How many calories are in Olive Garden’s Chicken Marsala?

Olive Garden’s Chicken Marsala is a popular Italian-American dish that features chicken breast cooked with Marsala wine sauce, mushrooms, and other seasonings. With its rich wine sauce and savory flavors, it’s easy to enjoy this dish without thinking about the calorie count. So how many calories are actually in Olive Garden’s Chicken Marsala?

What is Chicken Marsala?

Chicken Marsala originated in Italy as a way to make use of Marsala wine in cooking. It’s made by dredging chicken breast in flour, sautéing it to golden brown, and then braising it in a Marsala wine sauce along with mushrooms and seasonings.

The end result is a dish with succulent chicken in an incredible sauce. The Marsala wine adds a slightly sweet nuttiness while the mushrooms provide meaty umami flavors. Standard seasonings like garlic, shallots, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper round out the medley of tastes.

Common ingredients in Chicken Marsala

  • Chicken breast
  • All-purpose flour
  • Olive oil or butter
  • Marsala wine
  • Sliced mushrooms (often a mix of cremini and white)
  • Garlic
  • Shallots or onions
  • Chicken broth
  • Parsley, oregano, thyme
  • Salt and pepper

The specific ingredients and preparation vary between recipes, but this covers the basics of what goes into an authentic Chicken Marsala.

Nutrition facts for Olive Garden’s Chicken Marsala

Olive Garden does not provide complete nutrition information for its Chicken Marsala online. However, we can estimate the calorie count based on the standard serving size and ingredients.

At Olive Garden, the Chicken Marsala is served with a side of fettuccine Alfredo and two breadsticks. The full meal has around 1600 calories. A typical serving of Chicken Marsala alone provides:

  • Calories: 650
  • Total fat: 18g
  • Saturated fat: 7g
  • Trans fat: 0.5g
  • Cholesterol: 165mg
  • Sodium: 930mg
  • Total carbs: 41g
  • Dietary fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 3g
  • Protein: 64g

As you can see, a single serving packs nearly 650 calories. This comes mainly from the chicken, oil, butter, and flour used to cook the dish.

The Marsala wine adds minimal calories. A typical glass of Marsala wine contains about 123 calories. Even if you used an entire cup of Marsala wine in the sauce, that would only add around 110 calories to the total.

High calorie ingredients

These are the main ingredients that contribute calories and fat to Chicken Marsala:

  • Chicken breast: A 6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast contains around 190 calories and 3.5g of fat.
  • Olive oil/butter: Olive oil provides 119 calories and 13g fat per tablespoon. Butter has 102 calories and 12g fat.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour has about 400 calories and 1g fat per 100 grams. The flour coating adds calories.
  • Cheese: If the recipe includes Parmesan cheese, this adds more fat and calories. Shredded Parmesan has 111 calories and 7g of fat per 1/4 cup.

Combining chicken with olive oil or butter for sautéing, plus a flour coating, easily adds up to 500+ calories before even factoring in the sauce.

Does Olive Garden use cream in their Chicken Marsala?

Olive Garden states that their Chicken Marsala sauce does not contain cream. It’s made with Marsala wine, chicken broth, mushrooms, garlic, and seasonings.

Some recipes call for adding cream or butter to the sauce. But for Olive Garden’s version, the sauce gets its richness directly from the cooked chicken drippings and braising liquid.

The lack of heavy cream helps minimize the calorie count. Heavy cream has about 50 calories per tablespoon.

Typical Marsala wine sauce ingredients

Olive Garden’s Marsala wine sauce likely contains:

  • Marsala wine
  • Chicken broth
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Onion or shallots
  • Parsley
  • Pepper
  • No cream

This helps keep the calories in the sauce relatively low while providing tons of flavor.

How to reduce calories in Chicken Marsala

Here are some simple substitutions to lower the calorie count:

  • Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts. Thighs are just as tender with a bit more fat and juiciness.
  • Skip dredging in flour and sauté the chicken in a bit of oil to brown.
  • Use low-fat chicken broth or white wine for the braising liquid.
  • Increase the mushrooms and cut back on oil/butter.
  • Choose whole-grain pasta or zucchini noodles instead of fettuccine.
  • Use just 1 tablespoon of oil instead of butter.

You can make all those swaps while keeping the same delicious Marsala wine flavor.

Lighter Chicken Marsala

Try this lighter recipe:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pat the chicken thighs dry and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook about 2-3 minutes per side until browned.
  3. Remove chicken to a plate and add the mushrooms to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes until browned.
  4. Add shallot and garlic and cook 1 minute more. Pour in Marsala wine and chicken broth. Return chicken to the skillet along with any juices.
  5. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through and sauce reduces slightly.
  6. Remove chicken to a plate. Add parsley and oregano to sauce and season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken to serve.

This lightened up version saves 200+ calories compared to a traditional recipe.

How to save calories on sides and appetizers

At Olive Garden, the Chicken Marsala comes with fettuccine Alfredo and breadsticks, which add lots of calories:

  • Fettuccine Alfredo: Around 930 calories
  • 2 breadsticks: Around 230 calories

Some better options:

Lower calorie sides

  • Steamed broccoli (70 calories per cup)
  • Roasted asparagus (20 calories per spear)
  • Sautéed spinach (20 calories per cup)
  • Mixed salad with light dressing (100 calories per serving)

Lower calorie appetizers

  • Minestrone soup (120 calories per cup)
  • Bruschetta without cheese (40-50 calories per slice)

Going with lighter sides and avoiding creamy pastas or deep fried apps can help balance out the Chicken Marsala.

Nutrition comparison to other Italian chicken dishes

How does Chicken Marsala compare calorie-wise to other popular Italian chicken entrees?

Here’s a nutrition breakdown of 6 oz chicken portions:

Dish Calories Carbs Fat Protein
Chicken Marsala 650 41g 18g 64g
Chicken Parmesan 670 11g 39g 57g
Chicken Piccata 500 11g 26g 47g
Chicken Cacciatore 440 15g 14g 48g

The counts can vary based on preparation, but roughly:

  • Chicken Marsala has slightly fewer calories than Chicken Parmesan, since it lacks the calorie-dense breading and cheese.
  • Chicken Piccata contains less fat due to its lemon, butter, wine sauce versus the oil-based Marsala sauce.
  • Chicken Cacciatore is lowest in calories thanks to minimal oil and simple tomato sauce.

While the differences aren’t huge, you can save 200 calories by opting for a tomato-based chicken dish over Marsala.

How to make your meal healthier

You can enjoy deliciously savory Chicken Marsala without overdoing it on calories by:

  • Choosing lower calorie sides like salad or roasted veggies
  • Skipping deep fried or creamy appetizers and soups
  • Sharing an appetizer instead of each person getting their own
  • Ordering a smaller portion or taking half the chicken home
  • Skipping the bread basket and ask for olive oil instead of butter

With smart menu choices, you can satisfy your Italian food cravings while maintaining your healthy diet goals.


Olive Garden’s Chicken Marsala packs nearly 650 calories in a standard serving. This comes mainly from the chicken, butter or oil used for sautéing, and flour coating on the chicken. While delicious, it sits on the higher end for calorie, carb, and fat content compared to other popular Italian chicken dishes.

To lighten it up, choose lower calorie side dishes and skip free breadsticks and creamy apps. Simple swaps like using chicken thighs, reducing added fats, and upping the mushroom ratio can also help drop over 200 calories from your Chicken Marsala.

At the end of the day, you can still enjoy this Italian favorite in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet.

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