The Ultimate Chicken Marsala

The Ultimate Chicken Marsala

My ultimate chicken Marsala combines a deep, rich mushroom sauce with sweet, caramelized onions, and tender, juicy chicken.  I’ve been trying to perfect this recipe for years, and this is the best version so far.


Caramelizing onions can take over an hour, but the good folks over at figured out a way to do it in 15 minutes.  Step 3 below is a simplification of the technique, but you can follow the link for more details.

Boiling dried mushrooms provide a lot of flavor, but I don’t like their texture.  It is very important to rinse the dried mushrooms thoroughly because they always seem to be covered in grit.  You do not want that in your sauce.  I generally put them in a bowl of water, take them out and rinse them separately.

You can use almost any fresh mushrooms for this dish.  I used creminis and shiitakes, but I encourage you to experiment.  I was hoping to find some morels, which are in season, but I just used what looked good in the store.  As a general rule, use the best ingredients you can find.


2 cups of dry Marsala, plus a ¼ cup

2 packets of unflavored gelatin

1 ounce of dried mushrooms rinsed thoroughly, I used porcini and morels

2 lbs. of boneless chicken thighs

2 cup of chicken broth

¾ all-purpose flour

4 ounces of pancetta cut into ½ dice

1 pound of fresh mushrooms, cut into chunks.

2 onions, sliced

1 Tbsp tomato paste

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 tsp minced fresh oregano

2 tsp. minced fresh parsley

½ Tbsp of sugar

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Boil the 2 cups of Marsala, gelatin, and dried mushrooms in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the liquid is reduced by half, 8-10 minutes, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer.  Discard the dried mushrooms.  Add the broth, return to a boil, and reduce to two cups.
  2. Brown the pancetta over medium heat in a dutch oven, stirring occasionally. Once brown and crisp, set aside.
  3. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the onions and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, and the sugar.  Stir the onions constantly, for 15-20 minutes until the onions are golden brown and slightly sticky.  If the bottom of the dutch oven begins to get too dark, add a splash of water and stir.  Once browned, remove the onions and return the now-empty dutch oven to medium high heat.
  4. Add ¼ cup of vegetable oil to the dutch oven and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until the mushrooms begin to brown.  Add the onions back to the dutch oven, add the tomato paste and stir until the tomato paste darkens to a rust color (about 30 seconds to a minute).  Add the reduced Marsala mixture making sure to scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and lower the heat to a bare simmer.
  5. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and dredge lightly in flour. Heat a ¼ cup of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Working in batches cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides.  Once browned, add the chicken to the Marsala mixture, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Stir in the remaining quarter cup of Marsala, pancetta, oregano, and parsley, and serve over pasta, mashed potatoes, or polenta.

9 Replies to “The Ultimate Chicken Marsala”

  1. Yum, this mushroom sauce sounds delicious! Good luck with the morels- maybe you’ll get to try again next spring, when they’re in season.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Marsala recipe with gelatin in it before- do you think cornstarch could possibly be used instead, as a thickener?

    Thanks for the recipe!

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