Skinny Chicken Parmesan Casserole

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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 perfectly, 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 chicken parmesan casserole! My roommates loved it, and they had no idea I messed up!

The traditional chicken Parmesan uses a heavy breadcrumb coating and lots of frying 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 into 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.

We skip the frying for this 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. And, 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

Skinny Chicken Parmesan Casserole

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 have actually been 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, and these are stripped out when refining flour to become white flour.

At the end of the day, this skinny 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 kind.

Skinny Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 303kcal


  • 1 pound whole grain penne pasta Uncooked
  • 3 cups marinara sauce no sugar added
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breast cubed small
  • 1 cup fat-free mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning


  • Cook pasta according to the package directions, drain.
    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish combine the cooked pasta, marinara, tomatoes, and chicken. Stir well. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and stir the pasta mixture. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. In a small bowl combine the panko, parmesan, and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle over the mozzarella. Return the casserole to the oven, uncovered, and cook for 10 to 15 more minutes or until the cheese is melted and top is golden. Serve hot!


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 1028mg | Potassium: 882mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 724IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 244mg | Iron: 4mg
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 10


For more skinny recipe ideas, check out the beautiful images on our Instagram page. You’ll get inspired (and maybe a little hungry, too) just looking at all of our healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes!

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30 Comments on "Skinny Chicken Parmesan Casserole"

  1. Barb  April 15, 2018

    Love the recipes, need more for 2 people

  2. Jamie  June 25, 2018

    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?

    • Nichole Furlong  June 25, 2018

      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.

  3. Emily  October 10, 2018

    Do we cook the pasta al dente first ?

    • Gale Compton  October 11, 2018

      Emily, It’s a personal preference but I would cook until al dente.

  4. K.C.  January 13, 2019

    Would this work as a freezer meal? If so, what modifications should I make?

  5. amanda  January 28, 2019

    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?

  6. amanda  January 28, 2019

    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?

  7. Teri  February 12, 2019

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

    • Nichole Furlong  February 12, 2019

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

  8. Kristen A. Conti  June 10, 2019

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

  9. Sharon  April 12, 2020

    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?

    • Nichole Furlong  April 16, 2020

      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.

  10. Helen  April 21, 2020

    Recipe not complete unless i’m missing something! How much Parmesan and Italian seasoning?

    • Nichole Furlong  April 22, 2020

      Hi Helen! I’ve updated the recipe ingredients to include these ingredients!

  11. Pat  April 21, 2020

    How much Parmesan?
    How much Italian seasoning?

    • Nichole Furlong  April 22, 2020

      So sorry – I’ve edited the recipe to correctly include these ingredients!

  12. Diane Keys  May 1, 2020

    What size can of diced tomatoes?

  13. Aimee Jo Pion  June 11, 2020

    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? . 🙂

    • Nichole Furlong  June 13, 2020

      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.

  14. Beth  June 24, 2020

    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.

    • Gale Compton  June 24, 2020

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

  15. Rita  June 26, 2020

    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?

    • Gale Compton  June 27, 2020

      Rita, I removed water from the instructions, no need to add to the casserole.

  16. Denise McBride  August 4, 2020

    So you definitely put the chicken in raw?

    • Gale Compton  August 5, 2020

      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.


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