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 Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Skinny Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Yields: 6 servings | Serving Size: 1 cup | Calories: 493 | Total Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 808mg | Carbohydrates: 67g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Protein: 35g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 10


  • 1 (14 ounce) package whole grain penne, boil to al dente and drain, (follow directions directions on box)
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar no-sugar added marinara sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can low sodium diced tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breast, cubed small
  • 1 cup fat-free part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup fat-free grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish combine the cooked pasta, marinara, tomatoes, water, and chicken. Stir well. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  2. 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!

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!

14 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?


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