Achieve unbelievably tender and juicy chicken thighs in this perfect Chicken Cacciatore recipe! Garlic, onions, peppers, and mushrooms bring loads of flavor to this healthy dinner.
What is Chicken Cacciatore?
Chicken Cacciatore is a dish from the Italian countryside, traditionally made by hunters and farmers. The rich sauce forms by simmering tomatoes, onions, and other veggies with juicy cuts of meat in red wine and velvety chicken broth. It takes more time than your average weeknight meal, but the flavor that develops is absolutely worth it!
If we’re getting technical, this dish was most likely made with pheasant, quail, or even rabbit, and tomatoes hadn’t even made it to Italy when the first renditions of this dish were said to be made. So this may not be perfectly traditional, but it is absolutely delicious… So we don’t really mind ignoring the history side of it!
This recipe uses chicken thighs for the deep dark chicken flavor and its ability to simmer longer without overcooking. Thighs are cooked with the skin on to protect them from drying out, but we discard the skin before serving since it gets a soft, soggy texture. Using chicken breasts will make the sauce thinner, and it provides less oil for the veggies to cook in, so it’s not recommended to substitute white meat in this dish.
Ingredients for Chicken Cacciatore
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need for this recipe. For exact measurements, keep scrolling down to the bottom for the printable recipe card.
- Bone-in skin-on chicken thighs – You’ll want to trim any excess fat off of these. Even if you don’t enjoy eating the skin, I highly recommend cooking these with the skin on, then discarding the skin before serving. The skin protects the meat from overcooking and ensures each bite is super juicy. This is seasoned with salt and cooked in extra virgin olive oil (or your preferred cooking oil).
- Vegetables: Yellow onion, Red bell pepper, Green bell pepper, Baby portobella mushrooms, and Garlic – These all simmer for the most delicious dish you’ve ever had! The variety provides a great depth of flavor. These are cooked with fresh thyme for amazing taste and smell, but substituting fresh rosemary sprigs would be traditional as well.
- Dry red wine, Broth, Diced tomatoes, Oregano, Black pepper, Red pepper flakes – These combine to create a well-rounded sauce. The broth could be chicken or vegetable, but I highly recommend making your own.
- Pitted black olives – These add a salty flavor that brings out the best in the veggies!
- Fresh parsley – This is optional, but it’s a great garnish that makes it beautiful and even more aromatic!
How to Make Chicken Cacciatore
This recipe is an oldie but a goodie for a reason! It does take time and a watchful eye sometimes, but it is an impressive recipe that is worth learning. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making the most mouth-watering cacciatore you’ll ever have.
Brown the chicken
First, pat your chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and trim any excess fat off of them. Sprinkle with salt on both sides. Warm a large skillet or dutch oven (something with tall sides) over medium high heat, then add olive oil. Once hot, add chicken thighs (skin-side down) cooking for 5-7 minutes. Flip and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Chicken will NOT be cooked through yet–They will finish cooking later.
After browning the chicken, there should be a decent amount of oil in the pot–Leave this and add in your onion and peppers, then cook for about 8 minutes (until softened). Mix in the garlic, thyme, and mushrooms, then continue cooking for about 5 more minutes, until fragrant and softened.
Pour in the red wine to deglaze the pot–Use your mixing spoon to scrape up the “fond” or bits and pieces off the bottom of the pan. Stir and mix these odds and ends into the sauce, cooking for 3-5 minutes until some of the wine has evaporated and reduced.
Mix in broth, tomatoes, and spices, then place the chicken thighs back in the pot. Spoon some of the liquid over the thighs to moisten them, then bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to low and simmer (covered with a tight lid) for about 35 minutes. This should help the connective tissue in the thighs to break down, leading to amazingly soft and tender chicken. The chicken should reach at least 165 degrees, but it’s okay if the thighs cook a bit higher–Up to 175 or 195 is alright! All that fat allows thighs to cook longer without drying out so easily.
Uncover the pan and remove the chicken with tongs or a slotted spoon. Place the chicken on a plate and set it aside for now. Mix the halved olives into the pan and continue to simmer over medium-low heat. Keep it uncovered and cook about 15 minutes or until thickened.
Remove the skin from the chicken and return it to the pot, spooning more of the sauce on top. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately!
What to Serve with Chicken Cacciatore
This dish is best served with some creamy or simple side dishes. Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (or Mashed Cauliflower if you’re watching the carbs) is a great classic side dish, or you could try risotto (cauliflower risotto: amazing) or grits (cauliflower grits: surprisingly delicious). It also works well with spaghetti noodles or zoodles if you want to add in more veggies.
Storing & Reheating Chicken Cacciatore
- FRIDGE: This dish will keep up to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container. If possible, keep the thighs submerged in the veggies and sauce for maximum flavor retention.
- FREEZER: You can freeze your leftovers for another day! Simply portion the veggies, sauce, and chicken into individual portions in freezer-safe containers, then enjoy within 3 months for the best texture. Let thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
- REHEATING: You can easily reheat chicken cacciatore in the microwave or oven, or you can do it in a skillet on the stove. The key is warming it slowly so that the chicken doesn’t overcook or dry out. Microwave on 50% power in 45-second bursts, then stir sauce, flip chicken, and blast again. Reheat covered in the oven (325-350 degrees) or on the stove (medium low).
If you like this classic chicken dish, you’ll love these recipes:
- Chicken Alfredo – Juicy, flavorful chicken in a cheesy parmesan sauce? Yes please! Great over pasta or veggies, and it’s kid-friendly enough for a simple family dinner!
- Chicken Pot Pie – You’ll love the buttery, flaky top on this simple pot pie! Tender chicken and veggies in a delicious sauce between two perfect crusts… YUM!
- Avgolemono Soup (or Greek Lemon Rice Soup) – The rich flavor that comes from this creamy soup is unbelievable… But you really won’t believe it when you realize it doesn’t even require heavy cream!
- Chicken and Rice Recipe – This is a great, classic dish for a weeknight! Simple peas and carrots round out this easy Instant Pot recipe.
- Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup – This recipe is not only a delicious meal but the perfect healing medicine for a runny nose or sad news. It’s the comfort food recipe you’ll want to bring out for all your loved ones.
- 6 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess skin
- 2 tsp fine sea salt divided
- 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion thinly sliced
- 1 red bell peppers cut into 1⁄4-inch-wide strips
- 1 green bell peppers cut into 1⁄4-inch-wide strips
- 10 ounces baby bella mushrooms sliced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 1/2 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cup pitted black olives cut in half
- Fresh chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- Pat chicken pieces dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle with 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt on both sides.
- Heat olive oil in a 6 quart large skillet or dutch oven (with high sides) until hot. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down, cooking for 5-7 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 more minutes. Transfer to a plate for later. The chicken will NOT be cooked through at this point.
- To the pot of oil from the chicken, add the onion, red pepper, green peppers and cook for 8 minutes until softened. Mix in the garlic, thyme and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until fragrant and softened.
- To the pot, add the red wine and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, cooking for 3-5 minutes until partially evaporated. Use your mixing spoon to scrape the “fond” off the bottom of the pan and mix into the sauce mixture.
- Mix in the broth, diced tomatoes, oregano, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, and remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Place the chicken pieces on top of the mixture and spoon some of the liquid on top of each piece of chicken.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and simmer, covered, for about 35 minutes. The chicken should become super soft and be fully cooked through, reaching at least 165°F on an instant read thermometer. It is ok if the chicken is between 175°F and 195°F too; it doesn’t dry out easily!
- Uncover the pan. Remove the chicken from the pan with tongs or a slotted spoon and place onto a large plate and set aside.
- Mix the olives into the sauce in the pan. Simmer the sauce in the pan over medium-low heat, uncovered, for 15 minutes until thickened.
- Remove the skin from the chicken and return the chicken to the pot. Discard the chicken skin. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.
- Garnish with parsley and serve with a keto friendly side dish such as cauliflower rice or veggies!
● Super flavorful!
● In step 6, the sauce will look very thin, but once you simmer it uncovered in Step 8 it thickens a lot so that it coats the chicken beautifully when serving.
● I choose to remove the chicken skin in this recipe since it becomes very soft in the cooking process and doesn’t do much for the dish at the point of serving. I initially keep it on though since it keeps the chicken thighs moist, and the rendered fat from it adds tons of flavor to the dish.