Earlier this week was Halloween. In the past, I’ve usually been prepared with a crockpot of chili to fill my kids’ bellies prior to the sugar rush, but this week, I had no plan. While I contemplated ordering pizza, I remembered I had chicken breasts in the fridge along with marinara sauce. Chicken Parmesan came to mind, but the thought of breading each piece of chicken seemed too much with 3 superheroes begging me to hurry.

In the spirit of Halloween, I pulled a little “trick” out of my sleeve with this paired down “Cheater’s” Chicken Parmesan version. It requires fewer ingredients, just one pan, and a shorter cooking time, yet still imparts the comforting flavors of the traditional recipe. The key to making this recipe healthier is picking the right type of jarred marinara sauce. Many jarred tomato products can be high in added sugar and sodium. Compare food labels and aim for a sauce that has no more than 4 tsp of sugar or 400 mg of sodium per serving.
This dish would go well with a bright green salad, but of course, my superheroes did not have time for that…

chicken parmesan in a white dish with small wood bowls filled with parmesan cheese and red chili peppers

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chicken parmesan in a white container

cheater’s chicken parmesan bake

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  • Author: Jennifer McDaniel
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


  • 2 c. marinara sauce
  • 1 lb. chicken breast
  • 6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. Italian-style Panko or whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • Chopped herbs: basil, parsley, oregano, thyme (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 8 x 13 glass pan with non-stick cooking spray. Coat pan with marinara sauce until 1/2 inch deep (about 2 cups).
  2. Slice the chicken length-wise until 1/4 inch thick (I sliced each chicken breast into about 3 thinner slices). Place the chicken on top of the marinara sauce.
  3. Slice mozzarella to 1/4 inch thick and put over chicken. Bake 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs across the pan. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Check the temperature of the chicken, cook until chicken has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • Serving Size: 6 oz
  • Calories: 382
  • Sugar: 9.3 g
  • Sodium: 1307 mg
  • Fat: 10.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Fiber: 4.4 g
  • Protein: 45.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 98.3 mg