If you're looking to make a meal that is rich in flavor, and can be finished in about an hour, chicken pizzaiola is your dish. Chicken cutlets are lightly seared and then stewed until tender in a sauce made from sweet bell peppers, earthy mushrooms, garlic, oregano, tomato, and white wine. Topped with fresh basil, this dish is best served alongside pasta, but can also be used to make a mean chicken pizzaiola sub, hero, or sandwich.
I love how simple pizzaiola chicken is to make, especially in large quantities, and how satisfying it is to nearly everyone, picky eaters included.
In fact, I served this last Christmas Eve and while I expected to have some leftovers, there were none.
Everyone loved it, came back for seconds (and thirds), and asked for the recipe.
What does chicken alla pizzaiola mean?
The term "alla pizzaiola", translates to "pizza style", or in the "pizza maker style".
Nearly every time I have been served pizzaiola in a New York area restaurant, it has contained bell peppers, and sometimes mushrooms.
I make chicken pizzaiola with both as I love the way the textures and flavors combine, especially with the tomato and wine sauce.
You may find other pizzaiola recipes on the internet include pepperoni or potatoes, but you won't really find it that way here in New York homes or restaurants.
If you make it that way and live here, I stand corrected lol.
What you will find is a sauce that is often seasoned, sometimes quite aggressively, with dried oregano. Nothing screams Italian-American more than dried oregano!
Many pizza shops use Sicilian oregano on their pizzas. So when you want to make a pizzaiola sauce, one must use some dried oregano.
Dried oregano only though.
Please refrain from using anything called "Italian seasoning". That's simply not a product people purchase or use.
You may be familiar with steak pizzaiola, which is another variation that also shows up in my kitchen, especially in the cooler months.
Both dishes are great so the decision comes down to what I'm in the mood for, and whether chicken or steak are on sale.
The step by step instructions
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Slice 1 pound of mushrooms. You can use white button mushrooms, baby Bellas, or a combination.
- Slice 2 large bell peppers. I prefer to use red, yellow, or orange for pizzaiola as they are far sweeter than green, however, in a pinch, green can be used.
- Pound out the chicken (or use store-bought thinly sliced cutlets), cut into 5” long pieces, and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Use about 1-2 teaspoons of kosher salt and a ½ teaspoon of black pepper for all of the chicken.
- Dredge the chicken in flour and shake off excess. Place the floured chicken on parchment paper for easy prep when frying.
- Hand crush one 28-ounce can of San Marzano or other high-quality plum tomatoes. You can also blender pulse the tomatoes for 1-2 seconds or use canned crushed tomatoes.
- Heat a large pan to medium heat and wait 2 minutes for the pan to heat up. Sear the chicken on both sides in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil until golden brown and cooked through (about 2 minutes per side), working in batches. If required, use more olive oil. Set all the cooked chicken aside and tent with foil to keep warm.
- To the same pan add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil if dry. Add in the mushrooms and cook until they release their water and begin to brown (about 5-7 minutes). Place the mushrooms on a plate and add the peppers to the pan.
- Cook the peppers until soft (about 10 minutes), then add in the garlic and cook for a few minutes more until the garlic turns lightly golden.
- If using the wine, add it in and cook the alcohol out for a few minutes. With a wooden spoon scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add in the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes with the peppers and garlic stirring frequently
- Add in the plum tomatoes, dried oregano, and mushrooms, and bring the sauce to a simmer. If the sauce is too thick add a bit of water (4-6 ounces or so) and stir together.
- Taste test the sauce and adjust salt, pepper, and oregano to taste. When satisfied with the taste return the chicken to the pan and cook for a few more minutes to warm it through. Turn off the heat and add in the basil and a hefty drizzle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Serve with crusty Italian bread to mop up the sauce. Enjoy!
What to serve with chicken pizzaiola
Whenever I make pizzaiola chicken or steak, I serve it alongside pasta and some type of Italian bread (seeded semolina is my favorite).
The sauce is just so fantastic that I want to put it on nearly anything that isn't nailed down.
As mentioned above, I did serve this for Christmas as this is a perfect dish to make ahead/earlier in the day and reheat over a sterno, alongside a tray of baked ziti or manicotti and a chopped salad when hosting a crowd.
A big green salad works well too.
And if you have leftovers, throw it on a hero roll, top with mozzarella, and you have a killer chicken pizzaiola sub sandwich.
More Italian chicken recipes
I have added so many great Italian and Italian-American chicken recipes here for you to try.
What are some of your favorites?
- Chicken Milanese - breaded and fried Italian chicken cutlets
- Chicken Valdostana - chicken breasts with prosciutto, fontina cheese, and oyster mushrooms in a white wine sauce
- Chicken parmigiana - the classic Italian-American comfort food
- Chicken Sorrentino - chicken breasts layered with prosciutto and eggplant in a marsala wine sauce
- Chicken piccata - lemon and caper white wine sauce
- Chicken Francese with lemon butter parsley sauce
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Watch the video below where Jim will show you how to make this recipe with easy to follow instructions.
- 2 pounds chicken cutlets thin sliced and cut into 5" pieces
- 1 28 ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- ½ cup dry white wine optional
- 1 cup flour for dredging, you will not use it all
- 1 pound baby Bella mushrooms sliced
- 2 large red bell peppers sliced
- 6 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 ½ teaspoons dry oregano plus more to taste
- ¼ cup fresh basil torn to finish
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil for finishing
- Pound out the chicken (or use storebought thin sliced cutlets), cut into 5” pieces, and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge the chicken in flour and shake off excess.
- Heat a large pan to medium heat and wait 2 minutes. Once the pan is hot, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and sear the chicken on both sides (about 2 minutes per side). Work in batches. Use more olive oil as required. Set all the cooked chicken aside and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Next, add in the mushrooms and cook until they release their water and brown (about 5-7 minutes). Place the mushrooms on a plate and set aside.
- Next, add the peppers to the pan. Cook them until soft (about 10 minutes), then add in the garlic and cook for a few minutes more until the garlic turns lightly golden. If using the wine, add it now and cook the alcohol out for a few minutes. With a wooden spoon scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add in the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes with the peppers and garlic stirring frequently. Add in the plum tomatoes, oregano, and mushrooms, and bring the sauce to a simmer. If the sauce is too thick add a bit of water (4-6 ounces or so) and stir together.
- Taste test the sauce and adjust salt, pepper, and oregano to taste. When satisfied with the taste return the chicken to the pan and cook for a few more minutes to warm it through.
- Turn off the heat and add in the basil and a hefty drizzle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Serve with crusty Italian bread to mop up the sauce. Enjoy!
- Use thinly sliced cutlets and if possible pound the chicken flat to approximately a ¼ to ⅜" thick. Using chicken with a uniform thickness will allow a more even cooking process.
- You do not need to use all of the flour. The flour is for dredging. Dredging means you coat the chicken on all sides with flour and shake off the excess.
- Dried oregano, preferably Sicilian oregano makes the dish taste like a pizza sauce.
- Dry white wines to use include Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay. The wine is optional.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop on medium-low heat until warmed through.