This Italian chicken gets its flavor from simmering all day in the slow cooker in a rich marinara sauce!
My crock pot never goes into hibernation. Not even in the dead of summer. Not to offend my grill or anything, because I love that, too, but when was the last time it made me saucy chicken (aka fall-apart-tender comfort food)?
Now, let me be honest. I don’t usually go for crock pot chicken recipes (or slow cooker chicken recipes – which name are we committing to?) that require pre-cooking. It just seems to negate at least a little bit of the ease of using the good ol’ “toss together, set it, and forget it” machine. But with this recipe? The prep is worth it. A homemade marinara always is.
The good news is that the sauce takes no more than 15 minutes to come together and once it’s fragrant and bubbling, you simply combine it with chicken breasts and cook on low for 6 hours, or 8 hours depending on your crock pot settings. The result is unbelievably tender chicken that’s swimming in sweet and garlicky tomatoes. Fresh basil and a hearty grating of Parmesan cheese and it’s true comfort.
If you want to go the extra step and melt some fresh mozzarella on top, you can even achieve a lighter, low calorie chicken parmesan without breadcrumbs…and friends I’ve tried it. It’s great. Half the hassle for so much of the flavor.
Slow Cooker Italian Chicken and Marinara
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 28- ounce can crushed or ground peeled tomatoes
- 1 6- ounce can tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 5- to 6-ounce chicken breasts (2 pounds total)
- ½ cup packed fresh basil finely chopped
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to turn a golden, about 7 minutes. Lower the heat if they begin to burn at any point. Add the crushed tomatoes and the tomato paste and stir until the mixture is smooth and well-combined. Add the oregano, sugar, salt, and pepper; stir, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Pour 2 cups of the sauce in the base of a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the chicken breasts and pour the remaining sauce evenly over the top. Cook on low for 8 hours.
- To serve, divide the chicken breasts among 6 serving plates, spoon 2 tablespoons of the marinara sauce over the top, and sprinkle each evenly with the basil and Parmesan cheese.