Chicken Cacciatore, also known as hunter’s chicken, is a comforting and irresistible one-pot chicken dish filled with mouthwatering, juicy, fall off the bone chicken, mushrooms, garlic, and bell peppers, bathed in an aromatic red wine tomato sauce. Enjoy this classic Italian Chicken Cacciatore Recipe served over your favorite pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes.
What is Chicken Cacciatore?
Translated, cacciatore in Italian means “hunter”. As such, a meal prepared alla cacciatore (such as this Chicken Cacciatore Recipe) is typically a dish that has been prepared “hunter-style” or one with herbs, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and sometimes, wine.
There are several variations of cacciatore, each determined by which ingredients are available to that specific region. For example, visit southern Italy and you’ll find a cacciatore including red wine. On the other hand, in northern Italy, you may find this dish prepared with white wine. Certain variations may or may not include mushrooms, tomatoes, or bell pepper.
This easy and classic Italian Chicken Cacciatore Recipe, which includes all of the above (minus the white wine), will quickly become one of your favorite family meals. Perfect for feeding a large crowd, or meal prepping to enjoy all week long, it’s impossible not to love everything about this one-pot meal.
Chicken Cacciatore Ingredients
To make this chicken cacciatore recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- Chicken – I used bone-in skinless chicken thighs to make this chicken cacciatore. Healthier than leaving the skin on the chicken, but much more flavorful than using chicken breasts, it was a very happy compromise.
- Onion + bell pepper + carrots – also known as your mirepoix, this flavor foundation is found in countless recipes including jambalaya, chicken noodle soup, Easy Chicken and Dumplings, and stews of all kinds. A simple base made from finely diced vegetables (the mix of vegetables will vary by country and cuisine) that are cooked in butter or oil, low and slow as to sweeten the ingredients rather than caramelize them.
- Garlic – fresh garlic and lots of it! Notice that I did add 10 whole cloves to this beautiful stew.
- Red wine – wine adds an extra layer of delicious flavor. If you enjoy drinking red wine, you’ll love red wine in this stew.
- Herbs – A healthy mix of fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, and basil) as well as a generous teaspoon of dried oregano, don’t be shy to add your favorites.
- Tomatoes – This is a version of chicken cacciatore with an emphasis on tomatoes. In this beautiful stew, you’ll find tomato paste, canned crushed tomatoes, and fresh chopped Roma tomatoes. A little bit of all the very best things.
- Broth – I added low-sodium chicken broth because that’s what I had available. However, beef broth would also taste wonderful (don’t worry that there’s no beef in this recipe, you won’t notice). Vegetable broth is another great alternative.
- Mushrooms – Not everyone cares for mushrooms, so feel free to leave them out if you really dislike them. However, if you’re a fan, I highly recommend adding them. Slice them nice and thin or quarter them so that they stay a little meatier, totally up to you!
- Red chili flakes (optional) – just in case you like a little heat.
The good news about the ingredients above is that they are all super easy to find. Almost any supermarket will carry everything you need. And given the large amount that this recipe makes, it’s super budget-friendly (especially if you can find some chicken thighs on sale!)
How to make Chicken Cacciatore
The overall preparation and execution of this classic Italian comfort food is likely much easier than the name sounds. With that said, Chicken Cacciatore is not a recipe that should be rushed to the finish line. Trust me, the reward is well worth the wait.
Ok, so let’s get started.
To begin, you’ll want to add the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat to a large Dutch oven or high-sided skillet. Add the chicken thighs, seasoned with salt and pepper, to the skillet and sear for three to four minutes on each side. Since this recipe calls for eight chicken thighs you will probably have to do this in two batches.
Remove the chicken to a clean plate to rest. The chicken will not be fully cooked- that’s ok.
If you decided to keep the skin on your chicken thighs, I highly recommend draining off at least half of the fat from the pan. Of course, this is optional, but it creates a much heavier feeling dish. If you removed the skin (as I did below), then this step is not necessary.
Reduce heat to medium and add the onions. Sauté until soft and translucent and then stir in the garlic. Yes, the whole 10 cloves of garlic. Stir constantly for approximately 1 minute, or until the garlic becomes nice and fragrant. Add the bell peppers and carrots. Cook on medium-low for 5-10 minutes before seasoning with a generous pinch of salt and dried oregano.
Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, then add the remaining herbs (thyme, parsley, basil). Mix in the tomato paste with the chopped vegetables and herbs before finally adding the crushed tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and low-sodium chicken broth to the pan. Add additional chopped basil, if desired, and bring to a low boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and carefully tuck the seared chicken thighs among the sauce. Cover and cook for at least 45 minutes to 2 hours. Approximately 10 minutes before serving, add the sliced mushrooms to the pot, gently stirring to combine with the broth. Allow the mushrooms to cook until cooked and have started to drop their water.
Remove from heat and serve your chicken cacciatore over noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes.
What chicken pieces should be used in Chicken Cacciatore?
The best chicken for chicken cacciatore? Any chicken! It’s true, any chicken will taste amazing with this recipe, it’s simply a matter of personal preference.
I’ve found that the best chicken for chicken cacciatore, however, is bone-in skinless chicken thighs.
- Chicken thighs, slightly higher in fat, are naturally juicier. You guys, we want this.
- Chicken breasts, on the other hand, will not fall off a bone (obviously because they’re not exactly on a bone) and will most definitely dry out (especially if you plan to eat this for leftovers one night).
- So why did I remove the skin? Chicken skin is amazing when it’s perfectly charred and crispy. In stand-alone dishes where you can really appreciate the chicken, I will leave the skin on. But in this Chicken Cacciatore, the skin would get lost in the mix of things and turn a healthy meal into a much heavier one. It’s simply not necessary.
Of course, you don’t have to listen to me. Feel free to use drumsticks, chicken breasts, skin-on thighs, or whatever you’ve got.
Tips and Tricks for Chicken Cacciatore
Here are a few easy tips and tricks to make the very best chicken cacciatore ever!
- To make this recipe dairy-free, simply omit the butter and replace it with a non-dairy butter substitute or additional olive oil as needed.
- Tomatoes. I often like to use a mixture of canned and raw tomatoes. To be entirely honest, I don’t have a real reason for this other than personal habit, so feel free to substitute the raw Roma tomatoes with one (28 ounce) can of diced tomatoes.
- The wine is optional (but recommended). Feel free to leave out the wine and substitute with additional chicken broth. You may also want to consider adding 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with the tomatoes.
- Don’t feel pressured to add specific vegetables. And by that I mean…mushrooms. Not everyone loves mushrooms. If you’re one of those people, simply leave them out. Fortunately, it’s not a deal breaker for a delicious Chicken Cacciatore Recipe.
- Fresh garlic and lots of it. Ok, guys, I know that peeling and mincing fresh garlic is incredibly time-consuming, but it’s one-hundred percent worth it. Fortunately, in a recipe such as this one, you can be lazy and “roughly chop” or even slice your garlic.
What to serve with Chicken Cacciatore?
This hunters chicken is easily adaptable and loves to pair up with all kinds of different side dishes.
Traditionally, however, one would find Chicken Cacciatore served with some kind of plain pasta or a chunk of rustic bread. Nothing fancy, just simple, plain, maybe buttered.
How to store leftover Chicken Cacciatore
Chicken Cacciatore makes some of the very best leftovers, so I highly recommend making extra to enjoy all week long for easy lunches and dinners.
The easiest way to store this chicken dish is to keep the chicken and tomato sauce separate from any side you chose to serve it with.
For example, I served this with simple, buttered mini-bowtie noodles. Rather than mixing everything together once the chicken was cooked, I left them separated. Of course, if you’re serving this to a large group or family, then you may find it easier to present it in a large serving bowl, but for my small family of three, I knew we would be eating this for at least two to three nights.
Allow the chicken to cool slightly before transferring to the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
How to thicken chicken cacciatore?
If you feel that your chicken cacciatore recipe is too watery, you may thicken it two ways:
- Add more tomato paste. Tomato paste is an easy way to thicken the broth without messing with the flavor. Simply ladle one spoonful of the broth into a small bowl and mix with two tablespoons of tomato paste. Add to your pot and gently stir to combine. Repeat if needed.
- Cook uncovered. Yep, good old evaporation. It’s that easy. Of course, if the chicken is cooked and you’re in a hurry to get dinner on the table, perhaps this isn’t the most practical option. But, if you have a little time, this is the best way to thicken any sauce.
Is chicken cacciatore healthy?
Yes, chicken cacciatore is a very healthy recipe. Packed full of healthy vegetables and chicken, there’s very little about this recipe that isn’t healthy. If you’re looking to lighten it up a bit you could try,
- Serving it with cauliflower rice or mashed cauliflower.
- Add chicken breasts in place of chicken thighs.
For more one-pot recipes
- American Goulash Recipe (One-Pot)
- One Pot Creamy Mushroom Tortellini
- One Pot Olive Chicken and Lemon Rice
- Jambalaya Recipe (How to Make Jambalaya)
- Hungarian Chicken Paprikash Recipe
If you try making this Chicken Cacciatore Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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Chicken Cacciatore Recipe
- 8 skinless chicken thighs (bone-in)
- salt and pepper (to season)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion (diced)
- 10 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 yellow bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 1 red bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 3 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- ¼ cup fresh parsley (chopped)
- ½ cup fresh basil (divided)
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 6 Roma tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 10 ounces mushrooms (sliced)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- Season each side of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
- Add olive oil and butter to a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs and sear each side until golden brown- approximately 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken pieces to a clean plate and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the onions to the pot. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until starting to soften and turn translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute.
- Add the bell peppers and carrots and sauté for approximately 5 minutes, or until vegetables being to soften. Stir frequently.
- Season the vegetables with the dried oregano and a generous pinch of salt.
- Pour in the wine and allow to simmer and reduce by approximately half.
- Add the fresh thyme, chopped parsley, half of the fresh basil, and tomato paste. Mix well to combine.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, chopped Roma tomatoes, and low-sodium chicken broth. Tuck the browned chicken thighs in among the sauce and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat too low. Cook for 45 minutes to 2 hours, or until chicken is falling off the bone.
- Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
- Garnish with additional fresh basil, parsley, or thyme. Serve with your favorite pasta noodles, mashed potatoes, or fresh buttered bread. Enjoy!
- For a dairy-free option- omit the butter and replace with non-dairy butter substitute or additional olive oil as needed.
- Feel free to substitute the raw Roma tomatoes with one (28 ounce) can of diced tomatoes.
- Keep leftovers stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)