Italian Chicken Marsala

By Sally Cameron on October 24, 2011

Chicken & Turkey, Gluten-Free

When I want to serve a special chicken dish that I know everyone will love, I make Chicken Marsala. Richly flavored with a reduction of Marsala wine, mushrooms and pancetta, Chicken Marsala is a classic Italian dish. It offers enough flair for entertaining and is easy enough for cooking during the week. Start with golden chicken cutlets, then make your sauce in the same pan. Cook baby green beans in five minutes, whip up a salad, and make it a meal.

chicken marsala |

How to Create Chicken Cutlets

Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally, sprinkle with salt, pepper and granulated garlic, and dust with coconut flour (for gluten-free). Otherwise, you can use white whole wheat. Cassava flour works too. Try it! The light flour dusting gives the chicken a nice crisp crust. You can also skip the flour and it will still tastes great.

Follow my directions for cooking chicken cutlets to a crisp golden brown, then set them side. It takes just a few minutes. To do them all at once use a large saute pan or a large skillet. Notes on tools are at then end of the post.

Make Your Sauce

In the same pan, create a sauce with Marsala wine, mushrooms, pancetta, garlic, tomato paste and fresh oregano. The flavors are irresistible. I prefer to use fresh herbs, but if all you have it dried, use 1/3 the amount and add along with the mushrooms so the herbs have a chance to rehydrate.

Ingredient Notes

Marsala was originally named for where it was (and still is) produced, in the port city of Marsala on the Italian island of Sicily. Marsala is a fortified wine, which means spirits (like brandy or alcohol) have been added. It was originally produced this way to preserve it for long ocean voyages, which is hard to comprehend in the modern world of air travel and overnight shipping. It’s still produced the same way because of popularity.

I’ve tried making it with both sweet and dry Marsala separately and find the fry best but you can use either. The Marsala is inexpensive and fortified wines last almost forever in a cool pantry.

If you are not familiar with Pancetta, it’s Italian un-smoked bacon. Find it in the deli section or at a deli counter. The butcher can cut you a small chunk to dice up. When I buy it this way, I’ll often eliminate some of the fat and use more of the meaty portion. It’s also available diced for quick use in many stores. It regards to the fat content, much of the fat is rendered out during cooking, then drained off before being added back into the sauce.

Make it a Meal: Add a green vegetable like baby green beans or tossed green salad for a side dish and maybe some whole wheat or gluten-free pasta tossed with olive oil and good Parmesan and you have a terrific dinner.

Here’s the recipe link for golden chicken cutlets


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Italian Chicken Marsala

Crisp chicken breast cutlets topped with an Italian Marsala-mushroom sauce. Easy and elegant. Serve with green beans or broccolini drizzled with olive oil and finely grated Parmesan cheese. See my post for golden chicken cutlets for directions on how to cook the chicken. It’s easy and fast. For gluten-free, use coconut flour to dust your chicken or skip this step.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword chicken, marsala
Servings 4


Chicken Cutlets

  • pounds organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • sprinkles salt
  • sprinkles ground black pepper
  • sprinkles granulated garlic
  • ½ cup  coconut flour  or white whole wheat
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil oil and butter combo is nice too


  • 3 ounces Pancette chopped small
  • 12-16 ounces white or brown mushrooms washed and sliced thin
  • 2 large garlic cloves chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste freeze extra for future use
  • 2 cups dry Marsala wine 16 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley optional for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter optional


Make the Cutlets

  • Place the chicken breasts flat on your cutting surface with the rounded, smooth side facing up. Trim any tenders and set aside to cook with the cutlets. Place the palm of your hand gently but firmly on the chicken breast. Using a thin bladed, sharp knife, slice the chicken breasts in equal halves horizontally, keeping your knife parallel to the cutting board. Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Sprinkle flour over the chicken and lightly coat both sides. Shake off excess.
  • Heat a large saute or fry pan (about 11″-12″) over medium heat. Add olive oil. When it’s hot, add chicken cutlets, rounded side down first. Allow the cutlets to cook until they are golden. You can tell when they are almost ready to turn as the edges start to get white (cooked). Turn the cutlets and cook another minute or two, depending on how thickness. When done, they will feel firm to the touch but still give just a little. Remove from the heat and keep warm while making the sauce.

Make the Sauce

  • On a small plate, fold up several layers of paper towels. Over medium heat in the same pan, cook the pancetta until crisp and golden. Pour the pancetta onto the paper towels and drain off fat.
  • In the same pan over medium heat, add the sliced mushrooms. It may seem dry at first, but as the mushrooms cook they give off their moisture. You can add  just a little more olive oil or butter if you want. Cook the mushrooms until they give off their moisture and start to brown. Add the pancetta back in along with the garlic and tomato paste. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Add both sweet and dry Marsala to the pan. Cook until the wine is reduced and starting to get thick and syrupy. Stir in the fresh oregano and you are ready to serve. To serve, place chicken cutlets on warm plates and top with the sauce.


Serving: 4
  1. Madonna - October 25th, 2011

    I love your inclusion of the food pairing. This is going on my card. I have been going through your blog and making menu/ingredient list on a large card. I take it with me to the market so I have a complete menu on one card. It helps to keep me focused, and helped to cut down on food waste. I usually take 2 or 3 cards and shop several times a week.

    I know this may sound silly, but all this time I did not know the purpose of the straight sided skillet. I always use a sauté pan, but now I will be dragging the straight side. Thank you and keep dropping those little pearls of wisdom please.

  2. Sally - October 25th, 2011

    Wow Madonna! You are one smart and organized cook! Thanks for sharing your tip on shopping. You made my day. I always hope I am not writing too long of a post or giving too much detail, but I know it’s helps many people. I will continue to add my “make it a meal” notes.

    On the pan terminology, a straight-sided pan is a classic saute pan. A more slope-sided pan is often referred to as a frying pan or a skillet. These days the definitions get pretty blurred. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Sally - October 25th, 2011

    Great Susan! I agree. I could eat a plateful. What I want to do is make a ton of them, then try pureeing them into a soup.

  4. Juls - October 25th, 2011

    This sounds like a beautifully indulgent meal! I can see why its a winner at dinner parties.

  5. susan - October 27th, 2011

    this looks like the perfect friday night meal. i love all of your tips and advice at the end of the post!

  6. Christi G - November 3rd, 2011

    Your recipe made my mouth water so I made it tonight and it turned out great and my husband loved it. But one question, I cooked the pancetta and drained on paper towels like you said but when was I supposed to put them back in the sauce.

  7. Sally - November 4th, 2011

    Oh my gosh! I just amended the directions to add the pancetta back in. Thanks Christ! I appreciate other “eyes” checking my posts! Glad your husband liked it.

  8. Dave - November 14th, 2011

    This is my new favorite chicken dish! Sooo good! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Amy - January 18th, 2012

    I made this chicken marsala for a dinner party of 10. It was an incredible success with much appreciation & enjoyment by all! Thanks Chef Sally!!

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