The best chicken marinara sauce comes together quickly with a few pantry ingredients. Use it as an easy dinner of chicken spaghetti or other Italian dishes. With delicious taste, this healthy marinara sauce will be a family favorite.
Yummers, according to my wife, this great-tasting dinner recipe is ready in only 30 minutes with these simple step-by-step photo instructions.
Using either the stovetop (quick) or crockpot (low and slow), this is one of the best homemade marinara sauces you will ever taste. Packed with chicken and great Italian flavor, this will become a family favorite.
I followed the ATK suggestion of grating the onion to release the flavor faster. A very nice trick for a quick recipe like this. And is the key to the quick sauce.
The only trouble with the original recipe was no meat. We are meatasauruses at this house, and chicken is the favorite. So instead of about 15 minutes, it took 30 minutes. Not bad, not bad at all.
I did a lower 5 rating or a very high 4—an excellent healthy everyday meal.
- Chicken - Use raw chicken, like skinless boneless chicken breasts or chicken thighs, diced into bite sized pieces, You can also use precooked chicken, like rotisserie chicken, added with the tomatoes.
- Tomatoes - Good quality is important - use crushed or diced depending on the texture you like.
- Onion - Grating the onion is the key to a quick sauce with great flavor. You can just dice small but will need a bit longer to cook fully.
- Seasoning - the usual garlic, salt and pepper. The Italian touch comes from basil which can be dry or fresh basil. But oregano, rosemary, or an Italian seasoning mix could be used. The optional red pepper flakes adds touch of heat.
👨🍳Cooking Chicken Marinara Sauce on the Stovetop
- If using raw chicken, trim it to bite-size pieces and start browning.
- Shred onion and add to the chicken during cooking. Add the garlic near the end of cooking.
- Add the tomato products and spices. Mix well and simmer—15 minutes minimum, but longer is better. If using for a quick spaghitti dinner, cook the pasta while simmering.
👨🍳Cooking Chicken Marinara Sauce in a Crock Pot
- Process the chicken as stated in this recipe, but you can cut the breasts into 2-3 chunks each if you want to shred near the end.
- The onion can be chopped or shredded.
- Cook on low for about 3 hours in a 3 quart or larger crock pot until chicken is 165°. The main time variation is due to chicken size.
- If shredding, remove the chunks from the pot, shred and then add back to the pot. You could add rotissorie chicken at this point also. Cook another 30-60 minutes to infuse with flavor.
- A double recipe in a 6 quart or bigger crockpot.
Yes. This marinara sauce is not only quick and easy but is a wonderful basic marinara sauce without meat.
You may go meatless or substitute Italian sausage, hamburger, ground chicken, or turkey. Ground meat should be browned and drained before adding to other ingredients.
Usually, you will serve chicken marinara as a simple chicken spaghetti. Just cook pasta like spaghetti or linguine and sprinkle with some parmesan cheese.
Baked chicken ziti or baked chicken spaghetti would be easy with this sauce. In a casserole dish, add some al denta ziti pasta with mozzarella cheese and bake in a 350° oven to a golden brown—instant Italian comfort food.
Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freeze airtight for 3-4 months.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Trim chicken breast of any fat. Cut into slices across the grain of the meat about ⅜ inch thick, then cut again the other way to make more bit size pieces.
Shred onion with the large side of a shredder into a medium bowl. You can also chop the onion instead-but simmer a bit longer.
In a large skillet add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the chicken for about 5 minutes, add the onion and cook until clearing of the onion—about 10-12 minutes total. Add the garlic the last few minutes of cooking.
Add all other spices and tomatoes. Simmer for at least 15 minutes—cook pasta during the simmering time.
30-Minute Chicken Marinara Sauce
- 1 to 1 ½ pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts - or thighs
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2-4 cloves garlic - minced or crushed
- 1 onion - medium shredded or diced
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons dry basil - or 2 tablespoons fresh
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper - optional to taste
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 pound Pasta of your choice
- Trim chicken breast of any fat. Cut into slices across the grain of the meat about ⅜ inch thick, then cut again the other way to make more bit size pieces
- Shred onion with the large side of a shredder. You can also chop the onion instead-but simmer a bit longer.
- In a large skillet add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the chicken for about 5 minutes, add the onion and cook until clearing of the onion—about 10-12 minutes total. Add the garlic the last few minutes of cooking.
- Add all other spices and tomatoes. Simmer for at least 15 minutes—cook pasta during the simmering time.
- Serve over cooked pasta or in other dishes.
My Private Notes
- An easy recipe to cut in half.
- Use the pasta and chicken you want. You can leave out the chicken or use other meats.
- You want about 1 to 1 ½ pounds of chicken. The recipe calls for raw but you can use rotisserie chicken. Add it with the tomatoes.
- Use good ingredients. If you use generic tomatoes, you will have generic results.
- The shredded onion released flavor and cooks rapidly. It is the secret of the quick sauce. You can use chopped onion and cook a bit longer.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen for 3-4 months.
- Nutrition does not include pasta.
- Process the chicken as stated in this recipe, but you can cut the breasts into 2-3 chunks each if you want to shred at the end and mix it back in.
- The onion can be chopped or shredded.
- Cook on low for about 3 hours until chicken is 165°. The main time variation is due to chicken size.
- If shredding, remove the chunks from the pot, shred and then add back to the pot. Cook another 30-60 minutes to infuse with flavor. You could add rotisserie chicken at this point if desired.
- This will fit in a 3 quart or bigger crockpot. A double recipe in a 6 quart or bigger crockpot.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Published January 29, 2010. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.