Skinny Chicken Parmesan Casserole

4.39 from 96 votes

You'll love this fun take on a traditional favorite!

Italian recipe

Chicken Parmesan was one of the first dishes I learned to make when I went to college. After flipping through a newly bought cookbook, I saw these perfect golden brown chicken breasts atop a savory red sauce. I immediately set out to make it, except mine didn’t turn out so picture-perfect. Since I didn’t really know what I was doing, I burnt a few pieces of the chicken and had to trim off the edges. To hide my mistakes, I turned my dish into a casserole and just like that, this healthy chicken parmesan casserole was born! My roommates loved it, and they had no idea I messed up!

The traditional chicken Parmesan uses a heavy breadcrumb coating and lots of oil. We wanted to make a healthier version of the classic that didn’t skimp on flavor, and this recipe certainly delivers. If you serve this for a dinner party, no one would know that it’s healthy!

Skip the Frying

Skinny Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Frying isn’t all bad, but it certainly adds unnecessary calories to your meal. Some people say that the oil doesn’t get absorbed into the food, but I would disagree. Have you ever fried a few batches of fritters? After three batches, you need to add more oil to the pan. Where did that oil go? Into the food, of course.

We skip the frying for this healthy chicken parmesan casserole because it’s completely unnecessary. You don’t need the chicken to be crispy because it would become soggy, anyway, after baking in the savory tomato sauce. You certainly won’t need to see the golden brown appearance because it will be hidden inside the dish.

It wouldn’t quite be chicken parmesan without a crispy bite, though, so we have a little trick up our sleeves to make that possible. We top the casserole with Panko breadcrumbs. This adds a crunchy layer on top of the dish. Who needs frying when we have tricks like this?!

Whole Grain Pasta

italian recipe

I’ve had a lot of people tell me they don’t eat pasta anymore because it’s unhealthy. With vegetable spiralizers and zucchini noodles becoming more and more popular, it’s easy to skip the pasta if you’re not into it. But, I’m going to make an argument for whole grain pasta.

There are two different types of carbohydrates: simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbohydrates (also called simple sugars) are easy for your body to break down. They provide little nutrition (other than energy to fuel your body), and they can raise your blood glucose level rapidly.

Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are composed of long saccharide chains that link together three or more types of sugars. Your body takes a long time to digest these carbohydrates, which means they provide lasting energy to your body. These complex carbohydrates are linked to weight loss because they also contain fiber and other nutrients.

Long story short – whole grain pasta shouldn’t be considered a “bad” food to consume, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Whole wheat flour has three parts of the grain – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. The bran and the germ are the most nutrient-dense parts of wheat. These are stripped out when refining flour to become white flour.

An Extra Homemade Touch on this Chicken Parmesan Casserole

homemade marinara sauce

At the end of the day, this healthy chicken parmesan casserole is not only healthy, but it tastes great, too! If you want to take it one step further, substitute this easy homemade marinara sauce in for the store-bought version. The sauce plays a huge role in this healthy chicken parmesan casserole. Putting in the extra effort to create a fresh and flavorful sauce at home can make it taste even better!

See How to Make this Healthy Chicken Parmesan Casserole

4.39 from 96 votes

Skinny Chicken Parmesan Casserole

This healthy chicken parmesan casserole is a nutritious and delightful way to get all the flavors of a traditional Italian dish.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 8 people
Serving Size 1 cup
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian


  • 1 pound penne pasta whole grain
  • 1 jar marinara sauce 24-25 ounce jar, no sugar added
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes optional
  • 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup skim mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs whole wheat
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning optional, ground oregano


  • Cook pasta according to the package directions, and drain.
    Preheat the oven to 375°. In a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish, combine the cooked pasta, marinara, tomatoes, and chicken. Stir well. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and seasoning.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the casserole and stir in the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top. Leave uncovered, return to the oven, and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the top is crispy.


  • We’ve made the casserole with and without the diced tomatoes. It’s delicious either way. It really depends on how much tomato flavor you prefer.
  • For an even cheesier casserole, add an additional 1/4 cup Ricotta and 1/4 cup cottage cheese. Stir in along with the mozzarella.
  • For a vegetarian dish, leave out the chicken and follow the directions as indicated.
  • Garnish with fresh basil, if desired.
  • This casserole is truly versatile. 🙂

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 369kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 682mg | Potassium: 737mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 542IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 197mg | Iron: 3mg |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 10
Keywords Budget-Friendly, High Protein, Kid-Friendly

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  1. Are we supposed to cook the chicken first? Cuz I cooked it for 30 minutes at 400 and the chicken was still completely raw. Another 30 minutes at 400 and the chicken was just cooked through…. did I do something wrong?

    1. Hi Jamie! The instructions indicate for the casserole to be cooked for 30 minutes covered and then another 10 to 15 minutes uncovered. That’s 40 to 45 minutes total. The chicken will also take a longer time to cook if the pieces are larger chunks.

  2. did I do something wrong? mine took over an hour for the chicken to cook through. it was incredibly watery- were we supposed to drain the diced tomatoes and kinda bland?

  3. did I do something wrong? the dish took over an hour for the chicken to cook though completely, it was very watery and kinda bland?

  4. I used the Smart Points calculator. It was 14 Smart Points. Maybe 10 for the FreeStyle since the chicken is supposedly Zero points.

    1. Hi Teri, we use the Freestyle SmartPoints for all our recipes. I double checked this recipe and it is 10 Freestyle SmartPoints.

  5. Do you boil the pasta and cook it first? or do you toss it in dry and it cooks in the over?

  6. I followed all of the instructions except I used 2 cups water rather than 2 1/2 cups and it’s still incredibly watery. Am I not supposed to cook the pasta completely?

    1. Hi Sharon, feel free to adjust the recipe to your personal preferences. Yes, the pasta should be cooked completely or “al dente If the pasta is over cooked or if the oven is not hot enough this dish will not turn out.

  7. I am on purple now and it came up as 4 points per serving for me with whole wheat pasta.
    Can I ask why you add water? . 🙂

    1. The water is used to cook the pasta. Without the pasta the casserole would be very dry and most likely burn before the pasta is cooked. Just a side note, all our recipes have Freestyle Points listed.

  8. You said the water is used to cook the pasta in the casserole. Didn’t you say to cook the pasta before adding to casserole? Seems like a lot of water, especially with the liquid in the tomatoes.

    1. Beth, I decided to remove all the water from the ingredients. That was a little unclear. Thank you for pointing it out. 🙂

  9. I was planning to cook tonight but there is no mention of water in the ingredients. But when you get to the instructions, it says to add water (combine the cooked pasta, marinara, tomatoes, water, and chicken). How much water?

    1. Denise, Yes, just be sure to cut the chicken into bite size cubes. If you prefer, you can cut the chicken first and sauté until cooked on the outside. It’s not necessary however.

  10. Your recipe is not making sense to me. First you instruct to combine cooked pasta, marinara, tomatoes, and chicken in the casserole dish. the next step instructs to uncover an stir pasta. Also instructs to sprinkle the panko, parmesan, and Italian seasoning over the mozzarella? Do you not use the bread crumbs on the chicken? the photos shown look like the chicken breast has been breaded but instructions make no mention of when/how do you bread the chicken. Also, as many haven mentioned, it took over an hour and a half and this chicken still wasn’t done. This recipe is very confusing or some has been left out.

    1. Kendra, I made this again over the weekend. I understand your concerns. However, I tweaked the recipe and followed exactly how I made it this past weekend. Also, I added additional notes just below the recipe so be sure to take a look. Hope this helps. FYI, I didn’t use the diced tomatoes and it was still delicious. My husband doesn’t care for that much tomato taste. Enjoy!

  11. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a pain, but I cannot find the points. I’m on the purple plan. It has been a long day at school, so it could just be me!

  12. Definitely needs longer cooking. Added many more spices like fresh oregano, parsley and garlic as well as salt & pepper. Would have been very bland without the additions.

  13. I just couldn’t get up the nerve to mix pasta and put this in the oven with raw chicken, so I browned the chicken first, then added the tomatoes and sauce and let simmer as the pasta was cooking. I also lessened the initial baking time to 20 minutes instead of 30 but kept the 10-15 minutes.
    More steps, I suppose, but more peace of mind for me.

    1. Cook the recipe just long enough for the cheese to melt and the dish get nice and hot, around 15 minutes. Check however to make sure before removing from the oven. 🙂

  14. I decided to cook my pasta after the main dish was almost done and serve it over the pasta. I used chicken tenderloins and baked for 40 min covered then added cheese and bread crumbs and uncovered and did the additional 15 min. It turned out excellent!
    Will keep this on my rotation for sure!
    I did spice up the sauce a bit with garlic salt and Italian Spice.5 stars

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