Want to head to an Italian restaurant (or better yet, an Italian grandmother’s kitchen) for dinner tonight? Try this Chicken Cacciatore!

Healthy chicken cacciatore in a Dutch oven with a wooden spoon

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This easy recipe has the hearty robustness and juicy tenderness of traditional chicken cacciatore, but is far faster to make.

It uses simple, healthy swaps too.

Cacciatore (pronounced Kah-Chuh-Taw-Ree) means “hunter” in Italian.

  • Thus, chicken cacciatore means chicken that is prepared alla cacciatore or “hunter-style.”
  • It’s a rustic stew-like dish (like France’s Beef Bourguignon) made with slow-simmered chicken (or rabbit), tomatoes, seasonal vegetables, and a splash of wine or vinegar.

You’ll find as many recipes for chicken cacciatore on the internet these days as there are Italian grandmothers who make them.

What they all share in common, however, is a richly flavored sauce, tender chicken, and copious amounts of love and care cooked into every recipe.

A Dutch oven with fast chicken cacciatore sauce and chicken thighs

5 Star Review

“This recipe has become one of my family’s most favorite. It is easy to prepare, serves well, freezes easily and is great over rice, roasted, or mashed potatoes. And of course pasta.”

— Peter —

How to Make Chicken Cacciatore

You don’t need to be an experienced chef to make this simple chicken cacciatore recipe.

Even if you’ve never made a single chicken recipe before, you can cook this easy recipe with success and transport yourself to Italy!

To make this recipe as streamlined as possible, I skip dredging in flour—it’s really not needed.

Tip!

Baked Chicken Parmesan and Crock Pot Chicken Marsala are two more excellent easy recipes that offer restaurant-worthy flavor.


The Ingredients

  • Chicken Thighs. Chicken thighs are a wonderful choice for chicken stews like this (see also Spanish Chicken Stew). Dark meat is especially tender, juicy, and flavorful, and I promise you won’t regret giving it a try. Plus, chicken thighs are lean, and they contain oodles of beneficial protein, vitamins, and nutrients.

Substitution Tip

If you prefer white meat, you can swap for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They tend to cook faster than thighs (depending on their size) so watch closely and use an Instant-read thermometer to check for doneness.

This Lemon Butter Chicken is another chicken dish that can be made with either breasts or thighs.

  • Onion + Green Bell Pepper + Garlic. A flavorful trio to kick off our cacciatore sauce.

A Briny Note

Olives are a common ingredient in cacciatore. If you enjoy them, feel free to toss in 1/4 cup of chopped green olives to add a lovely layer of briny olive flavor to the dish.

Or, for a different salty, briny nuance, add 2 tablespoons of drained capers.

  • Dry White Wine. The addition of wine enhances the other flavors in this recipe (as it does in my Chicken Piccata and these Braised Short Ribs). You’ll want to use a dry white wine so that it doesn’t add any unnecessary sweetness. In the “Wine Pairing” section below, you can find some suggested varieties.
  • Crushed Tomatoes. I used the crushed tomatoes and their juices to build a rich tomato flavor for the sauce.
  • Mushrooms. As the mushrooms cook, they add a scrumptious, earthy flavor to the sauce.

Market Swap

When making chicken cacciatore with mushrooms, use crimini mushrooms (also called baby bellas). Chopped portobello mushrooms would work too. I do not recommend white button mushrooms, as they are more bland.

  • Italian Seasoning. Ties everything together with a tasty Italian-inspired bouquet of flavors. Typically consist of a combination of basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, sage, or coriander.

TIP!

Want to add a little kick to your dish? Add 1 tsp or more of red pepper flakes.

  • Balsamic Vinegar. For deep flavor that makes the sauce taste like it’s been simmering all day.

Dietary Note

If you’re looking for a gluten free chicken cacciatore recipe, you’ve found it. The recipe, as it is written, is gluten free. Simply pair with your favorite gluten free pasta, rice, or potatoes and enjoy!

The Directions

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper in pan.
Chicken thighs in a Dutch oven
  1. Brown the chicken on both sides, then remove it to a plate.
Peppers and onions being sauteed in a Dutch oven
  1. Sauté the onion and pepper. Add the garlic. Pour in the wine, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan, and let it simmer over medium heat.
Mushrooms being added to a Dutch oven with red sauce
  1. Stir in the tomatoes, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, and vinegar. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
Chicken thighs in a red sauce in a Dutch oven
  1. Lay the chicken thighs in the sauce. Simmer partially covered until the chicken is cooked through. Dice or shred the chicken (if desired), or keep the thighs whole. Serve with herbs like parsley or fresh basil leaves, Parmesan, and any desired sides. DIG IN!
An easy chicken cacciatore recipe in a Dutch oven

How to Serve Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken cacciatore is traditionally served with some kind of starch such as pasta. There’s really no wrong way to do it, but here are a few of my favorite options.

Wine Pairing

  • For white wine, a dry Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay would pair nicely with this dish.
  • If you prefer red wine, try a Chianti or Sangiovese. Since this recipe calls for 3/4 cup of wine, I like to cook with a white wine that’s good enough to drink. Add a little to the dish, and drink the rest of the bottle with dinner.
  • Not a wine person? Pair an Italian Margarita with your chicken cacciatore instead.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Place leftovers in fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm this dish in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You can also microwave, until steaming, if desired.
  • To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

What to Serve with Chicken Cacciatore

Stovetop Chicken cacciatore in a Dutch oven with a wooden spoon

Recommended Tools to Make Chicken Cacciatore

  • Skillet. An essential tool in my kitchen for making delicious recipes like this chicken cacciatore.
  • Sharp Chef’s Knife. Easily chop vegetables, meat, fruit, and more with a high-quality knife like this one.
  • Instant Read Thermometer. If you cook meat often, I highly recommend adding one of these to your kitchen.

The Best Braiser

This 3.5-quart Le Creuset braiser is a perfect for sautéing and for stovetop-to-oven dishes. Its smooth enamel finish promotes caramelization, prevents sticking, and resists stains.

Healthy chicken cacciatore in a Dutch oven

Did you make this recipe?

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Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

I hope this quicker, healthier version of chicken cacciatore brings the same warmth and satisfaction to your kitchen as it did to ours.

As always, if you try this recipe, please leave a comment below to let me know how it turned out. Your comments and ratings are so important to this site, and I love hearing from you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Bone-in Chicken for Cacciatore?

Sure! Note that the chicken will take longer to cook, however. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature of the chicken as it cooks. When it hits 165 degrees F it is fully cooked. For bone-in thighs, estimate about 45 minutes.

Can I Use Skin-On Chicken Thighs?

Certainly. Sear the chicken on both sides in batches. Remove the skin (it will get soggy anyway), then simmer the thighs in the sauce, until cooked through, about 40 to 45 minutes for bone-in.

Could Fresh Tomatoes be Used Instead of Canned?

Readers have reported success swapping the canned tomatoes for fresh tomatoes. If you do this swap, I would suggest tasting the sauce and seasoning with additional salt, to taste, since fresh tomatoes do contain less sodium than canned.

Can I Make Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore With This Recipe?

For the crock pot yes! See this Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore. I have not tested this stovetop chicken cacciatore recipe in a pressure cooker so the Instant Pot would be an experiment.

Chicken Cacciatore

4.99 from 59 votes
This easy chicken cacciatore recipe with boneless chicken thighs, mushrooms, and wine is made on the stovetop and ready in under an hour.

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 50 mins

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
  

FOR THE CHICKEN CACCIATORE:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine or low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 ounces sliced baby bella (cremini) mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

FOR SERVING:

  • Whole wheat pasta or brown rice, polenta, rice, zucchini noodles, or baked and shredded spaghetti squash
  • Chopped fresh parsley or basil
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or similar deep, sturdy pot over medium-high. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Once the oil is hot and shimmering (but not so hot it starts smoking), add the chicken in a single layer. Cook on the first side for 3 to 4 minutes, until browned, moving the chicken as little as possible so that it gets a nice sear. Flip and brown on the other side, about 2 additional minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large, clean plate. The chicken does not need to be cooked through.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Add the white wine. Stir and let simmer until the wine is reduced by approximately half, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes with their juices, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, and balsamic vinegar, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  • Nestle the chicken thighs into the tomato sauce, along with any drippings that have collected on the plate. The chicken should be mostly submerged, though some may peek through.
  • Partially cover the pot and let simmer 15 to 20 additional minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through, the sauce is thickened, and the mushrooms are tender.
  • If you’d like to dice or shred the chicken, remove it to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, dice or shred it, then return it to the pot. You also can serve the chicken thighs whole.
  • Taste and season the sauce with additional salt and pepper as desired. If you've chopped or shredded the chicken, return it to the sauce and toss to combine and warm through. Otherwise, serve the chicken pieces whole with a generous amount of sauce on top.
  • Serve hot over pasta, rice, polenta, or veggie noodles, with a big extra spoonful of sauce and a sprinkle of parsley and Parmesan.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerator leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm chicken cacciatore in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 335kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 33gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 144mgPotassium: 1032mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 416IUVitamin C: 30mgCalcium: 89mgIron: 4mg

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Thanks to its versatility and ease, you can do so much with chicken. Here are some of my favorite healthy chicken recipes:

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. This was so delicious! I made the recipe exactly and it was so easy. Thank you! I had to nix the mushrooms because my son won’t eat them, but it was perfect nonetheless! I’m going to make all of your recipes. You know food!5 stars

    1. Hi Debbi! I’ve only tested the recipe with crushed tomatoes, but I think tomato sauce might work with this as well. Hope you enjoy it!

  2. I made this about a month ago. It was delicious and so easy. I cook for only one so I AM going to cut the recipe down so I don’t waste any food. I just now signed up for your recipes. Thank you 🙏😊😊5 stars

  3. Loved the recipe. I’ve made chicken cacciatore for years, and I’ve added wine if I had it, but this was the first time I’ve ever added Balsamic Vinegar to it. I thought it was a GREAT addition. Thanks for the tip!5 stars

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