This chicken cacciatore recipe is easy to make with your choice of veggies and simmered in a flavorful garlic-herb tomato sauce. Easy to make in either the Instant Pot, Crock-Pot or on the stovetop and delicious served over pasta or polenta.
On busy weeknights when you’re craving a flavorful, simple and comforting chicken dinner…
…chicken cacciatore is here for you. ♡
This classic Italian “hunter-style” braised chicken dish, said to date all the way back to the Renaissance period, is one of those brilliantly flexible clean-out-the-crisper-drawer meals that somehow always turns out amazing. It can be made with whatever cut of chicken and selection of veggies that you happen to have on hand, all of which are braised together in a cozy tomato sauce seasoned with lots of red wine, garlic, and herbs. And I also recently tried adding some bacon to my cacciatore after seeing it recommended by the NYTimes and am now officially sold on the smoky depth of flavor that it adds to this dish. Highly recommend!
The good news for all of us is that chicken cacciatore is easy to toss in the Instant Pot, simmer all day in the Crock-Pot, or quickly simmer on the stovetop. And it can be served with pasta, polenta, rice, quinoa, grains, or with a big hunk of crusty bread to mop up that irresistible sauce — up to you! I’m also partial to adding in a jar of olives or capers for an extra briny touch. And I highly recommend topping each serving with a generous sprinkle of fresh basil and Parmesan too.
To be sure, I wouldn’t claim that this recipe is authentic Italian pollo alla cacciatora — it’s more inspired by the Italian-American version I grew up with in the Midwest. But from what I’ve read, cacciatore has historically always been a dish that celebrates making the most of ingredients you happen to have on hand. So roundup whatever veggies happen to be hanging out in your fridge today, and let’s make a big batch of chicken cacciatore together for the week ahead!
Chicken Cacciatore Ingredients
Before we get to the full chicken cacciatore recipe below, here are a few quick notes about the ingredients you will need…
Chicken: Feel free to use your preferred cut of chicken here — breasts or thighs or legs, boneless or bone-in, you choose. I recommend dredging the chicken in flour and giving it a quick sauté before adding in the rest of the ingredients, to help thicken the cacciatore sauce and give the chicken extra flavor, but you’re welcome to skip this step if you’re in a hurry.
Bacon: I first tried adding bacon to chicken cacciatore after seeing it used in this NYTimes recipe…and now I’m hooked. It adds just the right amount of smoky flavor to the stew, especially when you sauté the chicken in the leftover bacon grease too.
Veggies: I went with a simple mix of baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, two colors of bell peppers, carrot, red onion, and garlic. But please feel free to toss in whatever stew-friendly veggies you happen to have on hand (see suggestions below).
Tomatoes: One large can of tomatoes — preferably either crushed or diced — will do.
Olives: If you love olives, I highly recommend adding a drained can of either Kalamata or black olives to the cacciatore, or some capers would also add a delicious briny touch as well. That said, if you don’t happen to be a fan of olives or capers, just leave them out.
Wine: I highly recommend using either a dry red or white wine to deglaze the pot after sautéing the chicken, which will also add a rich depth of flavor to the sauce. That said, though, if you do not cook with wine, you’re welcome to just use some chicken or vegetable stock instead.
Seasonings: I used a simple mix of dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper. Feel free to add more or less of each seasoning to taste.
Toppings: Finally, I highly recommend adding some freshly-grated (or shaved) Parmesan to each serving. And if you happen to have some fresh basil on hand, definitely sprinkle some on too for a pop of fresh flavor and color.
How To Make Chicken Cacciatore
Detailed instructions below are included for how to make chicken cacciatore in either the Instant Pot (pressure cooker), Crock-Pot (slow cooker) or on the stovetop. But here is the general order of steps you will follow with either method:
Fry the bacon. First we will dice and fry the bacon until crispy, leaving behind the bacon grease to sauté the chicken.
Sauté the chicken. While the bacon is cooking, we will season the chicken with salt and pepper, dredge lightly with flour, then sauté it in the bacon grease until each side is lightly browned. (No need to cook the chicken all the way through.) Then we will add in the wine to deglaze the pan and lift up those flavorful browned bits left behind by the chicken and bacon.
Add the remaining ingredients. Then we will add in all of the other ingredients, as well as the cooked bacon, and briefly toss to combine.
Cover and cook. Then we will either pressure cook, slow cook, or simmer the mixture on the stovetop until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
Shred the chicken (optional). I prefer to shred the chicken at this point and then add it back to the cacciatore, although you are welcome to leave the chicken breasts or thighs whole if you prefer.
Season. Very important — don’t forget to taste test and season the chicken cacciatore as needed.
Serve. Then serve it up warm over pasta, polenta, rice, grains, with a big hunk of crusty bread, or however you prefer…and enjoy!
Here are a few other ways that you could customize this chicken cacciatore recipe…
Make it spicier: I often amp up the amount of crushed red pepper flakes used in this recipe to make it spicier. Or feel free to add in some pepperoncini peppers to add in an extra briny, spicy flavor.
Make it gluten-free: Use a GF all-purpose flour blend, in place of the traditional all-purpose flour. Or just omit the flour altogether (and if the cacciatore seems too thin, just let it simmer uncovered for a few minutes until it has reduced and thickened).
Add different veggies: Feel free to toss in any other veggies that might be good here! Some ideas might include zucchini, asparagus, green beans, potatoes, parsnips, cauliflower, artichokes, etc.
More Instant Pot Chicken Recipes
Looking for more easy chicken recipes to make in the Instant Pot or Crock-Pot? Here are a few of my faves…
This chicken cacciatore recipe is easy to make with your choice of veggies and simmered in a flavorful garlic-herb tomato sauce. The instructions here detail the Instant Pot version, but see the note section below for how to make Crock-Pot or stovetop versions as well.
Fry the bacon. Press the “Sauté” button on the Instant Pot. Then once it has heated, add the diced bacon and sauté, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a clean bowl and set aside, leaving the leftover bacon grease in the pot.
Sauté the chicken. While the bacon is frying, season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Then lightly dredge the chicken in the flour until it is evenly coated on all sides. Once the bacon has been removed, add the chicken to the pot in a single layer. Sauté the chicken undisturbed for about 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned, then flip and repeat on the opposite side. (The chicken will not be completely cooked through.)
Add the remaining ingredients. Add the wine and use a wooden spoon to briefly scrape the browned bits up from the bottom of the pot. Add the mushrooms, bell peppers, carrot, red onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes, olives, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and cooked bacon. Briefly toss to combine.
Pressure cook. Close and seal the lid. Pressure cook on high for 15 minutes, followed by a quick release. Once the steam has released, carefully remove the lid.
Shred the chicken (optional). Transfer the chicken to a clean plate and shred it with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the cacciatore and give the mixture a gentle stir to combine.
Season. Taste and season with extra salt, pepper, oregano and/or crushed red pepper flakes, as needed.
Serve. Serve warm over pasta, polenta, rice, grains, or with a hunk of crusty bread, garnished with a sprinkling of fresh basil and Parmesan. Enjoy!
Crock-Pot (Slow Cooker) Chicken Cacciatore: Fry the bacon (as instructed in Step 1) in a separate sauté pan over medium-high heat. Transfer the bacon to a clean bowl, then sauté the chicken (as instructed in Step 2) in the same pan, then deglaze the pan with the wine. Transfer the chicken with wine sauce, cooked bacon, and all of the remaining ingredients (as listed in Step 3) to the bowl of a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 5-6 hours until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Uncover and follow Steps 5 to 7 to complete the recipe.
Stovetop Chicken Cacciatore: Fry the bacon (as instructed in Step 1) in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Transfer the bacon to a clean bowl, then sauté the chicken (as instructed in Step 2) in the same stockpot, then deglaze the pan with the wine. Add the cooked bacon plus all of the remaining ingredients (as listed in Step 3) to the stockpot and briefly stir to combine. Continue cooking until the sauce reaches a simmer. Then cover, reduce heat to medium-low to maintain the simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Uncover and follow Steps 5 to 7 to complete the recipe.
Storage instructions: Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.