This Crockpot Italian Chicken recipe was made with Monday nights in mind. Succulent chicken breasts or thighs are slowly simmered in a rich, flavorful tomato and balsamic reduction, then topped with Mozzarella and fresh basil for a Caprese-inspired dinner delight.

a plate with crockpot italian chicken with tomatoes and cheese

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For those nights when the act of even thinking about cooking is exhausting, and all you want to do is call Papa John’s for pizza, this crockpot Italian chicken is here to rescue you.

While I adore cooking, some nights I barely have the energy to put together a peanut butter sandwich, let alone an entire meal (which is interesting considering that I always have the energy for these One Bowl Brownies, but I digress).

This feeling strikes most often on Monday nights, so I try to anticipate the agony with easy one-pot meals like this Italian chicken for the slow cooker.

  • It’s simple—literally just mix, dump, cook, and eat (this Slow Cooker Greek Chicken is equally easy and delicious).
  • It’s filled with classic Italian flavors of ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and creamy mozzarella.
  • AND made with everyday ingredients you probably have in your pantry to make this dish right this second!
a plate with three pieces of crockpot italian chicken

5 Star Review

“I’ve made this a few times now and I have to say it’s my absolute favorite slow-cooker recipe!! So so easy and the flavors taste like I’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day!”

— Alexa —

How to Make Crockpot Italian Chicken

This crockpot Italian chicken will transport you straight to Naples with its classic caprese salad flavors of basil, balsamic, tomato, and mozzarella (you know it, Caprese Pasta Salad).


The Ingredients

  • Chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are my go-to for this recipe. However, you may also swap for boneless, skinless thighs if you prefer dark meat.

INGREDIENT NOTE

Frozen vs. Thawed Chicken

Do not place frozen chicken in a slow cooker. From a food safety standpoint, frozen chicken breasts or thighs will sit at room temperature inside a crockpot for too long and become a breeding ground for foodborne illness. Always fully defrost raw chicken prior to adding it to a slow cooker.

  • Diced Tomatoes. Canned tomatoes provide bold flavor and essential cooking liquid to keep the chicken moist as it cooks.
  • Balsamic Vinegar. As it cooks, the balsamic sweetens like a reduction, with less effort (and one less pan to wash).
  • Garlic. Provides that quintessential Italian flavor to the dish.
  • Red Onion. Adds a little bite, color, and zip to accent the flavors.
  • Bay Leaf. Contributes an extra layer of flavor and makes this sauce smell simply divine.
  • Basil. With a combination of both dried and fresh basil, this dish is certainly not lacking any fresh, summery basil flavor. And that’s a good thing!

Substitution Tip!

You may swap the dried basil for extra fresh basil in this recipe. Rather than adding it at the beginning, add it to the crockpot during the final 10-15 minutes of cooking. Then garnish with additional fresh basil when serving.

  • Mozzarella. A sprinkling of fresh mozzarella on each serving melts over the warm sauce and provides this dish with just the right amount of satisfying gooey cheese.

The Directions

raw chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper in a crockpot
  1. Place the raw chicken breasts in the crockpot and season.
tomatoes, onion, balsamic and garlic in a white bowl
  1. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.
cooked crockpot italian chicken in a slow cooker
  1. Pour tomato mixture over the chicken.
raw chicken with balsamic tomato sauce in a crockpot ready to cook
  1. Cover and cook until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
crockpot italian chicken resting on a white platter with balsamic tomato sauce on top
  1. Transfer chicken to a plate to rest, spoon sauce over top, and garnish with shredded cheese and fresh basil. ENJOY!

Slow cooker Chicken Cook Times

For any slow cooker chicken recipe (like this Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore), cook times will vary depending on the model of crockpot you have, the temperature setting you use, and the size of your chicken pieces. The type of chicken you choose will also make a difference.

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

  • Two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts should cook in 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours on LOW.
  • I don’t recommend cooking chicken breasts on HIGH in a slow cooker since they tend to dry out easier than their dark meat counterparts.

Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs

  • Two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs should cook in 3 to 4 hours on HIGH or 5 to 6 hours on LOW.

Bone-in Chicken

  • If using bone-in chicken, I suggest removing the skin first. Chicken skin in the slow cooker will not become crispy, but become soggy and rubbery.
  • Cook the bone-in chicken legs or thighs on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or on LOW for 5 to 6 hours.

For more chicken slow cooker tips, see my Crock Pot Shredded Chicken post.

crockpot italian chicken on a plate topped with tomato and cheese

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Warm gently, in a microwave-safe container, until heated through.
  • To Freeze. This recipe may be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, let thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat in the microwave until heated through.

Leftover Ideas

Serve leftovers of this chicken sliced cold or warm over a bed of greens or tossed with your favorite whole wheat pasta for an easy, healthy lunch.

a piece of healthy crockpot italian chicken on a plate with tomatoes, mozzarella, and arugula

Pair this with

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Knife Set. I like their durable stainless steel blades and ergonomic handles.
  • Mixing Bowls. Perfect for tossing together recipe ingredients every day. Microwave- and dishwasher-safe too!
  • Kitchen Tongs. I enjoy the locking feature to take up less space in my kitchen drawer.

The Best Slow Cooker

This one has been my trusty companion for years and is still going strong. It has tons of programming features, and the locking lid allows for easy transport to family gatherings and parties.

a plate with crockpot italian chicken with tomatoes and cheese

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

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

a plate with crockpot italian chicken with tomatoes and cheese

Crockpot Italian Chicken

4.89 from 9 votes
Recipe for crockpot Italian chicken with a red sauce made from diced tomatoes and balsamic and topped with mozzarella. A simple one-pan meal!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 10 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese for serving
  • Thinly sliced fresh basil for serving

Instructions
 

  • Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Place chicken on top of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, garlic, bayleaf, basil, and onion.
  • Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken.
  • Cover and cook on low until chicken is no longer pink, juices run clear, and the chicken reaches 155 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours for breasts or 4 to 5 hours for thighs, depending upon your slow cooker. (Chicken is considered safe to eat at 165 degrees F, but the temperature will continue to rise as the chicken rests. Do not over cook or the chicken will be dry.)
  • Transfer the chicken to a plate, cover, and let rest 5 to 10 minutes (keep the slow cooker on so that the sauce mixture in it stays warm). To serve, uncover the chicken then use a slotted spoon to scoop the tomato-balsamic slow cooker sauce over the chicken. Top with mozzarella and fresh basil. Enjoy immediately.

Notes

  • To Store. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Warm gently, in a microwave-safe container, until heated through.
  • To Freeze. This recipe may be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, let thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat in the microwave until heated through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 429kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 53gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 156mgPotassium: 1156mgFiber: 2gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 289IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 143mgIron: 3mg

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Plan ahead to beat those Monday cooking blues. Here are some more healthy slow cooker dinners:

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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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37 Comments

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  1. I love planning ahead and making slow cooker meals! They’re such a great reward at the end of the day and require so little effort to throw together. I can’t wait to try this combo, Erin.

    1. Hi Julius! This chicken would be fabulous with any green vegetable you enjoy, such as green beans, or yes a salad. It also tastes great served with brown rice or polenta (my favorite).

  2. Hi! First time commenter here. I found your blog via Dessert for Two. I made this recipe last week and LOVED it! I am definitely keeping it. Thanks so much for creating a “no-pre-cook” required slow cooker recipe!!!! The flavor/sauce is amazing!!!5 stars

    1. Stefanie, it’s so great to hear from you, and I’m so happy you found my blog! Thanks for trying this recipe, and letting me know how it turned out. Hearing from readers who make my recipes is one of my favorite parts about blogging, and I’m thrilled you enjoyed it!

  3. Hi Dee! I’m so glad you like the look of this recipe. I’ve never used bone-in chicken in the slow cooker, but I see no reason why it shouldn’t work (though your cooking time will be impacted–it will need longer.) As far as the name of my blog, there’s actually a story behind it. If you’d like to read more about me, what I’m about, and how my blog got it’s name, I have all the juicy details on my About page: http://www.thelawstudentswife.com/about-2/, as well as my FAQ page: http://www.thelawstudentswife.com/faqs/

  4. Erin, I made this the other night and really enjoyed it. My husband and I are on a weight-loss journey, so this recipe is perfect! Thanks for your blog.5 stars

    1. Hi Shari! I am so happy to hear that you and your husband enjoyed this recipe. Thank you so much for taking time to let me know. Hearing from readers who try what I post never fails to make my day!!! Best wishes to you both :-)

  5. I’ve made this a few times now and I have to say it’s my absolute favorite slow-cooker recipe!! So so easy and the flavors taste like I’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day! I serve it with a fresh mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil salad and brown rice. Love it!!!!5 stars

    1. Alexa, I am thrilled to hear this! Thank you so much for taking time to let me know. Have a wonderful day!

    1. Hi Kristy! I know this isn’t the answer you want to hear, but I think that chicken breasts would definitely dry out after that amount of time. If you have a slow cooker that would automatically switch to “keep a warm” when the time expires, you might be able to get away with it with chicken thighs, but even then, I think it would risk being dry. I know this isn’t the news you were hoping for, but I really want it to turn out for you!

  6. Hey Erin!  Thank you so much for the recipe.  I made it last night and think I may have taken a wrong turn somewhere- the chicken ended up tasting wonderful, but we had to shread it with a fork to eat it, and it almost had a stew-y taste to it.  Was I supposed to drain the tomatoes before I put them in the crock pot?  I left the chicken for 2 hours and 45 minutes on high, so maybe I left it in a tad too long?  Either way, thank you for the recipe :)5 stars

    1. Hi Carrie, It sounds like your slow cooker might just be especially powerful! The texture of the chicken is related to the cook time, so it sounds like yours must have been done early. I’m glad the recipe still tasted great! It’s normal to have a fair amount of liquid at the bottom (which is why I suggest spooning the tomatoes with a slotted spoon). Next time, I’d just try checking the chicken earlier. 

  7. Made this for dinner tonight. We couldn’t stop eating it. This dish is so good. I already recommended it to friends.5 stars

  8. I’m prepping meals for the freezer before baby #2 comes. And came across your page and my favorite flavors in this recipe. I am wondering if you could put unfrozen chicken and the sauce in a bag to freeze then throw in the crockpot frozen?  Or do you think that would marinate too long for the flavors?

    1. Hi Jackie,
      I think that would work just fine! I’d suggest thawing the bag in the fridge overnight, then putting it in the crockpot once it’s thawed. I think that will help it cook more evenly. Congrats on your baby to be, and I hope you love the recipe!

  9. We have a ton of fresh basil that needs to be used. Can you substitute fresh basil for the dried? If so, how much?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Kate, you can omit the dried basil when cooking, then sprinkle on as much fresh on as you like afterwards! If you need more ideas, you can also check out more recipes featuring basil here! :)

  10. This was super good! I’m not going to rate it just because I only had half the balsamic vinegar needed for the recipe… :c It was still pretty good even without that and I bet next time I try it, with better preparation, I’ll be giving it five stars! So easy and so tasty!

    1. So happy you enjoyed the recipe Jessi! Thank you so much for taking time to leave this kind comment. I hope you enjoy it the next time around too!

  11. Do you think this could work in the instant pot? Do you have any thoughts on cooking it in that?

    Thanks!

    1. Victoria, I am afraid I’ve never tried! I love making chicken in the Instant Pot, but think it would turn the tomatoes into a sauce under the intense pressure. If you’d like to experiment, I’d suggest you reference some articles online about converting slow cooker recipes to the IP and see if that helps. If you decide to play around, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  12. How could something so simple be so utterly delicious?  It permeated the house with a lovely aroma affording is a Proustian nose gay of the senses.   I served with roasted yukon potatoes and a medley of Italian squash and green beans.  A perfect summer meal!  Thank you!5 stars

  13. Was very good. I did add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes. I also omitted the onion, since I am allergic.5 stars

  14. This looks so great, but is there any possibility you could convert it to an electric pressure cooker recipe? That would be amazing. Sometimes I just don’t think far ahead enough for a Monday meal and am searching for a recipe about 5pm.

    Thank you!

  15. I made this for my book club this week. Came home from school, put it in the crockpot and had it ready to serve by 6:30! I served it over egg noodles which I had stirred creme fraiche into (since I had it on hand and it needed using up) with a sprinkle of mozzarella over the noodles and then again over the chicken and sauce. The ladies all thought it was yummy and asked for the recipe; I said this lovely lady named Erin sent me emails every day with recipes to try! So you may have a few new followers! Thank you for your ideas— I am loving the website.

  16. I did not follow the times closely enough and over-cooked my chicken, which was disappointing…. We liked this recipe and will probably use it again. I think next time I will double the amount of the tomato/onion mix! We liked the vegetable part of this dish much more than the chicken itself (but this is probably more indicative of my over-cooking it than it is of the recipe.)4 stars