Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

I owe my crock pot, BIG TIME. Not only is it an essential tool in bringing Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore to our table, but it’s also the catalyst for what has turned out to be one of the best parts of life in Milwaukee: “family dinner” with two of our best friends and their two kids.

Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore. Authentic Italian chicken cacciatore, made easy in the crock pot! Boneless chicken breasts or thighs simmered in a richly flavored tomato sauce. Serve with pasta or rice for a family-friendly dinner.

When Ben and I moved to Milwaukee, I honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to make friends. I’d just started blogging full time, which meant that I wouldn’t meet anyone at an office, unless you count our mail carrier. While friendly, she usually is in a bit of a hurry.

Since we don’t have kids, moms’ groups were out, and seeing as I have all the coordination of a baby deer trying to walk for the first time, recreational sport leagues were also not a viable option.

What I needed was a dating app for friends.

What I had was a casual connection to a married couple who also graduated from my same alma mater and an unlimited supply of food blog leftovers.

I sent my then hypothetical friends, now actual friends, a Facebook message that I’d made an entire crock pot full of food (actually, if we are splitting details, it was a crock pot full of Slow Cooker Spiced Wine, accompanied by three other items I’d cooked that week) and would they mind if I swung by to drop it off for dinner, say two hours from now?

Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore is packed with flavor, including crushed tomatoes, garlic, and Italian spices.

We’ve been eating dinner together since!

Crock Pot Mexican Casserole, Crock Pot Chicken and Rice, and Slow Cooker Greek Chicken (among many slow cooker recipes) have all made their way to my friends’ for dinner. Today’s recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore is one of the more recent additions.

I love that we team up to make a full meal (if I bring the main, my friends will do dessert and a side), and it’s so valuable to have extra recipe testers too. This Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore received full approval from all dinner attendees, including the three-year-old. YES.

If you’ve never had chicken cacciatore, it’s an old Italian dish. Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian, and to prepare something alla cacciatora refers to a meal that is prepared “hunter style.” In cacciatore sauce, you’ll find onions, herbs, tomatoes, and sometimes bell peppers. Mushrooms and wine (red or white) are also common ingredients.

I can’t imagine a more fitting meal than “hunter’s stew” for a casual dinner, whether it’s with friends or on a busy weeknight at home. It’s warm and comforting, and its classic, simple Italian flavor profile is accessible and appealing, even to picky eaters.

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore. A tasty slow cooker dinner made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, crushed tomatoes, mushrooms, and bell peppers.

About This Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

Italian chicken cacciatore usually uses a mix of chicken parts and is slowly simmered on the stove.

I wanted to make this recipe as hands-free as possible, so I opted for a healthy chicken cacciatore slow cooker approach. Making chicken cacciatore in the crock pot achieves the same tenderness and depth of flavor as the slow-simmer method, with less hassle.

For the meat, I went for a boneless chicken cacciatore, preparing the recipe with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The recipe would work equally well with chicken thighs. You can also make it with bone-in chicken pieces, though you will need to add to the cook time.

To make this easy chicken cacciatore healthy, I added a generous amount of veggies, including mushrooms.

If you aren’t a fan of mushrooms (or someone in your house is not), you can easily omit them. If your house is a mix of mushroom lovers/haters, because the mushrooms are roughly sliced, they are also fairly simple to pick out. (Chicken cacciatore is a rustic dish; embrace it and keep your vegetables chunky, i.e. quick, easy, and lazy chopping.)

To keep the recipe as streamlined as possible, I omitted the wine, instead achieving a similar brightness with balsamic vinegar stirred in at the end. Don’t skip it.

Finally, for the best chicken cacciatore EVER, build in one extra hour to let the sauce simmer in the slow cooker on high after the chicken has cooked. It’s not strictly necessary, but I was happy I took the time, because it really allowed the flavors of the sauce to develop.

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore is a great weeknight dinner that is perfect served over whole wheat pasta.

The power of food to bring people together and strengthen relationships, while certainly not an original thought, is deeply real and deeply impactful in my life. Since you are here reading this, I suspect it is for you too.

I hope this comforting Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore brings some joy and togetherness to your table, and I hope it brings some deliciousness to your evenings, both the busy ones and the not-so-busy ones too.

Recommended Tools to Make Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

  • I have a 6-quart programmable slow cooker. I love that it switches to “keep warm” at the end of the cooking time so my food rarely overcooks.
  • For searing the chicken: a stainless-steel skillet like this one (top of the line and outstanding) or this one (also great)
Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
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Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Yield: 4 –6 servings
Prep Time:
15 mins
Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore. Authentic Italian chicken cacciatore, made easy in the crock pot! Boneless chicken breasts or thighs simmered in a richly flavored tomato sauce. Serve with pasta or rice for a family-friendly dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil — plus 2 teaspoons, divided
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts — or thighs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion — chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic — minced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar — plus 1/2 teaspoon, divided
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes — 28 ounces
  • 1 medium green bell pepper — chopped
  • 8 ounces sliced baby bella cremini mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

FOR SERVING:

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

Instructions

  1. Lightly coat a large slow cooker with nonstick spray. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, 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 the slow cooker.
  2. Reduce the skillet heat to medium. With a paper towel, carefully wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. One the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Cook for 1 minute, or until the garlic is fragrant and the vinegar has reduced. Transfer to the slow cooker, along with any pan drippings.
  3. Top the chicken with the tomatoes, green bell pepper, mushrooms, and Italian seasoning. If using chicken breasts: cover and cook on HIGH for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours or LOW for 4 to 5 hours, until the chicken is cooked through. If using chicken thighs: cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours on HIGH or 5 to 6 hours on LOW. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker as soon as it reaches 165 degrees F. If desired, chop or shred the chicken (or you can serve the pieces whole).
  4. At this point, you can serve the sauce right away if you are in a hurry, BUT, if time allows, this is what I like to do for the best-ever sauce: Uncover the slow cooker and let cook on HIGH for 1 hour to allow the sauce to thicken and the flavor to further develop. Just before serving, stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Taste and season the sauce with additional salt/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 the 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.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore, Slow Cooker Italian Recipe

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 (of 6)) — Calories: 228, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Carbohydrates: 10g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Protein: 32g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore. Authentic Italian chicken cacciatore, made  easy in the crock pot! Boneless chicken breasts or thighs simmered in a richly flavored tomato sauce. Serve with pasta or rice for a family-friendly dinner. #crockpot #slowcooker #healthy #skinny #glutenfree #chicken #recipe #italian

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

41 comments

  1. I can’t wait to try this!

  2. Cecilia Lortscher Reply

    Yum! I just had this for dinner! Fantastic and super duper easy!

    I used red peppers instead of green (green ones make me burp :) and skipped the mushrooms cause I didn’t have any. I “pulled” the chicken after it had cooked.

    Excellent. Highly recommend. Thank you!

    • Cecilia, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you so much for giving it a try and taking the time to leave this wonderful review!

  3. WOW…the cacciatore on top of that spaghetti is a sight for sore eyes!

  4. Very inviting like everything else you do : must say :-) Thank you !

  5. Love anything in tomato sauce! And in the crock-pot?! Score :)

  6. So excited to try this tonight! Thanks for sharing, Erin!

  7. Looks delicious!! However also have a question?

    How would you adapt the recipe to use wine?

    I really enjoy your blog by the way!!!

    • Hi Bill! I’d suggest adding a generous splash or two to the pan with the vegetables at the end of their saute to deglaze the pan. That would be delicious! I hope you enjoy the recipe.

  8. Is it OK to use frozen chicken breast instead of fresh? I know I can’t sear them, so we’ll lose some flavor, but hopefully it won’t change the profile too much?

    • Hi Tori- absolutely! The cooking time may vary if beginning with frozen chicken so just keep an eye on it! Let me know what you think – hope you enjoy!

  9. Just tried this tonight, and it was my first time ever using a slow cooker. Terrific! I did the extra one hour simmer of the sauce. My in-laws dropped by tonight, and everyone really enjoyed it. It’s definitely joining the regular dinner rotation. Thank you for a recipe that has everything (taste, veggies, protein), and is easy to make! One question: Do you know if it freezes well?

    • Monika, I am SO pleased to hear this! Chicken can be a little hard to reheat. You might try cutting into bite sized pieces, then gently rewarming it with a bit of chicken stock and mix it with freshly made pasta. Thanks so much for trying the recipe and taking time to leave this wonderful review!

  10. Delicious recipe!! Love how it uses simple ingredients that I normally have on hand. Took your suggestion and let the sauce go for another hour, yum!! Will definitely be making this again- thank you ? 

  11. I’m making this for dinner tonight but can’t seem to find where i put my slow cooker (just moved in the area)
    Can I cook this on the stove?

    • Hi Franchesca! I am afraid I’ve never tried the recipe this way, so I can’t be 100% certain. If you have a large Dutch oven, you could try simmering it on your stove instead. I’d suggest looking for resources online to see how to convert slow cooker recipes to the stove and see if that helps (or maybe wait until you find your slow cooker?). I hope the move goes well and that you find it soon! Unpacking is such a hassle!

  12. This is delish. Used 5 skinless bone in chicken thighs and half red pepper/half green and a little extra garlic. Otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Love it!

  13. I have never posted a review of any recipe before now, but this dish compelled me to do so! The flavors were absolutely incredible, which I found has always lacked with Chicken Cacciatore. I am sure it’s the balsamic vinegar, which I did add a little extra. I also did what you suggested and took the lid off and cooked another hour on high after removing the chicken thighs. I didn’t have green bell peppers so I used a red and yellow one. I also chopped the veggies very coarsly so they wouldn’t get mushy. I added 3 tsp of the Italian seasoning instead of 2 and stirred to mix it with the other veggies so it wouldn’t sit just on the mushrooms. This is going into rotation!

  14. Do you think this can be doubled? I assume I would just add more time ? It looks delish, but I have at least 8 adults to feed. I would love to serve it though!

    • Hi Donna, I haven’t tried doubling it myself, but if your crock pot is big enough, you’re right that it would likely need more time. If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  15. tried this recipe tonight.
    I used canned dice tomatoes? This
    made it runnier but good.
    would this make a huge difference?

  16. I’ve made a lot of chicken cacciatore, but never in a slow cooker. I was excited to find this recipe. I already had everything on hand and it’s in my slow cooker as we speak! I used chicken thighs and plan on serving it over herb cauliflower rice.

    Thank you!

  17. I love this recipe! Thanks

  18. The recipe had tons of flavour and the chicken was so tender done this way.   I love finding recipes that you can make ahead so that you can visit stress free with your guests and enjoy the meal with them.  You can’t go wrong with this dish.

  19. Can I put the chicken in without searing before hand … and add longer cooking time on low?

    • Hi Bev, I like to sear the chicken because it adds great flavor. I haven’t tried the recipe without doing so, but you are welcome to experiment. I hope you enjoy!

  20. My family found this recipe extremely flavourless. If you decide to try this, GREATLY increase the garlic and italian spice. We were able to salvage by basically dumping a bunch of parmesean cheese on it.

    • Hi Darian, I’m sorry to hear this recipe wasn’t to your taste. As you can see from the other reviews, many readers have tried it and enjoy it, but everyone’s taste buds are different. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it, so I truly wish you would have loved this!

  21.  
    My family loved this last night.  Get his recipe was less messy than others I have tried and the sauce was not greasy.  I might up the spice level a bit if I made it again.  I swerved with fresh linguine,  BTW—the leftovers were also terrific.

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