If you're looking for a flavorful Italian chicken dish, look no further than our Chicken Cacciatore! Packed with tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers and herbs – it's sure to be a hit. Serve it with your favorite pasta for a crowd-pleasing dinner. Enjoy!
My father always enjoyed talking about the homemade chicken cacciatore that my grandmother used to make. He often asked me to post the recipe on this site, and now I have finally been able to do so. This absolutely delicious recipe is inspired by what I remember him sharing with me about his mother's methods and ingredients for making this classic Italian dish.
The flavors of garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, and herbs combine to create a rich and flavorful sauce that satisfies the senses. This recipe was crafted out of love for my father, who always wanted to share the memories of his mother's cooking with others.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! ❤️ If you give it a try, please let me know how it turned out for you in the comments section at the bottom of the page or share a pic of your om noms on Instagram and tag @dishesanddustbunnies! ❤️
Why do they call it chicken cacciatore?
The name Cacciatore actually means “hunter” in Italian. This classic Italian dish was first made with game meat such as rabbit before being popularly served with chicken.
This dish was most likely named after the hunters who would go out into the woods and come back with their prey to cook over an open fire. The smell of the rabbit cooking in the tomato sauce would lure everyone in for dinner.
In current times, most chicken cacciatore recipes call for chicken rather than a rabbit.
What is chicken cacciatore and cacciatore sauce made of?
Chicken cacciatore is a rustic Italian chicken dish made with chicken that has been browned and then simmered in a tomato-based sauce. Cacciatore uses bone-in chicken, such as thighs, since dark meat adds more body to the flavor.
If you prefer white meat, chicken breasts can also be used, but they will be less flavorful than dark meat or the bone-in kind. Bone-in chicken thighs are an ideal cut of meat for cacciatore. Skinless chicken thighs or skin-on can both be used.
Cacciatore is a tomato-based sauce typically made with tomatoes, chicken broth, olive oil, onions, garlic and Italian seasoning such as oregano and basil. Those are the ingredients that are virtually always present, but there are other commonly used additions like red or white wine to deglaze the pan, mushrooms and bell pepper. Carrots and olives can also be used to flavor a cacciatore sauce. Fresh basil and fresh parsley is used as a garnish.
How to make the Best Chicken Cacciatore – Overview
You can find the full recipe details, including ingredient amounts and the full instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but first, here's a quick overview of how to make homemade chicken cacciatore from scratch!
Simmer this Italian-inspired chicken dish for a tasty family meal – our Chicken Cacciatore recipe! Start by drying the chicken with paper towel, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Brown the chicken in a large pan over medium heat, then set aside. Saute onions and bell peppers, add garlic and cook until fragrant. Once the pan is deglazed with wine, stir in mushrooms, olives, and spices to bring out the flavors.
Pour in broth, balsamic vinegar, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and sauce before returning the chicken pieces to the pan and simmering all together. Letting the sauce simmer for a while will allow the flavors to develop more. Finish off with capers and chopped fresh basil leaves before serving over pasta with parsley and parmesan. Enjoy!
Alternative Cooking Methods
Get ready to try a new take on classic chicken cacciatore! Below, we'll explore a few different ways you can make this traditional Italian dish – from pressure cooker or instant pot, and slow cooker. Get creative in the kitchen and enjoy a flavorful meal with your favorite cooking method!
How to Make Chicken Cacciatore in a Slow Cooker
Turn your slow cooker into an Italian Restaurant with this delicious easy Chicken Cacciatore recipe!
Start by blotting the chicken dry with paper towel and seasoning with kosher salt and pepper. In a large pan, brown the chicken skin side down for about 5 minutes. Transfer to your slow cooker.
Into the same pan, sauté onions for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes more until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with wine, then transfer to the slow cooker, then place on top of the chicken. To the slow cooker, add mushrooms, bell pepper slices, olives, dried basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Pour in chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and sauce before pouring it all into the slow cooker with the chicken.
Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours. Finish off with capers and fresh basil before serving over pasta with parsley and parmesan cheese as garnish. Enjoy!
How to Make Chicken Cacciatore in an Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker
It will take about 30 minutes to cook chicken cacciatore using the “Instant Pot”.
To do so, start by seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper. Turn your Instant Pot to the sauté setting, then sear chicken skin side down for about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
To the same pot, add onions and bell peppers and cook until just tender – about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with wine before stirring in mushrooms, olives, herbs, and spices until softened. Pour in chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and sauce before returning the chicken to the pot.
Lock on the lid, switch it to high pressure setting and set cooking time to 15 minutes before releasing pressure naturally. Finish off with capers and fresh basil before serving over pasta with parmesan cheese as a garnish. Enjoy!
How to Make Chicken Cacciatore in The Oven
Follow the recipe instructions as usual but instead of using a skillet or pan, use your dutch oven. In step 7 of the recipe, instead of simmering the chicken cacciatore on the stove, you can cook it the oven at 350°F for about 1 hour in a large dutch oven or other oven safe dish with a lid.
Make sure to check that your chicken is cooked through before serving – it should reach 165°F with an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken. Enjoy!
Do you put olives in chicken cacciatore?
Olives are not traditionally used in chicken cacciatore but their flavor fits the meal. If you want to add them, do so at the end of cooking.
What wine goes in chicken cacciatore?
Is chicken cacciatore better with red or white wine?
Personally, I think that chicken cacciatore is best made with red wine. The bold flavors of the wine complement the rich tomato sauce perfectly. Plus, chicken and red wine just seem to go together!
If you're not a fan of red wine, though, dry white wine can also work well in this dish. It will add a bit of brightness and acidity to the sauce which can be quite pleasing. Just be sure to use good quality white wine, as cheaper wines can make the sauce taste sour.
What can I use instead of red wine in chicken cacciatore?
You can substitute red wine in chicken cacciatore with a variety of liquids such as white wine, broth, red wine vinegar, or even apple cider. When substituting, use the same amount that is called for in the recipe. Additionally, you can add certain herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of your dish. If you choose to swap out the red wine for something else, you may want to add a bit more salt or adjust the other ingredients to make sure it still has great flavor.
What cuts of chicken are best to use when making Chicken Cacciatore?
Can I use boneless chicken thighs?
When it comes to chicken cacciatore, bone-in skin on chicken thighs are the best cut to use. They have a richer flavor and they take on all the flavors of the sauce as they cook.
Other cuts such as drumsticks or wings can also be used but make sure that your pieces are the same size so that the cooking time is consistent. Additionally, you can use boneless skinless thighs for an even richer flavor than chicken breasts. Boneless thighs will still give you richer flavor, without any bones to worry about.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are also a great option as they will cook quickly and you don’t need to worry about dealing with bones. Please keep in mind that if you do choose to use chicken breast, it'll be less flavorful than when you use thighs.
Vegetables: In addition to the traditional bell peppers and mushrooms used in this recipe, you can also try adding chopped zucchini or carrots for a nice touch.
Tomatoes: Instead of the crushed canned tomatoes/diced tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato sauce the recipe calls, you can use fresh tomato if you like. Keep in mind that you'll likely need A LOT of fresh tomatoes to equal the amount from the canned ones used in this recipe. I haven't tried using only fresh tomatoes for this recipe YET, but when I do, I'll be sure to report back just how many tomatoes it takes!
If you use fresh tomatoes and it works out for you please let me know in the comments section below!
Olives: You can use any kind of olive in this recipe, but i would recommend using wither black olives or kalamata olives.
Thicker Sauce: If you'd like a thicker sauce for your chicken cacciatore, you can try simmering the sauce for longer so it reduces down more.
What is chicken cacciatore traditionally served with?
Since Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian, you could say that traditionally, cacciatore is consumed on a hunt outdoors, right from the pan where it was cooked with possibly just some dipping bread. Alas, to most of us non-hunters in the modern day, a bed of pasta is probably the most “traditional Italian” way of having cacciatore. Pasta noodles work well, with egg noodles such as tagliatelle being an excellent choice.
Cacciatore also serves well alongside a creamy polenta dish.
Risotto, or just plain rice, both serve well with cacciatore as well as mashed potatoes or buttered potatoes.
Serve chicken cacciatore with steamed vegetables or with zucchini noodles makes for a healthy alternative.
The tomato based red sauce that is cacciatore pairs super, super well with red wines including Pinot Noir, Chianti, Lambrusco or Beaujolais.
What pasta goes with cacciatore?
The great thing about chicken cacciatore is that it pairs well with a variety of different pasta shapes and sizes. Whether you're in the mood for something long and twirly like spaghetti, or something short and stubby like penne, there's a pasta out there that will complement your dish perfectly.
My favorite to use is tagliatelle – The extra width and substantial thickness of the tagliatelle noodles make them a perfect vessel for scooping up all that delicious sauce.
How to store Leftovers;
How long is cacciatore good for?
Cacciatore is a dish that is meant to be enjoyed soon after it is made. However, if you have leftovers, they will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Be sure to reheat thoroughly before eating.
Can I freeze chicken cacciatore?
When sealed in an airtight container, chicken cacciatore will last in the freezer for 3-4 months. When you're ready to enjoy, simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stovetop.
- 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin on or off (bone removed is ok too!)
- ¼ cup all purpose flour, for coating the chicken before cooking
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tbsp oregano
- ½ tbsp dried basil
- ½ cup red wine (such as Merlot)
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 bell peppers, red and green (other colors are fine too)
- ¼ cup olives (optional but highly recommended)
- 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 6 oz tomato paste
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 2 oz capers
- ¼ cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- pasta (spaghetti, penne, tagliatelle, etc)
- parsley, chopped
- freshly grated parmesan
- Blot the chicken dry using paper towel. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- In a large pan over medium heat, brown the chicken skin side down in a little cooking oil – should take about 5 minutes. Skin should be golden and crisp. Flip the chicken and cook on the other side for about 5 minutes, until browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside until needed.
- To the pan, add onions and bell peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes until just tender. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the wine to the pan and use your spoon or spatula to loosen up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan – these are great for flavoring the dish! Cook for about 5 minutes for the alcohol to cook out and for the liquid to reduce a little.
- Add mushrooms, olives, dried basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.
- Add chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and heavy cream. Stir to combine.
- Return the chicken to the pan with the sauce, cover and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Add more salt and pepper to taste if necessary. Add capers and fresh basil.
- Serve chicken over pasta (spaghetti, penne, tagliatelle, etc), then sauce over top.
- Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and parmesan.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
- Category: Main
- Method: Stove Top/Skillet/Frying Pan
- Cuisine: Italian