This gluten-free Chicken Marsala recipe uses just one pan and smothers chicken in a silky mushroom and wine sauce. For me. this Marsala sauce is the epitome of umami! I love to serve this dish over quinoa or brown rice instead of the traditional pasta.
Pan Reduction Tecnique
In this pan reduction dish, the flavors are concentrated and thickened with a little flour and butter. The cooking process goes very quickly so it’s important to chop and measure the ingredients first. Before the chicken hits the pan you’ll need to have the ingredients at your fingertips. So take the time to prep everything and put it within reach of the stove. For another traditional Italian pan reduction dish check out my gluten-free chicken piccata recipe
Chicken Marsala Ingredients
- Marsala wine is a “fortified” wine meaning that it has extra alcohol in the form of something distilled like brandy. You could use a white wine instead but the Marsala gives the dish a distinct flavor.
Do you avoid alcohol or have sensitivities to sulfites? Here is a way to get the flavor of wine without alcohol. The best substitute for wine in cooking is a combination of apple cider vinegar and apple juice. You get the tang and the fruitiness of wine with this combination.
- Flour – The chicken is coated in flour before cooking. This flour will also thicken the sauce. The gluten-free flour I recommend for thickening a gluten-free sauce is a gluten-free flour blend, It creates a similar texture to wheat flour and has a slightly sweet, neutral flavor. Use the ready-made flour mix you have on hand but I like King Arthur Flour’s Gluten-Free Measure for Measure.
- Salt – I have not given an exact amount of salt because all broths are not created equal. The salt level varies greatly so just let your taste buds tell you how much is the right amount, I recommend using a low-sodium chicken broth. Imagine Food’s Chicken broth is a very good one.
- Chicken – The cooking method for this gluten-free chicken marsala relies on using very thin chicken breast so that it cooks quickly. If it cooks for too long, the flour will start to burn. Here’s how to prepare the chicken for this recipe.
How to Cut Thin Chicken
Most chicken breasts these days are unusually thick and large. For this gluten-free chicken Marsala, thin pieces work best. Most chefs would tell you to pound the chicken to make it thin. But this is a messy and time-consuming process and I’m just not that patient!
If you prefer to pound the chicken: Place it between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and use a fry pan to pound it flat. I prefer a fry pan to a meat mallet because it covers more surface area and goes faster. Use a medium amount of force. Press too hard and the chicken will tear.
Here’s how I prep my chicken for Marsala:
Start with a sharp knife and a stable cutting board. Put a damp paper towel underneath the board the keep it from slipping.
If the chicken breast is very large, I like to cut it in half this way before cutting thin.
Next: Place one hand on top of the chicken (fingers flat) and hold the knife parallel to the cutting board. Try to keep it as level as possible. With a long smooth stroke, cut a 1/4′ piece. For most chicken breasts this would be 3rds.
Then cut the remaining piece in half using the same technique.
How to Thicken Gluten-Free Sauces
I have had somewhat inconsistent results using gluten-free flours to thicken sauces. Some brands work better than others. If your Marsala sauce does not thicken to your liking once it has bubbled for a minute, here is a way to fix it (it is called a buerre manie):
In a small bowl mix 1 tbsp flour with 1 Tbsp softened butter (soften it in the microwave for 3-4 seconds) to form a paste. Turn the flame down to low, drop in 1/2 of the paste and stir. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil stirring with the whisk. If it needs more thickening add the second half and bring to a boil again, stirring.
Gluten-Free Chicken Marsala
- 2 Tbsp minced shallot
- 8 oz crimini mushrooms
- ¼ c gluten-free flour blend
- 1 Tbs fresh oregano or parsley
- 2-3 Tbs canola or safflower oil
- 1½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
- ¼ c Marsala wine or 2 Tbs brandy + 2 Tbs white wine
- ½ c low sodium chicken stock or broth
- ½ Tbs butter optional
- salt and pepper
- Gather all the ingredients and ready them for cooking. The process goes quickly once you start to cook so have everything right next to the cook top.
- Clean the mushrooms with a towel, trim the stems and cut in half, or quarters if large. Set aside. Finely chop the oregano and shallot. Set aside.
- Season the flour generously with salt, about 1 teaspoon. This provides your one chance to get some salt directly on the chicken and much of it will be left behind so don’t be afraid. Add ¼ tsp pepper.
- Spread the flour in an even layer on a plate or flat bowl.
- Pound the chicken thin or cut as pictured above.
- Begin to heat a large skillet over a medium-high flame. Add the oil after about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, dredge the chicken breasts in the flour, shake off the excess and drop directly into the skillet.
- Cook 3-4 pieces at a time (depending on the size of your pan). Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan, place on a plate.
- Add 1-2 tsp oil to the pan if needed (do not wipe the pan clean) and saute the shallot for 30 seconds, add the mushrooms and saute until slightly brown.
- Remove the pan from the flame, add the wine and return it to the flame. Cook until the wine is almost evaporated then add the chicken stock.
- Stir with a whisk and cook about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil. The liquid will thicken from the flour left by the chicken. Once thickened, taste the sauce and add more salt if needed. If your sauce has not thickened to your liking see the notes section below with a way to fix it.
- Add the butter if desired and swirl the pan until the butter is melted and incorporated. If you’re concerned about adding fat, it can be left out but does give a nice texture to the sauce.
- Return the chicken to the pan to reheat, 2 minutes.
- Serve over gluten-free pasta or wilted spinach. Top with fresh herbs.