Marinara pasta sauce is an Italian classic; it’s super simple but oh so versatile! My recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Marinara is a brilliant easy prep meal which takes only a few moments to make. It can be prepared using standard stock cupboard ingredients but is still wonderfully flavourful.
What is Marinara pasta sauce?
In short, it’s a basic tomato sauce that often accompanies a variety of types of pasta. It’s thought to derive from recipes that cooks aboard the Neapolitan ships in the 16th century once made, hence the name Mariner’s sauce.
Now, it’s widely used as a sauce in it’s own right or as a base in a variety of dishes (think lasagne, cannelloni etc) and is particularly popular in Italian-American cuisine.
The sauce itself is comprised of only a few core ingredients, namely tomatoes, garlic, onions and basil. Cooked right, it really is delicious. Due to it’s simplicity it’s been adapted many times to a variety of well known dishes such as Cod Marinara, Seafood Marinara and the recipe I have here, Chicken Marinara.
However, don’t let the simplicity of the ingredients or preparation lead you to think that there is a lack of flavour in this dish, nothing could be further from the truth! The beauty of this recipe is really appreciating the flavours of the sweet tomatoes and basil.
How is Slow Cooker Chicken Marinara different from classic Marinara sauce?
My recipe uses the classic list of marinara ingredients as a base with the addition of chicken thighs and black olives. I really didn’t want to deviate too far from the original flavours when creating this one!
I think the result is a lovely pasta sauce perfect for serving with tagliatelle or linguine and lashings of Parmesan cheese!
Can I freeze Slow Cooker Chicken Marinara?
The pasta sauce will keep in the fridge for up to two days in an airtight container. The sauce will also freeze for up to three months. Defrost and reheat thoroughly and cook with fresh pasta for best results.
Slow Cooker Chicken Marinara
- 500 g (1 lb) chicken thighs – skinless and boneless
- 400 g (14 oz) chopped tomatoes – canned
- 350 g (2.5 cups) tomato passata
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 onion – diced
- 3 garlic cloves – crushed
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper – ground
- 100 g (3.5 oz) Parmesan cheese – to serve
- 200 g (7 oz) pasta – tagliatelle, linguine, spaghetti etc
- 2 tbsp fresh basil – chopped
- 75 g (2.5 oz) black olives – pitted and finely sliced
- 50 ml (0.25 cups) water – hot
- Place the chicken thighs in the slow cooker and sprinkle over the salt and pepper.
- Dice the onion and crush the garlic and add to the cooker along with the sliced, pitted olives.
- Sprinkle over the dried basil, oregano and sugar and pour over the chopped tomatoes, passata, and the stock cube dissolved in the hot water. Then add the tomato paste.
- Stir everything through well and set the slow cooker to low and leave for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
- Approximately 15 minutes before cooking time has ended, cook the pasta in a pan of boiling water on the hob with a little salt. Check the manufacturers instructions for the exact recommended cooking time.
- Once the chicken marinara sauce has cooked, take two forks and roughly shred the softened chicken into the sauce. Then add the roughly chopped fresh basil and stir through well.
- Add the cooked pasta to the slow cooker pot and mix well with the sauce to ensure the pasta is fully coated.
- Serve immediately with fresh Parmesan cheese.
- It’s worth investing in good quality canned tomatoes for this recipe to ensure that you get a natural softness and sweetness to the sauce, otherwise the amount of sugar that will need to be added may increase.
- Similarly, if you find that the tomatoes used cause the sauce to be slightly acidic, add a few tablespoons of milk to neutralise this.
- The dried herbs used in this recipe were Bart’s Basil and Oregano.
- The chicken stock cube used in this recipe was Kallo Organic Chicken Stock Cube.
- If you’re keen to reduce the calories, using less Parmasan cheese will bring this under 500 calories.