I love an easy meal that gives all the warm comforting feels. Bolognese. Marinara. Lasagna. The garlic-y tomato goodness just tastes so good, especially when it’s complimented with fresh herbs. That’s why this lightened-up recipe for chicken marinara has become a favorite in our home. I love it because it only takes a few steps and because I can feed my family something they’re gonna love with a healthier twist. Also, if you’re always on the lookout for easy chicken recipes for dinner, it’s time I introduce you to this one.
What You’ll Need for Chicken Marinara:
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Part-skim ricotta cheese
- Parmesan cheese, divided
- Garlic, frozen garlic cubes or garlic cloves
- Chicken breasts or tenderloins, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Garlic powder
- Italian seasoning
- 15-oz can of crushed tomatoes or marinara sauce
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
How to Make Chicken Marinara:
To start this healthy meal, grab a small food processor or blender. Blend the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, ¼ cup of parmesan cheese, garlic (2 frozen cubes or 2 cloves of garlic), fresh parsley, fresh basil, and spinach until it forms a pretty smooth paste. Don’t go crazy with your blending. We are making a paste, but a few green specks are great!
Next, let’s prep our chicken. I like using either chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts. Either way, you’ll want 2 pounds total after chopping the meat into bite-sized pieces. Add your chopped chicken to a 9×13 baking dish.
Just toss your bite-sized chicken tenderloin pieces with olive oil and seasonings right in your baking dish. No sense in making extra dirty dishes. You can either bake the chicken for 10 minutes and THEN add the cheesy mixture (this gives you chance to pour off a little bit of liquid before adding the rest of the ingredients), or keep the chicken raw and let it all cook together.
Top your chicken (cooked or raw) with the cheese mixture aka green paste. Combine everything well. Pour crushed tomatoes over the top of the chicken mixture. Then top everything off with mozzarella and the remaining ¼ cup of parmesan.
Never miss a recipe! Sign up for my emails!
Put your 9×13 baking dish in the oven and bake at 375 for 30 minutes if using raw chicken, 15 if you pre-baked the chicken bites. You’ll be able to tell when it’s done when the top is bubbly and the chicken is cooked through. If you want the cheese to brown a bit more for that yummy crunch, just broil for a few more minutes.
If baking all together with the raw chicken, your chicken marinara will be a little watery right out of the oven. As it sits and cools down it will thicken up a bit. We might like the leftovers even better!
Is chicken marinara gluten-free and/or dairy-free?
This recipe for chicken marinara is heavy on dairy. I haven’t tried using swaps for this one, but you could! Use a dairy-free ricotta in place of both the ricotta and cottage cheeses, and I’d stick to a dairy-free parmesan on top.
Serve your chicken marinara over pasta, spaghetti squash, or on crusty buns with extra marinara or pesto like a chicken parmesan sandwich. ENJOY.
This easy chicken tenderloin recipe is SO GOOD! It’s quick to make, good for you, and can be enjoyed in so many different ways. If you’re looking for other easy macro-balanced recipes, check out my cookbooks and follow me on Instagram and TikTok. Those are all of the places where I share the really yummy eats as well as how to make macro-friendly eating easy.
- 1/2 cup Low-fat cottage cheese (120 g)
- 1/2 cup Part-skim ricotta cheese (120 g)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided (40 g)
- 2 Frozen garlic cubes, or 2 cloves
- 1/4 cup Parsley (12 g)
- 1/2 cup Basil (25 g)
- 1/2 cup Spinach (25 g)
- 2 lbs Chicken tenderloins or breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces (896 g)
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil (15 g)
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 2 tsp Oregano
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 15 oz can Crushed tomatoes, or marinara sauce (420 g)
- 2 oz Shredded mozzarella cheese (56 g)
- In a small food processor or blender, blend the cottage and ricotta cheeses, ¼ cup of the parmesan, garlic, parsley, basil, and spinach until it forms a pretty smooth paste. Don’t go crazy, a few green specks are great!
- Add your chopped chicken to a 9×13 baking dish. Toss with olive oil and seasonings. Top with the cheese mixture and combine well. Pour crushed tomatoes over the top of the chicken mixture, then top with mozzarella and remaining ¼ cup of parmesan.
- Bake at 375 for 30 minutes until the top is bubbly and chicken is cooked through. If you want the cheese to brown a bit more, just broil for a few more minutes. It will be a bit watery right out of the oven, but will thicken up a little as it sits. We might like the leftovers even better!
- PRO-TIP: To avoid that extra liquid at the end, you can also bake the chicken for 10 minutes BEFORE adding the cheese and sauce. Carefully pour off the extra liquid and then proceed to add the cheesy mixture, marinara, and cheese. Bake for only 15 additional minutes.
- Serve over pasta, spaghetti squash, or on crusty buns with extra marinara or pesto like a chicken parmesan sandwich. ENJOY.
Repeated from above: To avoid that extra liquid at the end, you can also bake the chicken for 10 minutes BEFORE adding the cheese and sauce. Carefully pour off the extra liquid and then proceed to add the cheesy mixture, marinara, and cheese. Bake for only 15 additional minutes. Search: Lillie Eats and Tells Chicken Marinara