Chicken cacciatore is Italian comfort food at its best. It’s flavorful, hearty, comforting and easy to make in one pot with pantry friendly ingredients! This chicken cacciatore recipe is made by browning juicy seasoned chicken then slowly braising it with carrots, onions, garlic mushrooms and bell peppers in a rich and hearty tomato sauce infused with herbs and spiked with sassy, salty capers. It’s one of the most satisfying explosions of flavor you will ever sink your teeth into. And the best part is, you can customize the chicken cacciatore recipe to suite your family with different veggies or spices. I’ve also included step-by-step photos, tips and tricks to make the best chicken cacciatore of your life! Serve this scrumptious recipe with pasta, polenta, mashed potatoes, rice or low spaghetti squash, zoodles or cauliflower mash along with some dinner rolls or garlic bread for a comforting dinner the whole family will adore!
Servings 6 -8 servings
- 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed (whatever fits your pot)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tsp EACH salt, garlic powder, onion powder
- 1/2 tsp EACH pepper, paprika
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 large carrot sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 8 ounces white mushrooms quartered or halved if small
- 4-6 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional for a kick
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons drained capers OR 1/2 cup halved Kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tsp EACH dried basil, dried parsley, chicken bouillon
- 1 tsp EACH dried oregano, dried rosemary, dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon sugar more or less to taste
- salt and pepper
- Coarsely chopped fresh basil
- freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk flour and all "chicken seasoning" together in a shallow dish. Pat chicken dry and dredge each piece in the mixture, pressing the flour into the chicken, shake off any excess, then transfer to a dry surface.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a deep, oven-proof skillet/braiser. Once hot, add chicken and cook approximately 4 minutes per side, until golden (it will not be cooked through) – do NOT let the drippings burn/blacken. Reduce heat if necessary. Remove chicken to a plate but do not discard drippings.
Reduce heat to medium. To the now empty skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add enough olive oil to equal 2 tablespoons when combined with the drippings (eyeball it).. Add onions, carrots, bell peppers and mushrooms and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add a drizzle of olive oil if the vegetables become too dry. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds.
Stir in all remaining ingredients up to “for serving.” Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return chicken pieces to the skillet along with any juices and spoon some sauce over the top.
Bring to a simmer, cover, and bake at 350 degrees F for 45-60 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and fall apart very tender.
You can shred the chicken in the sauce or serve it whole with the sauce spooned over top. Serve chicken cacciatore over pasta, potatoes, rice, polenta, or veggie noodles, with freshly chopped basil and freshly grated Parmesan.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Pot size: I use a 3 ½ quart cast-iron enamel braiser that measures 11 1/2″ in diameter by 2 1/2″ high. You will want to use a similar oven proof dish/skillet with a tight-fitting lid. If you don’t have an oven proof skillet, you can transfer the chicken and sauce to an oven safe baking dish, just be aware baking times will vary. If you don’t have a lid, cover your oven proof dish tightly with foil. If your seal isn’t tight, then heat and liquid will escape.
- Skin on or off? Traditional chicken cacciatore is often cooked with the skin on but I prefer to remove the skin from my chicken because the skin does not stay crispy and becomes unappetizingly soggy skin. To make the skinless chicken just as juicy as skin-on chicken, it is lightly dusted in a flour/spice coating that creates an enveloping, deeply golden, deeply flavorful crust and the chicken stays delightfully juicy and tender. You can leave the skin on your chicken if you prefer just make sure to sear the chicken for a decent amount of time to render the fat, otherwise you will be left with extra greasy sauce.
- Chicken breasts: Won’t be as juicy or flavorful but can still be used. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your chicken breasts. Make sure they are submerged in the sauce so they don’t dry out when baking.
- Capers: Add a salty, briny flavor characteristic of chicken cacciatore that cuts through the rich tomato sauce. You may substitute them with ½ cup pitted, halved Kalamata olives.
- Chicken bouillon: Infuses the sauce with intense flavor, just as if it had been simmering and reducing all day. You can use granulated bouillon or cubes. If using cubes, crush first but don't add to liquid, add directly to the pot.
- Wine: If you’d like to use wine, add ½ cup red wine after you sauté the vegetables and simmer until it is reduced by half, stirring to scrape up browned bits on bottom of the pan.
- Swap veggies: You can add almost any longer cooking vegetables to this recipe such as butternut squash, parsnips, green beans, broccoli, or cauliflower, just to name a few.
- Gluten free: To make gluten-free chicken cacciatore, simply swap the flour with gluten free flour. The rest of the ingredients are gluten free.
- Chicken: Remove the skin from the chicken, dredge chicken in flour mixture and sear per recipe instructions. Transfer to an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Save the chicken drippings.
- Veggies: Chop all of the vegetables and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also go one step further and sauté the veggies if you wish.
- Sauce: You can prepare the recipe all the way up through making the sauce before adding the chicken back to the pan. Store sauce (with veggies) and chicken separately. When ready to continue with the recipe, bring to a simmer, then add the chicken and pop in the oven.
How to Store and Reheat
- Storage: This chicken cacciatore can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for four to five days.
- Freezer: Let it cool completely, then seal the chicken and sauce in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, place in the fridge overnight to thaw before reheating.
- Microwave: I recommend chopping up the chicken so it reheats more evenly, then transferring a small portion to a microwave safe dish. Heat for 1 minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30-second intervals.
- Stove: Chop up chicken, then transfer to a skillet. Heat over medium heat, stirring often.
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
- Dredge the chicken in flour and brown per the recipe. Once golden, transfer the chicken to a lightly greased slow cooker.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients and give them a stir over top the chicken.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours OR until chicken is cooked through and falling off the bone.
Stove Top Chicken Cacciatore
Prepare chicken cacciatore as instructed but instead of transferring to the oven, bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes. Halfway through cooking, move the chicken pieces around and/or turn them over to ensure even cooking.