Two simple ingredients is all you need to make this delicious dish. That’s what Italian dressing chicken is all about – simple, quick and ridiculously delicious. Even if you have no cooking experience, or even any desire to cook, you can make this dish and still impress just about anyone. I used to make this chicken a lot as a student and people raved about it. They must have thought I had mad cooking skills. I let them believe that.
To marinate or not to marinate, that is the question. I think chicken and especially chicken breasts definitely benefit from some marination. If all you have is 30 minutes, then marinate for 30 minutes. If you can marinate overnight, that’s even better. Skipping marination altogether is no problem either. I’ve done that and still had a great tasting Italian chicken.
The reason why Italian dressing works as a marinade is not coincidental. It consists of fat, vinegar, salt, sugar and seasonings in the proportions that a typical marinade calls for – usually 3 parts oil/fat, 1 part acidic component, plus seasonings. It’s a great chicken sauce too. That’s why this recipe is so awesome and works even without marination.
You can use any part of a chicken to make Italian dressing chicken, though, chicken breasts are most commonly used. Baked chicken breasts are my favorite too.
You may wonder why my chicken breasts have those little cute bones sticking out. I am using airline chicken breasts this time around. Also known as airline chicken, statler chicken or Frenched breast. Essentially, it’s a boneless chicken breast with the drumette attached. When I buy whole chickens I sometimes butcher them this way.
I like to bake skinless, boneless chicken breasts at 325F. As I wrote in the Tender and Moist Baked Chicken Breast post, anything higher than 325F results in increased noticeable dryness of the meat. Skin-on, bone-in or boneless breasts can be baked at 375F and still come out perfectly tender and juicy.
To complete the dish I like to add a quick vegetable stir-fry to my baked chicken breasts, like stir-fried balsamic mushrooms which are ridiculously good and perfect for a healthy, low-carb side.
- 4 skin-on, boneless chicken breasts (or airline chicken breasts, or skinless breasts)
- 1 cup Italian dressing
- For the vegetable stir-fry:
- 3 cups mushrooms, halved
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
- Salt to taste
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Place the chicken breasts in a bowl, add the Italian dressing. Mix well, cover and marinate in a fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight and up to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375F (for skin-on breasts) or 350F for skinless breasts.
- Transfer the chicken breasts and the marinade into a deep baking dish. Bake until the internal meat temperature reaches 160F, about 35-40 minutes at 375F (or 50-60 minutes at 325F). If you are using skin-on breasts, you may want to use the broiler mode in the last few minutes to crisp up the skins.
- Meanwhile, prepare the balsamic mushrooms. Heat the oil in a wok or a cast iron pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and the onions and stir-fry until nicely caramelized, about 7-8 minutes. Add the pepper and the balsamic vinegar, then add salt to taste. Continue cooking for another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Remove the baking dish with the chicken from the oven. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve with balsamic mushrooms on the side.