This Marsala chicken with mushrooms is so tender and juicy, you’ll be begging me for the recipe! And what’s even better, it’s not just absolutely delicious, but incredibly easy to make. I recently made this recipe for my parents and they both loved it! The name of the dish sounds fancy but the process couldn’t be easier.♥
Chicken Marsala With Mushrooms and Shallots Recipe
WHY IT WORKS
- Lightly dredging the chicken in flour helps it brown quickly, prevents it from overcooking, and also gives it a silky, velvety texture.
- Unflavored gelatin adds a restaurant-quality viscosity to the sauce, making it rich and glaze-like.
- Soy sauce rounds out the savory flavor of the sauce and underscores the mushrooms perfectly.
The British deserve at least partial credit for the creation of chicken Marsala, even if that might make more than a few Italians cringe. The dish, which has its roots in Sicily and is a staple of Italian-American restaurants and homes, cannot be made without Marsala wine, which refers to wine produced specifically around the city of Marsala in Sicily. And yet that’s where the British influence comes in—they were instrumental in spreading fortified wines like Port and Marsala around the world to their various colonial outposts. Because of its higher alcohol content (thanks to a good dose of hard liquor), fortified wine was able to withstand, and to even be improved by, weeks and months on the open sea.
In the case of Marsala specifically, an Englishman named John Woodhouse was responsible for deciding to sell a fortified version of the local Sicilian wine abroad. Eventually that wine found its way into the kitchen, and chicken Marsala was born. The dish itself features pounded chicken cutlets in a glaze-like sauce flavored with mushrooms and Marsala wine. At its heart, though, it’s just a basic chicken-with-pan-sauce dish, and so the fundamental rules of making a good pan sauce apply here. Master those rules, and chicken Marsala will quickly become one of those weeknight staples you can whip up in no time.
Rule 1: Brown Well
A good pan sauce is built on a solid foundation, and that foundation is called the fond, which is a French word that describes the browned bits that form on the bottom of a pan after searing meats and vegetables. Once the fond is scraped up and whisked into the pan sauce, it’ll take on a deeper, more complex flavor.
With chicken Marsala, we start by preparing the chicken cutlets and browning them well. Most supermarkets and butchers sell cutlets already prepared, but if you have trouble finding them, you can easily make your own from skinless, boneless chicken breasts by following our instructions here.
In most chicken Marsala dishes, it’s also customary to lightly dredge the cutlets in flour before browning them. There are advantages and disadvantages to doing this: The flour can help act subtly to thicken the final pan sauce, but it can also slightly dull the sauce’s flavor. The flour also speeds browning by providing a drier (and therefore more browning-prone) surface than the chicken itself, but it’s the flour that’s browning, not the chicken. That’s a mixed blessing. Faster browning is good, since chicken cutlets are thin and cook through rapidly—the quicker you can brown the exterior and get them out of the pan, the better. But since the flour is browning more than the chicken itself, your fond won’t be as flavorful as it would be if it was just the plain chicken protein making contact with the pan.
That being said, I still prefer the flour step. If the cutlet is dredged lightly, the flour doesn’t affect the sauce’s flavor enough to sacrifice the insurance it gives against overcooking, especially with a lean protein like chicken breast, which can quickly take on the consistency of cardboard. On top of that, the flour coating changes the texture of the cutlets themselves, giving them a silkier exterior, not unlike the effect of velveting meat in Chinese cooking. To me, that silky exterior is an essential quality of chicken Marsala.
The good news is that right after browning the chicken and removing it from the pan, it’s time to brown the mushrooms, which offers ample opportunity to build up a fond. Mushrooms, it’s important to remember, do not brown quickly: They’re loaded with moisture and have to dump it first before any real browning can begin. Being patient and waiting until all that mushroom liquid has cooked off and the slices turn a deeper chestnut color is essential to getting a good, rich flavor in the final dish. Otherwise it’ll taste like steamed mushrooms, and that’s not a good thing.
As soon as the mushrooms are browned, I add minced shallots and cook them just until translucent.
Rule 2: Add Gelatin to the Stock and Marsala, Then Deglaze
Now it’s time to deglaze the pan. Deglazing means adding liquid (to stop the browning) and scraping up the fond (to enrich the liquid with flavor). But before we do that, we want to make sure our liquid component is just right. In the case of chicken Marsala, the liquid is made up of chicken stock and Marsala wine.
If you’ve ever eaten a good pan sauce in a restaurant, you’ve probably noticed that it has a viscosity similar to heavy cream. Bad versions, meanwhile, are thin and watery. The secret is gelatin. See, good restaurants make stock from scratch, and when they do, they make sure it’s loaded with plenty of natural gelatin from the chicken’s connective tissues. As the pan sauce reduces, that gelatin concentrates, thickening the liquids to a perfect, glaze-like consistency. Unfortunately, store-bought stock, which home cooks often rely on, has no gelatin.
If you use store-bought stock at home, you can open up a packet or two of unflavored gelatin and sprinkle it on top of the stock and Marsala; after a few minutes it will bloom, absorbing the liquid. Once heated, it will melt into the sauce, thickening it. Even if you use homemade stock, it can still be a good idea to add some gelatin, since the Marsala doesn’t have any of its own and it makes up a good portion of the liquid added to the pan.
Speaking of the Marsala, here’s one more rule: Don’t use those bottles of “cooking” Marsala that are seasoned with salt and spiked with preservatives. They don’t taste nearly as good as the real thing. And while you can certainly drop plenty of cash on a top-notch Marsala, it’s easy to find bottles that are good enough to drink and still cost a song. I bought mine—a real-deal, very drinkable Marsala—for five bucks. There’s just no reason to buy that “cooking” crap.
With the gelatin bloomed in your mixture of stock and real Marsala wine, dump the liquid into the pan when the mushrooms and shallots are ready, making sure to scrape the bloomed gelatin in with it. Then bring it all to a simmer and whisk to scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pan. Keep simmering until it’s reduced enough to take on a slightly viscous consistency.
Rule 3: Finish With Fat and Extra Flavorings
To finish the sauce, I like to whisk in butter, which will give it a beautiful sheen and richness. I also add a splash of soy sauce, which, while untraditional, has an earthy savoriness that rounds out the sauce perfectly and plays well with the mushrooms; any overt flavor of soy sauce won’t be noticeable, so there’s no need to worry about that.
Because Marsala can be slightly sweet, especially when reduced, you’ll want to taste the sauce at this point, and then add white wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar, or even fresh lemon juice) until the sauce is properly balanced—it should have a brightness that keeps those sweet and savory flavors in check.
All that’s left is to add the chicken back to the pan and warm it through in the simmering sauce, then serve.
Rooted in Italy, indebted to the British, popular in the United States, and boosted with a key Asian ingredient…this chicken Marsala truly is a global dish.
Rate & Comment
- 1 1/4 cups (300ml) Marsala wine (see note)
- 3/4 cup (180ml) homemade chicken stock or low-sodium store-bought broth
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin, such as Knox (2 1/2 teaspoons; 10g)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets, each pounded about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick (1 3/4 pounds; 780g total)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- About 1 cup all-purpose flour (5 ounces; 140g), for dredging
- 1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
- 10 ounces (280g) cremini mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 4 medium shallots (6 ounces; 165g), minced
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon (about 3g) minced fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons (45g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) soy sauce
- White wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or fresh lemon juice, to taste
- Minced fresh parsley, for garnish
- Combine Marsala and stock in a mixing bowl or large measuring cup and sprinkle gelatin all over surface. Set aside.
- Season chicken cutlets all over with salt and pepper. Pour a roughly 1/2-inch layer of flour into a wide, shallow bowl. Dredge each cutlet in flour, tap off excess, and transfer to clean plate.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, add chicken and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Using a slotted spatula, transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Add mushrooms to skillet (do not drain remaining oil) and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have released their juices and browned well, about 10 minutes. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring, until shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add more oil if pan seems too dry at any point.
- Pour Marsala mixture into pan, making sure to scrape in all the gelatin. Bring to a boil, whisking and scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan, until liquids are reduced by about three-quarters. Add butter and soy sauce and whisk constantly until emulsified and sauce takes on the consistency of heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper. Taste sauce and adjust with a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice, as needed.
- Return chicken cutlets to pan, swirling to bathe them in the sauce and warm them through. If the sauce begins to break at any point, swirl in a splash of water to bring it back together. Transfer to a warmed serving plate, spooning sauce all over chicken. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Good, drinkable-quality Marsala wine can be found for very cheap, so please try to avoid Marsala “cooking” wine (which has added salt and preservatives and doesn’t taste nearly as good), if at all possible.
CREAMY CHICKEN MARSALA
Creamy Chicken Marsala is a creamy and delicious classic Italian dish that is ready in under 30 minutes! The creamy sauce is full of flavor and mushrooms and will be one of the best things that you make!
This recipe could not be easier to make! Pan fry the chicken, create the delicious sauce that only requires a few ingredients and thickens up to coat the chicken so well. If you are loving the creamy, mushroom flavors tied together try this Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken, Skillet Creamy Chicken Mushroom Florentine or Creamy Garlic Parmesan Mushroom Chicken.
I had plans to share another recipe with you today but this was so amazing that I could not wait to share! Do you ever make something and think, DANG! I just made that? This Creamy Chicken Marsala became an instant favorite with the very first bite. It was a 5 star restaurant quality meal that I made right in my kitchen!
The creamy sauce uses the sweet marsala wine that gives such great flavor. (Don’t worry because alcohol does burn off during the cooking process and is safe for the kids to eat. But if you are worried about it I have provided an alternative.) All you have to add to it is some heavy cream, garlic, mustard, and voila! All done. I am not a huge mushroom fan but I love them cooked in sauces. They were tender and added such great flavor and texture to the dish.
Everything about this meal is PHENOMENAL. It is simple and packed with such amazing flavor. It really tastes like you created a restaurant quality meal right at home that is simple and delicious. You are going to want to put this at the top of the list of things to make. It is even picky eater approved at our house (minus the mushrooms) and this Creamy Chicken Marsala is one we will make again and again!
How do you make Creamy Chicken Marsala?
- In a large skillet over medium heat add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Add the chicken and lightly salt and pepper. Cook until lightly brown and cooked throughout. Remove chicken and set aside on plate.
- Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and sauté the mushrooms for 1-2 minutes. Add marsala wine and bring to a boil over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes. This allows the alcohol to burn out. Add the chicken broth, heavy whipping cream, ground mustard, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Place chicken back in the sauce and continue to simmer for about 1-2 minutes.
How do you cut a large chicken breast in half?
I like to slice my chicken breasts in half or buy them thinly sliced so that they cook quickly and easily. Place one chicken breast half on a cutting board, flat/smooth side down. Put the palm of your non-cutting hand on the top of the breast, and, using a very sharp knife, slowly cut horizontally through the breast, starting with cutting into the long, thick side.
What temperature does chicken need to be cooked to?
A meat or instant-read thermometer is your best instrument for determining the temperature of your chicken, The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the breast. 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the safe internal temperature for both the white meat and dark meat.
What is the best Marsala Wine?
Marsala is an Italian fortified wine with smoky, deep flavor. When making savory dishes like chicken or veal Marsala, dry Marsala is the classic choice; when making desserts, sweet Marsalis generally used. Marsala wine is a fortified wine from Sicily with a deep flavor and is used in this sauce to create a caramelized rich flavor. When making savory dishes like Chicken Marsala, dry Marsala is the best option.
The alcohol in the marsala wine burns off during the cooking process. If you are worried about cooking with wine, they say this recipe makes a good substitute.
- ¼ cup of white grape juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
What is a good side dish to use with Chicken Marsala?
- Mashed Potatoes
- Green Beans
- Plain Rice
Easy Chicken Marsala
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.