Chicken cacciatore pasta combines all the wonderful flavors of classic cacciatore, also known as hunter’s chicken, with pappardelle to form a wonderfully rich and satisfying pasta dish.  

Closeup shot of large pan with chicken cacciatore pasta and basil garnish.

While many Italians frown upon mixing chicken with pasta, it seems that chicken cacciatore pasta is one of the exceptions to their no-chicken-with-pasta rule.

Truth be told, we have never understood the reason for the rule and frequently defy it by making dishes like chicken marsala pasta and chicken Alfredo pasta.  

Furthermore, Asian cooking frequently utilizes chicken with noodles and they’re the ones who created that thing called pasta.  I digress.

Food is all about experimenting and making what works best for your unique tastes and situation.

Nevertheless, you can rest easy knowing no rules are being broken when you make this combination of tender chicken, olives, tomatoes, capers, peppers, and pappardelle that is chicken cacciatore pasta since you can remove the chicken before finishing your pasta in the delicious sauce.

Ingredients shown: pappardelle, chicken thighs, onion, olive oil, bell pepper, garlic, butter, capers, tomatoes, chicken stock, olives, white wine, tomato paste, and parsley.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Trim any excess fat from 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs, then dry them very well with paper towels and season on both sides with salt and pepper.  Slice 1 large onion and 1 large red bell pepper.  Mince 6 cloves of garlic and 1/4 cup of flat-leaf Italian parsley.  Rinse and chop 3/4 cup of black oil-cured pitted olives, and rinse 3 tablespoons of capers.  Cube 4 tablespoons of butter and set aside.  Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven to medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the chicken to the pan along with 1 tablespoon of butter and sear for 3-4 minutes per side or until well browned.  Note: the butter gets added after the oil is hot so that it doesn’t initially burn.
  2. Work in batches adding another tablespoon of butter for the next batch. Once the chicken is brown, remove and place on a plate and sprinkle with a touch more salt.

Chicken cacciatore pasta recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. Turn the heat to medium and add the remaining butter, peppers, and onions.  
  2. Saute for about 7-10 minutes or until soft, then add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add 3 ounces of tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  If the paste seems like it’s burning, add a splash of water to cool down the pan.
  4. Add 3/4 cup of dry white wine and 1 cup of low-sodium chicken stock and turn the heat up to high.  Bring the sauce to a boil and scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge the brown bits. 

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. Reduce the liquid by half then add 1 28-ounce can of hand crushed or blender pulsed plum tomatoes and give a gentle stir.
  2. Add the chicken back to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer.  Cook on a low simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender.  
  3. While the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook 1 pound of pappardelle until 1 minute less than al dente.  Taste test the sauce and season with salt, but keep in mind that you’ll be adding the salty olives and capers. When the pasta is almost finished, remove the chicken pieces to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  4. Add the olives and capers to the sauce and stir to combine.

Recipe process shot collage group number three.

  1. Add the past to the pan and toss or mix to coat.  If needed, add a splash of pasta water to loosen it up.  
  2. Cook the pasta until al dente, then remove the pan from the heat and taste test, adjusting salt and pepper as needed.  Add the parsley and plate the pasta with the chicken on top or on the side and serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.  Enjoy!

Large pan with chicken cacciatore pasta with tongs and board with basil and parsley.

Top tips

  • Chicken. We recommend using chicken thighs for this recipe since they’re more flavorful and tender, and are less likely to be overcooked.  They are great when gently braised to an internal temp of at least 185f. 
  • Olives. We love using oil-cured olives for this recipe, and our classic chicken cacciatore recipe.  They add great flavor but are also quite salty.  For this reason, be sure to rinse or soak well before using.
  • Salt. As mentioned, the olives are quite salty, as are the capers.  For this reason, be gentle when seasoning the sauce with salt, especially prior to adding the capers and olives.  Taste test and adjust as needed.
  • Serving. This pasta cacciatore is great with the chicken sliced and served on top, or with the thighs served on the side of the pasta.  Serve however you like!
  • Herbs. We used fresh parsley for the recipe, but also add a few fresh basil leaves to garnish at the very end.  Feel free to use both if you’d like.

Overhead shot of large pan with chicken cacciatore pasta.

More chicken and pasta recipes

Here are a few more of our favorite chicken and pasta recipes.  We hope you enjoy breaking the rules!

If you’ve enjoyed this chicken cacciatore pasta or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.

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Chicken Cacciatore Pasta

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Chicken cacciatore pasta combines tender braised chicken thighs with pappardelle pasta in a flavorful tomato, pepper, olive and caper sauce.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound pappardelle
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter cubed, divided
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 28 ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup black oil-cured olives rinsed, pitted and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers rinsed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley minced
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water will most likely not need any

Instructions 

  • Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven to medium-high heat with the olive oil. Dry chicken pieces very well with paper towels and season on all sides with salt and pepper.
  • Add the chicken to the pan with 1 tablespoon of butter and sear for 3-4 minutes per side or until well browned. Work in batches adding 1 tablespoon of butter for the new batch and do not crowd the chicken. Place seared chicken pieces on a plate and sprinkle with a touch more salt.
  • Turn the heat to medium and add the remaining butter, peppers, and onions. Saute until soft (about 7-10 minutes) then add in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
  • Next, add the tomato paste and a splash of water if it starts to burn. Cook the paste for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Next, add the white wine and chicken stock and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove all of the brown bits. Reduce the liquid by half then add in the plum tomatoes and return the chicken to the pan. Mix well and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Continue cooking at a low simmer until the chicken is very tender (about 30-40 minutes). Taste test the sauce and season with a bit of salt but not too much at this time since the salty capers and olives have yet to be added.
  • While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to boil (2 tablespoons salt per gallon of water) and cook the pappardelle until 1 minute less than al dente.
  • When the pasta is almost finished, remove the chicken pieces to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Add the capers and olives to the sauce and stir to combine.
  • Add the pasta to the pan. Toss or mix to coat and if needed add a splash of pasta water to loosen things up. Cook until just al dente then remove the pan from the heat. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper to taste and add the parsley.
  • Plate the pasta then serve with the chicken on top or on the side. Serve with grated parmesan. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Thighs are recommended since they are more flavorful than white meat and are great braised.  They can be cooked to a higher internal temperature than white meat (185f or higher) and remain tender.
  • The chicken can be sliced after searing or served on top of each plate or on the side for another meal.
  • Black oil-cured olives are very salty.  Rinse well before using them.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or the chicken cacciatore can be frozen for up to 3 months.  

Nutrition

Calories: 685kcal | Carbohydrates: 67.8g | Protein: 56.2g | Fat: 18.6g | Saturated Fat: 7.1g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 204mg | Potassium: 765mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10.9g | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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9 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Is this going to be ok if I omit the capers? I have a picky teen eating and I don’t think she is on board with that flavor.

    1. Tara says:

      Yes, you can omit the capers.

  2. Celeste says:

    5 stars
    Very delicious. My only complaint is that it didn’t make enough sauce for a whole pound of papardelle. Next time I will add more pasta water. Will definitely make again! Love your recipes!

  3. G. Ralph Kuntz, MD says:

    I know it’s not traditional, but I wonder if this recipe will work by adding a couple of cups of rice and some chicken broth instead of pasta. You could probably add it when you start braising the chicken and the rice should be tender enough at the end.

    1. James says:

      Hi Ralph, thanks for the comment. While you definitely can serve it with rice, this recipe is written for pasta and hasn’t been tested with rice so I can’t say for sure what the cooktime, etc would be.

  4. Emily says:

    5 stars
    Delicious! Turned out perfectly and we’ll be making it again.

    1. Jim says:

      Hi Emily, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed it!

  5. George Wain says:

    5 stars
    This is a fantastic recipe. The chicken came out fork tender. And the sauce has a wonderful flavor. It wakes up your whole mouth. I made it thinking to refrigerate it for another days dinner. However when my wife tasted it, she wanted it, now!!!

    1. Jim says:

      Hi George, thanks for the comment and so happy you and your wife enjoyed it!