Easy Creamy Chicken Marsala Pasta is an awesome twist on the classic Chicken Marsala. It’s easy enough for week-night meals, but elegant enough to serve at a dinner party. Tender pieces of chicken are cooked to perfection with caramelized onions and mushrooms tossed with pasta in a creamy dreamy Marsala sauce. Who could ask for more?
Ingredients for Easy Creamy Chicken Marsala Pasta
I used the following ingredients for this amazing dish: Boneless and skinless chicken breasts, unsalted butter, onions, garlic, cremini mushrooms, Dry Marsala, chicken broth, heavy cream, Penne pasta, shredded Mozzarella cheese, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. This is a mouthful, but it really does come together quite easily!
Which Marsala to Use:
Before getting into the mechanics of making this dish, I wanted to focus a bit on Marsala. Marsala is a fortified Italian wine. Fortified means that a distilled spirit such as brandy has been added to the wine. Originally, the addition of the distilled spirits was designed to preserve the wine. While modern preservation methods now exist, the fortification process continues because it adds distinctive flavors to the wine.
One can purchase Dry Marsala or Sweet Marsala, and domestic or imported Marsala. The main difference between Dry and Sweet Marsala is the higher sugar content of the latter. I follow Julia Child’s advice of not using any alcohol in a dish that I wouldn’t drink. Consistent with that advice, I would not use domestic Marsala. While it’s much cheaper than imported Marsala, you get what you pay for, at least in my opinion.
Typically Dry Marsala is used in savory dishes such as this Easy Creamy Chicken Marsala Pasta. Sweet Marsala is used in desserts and is often offered as an after dinner aperitif. In a pinch, you could use Sweet Marsala in savory dishes. However, Sweet Marsala doesn’t provide the same depth of flavor as Dry Marsala. If you don’t have Marsala, you could use Port, Sherry, or Madeira with the caveat that they should be imported as opposed to domestic.
Making Easy Creamy Chicken Marsala Pasta:
I started by cooking the Penne to the al dente stage according to package directions. Then, I drained the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the liquid, and set it aside. I reserved the pasta liquid in case I needed additional liquid for the final dish.
Next, I melted some unsalted butter in a Dutch oven set over medium heat, and added the chicken pieces. I sprinkled on some salt and pepper, and cooked the chicken until it was no longer pink. This took about 5 minutes. I removed the chicken from the Dutch oven.
Then, I added the onions, and cooked them, stirring occasionally, until they became tender and started to lightly brown. This took about 7 minutes. After that, I added the garlic, and cooked it until it became fragrant, about 30 seconds. Next, I added the mushrooms, increased the heat to medium-high, and cooked the mixture until the mushroom liquid had evaporated, about 2 minutes. Then, I added the Dry Marsala.
After adding the Marsala, I cooked the mixture until the Marsala was reduced by about half. This took about 3 minutes. During this time, I stirred the mixture, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan. I reduced the heat to medium, and returned the chicken to the Dutch oven. After giving the mixture a stir, I added the chicken broth. Next, I added the cream.
Finishing the Easy Creamy Chicken Marsala Pasta:
To finish the Easy Creamy Chicken Marsala Pasta, I added the cooked pasta, along with the remaining butter to the chicken/mushroom mixture. Before adding the Mozzarella cheese, I stirred to combine everything. Once I had added the cheese, I stirred the pasta until the cheese was ooey-gooey melted! I thought that the liquid consistency was perfect, so decided that I didn’t need to add any of the reserved pasta water. When I tasted the pasta to see of the seasonings needed to be corrected, I thought that it was perfect as is!
I served the Easy Creamy Chicken Marsala Pasta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and minced chives on top, a side salad, a freshly baked baguette and a chilled Chardonnay. Talk about good. The chicken was perfectly tender, and the creamy Marsala sauce coating the pasta was amazing. Yum!
Easy Creamy Chicken Marsala Pasta
- 8 ounces (2 cups) dried Penne pasta (See Note 1)
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup minced onion (1 small onion)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces Cremini mushrooms, sliced
- ¾ cup Dry Marsala (See Note 2)
- ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Mozzarella cheese (See Note 3)
- ½ cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Minced chives or parsley for garnish (optional)
- Cook Penne pasta to al dente stage according to package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta liquid. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken, salt, and pepper. Cook stirring until chicken is no longer pink, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove chicken from Dutch oven.
- Add onions to Dutch oven; cook stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 7 minutes.
- Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Increase heat to medium-high; add mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently until all liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Add Marsala; cook, scraping up bottom bits until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium; return cooked chicken to Dutch oven. Add chicken broth and cream. Stir to combine.
- Add cooked pasta and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir to combine. Cook until bubbly.
- Add Mozzarella cheese; cook, stirring until cheese is melted. If necessary, add some or all of the reserved pasta liquid. Taste seasonings to correct.
- If desired, garnish with minced parsley or chives.
- Yield: 6 servings.
Chula's Expert Tips
- May also use Ziti in place of the Penne.
- For best results use an Italian Marsala as opposed to a California Marsala. Also, use a Dry Marsala as opposed to a Sweet Marsala. You can, however, substitute Madeira, Port, or Sherry for the Marsala.
- It's best to shred your own Mozzarella. The pre-shredded Mozzarella has a coating that can negatively impact this dish.