The Ultimate Texture You Want For Marsala Sauce

Savory, rich, and just a little bit sweet, Marsala sauce is most commonly used in the U.S. for chicken Marsala, but it works great as a standalone sauce for almost any meat or pasta. What makes the sauce such a treat isn't just its flavor but the luxurious feel it can quickly bring to a dish with just a handful of ingredients. But getting the texture of Marsala sauce right is key, and a thin, watery gravy just won't do. You want it to be luscious and slightly thick, melting over top of your chicken or steak without pooling across the plate.

There are actually a couple of variations on Marsala you can make, but each one should have a silky, unctuous texture reminiscent of a wine or demi-glace reduction. The goal is to get a sauce thick enough to coat and cling to your meal without being gloopy. This is true whether you like a lighter-tasting Marsala that uses only wine and stock — the kind that's dark in color with a luminous sheen — or the richer, creamy Marsala variation that incorporates extra dairy as a thickener and has a more savory taste. Landing in that sweet spot between too runny and too thick is tricky, but you have a few different techniques available to you. 

You can get a rich, creamy Marsala sauce with flour, gelatin, or cream

The traditional way of getting that signature Marsala sauce texture is by reducing the wine and stock until it's just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and finishing it with a little butter. Alternatively, if you're making chicken Marsala, the flour from dredging and leftover fond can help form the base and thicken the sauce. Of course, if you're going meat-free, you can just whisk a tablespoon of flour into the wine as you cook it down.) 

The best Marsala sauce uses homemade stock that naturally has gelatin in it, which aids in the thickening and gives the sauce that nice glossy texture. But if you are using store-bought stock, and let's be real, most of us are, you can use a few teaspoons of powdered gelatin to get a similar finish.

If your tastes lean more creamy, your job is going to be a bit easier and less fussy. After simmering the wine and stock to reduce it, just pour in some whipping cream and finish heating the sauce to thicken it a bit. The amount of cream you use is completely up to you, but most recipes use about one-third as much cream as the combined wine and stock. No matter which style of Marsala you prefer, getting the smooth, luscious texture is the key to a great meal.