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Chicken Cacciatore is a rustic, flavorful chicken dish, made with chicken thighs, onions and bell peppers in a tomato-based sauce. It’s easy to prepare and will make your kitchen smell wonderful as it simmers on the stove.
Chicken cacciatore is a hearty, rustic dish filled with savory flavors. Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian, so the name of this dish roughly translates to chicken that’s prepared “hunter-style.” Chicken thighs are seared until golden brown and then slowly simmered in a tomato-based sauce made with onions, garlic, bell peppers, mushrooms and wine. The result is a comforting meal that’s perfect for serving with pasta, polenta or rice.
This chicken cacciatore recipe is one of our favorite Italian chicken recipes, along with Chicken Marsala, Chicken Piccata and Chicken Parmesan. It’s a delicious comfort food dinner idea, perfect for relaxing with at the end of a long day.
Chicken Cacciatore Ingredients
- Chicken Thighs: I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The boneless thighs make this recipe weeknight-friendly, since they cook quickly. You can substitute bone-in chicken thighs if you prefer, and simmer the sauce for a bit longer until the chicken is cooked through. I recommend using chicken thighs over chicken breasts because the dark meat stays more moist and juicy, but bone-in chicken breasts could be used. The bone will keep the breast meat from drying out.
- Salt and Pepper: To season the chicken and sauce.
- Olive Oil: The oil is used for sautéing and it adds richness to the dish.
- Onion & Garlic: These aromatics add flavor to the sauce.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms add flavor and make the sauce extra hearty. I recommend using cremini mushrooms, but feel free to use regular button mushrooms if that’s all that you have on hand.
- Bell Peppers: I use a red and a green bell pepper for flavor complexity and to add more color to the dish.
- Dry Red Wine: The wine adds depth of flavor to the sauce. When cooking with wine it’s important to choose a wine that you would drink by the glass, as the flavor will impact the flavor of the finished dish.
- Crushed Tomatoes: I prefer to used crushed, rather than diced, tomatoes in the sauce because they have a smoother texture.
- Tomato Paste: Brings rich tomato flavor and also helps to thicken the sauce.
- Italian Seasoning & Dried Oregano: For seasoning.
- Red Pepper Flakes: These are optional, but highly recommended, to add a subtle spice to the sauce.
You may also wish to have some chopped fresh basil or parsley on hand for serving. A generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese also makes this chicken cacciatore extra delicious.
How to Make Chicken Cacciatore
Here is an overview of the simple steps to making this chicken cacciatore. Find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and season them with salt and pepper.
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or similar pot. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Then remove the chicken to a clean plate. It will not be cooked through yet, but will finish cooking in the sauce later.
- Add a bit more olive oil to the pot, followed by the onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened.
- Add the bell peppers and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant.
- Stir in the wine and scrape up any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot. These bits will add flavor to the sauce!
- Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, oregano, salt and pepper. Also add the crushed red pepper flakes now if you are using them.
- Stir and then nestle the chicken into the sauce.
- Cover the pot and cook at a low simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through to 165° F.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil or parsley.
- Don’t move the chicken while it’s searing in the pan. Letting the thighs brown without moving them will create a flavorful golden brown crust.
- If you don’t want to cook with wine, you can substitute an equal amount of chicken broth plus 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. The balsamic will add depth of flavor.
- The best way to tell if the chicken is cooked through is to test it with an instant read thermometer. It should register at least 165° F in the center.
- To make this in the crock pot, follow the recipe through step 5, so that you brown the chicken and sauté the veggies on the stove. This is important to develop flavor. Then you can transfer everything to the slow cooker, add the remaining ingredients, and cook until the chicken is done, 4-5 hours on low or 2-2.5 hours on high.
What to Serve with Chicken Cacciatore
This dish is really versatile and can be served over pasta (I served it with linguine), polenta, spaghetti squash, rice, mashed potatoes or even zucchini noodles. I like to serve a big Italian Salad or simple green salad on the side, or even roasted cauliflower if I want to keep things especially easy. Add in some crusty bread for soaking up extra sauce and wait for the rave reviews to come in!
Storage and Reheating Tips
- Refrigerator: Store leftover chicken cacciatore in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezer: Let cool completely and then store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- To Reheat: Reheat individual servings gently in the microwave or place chicken and sauce in a covered pot on the stove over medium-low heat. Warm, stirring occasionally, until heated through. It can help to cut the chicken into smaller pieces when reheating, to help the chicken heat through.
More Chicken Recipes
If you like this chicken cacciatore recipe, you might also enjoy these favorite chicken recipes:
- Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Thighs
- Baked Chicken Thighs
- Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Chicken Stir Fry
- Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Chicken Florentine Pasta Bake
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped into ¾-inch pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped into ¾-inch pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅔ cup dry red wine*
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- pinch red pepper flakes, optional, for spice
- chopped fresh basil or parsley, optional, for serving
- grated Parmesan cheese, optional, for serving
- Pat the chicken dry and season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or similar pot over medium-high heat. Once the pot is hot, add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. The chicken does not need to be cooked through yet. Remove chicken to a clean plate.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, onion and mushrooms to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the bell peppers and garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the wine and scrape up any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, oregano, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper (and red pepper flakes, if using). Stir. Nestle the chicken back into the pot, pressing it down into the sauce.
- Bring the pot to a simmer. Cover the pot, leaving a little bit of room for steam to escape, and cook at a low simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, check that the chicken is cooked through to at least 165° F using an instant read thermometer. If not, cook a few minutes more until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed, to taste. Serve with pasta, Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil or parsley, or as desired.
- If you do not want to use wine, you can substitute an equal amount of chicken broth plus 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
- Leftover chicken and sauce may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.