Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken cacciatore is an authentic Italian classic comfort food! Tender chicken thighs, mushrooms, onions, peppers, and garlic simmering in a rustic stew-like tomato sauce will create the most amazing aromas in your kitchen. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy a plate of cacciatore for Sunday dinner and save the leftovers for a delicious weeknight meal.

Chicken Cacciatore served with linguini.

Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. The recipe found its name because it uses meat the hunters brought back and the vegetables at home. 

Traditionally, this rustic hunter-style recipe is a stew made with whole chickens (or rabbits) or chicken pieces, peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The sauce is served on its own or over pasta, polenta, or rice. 

I’ve been making this chicken cacciatore recipe for decades. This is a family-loved recipe handed down over the generations. We call it Grandma’s Chicken Cacciatore. 

I’m not one to change Grandma’s recipes. But, over the years, I’ve made slight adjustments to  create a delicious cacciatore that everyone loves!

The original chicken cacciatore recipe calls for a whole fryer chicken and canned whole tomatoes. 

One of the things I didn’t like about traditional cacciatore recipes was the tiny bones that surfaced from the chicken simmering in the sauce all day. I solved this by using boneless chicken thighs. The dark meat keeps the flavor but loses the bones.

The original recipe calls for whole canned tomatoes. Whenever I make this recipe I switch between canned whole tomatoes and crushed tomatoes. Whole tomatoes create more of a stew, and crushed tomatoes will produce a thicker sauce. Both provide deep flavor, so it depends on the consistency you’re looking to get.

I prefer sticking with green bell peppers, but I’ve used various peppers and mushrooms, all with success. 

This chicken cacciatore recipe is so easy to make, even for the beginner cook!

Reasons You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Authentic, delicious taste. If you want all the flavors and aroma of an Italian restaurant, make chicken cacciatore.
  • Simple ingredients. Chicken thighs, peppers, onions, and tomatoes – it doesn’t get easier than that!
  • Everything is made using just one pot. All ingredients cook in a dutch oven, or large pot, for easy preparation and cleanup!
  • You can make cacciatore in the crockpot. If you want hands-off cooking, then get out your slow cooker! 
  • Stores and reheats nicely. Chicken cacciatore tastes amazing the night it’s made, but it gets even better as it sits and the flavors combine. You can also freeze leftovers for dinner later on. I’ll give storage and freezer down below.

The Ingredients

  • Boneless chicken thighs – Chicken thighs are the perfect choice for cacciatore. The chicken is tender, moist, and provides a ton of flavor. I recommend purchasing high-quality organic chicken thighs for the best taste!
  • Onions, garlic, and green bell peppers – This is the flavor foundation for this recipe.
  • Red wine – Any dry red wine will work. I use a cabernet because that’s what I like to drink when enjoying red sauce.
  • Canned crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce – For best results, use San Marzano tomatoes. This type of tomato is from Italy and will elevate any Italian recipe. You can find San Marzano tomatoes next to the other canned tomatoes in the grocery store.
  • Dried thyme – Instead of using Italian seasoning, my family uses dried thyme. I’ve kept this seasoning because it gives a uniquely delicious flavor to the cacciatore sauce.

Cooking Tips & Substitutions

You can substitute chicken breast. I prefer to use boneless chicken thighs, but if you want to reduce the amount of saturated fat then chicken breasts will work. 

Chicken breasts won’t provide the same deep flavor that you’ll get with thighs, but the sauce will still be tasty. Chicken breasts are lean so pay attention to the cooking time to prevent the meat from drying out.

You can use any dry red wine in this recipe. Some cacciatore recipes call for white wine, but, in my opinion, red wine provides a deeper flavor. Don’t use cooking wine. A good rule of thumb is to cook with wine you like to drink. 

Add extra veggies to the recipe. Carrots, celery, and other hearty vegetables would work well in cacciatore. You can also add more peppers and mushrooms to bulk up the veggies in the recipe.

You can substitute different peppers and mushrooms. Red, yellow, and orange peppers all taste delicious in this recipe. I’ve also used baby portobello mushrooms many times! Of course, you’ll get slightly different flavors when substituting ingredients, but it will still be delicious. 

Make it spicy! Cacciatore isn’t a spicy recipe but if you want to add some kick then sprinkle in red pepper flakes when you stir in the other spices.

FAQs

What pasta goes with chicken cacciatore?

Cacciatore is a rustic chunky sauce that goes well with all pasta, so choose your favorite. We tend to eat it with linguini but have also enjoyed cacciatore sauce with short pasta like egg noodles or rigatoni.

What wine pairs best with chicken cacciatore?

Since cacciatore is a red sauce, I prefer to drink a glass of dry red wine with it. Most of the time, I’ll drink the exact wine I use in the recipe. My favorites are Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Chianti, or Merlot wine. 

Supplies

How to Make Chicken Cacciatore  (Step by Step)

step
  • Get all of the ingredients ready to cook the recipe.
  • Start by seasoning the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a 5 ½ – 6-quart or pot over medium-high heat; once the oil is hot, cook the chicken thighs in batches. When cooking in batches, you brown both sides of the chicken without steaming it.
  • Cook the chicken thighs for 3-4 minutes on each side. At this step, you’re just browning the chicken; it will finish cooking in the sauce. Place the cooked chicken in a bowl while you cook the other ingredients.
  • In the same pot, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the onions until soft and transparent, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Then, add in the peppers and mushrooms and cook until softened. Stir in the thyme and cook for another 30 seconds. 
  • Pour in the wine and let it cook for 2-3 minutes or until reduced. While the wine is simmering, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. You’ll get a lot of flavor in those bits!
  • Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Give the sauce a few stirs and then return the chicken to the sauce. 
  • Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer on low for an hour. The chicken thighs should be tender, moist, and falling apart. The sauce should be a deep red color.
  • Season with salt, if needed, then serve hot over pasta, polenta, or your favorite side.
  • If the sauce becomes too thick add in a splash of chicken broth and stir.

How to Cook Chicken Cacciatore in the Crock Pot

If you want hands-off cooking, you’ll be happy to know that you can make this cacciatore recipe using a crockpot. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t a “dump the ingredients into the slow cooker and go” recipe. There are some extra steps, but I promise this will get the tastiest results.

Here are the instructions:

  • In a large pot or pan, heat a tablespoon of oil and brown the chicken thighs, about 3-4 minutes per side. Add the chicken thighs to the slow cooker.
  • Using the same pot or pan, cook the vegetables, seasoning, and wine. You’re following the exact directions that are in the stovetop directions. Pour the vegetables and wine mixture into the slow cooker with the chicken.
  • Stir the tomatoes with the vegetables and chicken. Set the slow cooker to cook on low for 6-8 hours. With other slow cooker chicken recipes, I don’t recommend cooking over 6 hours, but because this is a sauce recipe that uses chicken thighs, 8 hours of cooking time is fine.
  • After the recipe is done cooking, taste for salt, and serve hot with pasta or a side dish of your choice.

What sides to serve

Pasta is my first choice when eating a big bowl of cacciatore, but other side dishes compliment this rustic sauce.

  • Polenta 
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Rice 
  • For lower carb options, choose cauliflower rice, cauliflower mash, or spaghetti squash.

How to Store

Chicken cacciatore tastes even better the next day! It’s the perfect recipe to meal prep for the week or freeze.

To store

Place the leftover cacciatore sauce into glass storage containers and refrigerate. It will last for up to 3 – 4 days. After that, I recommend freezing it. 

A meal prep tip is to portion it out with pasta into individual containers. Keep the pasta separate from the sauce, so it doesn’t get mushy. During the week, heat it in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. Mix the pasta and sauce, and dinner is ready!

To freeze

Chicken cacciatore is one of the best recipes to freeze. There are a few different ways to freeze this recipe. 

First, you can put the sauce into a labeled freezer bag, flatten it out, and freeze it. After it’s frozen, place it wherever you want in the freezer. Flattening out the bag helps if there’s not a lot of room in the freezer.

My favorite way to freeze sauce recipes is to use silicone trays to freeze into one or 2-cup portions. 

To warm up, add the sauce to a pan and heat over low to medium temp until hot.

You can also create a freezer meal using 2-cup silicone trays. Add 1 cup of sauce to the bottom, 1-cup of cooked pasta on top of the sauce, and freeze. After it’s frozen, remove it from the tray and put it into a large freezer bag to freeze.

Warm the freezer meal up in the microwave for 4-5 minutes or until hot. Stir the pasta and sauce together, then enjoy!

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken cacciatore is an authentic Italian classic comfort food! Tender chicken thighs, mushrooms, onions, peppers, and garlic simmering in a rustic stew-like tomato sauce will create the most amazing aromas in your kitchen. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy a plate of cacciatore for Sunday dinner and save the leftovers for a delicious weeknight meal.

5 from 2 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: dinner

Cuisine: Italian

Keyword: chicken cacciatore, chicken cacciatore recipe, grandma’s chicken cacciatore

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes

Servings: 6

Calories: 402kcal

Author: Tammy Overhoff

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2.5 – 3 pounds boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 4 – 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 large green peppers seeded and chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 28-ounce crushed tomatoes can substitute canned whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • cooked egg noodles
  • shredded parmesan optional

Instructions

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 5 1/2 – 6 quart Dutch oven or pot.

  • In batches, add chicken thighs and brown on both sides. About 3-4 minutes on each side. Place the cooked chicken in a bowl and set aside.

  • In the same pot, heat another tablespoon of olive oil and add in onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or until fragrant.

  • Add in the peppers and mushrooms and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook for another 30 seconds. 

  • Pour in the wine and let it cook for 2-3 minutes or until reduced. While the wine is simmering, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.

  • Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and bay leaves. Give the sauce a few stirs and then return the chicken to the sauce. 

  • Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer on low for an hour, stirring occasionally. The chicken thighs should be tender, moist, and falling apart. Break the chicken into chunks. The sauce should be a deep red color. Remove the bay leaves.

  • Season with salt and pepper, then serve hot over pasta, polenta, or your favorite side. If the sauce becomes too thick add in a splash of chicken broth and stir.

  • Serve over your favorite pasta, with shredded parmesan cheese

Notes

How to Store

Chicken cacciatore tastes even better the next day! It’s the perfect recipe to meal prep for the week or freeze.

To store

Place the leftover cacciatore sauce into glass storage containers and refrigerate. It will last for up to 3 – 4 days. After that, I recommend freezing it.  A meal prep tip is to portion it out with pasta into individual containers. Keep the pasta separate from the sauce, so it doesn’t get mushy. During the week, heat it in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. Mix the pasta and sauce, and dinner is ready!

To freeze

Chicken cacciatore is one of the best recipes to freeze. There are a few different ways to freeze this recipe.  First, you can put the sauce into a labeled freezer bag, flatten it out, and freeze it. After it’s frozen, place it wherever you want in the freezer. Flattening out the bag helps if there’s not a lot of room in the freezer. My favorite way to freeze sauce recipe is to use silicone trays to freeze into one or 2-cup portions.  To warm up, add the sauce to a pan and heat over low to medium temp until hot. You can also create a freezer meal using 2-cup silicone trays. Add 1 cup of sauce to the bottom, 1-cup of cooked pasta on top of the sauce, and freeze. After it’s frozen, remove it from the tray and put it into a large freezer bag to freeze. Warm the freezer meal up in the microwave for 4-5 minutes or until hot. Stir the pasta and sauce together, then enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 402kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 12g | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g

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Have you tried this chicken cacciatore recipe? If so, I’d love for you to rate this recipe and leave a comment below. We all learn from each other’s experiences. Also, it would be awesome if you could share a picture on Instagram and tag it #organizeyourselfskinny. I can’t wait to see it!

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