You’ll love traditional Italian chicken cacciatore with tender braised chicken thighs in a rich spicy stew of tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers.
Why you’ll love it
Why you’ll love it: It’s cozy, comforting, and will make your house smell AMAZING!
How long it takes: 1 hour, 20 minutes, but mostly hands-off!
Equipment you’ll need: oven, oven-safe dutch oven, tongs, spoon
Spooned onto egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or polenta, chicken cacciatore is comfort food, compliments of Italy. Maybe all food is comfort food. I feel pretty comfortable eating most anything, how about you? Especially chicken cacciatore with noodles.
About this recipe
As I was developing this recipe, my ex-Marine hubby, told me that chicken cacciatore was his favorite MRE, so I was hoping that this would be at least better than that. I should be able to cook a meal better than something that can withstand a parachute drop from 1,250 feet and stay edible for up to three years.
I did. He loves it. I think you will, too!
What you need
As always, you’ll find the complete printable recipe at the end of this post.
You’ll need a Dutch oven with a lid, or any other large pan that can go from stovetop to oven. The ingredients are pretty simple. This is a family dinner recipe but it’s perfect for entertaining, too.
- Chicken thighs: Use bone-in, skin-on for the most flavor. If you prefer white meat, that’s fine too, but again the bone-in, skin-on breasts are more flavorful. The chicken is seasoned with salt and pepper and dredged in flour before it hits the pan to brown in a little olive oil.
- Vegetables: Green and red bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, canned tomatoes, and garlic add so much goodness to this saucy dish.
- Dry White Wine: A pretty good amount of wine is added to the pan. Red wine would be acceptable as well. Use a wine that you would drink but not the most expensive wine you have. Make sure to choose a dry, not sweet, wine.
- Oregano, Thyme, Red Pepper Flakes: Fresh herbs or dried, it’s up to you. If you use fresh herbs, you’ll need to use more. The ratio is 1 tablespoon fresh = 1 teaspoon dried.
How to make chicken cacciatore
This is basically a stew. If you know how to make beef stew, you can handle chicken cacciatore. It just has a fancier name. Here’s how it goes:
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and then coat in flour. Brown chicken thighs in a little oil.
Remove them from the pan and add sliced peppers and onions. Sauté until they begin to get tender. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook briefly. Add the herbs and seasonings, along with the wine. Cook, deglazing the pan and reducing the wine, just a few minutes. Add a big can of tomatoes, and stir to combine.
Nestle the browned chicken into the sauce.
Cover the pan and bake for 45 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. While your chicken cacciatore is baking, decide what you want to serve with it and get it going.
One of the nice things about this recipe is that a little extra time in the oven won’t matter at all. Turn the oven down a bit if it’s going to be a long while, or take the cacciatore out and keep it warm on the stovetop over very low heat. It’s pretty forgiving, like most stews, which makes it perfect for busy families or for entertaining.
Often it’s served with mashed potatoes or polenta, similar to this Italian pot roast. Wilted greens, like spinach or Swiss chard, are a traditional side dish, too. Crusty bread is great for soaking up the flavorful juice. And of course, pasta or noodles are always great with a saucy dish like this.
Try egg noodles, spaghetti, rotini, or another hearty pasta that will hold up well to this thick sauce. I like to use whole wheat pasta to increase the nutritional content.
The word “cacciatore” translates as hunter in Italian. Historians say this stew dates back to the 14th-16th century. Hunters made this hearty stew with rabbit meat or other game meat along with other ingredients that could easily be added to a pot over the fire and cooked afield. It originally did not include tomatoes which came from the New World somewhat later than that. They most likely dipped a rustic hard bread into the sauce.
There’s some debate about which wine goes best with a rich tomato sauce like this. It seems to be a matter of personal preference. Here’s what we like but feel free to experiment: Chianti, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, or Pinot Noir, and if you’re more of a white wine fan, try a dry Gewürtztraminer.
Make it your own
- Use chicken breasts if you prefer, or a mixture of both dark and white meat. Remove the skin if you prefer, either before browning or before serving.
- Try red wine instead of white wine in the sauce.
- Use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, or fresh herbs instead of dried.
- Increase the garlic or red pepper flakes if you like it spicy.
- Add a garnish of chopped fresh parsley or Parmesan cheese.
Make Ahead Ideas
Wash and slice the onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms ahead of time and refrigerate. If you’re planning on using fresh herbs, make sure they’re washed and ready.
Storage And Reheating Suggestions
Leftover chicken cacciatore can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to four days, or in the freezer for up to one month.
To reheat, simmer over low heat in skillet until heated through. If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating for best results.
Chicken cacciatore, like most stews and soups, is really good leftover. To make it into something just a little different, remove the chicken from the bone and shred it. Stir the meat into the sauce, mix it with cooked pasta and about a cup of shredded mozzarella (depending on how much you have leftover), and put it into a greased casserole dish. Top it with another 1/3 cup cheese and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through.
More Italian Style Recipes
Many Italian recipes are simple, healthy, and economical to make. You don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant to eat traditional Italian food. Try:
- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- Turkey Bolognese Recipe — with ground turkey
- Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce (meat or vegetarian!)
- Instant Pot Bolognese Recipe
- Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- Easy Skillet Lasagna
- Pasta Amatriciana (one pan!)
- Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe
- Roasted Italian Sausage with Onions and Vegetables
- Italian Herb and Cheese Pull-Apart Bread
- 6 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on (about 2 ½ -3 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, halved and sliced into ¼ -inch slices (or half of a large onion)
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced vertically into ¼ -inch slices
- 1 green bell pepper, cored and sliced vertically into ¼ -inch slices
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced into ¼ -inch slices
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more to taste
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- Chopped fresh parsley, for serving
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Season both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and then coat chicken in flour.
- Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, if necessary, place chicken skin down in pan. Brown chicken on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side; remove to plate. If needed, pour off fat in the pan so only about 1 tablespoon remains.
- Add onions and pepper to pan, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions begin to soften. Add mushrooms and garlic, continuing to cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add oregano, thyme, salt, and red pepper flakes.
- Add wine to the pan and cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes, scraping up any browned bits.
- Pour in canned tomatoes and stir to combine. Add chicken back into the pan, skin side up, without totally submerging the chicken. Place lid on the pot and carefully put it into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove lid and increase heat to 375ºF. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until sauce has thickened slightly.
- Remove pan from the oven. Serve over cooked pasta, mashed potatoes, or polenta, sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley.
- Serve with cooked pasta or noodles, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, polenta, or crusty bread. Use whole wheat pasta if you prefer. Wilted greens, such as spinach or Swiss chard, are great, too, especially if you are looking for a low carb meal.
- Make Ahead Ideas: Wash and slice the onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms ahead of time and refrigerate. If you’re planning on using fresh herbs, make sure they’re washed and ready.
- Storage and Reheating Suggestions: Leftover chicken cacciatore can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to four days, or in the freezer for up to one month. To reheat, simmer over low heat in skillet until heated through. If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating for best results.
- Leftover Love: To make it into something just a little different, remove the chicken from the bone and shred it. Stir the meat into the sauce, mix it with a few cups of cooked pasta (depending on how much is left over) and about a cup of shredded mozzarella, and put it into a greased casserole dish. Top it with another 1/3 cup cheese and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.