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Chicken Cacciatore

Easy stove top Chicken Cacciatore recipe that results in the most flavorful, tender chicken for a fall-off-the-bone result every single time. This goof-proof Italian dish is amazing for the whole family and pairs nicely with rice or noodles.

Dutch oven full of chicken cacciatore with tomato sauce, fresh herbs, and vegetables

Easy Chicken Cacciatore is one of those familiar family favorites that my siblings and I could always agree on when we were growing up, which was a small miracle, as all four of us had remarkably different tastes in food.

I was talking to my partner recently about chicken cacciatore and he said he wasn’t familiar with it, so I figured there must be plenty of readers here who are new to the concept too.

My summary: if you like chicken, you’ll LOVE this dish.

The more text book version goes like this.

What is Chicken Cacciatore?:

Chicken Cacciatore translates to “Hunter’s Chicken,” and is an Italian classic also known as chicken alla cacciatora. It is typically made with chicken, rabbit, or wild game.

Bone-in chicken thighs are browned to crispy perfection then stewed in a tomato sauce of onions, garlic, peppers, sometimes mushrooms, dried or fresh herbs, and a splash of red or white wine.

While various parts of Italy have their own take on traditional cacciatore, the dish itself doesn’t have hard and fast rules.

Whether or not someone uses wine (and what type) or mushrooms is unique to the individual. In addition, how the meal is served varies as well, as some people enjoy the chicken as is with a side salad, while others employ steamed rice or noodles to soak up some of that beautiful sauce.

Let’s chat about the ingredients I use in my own version of this Italian dish.

Wooden bowl with brown rice and chicken cacciatore with green bell peppers, tomatoes and onions and fresh parsley on top

Ingredients for Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore:

Olive Oil: Used for searing the chicken and cooking the vegetables, olive oil is essential for this classic Italian dish!

Chicken: Traditionally, chicken cacciatore is made with bone-in skin-on chicken pieces, which results in the most tender and flavorful result. I typically only use thighs instead of a combination of thighs and drumsticks. If you prefer using boneless skinless chicken breasts or skinless chicken thighs, you can make the swap.

Vegetables: Onion, garlic, green pepper and cremini mushrooms result in rich, bold flavor with a touch of sweetness from the bell pepper, which is a nice offset to the acidity of the tomato sauce. I go huge on the garlic. You can easily follow suit or reduce it down according to your personal taste.

Some people add celery, whole olives, and/or capers, so feel free to toss any of these in if they’re interesting to you!

Sauce: The sauce for this chicken cacciatore recipe consists of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and red wine (or white wine). If you have it on hand, you can substitute 28 ounces of your favorite flavorful tomato sauce for the crushed tomatoes or substitute chicken stock for the wine if you don’t use alcohol in your cooking. 

Seasonings: Dried Italian seasoning, sea salt, paprika, and black pepper are all we need to give this dish a rustic, herb-infused essence. If you love dried oregano, and/or parsley, toss it in! You can also incorporate fresh herbs if you have them on hand. You can also add fresh oregano, fresh thyme, or a pinch of red pepper flakes

Optional Add-Ins: 

  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 cup whole black olives
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 1 cup green olives
  • ⅓ cup sun-dried tomatoes

Two wooden bowls with rice and chicken cacciatore with red bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, and tomato sauce

Let’s make it! For this easy recipe, we’re preparing chicken cacciatore on the stove top, but if you prefer using the pressure cooker, follow my recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore which also includes instructions for slow-cooker chicken cacciatore.

How to Make Easy Stove Top Chicken Cacciatore:

Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper.

Heat the avocado oil in a large thick-bottomed pot (such as a Dutch oven. I use my Le Creuset) over medium-high heat. Allow the pot to heat up for a few minutes until it is sizzling hot.

Carefully place the chicken thighs in the pot in a single layer, skin side down and brown for 4 to 6 minutes, until the chicken skin is deeply golden brown.

Flip the chicken and sear for another 2 minutes. Note: this will likely need to be done in two batches as there won’t be enough room to brown the chicken all at the same time. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Pan-seared chicken thighs with golden-brown skin on a white plate

Add the onion to the pot and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan while sautéing. 

Stir in the bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic and continue sautéing, stirring frequently, for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Add in the Italian seasoning, fresh sage, paprika, sea salt, diced tomatoes and red wine and stir well. 

Transfer the chicken back to the pot, maneuvering it around until it is fully submerged in liquid. Cover the pot and bring it to a full boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 35 to 50 minutes (I do 40), until the chicken is nice and tender. Taste the sauce for flavor and add more sea salt to taste.

Serve the chicken over rice, noodles, zucchini noodles, or cauliflower rice with plenty of sauce and fresh grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil. A big hunk of crusty bread or garlic bread is always encouraged.

I love pairing the chicken with steamed brown rice, but you can also go with white rice or gluten-free noodles. Go with cauliflower rice to keep it low-carb.

Dutch oven with finished chicken cacciatore inside

What to Serve with Chicken Cacciatore:

If you’re looking for side dish ideas to go alongside this meal, here are my top recommendations:

I hope this hearty meal and rustic Italian dish becomes a great addition your household, just as it has mine!

Two wooden bowls with rice and chicken cacciatore with red bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, and tomato sauce
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5 from 1 vote

Chicken Cacciatore

Classic Chicken Cacciatore is easy to make on the stove top in your Dutch oven or stock pot. Incredibly tender and flavorful!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 Servings
Calories: 302kcal
Author: Julia

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 lbs bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 yellow onion sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into match sticks
  • 3 cups baby bella mushrooms chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 6 leaves fresh sage chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried sage)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • ¾ cup dry red wine or white wine such as chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

Optional Additions:

  • 2 ribs celery chopped
  • 1 cup whole black olives
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 1 cup green olives
  • cup sun-dried tomatoes

Instructions

  • Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper.
  • Heat the avocado oil in a large thick-bottomed pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Allow the pot to heat up for a few minutes until it is sizzling hot. Place the chicken thighs in the pot in a single layer, skin side down and brown for 4 to 6 minutes, until the chicken skin is deeply golden brown.
  • Carefully flip and sear for another 2 minutes. Note: this will likely need to be done in two batches as there won’t be enough room to brown the chicken all at the same time.
  • Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
    Browned chicken on a plate
  • Add the onion to the pot and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan while sautéing. 
  • Stir in the bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic and continue sautéing, stirring frequently, for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the Italian seasoning, fresh sage, paprika, sea salt, diced tomatoes and red wine and stir well. 
    Onion, bell pepper and mushrooms in a Dutch oven
  • Transfer the chicken back to the pot, maneuvering it around until it is fully submerged in liquid. Cover the pot and bring it to a full boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 35 to 50 minutes (I do 40), until the chicken is nice and tender. Taste the sauce for flavor and add more sea salt to taste.
    Dutch oven with chicken cacciatore ingredients inside, ready to cook
  • Serve the chicken over rice, noodles, zucchini noodles, or cauliflower rice with plenty of sauce and fresh grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 18g | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g
Pinterest photo collage for chicken cacciatore
Recipe Rating




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Shirley

Tuesday 22nd of February 2022

Mangia! You nailed this recipe and the photos are awesome!

Julia

Tuesday 22nd of February 2022

So thrilled you like it! xoxoxo :D

Diane

Tuesday 3rd of December 2013

Red!! Great Feng Shui and warm energy for your kitchen. It will help to put the love into your dishes!

Natalyn

Tuesday 3rd of December 2013

I would get a red one!

Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

Monday 2nd of December 2013

I would most definitely go with cherry red...and I would name her Winonna...and all the other kitchen appliances would be sooooo jealous! ;)

HilLesha

Monday 2nd of December 2013

I'd choose the cherry. :)

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