Slow Cooker Italian Chicken and Marinara

slow cooker chicken

The grill—which I use nearly the whole year ‘round as it is—will be sharing my affection this spring and summer. Because my slow cooker isn’t going anywhere

slow cooker chicken

Not when it makes meals like this one.

slow cooker chicken

All saucy and comforting.

I have to say—I don’t usually like slow cooker recipes that require pre-cooking. It just seems to negate at least a bit of the ease of using the good ol’ “toss together, set it, and forget it” machine, don’t you think? This time, though, I find the prep to be 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 8 hours. The result is tender chicken in a sweet and garlicky tomato sauce that’s been cooking away all day. Fresh basil and a few shavings of Parmesan cheese add even more flavor and dimension.

If you’re in the mood for chicken Parmesan but you’d prefer to skip the hassle and the calories that come along with the traditional version, you’ll love this. Feel free to melt mozzarella on top for added cheesiness.


Slow Cooker Italian Chicken and Marinara

Yield: 6 Servings


  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


Nutrition Information for 1 Serving (1/6th of Entire Recipe): Calories 370, Total Fat 12.5 g, Total Carbohydrate 23.8 g, Dietary Fiber 4.7 g, Sugars 17.2 g, Protein 44.0 g




  1. Rocio says

    Yum! Looks so good. I am going to make this since I have a lot of chicken in my freezer lol. I sent you an email asking if you think putting nutella in cookies and then in the oven is a good idea or if it will burn lol

  2. says

    Hi Andie,

    Wow this looks truly divine! I’m a massive fan of anything chicken lol so you can be sure I will be giving this a go over the weekend.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    Love the blog by the way, the layout and design etc is really nice and clean.

    Photos are awesome to!

    Keep up the great work.

    Take care,


  3. Cheri says

    This looks heavenly! I will be trying it as soon as I finish the detox I’m on right now. (It’s a healthy one…I do get to eat, just mostly vegetarian). I have two weeks to go and then I can eat great food like this again! I just want to say that your blog about your journey is incredibly inspirational. It brought tears to my eyes as I read it. I can’t wait to read your book when it comes out!

  4. Melissa says

    Hey Andie – Do you think the sauce would work without the sugar? I’ve never made homemade marinara (shameful, I know) but am trying to avoid added sugar whenever possible. I know it’s not much in the grand scheme of the recipe, so will use it if it really enhances the flavor.

    Thanks for all of the new recipes lately. I had turkey meatloaf, broccoli and mashed sweet potatoes this week. SO GOOD!! Definitely going into permanent rotation.

    • Andie says


      OK, so here’s the thing: normally I’d say to feel free to omit the sugar, but this marinara recipe is so sacred to me (it’s my beloved stepdad, PJ’s, recipe) and I really do believe that the sweetness is part of the secret to its incredible flavor. So, I’d say don’t remove it completely, but perhaps cut down the 3 tablespoons I call for to 1 tablespoon. That should still sweeten it slightly without adding many grams of sugar serving. Sound good?


  5. says

    This looks delicious and healthy! I especially like the ease of making the sauce, as it usually takes me quite a long time to prepare a good pasta sauce. Thanks Jess for the suggestion of the fresh basil, that would enhance the flavor nicely!

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