and chicken stock, turn the heat down to low. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of cold butter to thicken the sauce. Add the chicken back into the sauce to warm for a few minutes.

Mushrooms placed on top of a chicken breast.

Recipe Science

What is marsala wine?

A port-style wine made from native Sicilian white grapes- Inzolia, Grillo, and Cataratto. The wine is fortified through a process called mutage, adding 20-25 percent pure grape spirit to the fermenting, overripe grape must. Marsala is labeled by Italian DOC wine laws based on how long the juice has been aged in a cask. You can find Fino (1 year), Superiore (2 years), Superiore Riserva (4 years), Vergine (5 years), and Vergine Stravecchio (10 years).

Chicken Marsala

Easy Italian chicken dinner loaded flavor and served with sautéed mushrooms and a delicious creamy marsala wine sauce.
4.83 from 89 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, about 2 pounds total
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided, plus more for seasoning
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup white onions, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 cups brown mushrooms, ½" thick slices
  • ½ cup marsala wine, sweet
  • ½ cup unsalted chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Prepare Chicken – Place one of the chicken pieces between two plastic sheets or in a large plastic bag. Flatten to an even thickness, about ½-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
    Alternatively, for pieces larger than 1-inch thick and heavier than 8 ounces, cut in half horizontally. This should create eight ½-inch thick pieces.
  • Coat Chicken – In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Lightly season each side of the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Dredge the pieces in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  • Cook Chicken – Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Once hot, carefully add the chicken to the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes.
    Reduce the heat to medium. Flip the pieces over and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), about 4 to 6 minutes. Fry in batches if needed. Transfer to a clean plate, and loosely tent with foil to keep warm. Reserve the pan to saute the mushrooms.
  • Saute the Mushrooms – Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté for 1 minute, stirring to ensure the garlic does not brown.
    Add the mushrooms, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Make the Sauce – Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the Marsala wine. Cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Cook until the sauce is reduced by ½ (about ½ cup), about 5 to 7 minutes.
    Reduce the heat to medium, and stir in the cream. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes—season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To Serve – Add the chicken back to the pan, turn to coat, and gently simmer until warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Storing: Cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Reheating: Cover and reheat on high setting in the microwave in 15 to 30-second increments until hot. 
  • Marsala wine substitute: Madeira, port, grape juice plus 2 teaspoons of brandy, riesling, or Moscato d’asti. Non-alcoholic options are red grape juice, adding an additional ½ cup of chicken stock plus 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and 1 ½ teaspoon of sugar.
  • Heavy cream substitute: Omit heavy cream and whisk in 3 tablespoons cold butter to thicken the sauce over low heat. Add chicken to warm for a few minutes.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 423kcal (21%)Carbohydrates 14g (5%)Protein 27g (54%)Fat 27g (42%)Saturated Fat 11g (55%)Polyunsaturated Fat 3gMonounsaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 1gCholesterol 108mg (36%)Sodium 381mg (16%)Potassium 667mg (19%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 574IU (11%)Vitamin C 3mg (4%)Calcium 52mg (5%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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37 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Maria T. says

    Buying Marsala wine to make this dish is so worth it even if it is so affordable. Don’t use a substitute like Vermouth or Sherry or leave it out because it’s very necessary. Marsala has a unique flavor that’s really good in this dish. I didn’t have chicken breasts so used chicken tenders which worked out really well. This was so good. Did I mention this was the Valentine’s Day dinner I made for my husband. He thought it was better than any dish of this type he ever had in a restaurant. I just followed the recipe and it was so flavorful.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You are the BEST, Maria! I love how you always improvise. I agree, the marsala is key to the unique flavor of this dish.

  2. Drew says

    Absolutely fantastic recipe that blows away most restaurant versions of the dish.

    Added a bit of high-quality Dijon mustard at the step when the heavy cream is added. My family couldn’t get enough of this and we ended up finishing the whole pan.

    I’ve really been enjoying cooking your recipes as well as working through your cookbook! Fantastic content and love that you include the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the science of each recipe. Really has helped me improve technically in the kitchen and understand how these techniques can be applied to other recipes and when exploring on my own in the kitchen.

    Drew

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Drew- Your feedback made my day! I’m here to help empower you in the kitchen. I’m so happy to hear that you are enjoying the process and enjoying the my cookbook. I appreciate your comment! I love that you added some dijon mustard to the chicken marsala, I’ll have to try that next time.

  3. June Gallo says

    Would fat free half and half work for the cream and olive oil for the butter?

    Thanks for your reply.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      The olive oil can be substituted for the butter. The fat free half and half can be used but won’t be as rich of a sauce. You can reduce it a little longer to make the sauce thicker.

  4. June Gallo says

    Would love to try. Because of health issues, are there substitutes for the butter and cream that would keep the taste?

  5. Christopher DuBach says

    Made this for my wife and four kids. Had to adjust the recipe for 6, and it is just an exceptional dish. My kids don’t love mushrooms, and they ate this without a peep. They all said that this was the best way they’ve ever experienced the mushrooms, and were asking for seconds. We have gluten and dairy allergies in the family, so I used GF all purpose flour, and Silk non dairy cream as substitutes. There is no way you could have picked up on the substitutes. We served this over jasmine rice and roasted zucchini. Jessica’s recipes are outstanding. I can’t wait to try more ! ?
    Thank you Jessica!

  6. Debbie says

    I made this for 6 people. I increased the recipe by 1/3 for all ingredients. Instead of putting the chicken back in the frying pan I put it all in a wok to heat when I was ready to serve
    I took a picture but no wager to post it. Doesn’t give me an option

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks for sharing your feedback! You can’t share a photo on the website, but on Pinterest or social media and tag me. 🙂

  7. Victoria says

    I’ve already made this twice in the last two weeks. Looks like it will be staying in the rotation. My husband and son LOVED it! Thanks so much for allowing me to add a little variety to my dinner routine.

  8. Andy says

    I have made chicken marsala quite a few times before, but none of those other recipes can touch this one. Just fantastic, fool-proof it seems, and so impressive to the diners (my family). Thanks Jessica for another winner.

  9. Mimi says

    This was an excellent recipe and so easy. I’ve always loved chicken Marsala & order it when I can get it. Now I can make it at home. Thank you.

  10. Joe Gangemi says

    Hi Jesica I am a Senior and live alone at 82 I love to cook last night I made your Chicken Marsala and cut the recipe a little for one ,it was delicious I sure will make it again thank you
    Joe

  11. Victoria Steidel says

    I’ve tried a few recipes from the site, and while all have been excellent, this is a standout winner. There are a few more steps involved, but this recipe absolutely knocks the socks off of any quicker Marsala recipes I’ve tried.

    My only real change was to use dry Marsala because it’s what we had in the house (Pellegrino Marsala Superiore, which is nicely gentle for a dry), and it was still delicious. We also sliced the chicken before returning it to the pan for easier serving and more opportunity for the sauce to coat the chicken.

    This also makes excellent leftovers if anyone’s worried about making too much and if it will keep well. For the remaining half after a two-person dinner, we sauteed it in a bit of butter and it was just as good as the first night.

    Thank you for such an awesome recipe!

  12. Carolyn says

    I made this tonight and it turned out amazing! I always ordered it from my favorite restaurant so was happy to make it myself. I did add quarterd artichoke hearts like the restaurant and was perfect. Now I can have my favorite anytime and homemade. Thanks!!!

  13. Mel says

    This was delicious. I made this for dinner last night. Before the meal was even over, my 12 year old asked when I would be making it again! I think I’ll serve this with some garlic mashed potatoes next time. Yum!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Marisol- Are you looking for a non alcoholic replacement? If so, I would add 1/2 cup grape juice, and maybe 1 tablespoon of vinegar (sherry or balsamic) for a little hint of tartness.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Diane! I think it would taste better made fresh because of the light flour coating for a slightly crispy texture. However, it would still be yummy reheated the next day.

  14. Marie says

    Yummo Jessica. This looks great. I love chicken Marsala but I’ve never made one that I’m totally happy with so ill definitely give this one a go. 🙂

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Marie! I hope you enjoy my chicken marsala recipe, I would love to hear your feedback 🙂

  15. Judy Caywood says

    Hi Jessica,

    This sounds wonderful and I will try it for sure.

    Another recipe I would love a recipe for is pork tenderloin medallions with a plum sauce. This is my fav order at the local Papapavio Greek Restaurant and I’d like to be able to make my own.

    I posted a photo on Instagram of your Beef Bolognese that I made the other day. Hands down the best recipe and I tossed the others I had. I’m only making yours from now on.

    Hooray the weekend is here again. Enjoy.
    Judy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Judy! I’ll have to look into the pork tenderloin recipe, I have not made a plum sauce before. Thank you for sharing what you make on instagram, remember to tag me 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

  16. John Mullen says

    I made this tonight. It turned out fantastic. I might use a little more garlic next time but everything else is perfect. Served it with a warm goat cheese salad, steamed whole green beans and roasted potatoes coated with olive oil and sea salt. I served a Brunelo Italian wine with it and that missed the mark. I’m thinking this needs Pinot Noir. Thanks Jessica!!!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for your helpful feedback John! I’ll give adding more garlic a try, I was going to make this for dinner soon. The goat cheese salad sounds amazing! I’ll definitely pick out a pinot noir for this dish, great recommendation 🙂