How to Make Chicken Marsala as Approved by Our Test Kitchen
If you want to know how to make chicken Marsala even better than you can find at the top restaurant in town, the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen is here to walk you through every step. Master this essential Italian recipe, then discover what to serve with chicken Marsala (wine pairings included).
Chicken Marsala is one of those treasured recipes that proves that dinner doesn't have to be complicated or expensive to be delicious. Start to finish, it will only take 35 minutes to learn how to make chicken Marsala just as good as any restaurant. The chicken Marsala sauce is so tasty, we’d eat it straight with a spoon, and it’s one of our go-to ways to dress up basic chicken breasts. So how do you make Chicken Marsala? Follow along step-by-step with our Test Kitchen’s tips and tricks.
What Is Chicken Marsala?
This Italian-American specialty features skillet-cooked chicken breasts slathered in a mushroom sauce. The dish’s name is a nod to one of the chicken Marsala sauce’s key ingredients: Marsala. This smoky, aged wine—Italy's most famous fortified wine—is usually served as an aperitif or dessert wine. Here, it lends a lovely hint of sweet fruit flavor to the pan sauce. It comes in a variety of styles, from dry (secco) to sweet (dolci). For best results in chicken Marsala sauce, select a dry Marsala.
How to Make Chicken Marsala Without Wine
Dry sherry, port, or red vermouth can be swapped in to create the dish's signature Marsala sauce. If you prefer a nonalcoholic substitute, try an equal amount (½ cup) white grape juice instead of the wine plus 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Alternatively, simply add ½ cup chicken broth to the chicken Marsala sauce in place of the Marsala wine.
How to Make Chicken Marsala
Here’s how to make Chicken Marsala, the BH&G Test Kitchen way. Translation: This chicken Marsala sauce has been put through rounds of testing to ensure it’s simple and delicious!
Step 1: Season the Flour
Stir together a blend of seasoned flour. In a shallow bowl, combine ¼ cup all-purpose flour; ½ teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed; ⅛ teaspoon salt; and ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper. The chicken will be dredged in this to create a just-crisp crust on the chicken breasts.
Test Kitchen Tip: If desired, try dried thyme or Italian seasoning instead of marjoram.
Step 2: Pound and Dredge the Chicken Breasts
While it might seem like a hassle or an unnecessary extra step, don’t skip this! Chicken breasts that have been pounded thin are called chicken cutlets and allow more surface area to soak up the sauce, and they cook more quickly and evenly this way.
Place one piece of chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to lightly pound the chicken, working from the center to the edges until the breast is uniformly ¼ inch thick. Remove the plastic wrap and repeat with three more skinless, boneless chicken breast halves. Alternatively, you can butterfly the chicken breasts (in other words, slice them horizontally almost all of the way through, then unfold into one large, thin piece) into evenly thick cutlets.
Place each chicken cutlet into the seasoned flour and coat all sides, shaking off excess flour. The seasoned flour browns and gets slightly crispy in the butter, giving the chicken breasts an added layer of flavor.
Step 3: Sauté the Mushrooms and Chicken
In a 12-inch skillet (one of our top five essential kitchen tools), melt 1 tablespoon butter or margarine over medium-high. Add 2 cups sliced mushrooms and ¼ cup sliced green onions, and cook until tender. Remove the mushrooms and green onions from the skillet and set aside.
In the same skillet, melt an additional 2 tablespoons butter. Add the dredged chicken and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until evenly browned and an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F, turning occasionally. (You can pop ‘em on a plate or cutting board until adding them back in to complete the homemade chicken Marsala recipe.)
Test Kitchen Tip: White button mushrooms or brown cremini mushrooms work well. Five ounces of mushrooms yields 2 cups sliced.
Step 4: Make the Chicken Marsala Sauce
Now it’s time to get saucy! Take that skillet off the burner; add the mushrooms and green onions back to the skillet.
Add ½ cup chicken broth and ½ cup dry Marsala (or one of the substitutes suggested above) to the skillet. The butter may splatter a bit, so add the liquids carefully. Return skillet to heat and bring the mixture to boiling over medium-high.
Related: 5 Test Kitchen Cooking Hacks
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finish by seasoning to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Voilà, you now know how to make chicken Marsala at home.
What to Serve With Chicken Marsala
Chicken Marsala is saucy enough to serve over hot cooked pasta, such as capellini, linguine, or fettuccine, if you like. If serving pasta, cook it according to package directions, planning on about 1 cup cooked pasta per person.
Instead of pasta, mix things up by serving the dish with sliced homemade bread to mop up the extra sauce, or pile it atop a bed of mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, or cauliflower.
In terms of the best chicken Marsala wine pairings, consider these light-bodied red wines with low levels of tannins:
- Pinot Noir
Now that you know all you need to make the best chicken Marsala, prepare for the family to request it at least weekly. The easy chicken skillet supper will become a fast favorite.