Is Chicken Marsala fattening?

Chicken marsala is a classic Italian dish made with chicken cutlets, mushrooms, and a sauce of marsala wine and butter. It’s a delicious combination of flavors, but the butter and wine sauce have some wondering – is chicken marsala fattening?

Quick Answer

Chicken marsala can be fattening if it’s made with high fat ingredients like lots of butter or cream. However, chicken marsala made with lean chicken, moderate amounts of oil and butter, and marsala wine is a lighter option. Watch portion sizes as well.

How Many Calories are in Chicken Marsala?

The calorie count of chicken marsala depends on the specific recipe and ingredients used. According to the USDA, a 3 ounce serving of chicken marsala made with olive oil contains approximately:

Ingredient Calories
3 oz chicken breast, cooked 165
1 tsp olive oil 40
1⁄4 cup marsala wine 65
1⁄4 cup mushrooms 10
Total 280

So a 3 ounce serving of chicken marsala made with olive oil contains around 280 calories. This is a moderate calorie count for a single serving.

However, recipes with higher fat ingredients like butter or cream can be much higher in calories. For example, a chicken marsala recipe made with 1 tablespoon of butter could contain over 100 additional calories.

What Makes Chicken Marsala Fattening?

Chicken marsala gets its rich, indulgent taste from ingredients like butter, oil, and cream. Here’s a look at some of the high calorie ingredients commonly used:

– Butter: 100 calories per tablespoon
– Oil: 120 calories per tablespoon
– Heavy cream: 50 calories per tablespoon
– Flour-based sauce: Can add calories from carbohydrates
– Large serving sizes: More calories than a 3-4 ounce serving

Using lean ingredients like chicken breast, limiting butter and oil, and avoiding heavy cream are all ways to lighten up this dish. Portion control is important too, as a 6-8 ounce serving can pack far more calories than a smaller 3-4 ounce serving.

Lower Calorie Substitutions

Here are some simple substitutions to make chicken marsala healthier:

– Use olive oil instead of butter for sautéing. Olive oil has healthy fats.
– Choose lower fat milk or half and half instead of heavy cream.
– Use whole grain flour or cornstarch to thicken the sauce instead of regular flour.
– Use lean chicken breast without skin versus thighs or drumsticks.
– Limit the amount of marsala wine, or use low calorie cooking wine.
– Use low sodium chicken broth instead of some of the butter or oil.
– Increase vegetables like mushrooms and spinach to boost volume.

Making these simple swaps allows you to achieve the same delicious flavor while reducing the calorie count.

Tips for Lightening Up Chicken Marsala

Here are some tips for making chicken marsala less fattening:

– Use minimal added fat. Limit oil to 1 teaspoon and butter to 1 tablespoon.
– Choose lower fat dairy such as skim milk or half and half.
– Increase vegetables to at least 1 cup per serving. Mushrooms, spinach, and zucchini are all good choices.
– Use skinless boneless chicken breast and trim any excess fat.
– Use whole grain flour or cornstarch instead of regular flour to thicken the sauce.
– Limit marsala wine to 1⁄4 cup per serving.
– Choose low sodium chicken broth as part of the liquid.
– Use cooking spray instead of oil to sauté aromatics like shallots or garlic.
– Bake, grill, or sauté chicken instead of frying in oil.
– Limit portion size to 3-4 ounces of chicken.

Is Chicken Marsala Healthy?

Chicken marsala can be a relatively healthy option depending on how it’s prepared. Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein. Marsala wine adds antioxidants. Mushrooms provide vitamins and minerals.

Some key considerations for a healthy chicken marsala recipe:

– Use lean protein: Chicken breast is ideal.
– Moderate fat: Limit butter and oil. Choose heart healthy fats like olive oil.
– Lots of vegetables: Mushrooms, spinach, zucchini give nutrients.
– Whole grains: If using flour, choose whole wheat or whole grain.
– Control portions: Stick to a 3-4 ounce serving of chicken.
– Limits salt: Avoid adding extra salt and soy sauce.

Overall, chicken marsala made with mostly lean, whole food ingredients can be a nutritious choice. Pay attention to calories, fat, and sodium by using healthy preparation methods.

Low Calorie Chicken Marsala Recipe

This healthy chicken marsala recipe uses simple ingredient swaps to lighten up the classic dish:

– 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 ounces each)
– 1 teaspoon olive oil
– 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
– 1 shallot, diced
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1⁄4 cup marsala wine
– 1⁄4 cup low sodium chicken broth
– 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
– 1⁄4 cup half and half
– 1⁄4 cup chopped parsley


1. Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness of 1⁄2 inch. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken for 3-4 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add mushrooms, shallot, and garlic to the skillet. Sauté 3-4 minutes until softened.
4. Whisk in marsala wine and chicken broth, stirring up any browned bits in the pan.
5. In a bowl, whisk together flour and half and half. Add to skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes until thickened.
6. Return chicken and any juices to the skillet. Simmer for 2 minutes to coat chicken in sauce.
7. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley. Serve chicken with mushroom sauce on top.

This lighter chicken marsala has only 2 grams of saturated fat and 300 calories per serving. It cuts back on butter and cream compared to traditional recipes.

Healthy Eating Tips

– Savor a smaller portion of richer chicken marsala on special occasions, and opt for lighter versions like the recipe above for everyday eating.
– Balance chicken marsala with lower calorie sides like a green salad or steamed broccoli.
– Don’t drink your calories. Stick to water or unsweetened tea with your meal.
– Watch pasta portions if enjoying chicken marsala over pasta. Stick to a 1/2 cup cooked.
– Use chicken marsala leftovers for healthy meals. Stuff into a whole wheat pita pocket or serve over greens.

With some simple preparation tweaks and a focus on control, chicken marsala can be part of a healthy diet. Limit high fat ingredients, control portions, and balance with non-starchy vegetables.

The Bottom Line

Traditional chicken marsala can be high in calories, fat, and sodium if loaded up with butter, cream, and salt. However, with some simple substitutions like using olive oil, lean chicken, more veggies, and whole grain flour, you can enjoy a lighter version with far fewer calories. Limit portion sizes to 3-4 ounces of chicken and fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables and whole grains. Made with primarily lean, whole food ingredients, chicken marsala can be a flavorful, nutritious meal option. Focus on healthy preparation methods and watch your serving sizes.

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