Chicken agrodolce, also known as sweet and sour chicken, is full of texture, and true to its name, sweet and sour flavor. Roasted eggplant and zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and green olives are simmered with chicken in a sugar-vinegar sauce and topped with fresh mint. Have some crusty bread handy to mop up the delicious sauce!
Our chicken agrodolce has much in common with caponata and is essentially chicken with caponata plus a few extras, like zucchini.
The depth of flavor in chicken agrodolce is over the top from the roasted eggplant and zucchini, the sweet raisins, the salty olives, and the fresh mint.
The chicken takes on all of these flavors ensuring that with every bite, you're getting something special.
Pair this with rice, a bit of pasta, or some crusty bread and you're all set!
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Cube 2 medium-sized zucchini and 1 medium-sized eggplant. Slice 3 cloves of garlic and a ½ cup pitted Sicilian olives. Chop 3 tablespoons of mint.
- Preheat the oven to 425f and set the rack to the middle level. Toss the zucchini and eggplant with ¼ cup of olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Spread them out on parchment paper-lined baking sheets and roast for 20-25 minutes or until well browned and set aside.
- Meanwhile, pat the chicken thighs dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Heat a large pan to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the chicken. If you're using a smaller pan, you may need to work in batches to not overcrowd the pan.
- Sear the chicken until browned (about 4-5 minutes per side), then set aside on a plate tented with foil
- Add the remaining olive oil to the same pan along with the garlic and cook the garlic until golden (about 2 minutes).
- Add 24 ounces of cherry tomatoes and a pinch of salt.
- Once the tomatoes begin to burst (about 5-7 minutes), add 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth, ¼ cup raisins, the sliced olives, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
- Bring the sauce to a boil and cook for 2 minutes until it reduces slightly.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and return the chicken to the pan along with the roasted zucchini and eggplant.
- Continue to cook over a low simmer partially covered for about 10-15 minutes or until the chicken thighs reach at least 175f internal temperature.
- Taste test the sauce and season with salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle the fresh mint on top right before serving. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce and enjoy!
Top tips for awesome agrodolce chicken
- The sweet. We used a combination of raisins and sugar for the "dolce", or sweet part of this dish. We realize that not everyone loves raisins. If you're not a fan of raisins, you can omit them and replace them with more sugar until you're satisfied with the sweet to sour ratio.
- The sour. Red wine vinegar was used to create the sour aspect of this dish. You can use white vinegar as well.
- The olives. We used Sicilian green olives for our chicken agrodolce but this would also be great with kalamata olives, oil-cured olives, or a combination of olives. If you can, try and buy pitted olives to save you the work of removing the pits yourself.
- The chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs were used for our recipe but you can also use chicken pieces. Note: this dish is better with dark meat and is less likely to dry out than with white meat.
More Italian chicken thigh recipes you'll love
- Chicken thighs with fennel and cherry tomatoes - braised chicken thighs with burst cherry tomatoes and fennel.
- Chicken Vesuvio - Whole chicken (but can use just thighs) with potatoes and peas in a lemon white wine sauce.
- Chicken and peppers - Roman-style chicken thighs and peppers in a white wine sauce.
- Chicken scarpariello - Chicken, sausage, potatoes, and peppers in a vinegar sauce.
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- 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ½ cup olive oil divided
- 2 medium zucchini cubed
- 1 medium eggplant cubed
- 3 cloves garlic sliced
- 24 ounces cherry tomatoes or 2 dry pints
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ cup raisins
- ½ cup Sicilian green olives pitted and sliced
- 3 tablspoons mint chopped
- Preheat oven to 425f and set the rack to the middle level. Toss zucchini and eggplant with a ¼ cup of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the veggies out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and well browned.
- Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry then season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Heat a large pan to medium heat then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sear chicken until browned (about 4-5 minutes per side) then set aside on a plate tented with foil.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the pan along with the garlic. Cook garlic until golden (about 2 minutes) then add the tomatoes and a touch of salt.
- Once the tomatoes begin to burst (about 5 minutes) add the chicken stock, raisins, olives, vinegar, and sugar to the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook for 2 minutes until it slightly reduces.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and return the chicken to the pan, along with the roasted zucchini and eggplant. Continue to cook over a low simmer partially covered (roughly 10-15 more minutes) or until the chicken thighs reach at least 175f internal temp.
- Taste test and season with salt and pepper if required. Sprinkle the mint on top right before serving. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce. Enjoy!
- Makes 4 large or 6 moderate-sized servings
- Chicken thighs (dark meat) can be cooked to a higher temp than white meat. At least 175f is recommended. The chicken will be juicier and more tender.
- Feel free to adjust the sweet/sour ratio to your liking with either more sugar or vinegar.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave.