Want to head to an Italian restaurant (or better yet, an Italian grandmother’s kitchen) for dinner tonight? Try this Chicken Cacciatore!
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.
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.
- 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.
- Onion + Green Bell Pepper + Garlic. A flavorful trio to kick off our cacciatore sauce.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper in pan.
- Brown the chicken on both sides, then remove it to a plate.
- 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.
- Stir in the tomatoes, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, and vinegar. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
- 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!
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.
- Whole Wheat Pasta. You could opt for long tendrils of spaghetti or a short-cut pasta, like rigatoni or penne. I like whole wheat for its higher fiber content.
- Cooked Orzo. Fora rice-pasta hybrid in terms of taste, texture, and consistency.
- Mashed Potatoes. Try serving with either my Crockpot Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, or Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes.
- Brown Rice. Not as traditional, but nonetheless delicious. See Instant Pot Brown Rice for a recipe.
- Creamy Polenta. A classic Italian pairing for cacciatore (see this Creamy Polenta for a recipe).
- Risotto. A simple parmesan risotto would be lovely with cacciatore. You could also try it with my Farro Risotto or Barley Risotto.
- Bread. Soak up the yummy sauce with slices of No Knead Focaccia or Rosemary Olive Oil Bread.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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