Chicken al Forno with Vodka Sauce & Fresh Mozzarella has only 5 ingredients and a 5 minute prep time. And can be on the table in about thirty minutes. This vodka sauce chicken casserole recipe is low carb, keto, gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, and Trim Healthy Mama friendly.
One of my favorite splurge meals at our local Italian restaurant used to be Cheese Tortellini al Forno. It's been at least 3 or 4 years since I've had it but I still remember the richness of the tortellini baked in vodka sauce with chunks of fresh mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
My maternal grandmother was Italian and my grandfather was Greek. Growing up we had a lot of delicious food around. My grandfather also worked in the restaurant industry and then owned several businesses including a pizzeria. They sold it before I was born but my mother told many stories of working there and I still got to sample my grandfather's pizza.
That is probably why our fallback cuisine seems to be Italian. The Italian American culture is woven through much of the area I live in. I think almost everyone I know is at least part Italian. Why my husband and I go on date night one of our standard picks is the Italian place on Main Street. I have loved everything I've ever ordered there and on Monday-Wednesday they have half-price entrees. That deal cannot be beaten.
What is Chicken al Forno?
I just had to google to see what 'al Forno' means in Italian. Baked in an oven. Exactly. Baked in an oven and covered with sauce and cheese. Those are the best types of Italian food. My casserole with vodka sauce chicken and cheese is exactly that!
How To Make Chicken al Forno
Bringing homemade Italian food into your kitchen is super easy when you have a recipe like this vodka sauce chicken. Here are the simple step-by-step instructions for you to follow to make it yourself.
First Step: Warm up the oven to 400 degrees F. Use cooking spray to prepare a casserole dish and sprinkle in the cooked chicken.
Second Step: Drizzle on the vodka sauce. Add the parmesan cheese and chunks of mozzarella.
Third Step: Bake for 25-30 minutes or until it’s hot and bubbly.
Fourth Step: The optional idea is to place the chicken on top of a bed of baby spinach. As the heat from the sauce touches the spinach, it will wilt and adds to the flavor.
Chicken al Forno Variations
I rarely stray away from this recipe because the way it is written is my ultimate favorite! While it doesn’t taste identical to the dishes I grew up eating, it is a fantastic low carb alternative. If you love adding extra ingredients, then feel free. Here are a few ideas that would taste great:
- Sausage - Using sausage instead of chicken gives you an entirely different flavor! You’ll need to cook the sausage ahead of time and follow the rest of the directions. Yum!
- Sun-dried Tomatoes - Chop up some sun-dried tomatoes and add them to the chicken. They will provide you with a punch of lovely flavors.
- Black Olives - Chop or slice some black olives and sprinkle them in the dish. They are tangy and delicious.
- Onions - I know there are lots of people out there that onions to all their meals. There isn’t anything wrong with that! Sprinkle some freshly cut green onions on top or add some sauteed onions to the chicken. Add as much or as little to taste.
- Provolone Cheese - Provolone is a fantastic option in Italian inspired dishes. The great flavor is a wonderful complement to the parmesan and mozzarella. Add a couple of slices or sprinkle some shredded provolone on top.
Does Vodka Sauce Have Alcohol?
Yes, vodka sauce is traditionally made with vodka. However, the alcohol cooks out the sauce so you are left with the flavor, not the alcohol content. I feel fine serving this to my kids or eating it when pregnant. This is going to be up to each individual when it comes to recipes with alcohol. However, if it bothers you just make my vodka sauce recipe without the vodka. Or you can sub in my keto marinara sauce.
Do I Have To Use Fresh Mozzarella?
Fresh mozzarella is what takes this meal from ordinary to absolutely extraordinary! I get it, life is busy, and sometimes we have a lot of responsibilities. This can cause obstacles and lead to short cuts when cooking. I have been there too! But, when it comes to using fresh mozzarella when making this vodka sauce chicken casserole, it’s so much better with it.
You could use a regular shredded mozzarella that is prepackaged, but the flavor and texture are simply not going to be the same. Try it with fresh mozzarella the first time if you can, so you know the full potential of this rich and decadent dinner.
Can I Make Chicken al Forno Ahead of Time?
Sure! This is a great meal to make ahead of time. Whether you are cooking for a crowd or are just wanting to do some meal prepping, this is a wonderful option. All you need to do is follow the directions in the recipe.
Then let the casserole cool down all the way. Once it’s cool, either keep it in a large airtight container or place it in smaller single-serving containers. The lid needs to fit well so it can’t be exposed to air or moisture. This chicken recipe will last 3-4 days in the fridge.
If you are hosting a large party or are taking to a potluck, you can stick the chicken with vodka sauce in an electric roasting pan. It makes it easy to warm it up and serve it as well.
Love this recipe? Try my Keto Creamy Chicken Casserole next!
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- 2 pounds chicken breast cooked and cut into chunks
- 1 ½ cups vodka sauce jarred or homemade
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 16 oz fresh mozzarella
- fresh spinach optional
- Preheat the oven to 400. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Add the cooked chicken.
- Top with the vodka sauce, parmesan cheese, and chunks of fresh mozzarella.
- Bake until hot and bubbly. About 25-30 minutes.
- Optional: You can serve this on top of baby spinach. The heat from the sauce wilts the spinach.
Looking for more incredible low carb keto Italian dishes? Check out these delicious meal ideas that will leave you satisfied, and your taste buds happy.
- Italian Wedding Soup
- Kohlrabi Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing
- Keto Chicken Marsala
- Italian Baked Chicken with Sausage
Originally Published November 10, 2016. Revised and Republished August 17, 2020.
Patricia Kendall says
Do you think chorizo sausage would be good in this?
Oh my goodness! That was SO good.
So do you add the spinach to the bottom of the dish and cook it in? Or do you put it on top?(while in the oven or after?
I put the spinach on the plate or bowl I serve it in and then put the hot casserole on top. The heat from the casserole wilts the spinach. If you prefer you can put it in the casserole dish before baking.
I made this last night for dinner with homemade vodka sauce and spinach and it was amazing!! I could hardly stop eating it!
Patricia and Rick Gifford says
I would love the recipe for your vodka sauce
Casn it be pressure camned?
I have a recipe for vodka sauce here: https://joyfilledeats.com/vodka-sauce-recipe/
Very easy. I cut my chicken into chunks, seasoned with salt, pepper & a little garlic powder then cooked it. Liked the individual pieces browned. Also, I like thats its over baby spinach-no pasta! A nice change for us. A nice variation of chicken parm-very little carbs! Thank you.
Smells Devine! Can’t wait to enjoy it!
Did you use a 9×13 dish for this?
Yes. Or 10x13, 9x12, etc also work. Any large casserole dish.
What’s the serving size?
1/6th of the casserole.
This recipe looks great, I am going to try it tonight! Does adding the chicken pre cooked result in dry chicken after baking in the sauce?
Nope! You only cook it enough to reheat it. If you did this with raw chicken the sauce would get too thin from the chicken releasing cooking liquid.
I made this today but it was very very soupy. Do you think reducing the sauce before adding next time would help?
Can you freeze this? I'm assuming you would prepare it but NOT bake it before freezing?
I haven't tried yet but I think it would freeze well.
What vodka sauce did you use?
I think I used Classico. I have to check when I get home 🙂
Jenee Knee says
This recipe sounds wonderful, but can you please tell me what vodka sauce is? Do you have a recipe for it?
It is a creamy tomato sauce. Are you in the U.S.? You should be able to find it in any grocery store.