If you love the flavor of Chicken Parmesan, but don’t love the prep, Chicken Marinara Bake is the clear solution! Skip pounding out chicken into paper-thin cutlets and leave that dredging station behind, cause Chicken Marinara has all the flavor and requires half of the prep work.
It combines two Italian favorites: Marinara sauce and melty mozzarella cheese, and they come together to spruce up boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a baked dish everyone adores. Serve with a side of pasta and garlic bread for the perfect, family-friendly dinner!
CHICKEN MARINARA INGREDIENTS (AND SHORT-CUTS)
Chicken Marinara Bake consists of three main ingredients:
- Marinara Sauce
- Chicken Breasts
- Mozzarella Cheese
This recipe provides a quick and easy homemade marinara sauce that requires very little time and absolutely no stovetop simmering. For the sauce, you’ll need a large can of crushed tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper. And, if you’re feeling extra fancy, a sprinkle of freshly minced basil.
If you’re short on time, you can substitute a good, high-quality jar of store-bought marinara sauce, and follow the directions in the “Notes” section of the recipe card.
You also have options for the mozzarella cheese. Fresh mozzarella is an incredible product and great for melting, but it does require an extra step. Because of its high water content, it is necessary to pat the medallions dry before topping your Chicken Marinara. If you prefer to use store-bought Mozzarella cheese to save yourself a little more time, feel free to do so.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN MARINARA BAKE
Chicken Marinara Bake begins and ends with a great deal of flavor. Before the chicken is baked in the oven, it is rubbed with seasoning and goes to the stovetop for a quick pan-sear. Searing meat at a high temperature develops flavor.
The marinara sauce takes place in the same pan and begins with a quick sauté of onion and garlic. The vegetables pick up on all that savory flavor left behind from the chicken, and the rest of the sauce ingredients go in. It all ends up, baked and bubbly, in a casserole dish topped with smooth and stretchy mozzarella cheese.
- Pat the chicken dry and rub in seasoning.
- Sear the chicken on both sides and set aside.
- Add onion to pan, followed by garlic and the remaining sauce ingredients.
- Layer the sauce and chicken in the casserole dish, top with mozzarella and bake.
1. PREP THE CHICKEN BREASTS
Before the chicken breasts can go into the pan, you’ll need to pat them dry with a paper towel. This helps to remove any excess moisture from the chicken and allows for a good sear. Then, the chicken gets a quick drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of seasoning. The oil helps the seasoning to adhere to the chicken.
2. SEAR THE CHICKEN
One of the most important steps in getting a good sear on chicken breasts is bringing your pan to temperature, as well as the oil. It is also important to keep in mind that once the chicken goes in, it stays in. Don’t jostle it or move it around — you’ve just got to let it be for a moment. Once the chicken has taken on a golden hue, you can flip it, sear the other side, and move on to the marinara sauce.
3. A FURIOUSLY FAST MARINARA
The chicken comes out, the onions go in, followed by the garlic and the remaining sauce ingredients. This is the marinara in your Chicken Marinara, and homemade sauce does not get a whole lot easier or faster than this.
Because the marinara sauce will spend time cooking in the oven, there’s really no reason to simmer it on the stovetop first. Simply soften the onions and garlic, and add the remaining ingredients.
4. ASSEMBLE AND BAKE
To assemble the Chicken Marinara Bake, add a scant amount of marinara to the bottom of the casserole dish and top with the chicken. Add generous spoonfuls of marinara over the seared chicken breasts and finish with mozzarella cheese.
Bake your Chicken Marinara at 350° for 25-27 minutes. You’ll know the chicken is done when it registers 165°F and the juices of the chicken run clear when cut with a knife.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH CHICKEN MARINARA
The quintessential side dish for Chicken Marinara is pasta. Serve it with a side of cooked spaghetti noodles, farfalle, or penne pasta. However, if you’re looking for something beyond pasta, you could also serve this dish alongside:
- Homemade Garlic Bread
- Steamed Broccoli
- Fresh Green Beans
- Creamed Spinach Salad with Parmesan Cheese
- Caesar Salad
7 MORE BAKED CHICKEN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Bruschetta Chicken Salad turns boneless, skinless chicken breasts into an exciting Italian chicken salad, with easy tomato bruschetta and a quick balsamic dressing.
- Crispy Baked Chicken Leg Quarters shows you a simple method for baking up a batch of perfect leg quarters with rosemary and lemon.
- Oven-Baked Chicken Breasts do not have to be dry! Learn the best way to cook chicken breasts in the oven with this quick fool-proof guide.
- Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders bake up golden and crispy just like their fried counterpart, and you can rest assured — your family will never taste the difference.
- Parmesan Crusted Chicken Tenders feature chicken tenderloins with panko breadcrumbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Don’t forget marinara sauce on the side for dipping!
- Baked BBQ Chicken is the perfect way to cook chicken legs and thighs for the family!
- BBQ Baked Chicken Leg Quarters requires only a few ingredients and delivers an easy, flavorful chicken dinner. Perfect for any night of the week, this chicken dinner requires only 5 minutes of prep time and bakes up tender and juicy!
Chicken Marinara Bake is an easy, family-favorite dinner featuring chicken breasts baked in a flavorful marinara sauce and topped with melty mozzarella cheese!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
- 4 about 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon TAK House Seasoning (or your favorite poultry spice blend)
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano's)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons freshly minced basil optional
- 1 (12 ounce) package fresh mozzarella medallions, patted dry (or 1 1/2 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese)
Preheat the oven to 350° and allow to come to temperature. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Have ready a 9x13" casserole dish.
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of seasoning, and rub to adhere.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the heated pan, and allow to come to temperature. Add the chicken and sear for 3- 4 minutes, just until golden-brown. Flip the chicken and sear for 2-3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add the onion and sauté 5-8 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more.
Add the canned tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper and stir. If using basil, add it to the pan, stir, and remove from the heat.
If desired, for a smoother sauce, puree using an immersion blender or a blender with the feed tube removed and a dish towel covering its place.
Add a thin layer of sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish and add the chicken breasts. Spoon a generous amount of marinara sauce over each chicken breast and divide the Mozzarella cheese amongst the chicken.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-27 minutes, or until the chicken breasts are cooked through. Serve and enjoy.