Chicken Cacciatore is a classic Italian dish of chicken braised in a sauce of San Marzano tomatoes, sweet peppers, wild mushrooms and more, so comforting.
Italian Hunter Style Chicken - Chicken Cacciatore
It's Italian night in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen, my friends. We're keeping it simple yet deliciously perfect with a rustic dish that's ready to bring the comfort.
It's very easy to make with chicken and lots of Italian vegetables and seasonings all stewed together in a bit pot, just like the old school hunters used to do.
It's called Chicken Cacciatore, and I think you're going to love it.
What is Chicken Cacciatore?
Chicken cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora) is an Italian dish with chicken or other game meat braised in a simple tomato sauce with peppers, wild mushrooms, and other vegetables.
The name "cacciatore" means "hunter" in English, so the name of the dish translates to "Hunter Style Chicken", as hunters in the wild would cook up that evening whatever they caught throughout the day.
This could mean rabbit, pheasant, and other game in medieval times and beyond, though today it is more commonly made with chicken.
The recipe is often considered Italian-American, though it is from Italy, where it is still popular today.
You'll find variations from region to region, and from cook to cook, particularly with different types of vegetables and seasonings tossed into the mix.
It's a comforting stew dish, after all, quite forgiving and easy to make, and also easy to change up as you wish.
This is how I like to make mine.
Let's talk about how to make chicken cacciatore, shall we?
Chicken Cacciatore Ingredients
- Chicken. Bone-in, skin-on chicken offers much more flavor to this dish, but you can use boneless and skinless. Use chicken thighs, chicken legs, chicken breast, or a combination. This recipe is great for a cut up roaster chicken.
- Salt and Black Pepper. To taste.
- Vegetable Oil. For cooking. Olive oil is good, too.
- Peppers. I'm using red and yellow bell peppers, though you can use Italian sweets or other sweeter peppers. Feel free to add in a hot pepper to spice things up, like jalapeno or serrano.
- Mushrooms. Wild mushrooms are commonly used, but use your favorites, such as oyster mushrooms, shiitake, or button.
- Garlic. Give me all the garlic!
- Wine. I'm using dry white wine, but dry red wine is great here as well.
- Tomatoes. Use crushed canned San Marzano tomatoes if you can, as they are the gold standard for sauce-making tomatoes. You can use other Italian plum tomatoes if needed, or simple diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes.
- Oregano. For the wonderful earthy flavor, so perfect with chicken.
- Kalamata Olives. Kalamata olives bring a rich and somewhat fruity accent to the dish.
- Red Chili Flakes. Optional, for a touch of spiciness.
- For Serving. Fresh chopped parsley, chili flakes.
How to Make Chicken Cacciatore - the Recipe Method
Brown the Chicken. Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven to medium heat. Pat the chicken dry and season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.
Sear the chicken, skin sides down, for 5 minutes or until the skins brown and crisp up.
Flip the chicken and cook another 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Drain off excess fat.
Cook the Onion, Peppers, and Mushrooms. Return the pan to medium heat and add the onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Sauté for 5 minutes to soften slightly.
Add the Garlic. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until the garlic becomes fragrant.
The Wine. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until the liquid reduces by half.
Start the Sauce. Add the tomatoes, oregano, chili flakes, and olives. Bring to a boil.
Return the Chicken to the Pan. Tuck the browned chicken pieces into the sauce, skin side up, then adjust the heat for a gentle boil. The sauce should just cover the chicken. Add a bit of water or chicken stock if needed and season with salt and pepper.
Braise the Chicken. Cover and cook 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. You can simmer longer to develop more flavor.
NOTE: Chicken should measure 165 degrees F internally when measured with a meat thermometer.
Garnish and serve!
Boom! Done! Your chicken cacciatore is ready to serve. Quite and easy recipe to make, isn't it? And you can spice it up as much or as little as you'd prefer.
Serving Chicken Cacciatore
Serve chicken cacciatore on it's own by placing the braised chicken on a plate surrounded by the tomato sauce and saucy vegetables, or serve it with pasta or over creamy polenta.
Shred the chicken and try is over mashed potatoes for an Americanized version.
Parmesan cheese is always welcomed, as are fresh chopped herbs, cracked black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Can I Skip Browning the Chicken? Yes, you can skip the step of browning the chicken, as the chicken does get covered in sauce and does not retain completely crispy skin. However, browning the skin helps seal in flavors, so I would encourage you to keep this step.
- Extra Veggies. Toss in extra vegetables if you'd like. Some of my favorites include leeks, carrots, peas, artichokes, green olives, and spicy chili peppers. Use your favorites! It's a great way to use up vegetables from the refrigerator.
- Heat Factor. Typical chicken cacciatore is mild in heat, but big on flavor. The focus is on sweeter peppers, like bell peppers or Italian sweets, though you can add in hotter peppers if you'd like. I usually add a touch of heat with spicy chili flakes, which you can do as well.
Chicken cacciatore will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container. You can easily reheat it gently in a covered pan over medium-low heat.
To freeze, cool the chicken, then transfer to airtight containers, seal, and freeze. It will last 3-4 months this way.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this chicken cacciatore recipe. It's so good! I love adding a bit of extra spicy heat to mine, but adjust to your own preference.
If you enjoy Italian cuisine, I recommend the following cookbook, which I used to adapt this recipe. It has a lot of great recipes.
- Lidia's Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich (affiliate link, my friends!)
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
- Chicken Scarpariello
- Chicken Drumsticks with Peppers and Paprika
- Peri Peri Chicken
- Grilled Harissa Chicken Drumsticks
- Paprika Chicken (Chicken Paprikash)
- Peruvian Chicken (Pollo a la Brasa)
- Cajun Baked Chicken Thighs
- Baked Chicken Drumsticks with Pipian Rojo
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Chicken Cacciatore Recipe
- 2.5 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (or use legs + thigh quarters, or a cut up roaster chicken)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 1 large yellow bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms use oyster mushrooms, shiitake, or wild
- 6 cloves garlic chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes crushed (or use other Italian plum tomatoes)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 cup Kalamata olives
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes optional, for some spiciness
- Fresh chopped parsley, chili flakes for serving
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven to medium heat. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sear the chicken, skin sides down, for 5 minutes or until the skins brown and crisp up. Flip the chicken and cook another 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Drain off excess fat.
- Return the pan to medium heat and add the onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Saute for 5 minutes to soften slightly.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add the wine and bring to a boil. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until the liquid reduces by half.
- Add the tomatoes, oregano, chili flakes, and olives. Bring to a boil.
- Tuck the browned chicken pieces into the sauce, skin side up, then adjust the heat for a gentle boil. The sauce should just cover the chicken. Add a bit of water or chicken stock if needed.
- Cover and cook 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. You can simmer longer to develop more flavor.
- Garnish and serve.