Chicken cacciatore is a rustic Italian chicken dish.  Literally translating to “hunter’s chicken”, there are hundreds of versions of this recipe.  At its core, cacciatore is almost always made with chicken parts, tomatoes, garlic, and onions.  Many other ingredients can be added and we use a few that are simply outstanding!

Overhead shot of chicken cacciatore in a cast iron pan.


 

It all comes down to technique with this recipe. 

The chicken must be seared well and then braised slowly, but not completely submerged.  Put the Instant Pot away for this one.

Don’t worry about learning how to make this chicken cacciatore. 

We have detailed process shot instructions below.  If you’re a more experienced cook, just hop right on down to the recipe card.

Ingredients shown on cutting board: garlic, onions, bell peppers, celery, olives, parsley.

You will need garlic, onions, bell pepper, celery, olives (I love oil-cured black olives for this recipe and my kids enthusiastically approved too!), and parsley.

If you’re an olive lover be sure to check out our pasta puttanesca and this pan-seared swordfish recipe which are both loaded with olives.

Ingredients on cutting board: chicken pieces, chicken stock, canned plum tomatoes, and white wine.

You will also need chicken pieces ( thighs and legs have more flavor, but use any type you like), chicken stock, plum tomatoes, tomato paste, and white wine.

How to make it

Each numbered pic corresponds to the numbered written instructions below.

  1. Begin by chopping 1 rib of celery.  No need to chop it finely.
  2. Slice 2 peppers into strips.  Also, slice 2 medium onions and rough chop 6 cloves of garlic.
Chicken cacciatore recipe process shot collage instructions group number one.
  1. Lay the chicken pieces out and dry them really well.
  2. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper on all sides.
  3. Heat a large cast-iron pan to medium-high heat.  Let it get hot (about 5 minutes), then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.  Sear the chicken pieces in the pan, but do not crowd.
  4. Working in batches, sear the chicken pieces for 3-4 minutes per side.  As the chicken finishes, place seared pieces in a plate off to the side.  Sprinkle a bit more salt onto the hot pieces as they come out of the pan.  Well-salted chicken is much more flavorful and when the crispy skin is hot, it’s the perfect time to add a bit more salt.
Chicken cacciatore recipe process shot collage instructions group number two.
  1. When all the chicken has finished searing, turn heat to medium, add in the peppers, onions, and celery and saute until soft for about 7-10 minutes.  If the pan is too dry add a touch more olive oil, but it shouldn’t be as it will have the chicken drippings in it.
  2. Add in the garlic and continue to cook for 2 more minutes.
  3. When the veggies are nice and soft, add in 3/4 cup of white wine.
  4. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge all flavor bits.
Recipe process shot collage group number three.
  1. Add in 3 ounces of tomato paste, a 1/2 cup of low sodium chicken stock, and all the hand crushed or blender pulsed plum tomatoes.
  2. Give the sauce a stir and let it all simmer for a couple of minutes.  Add the chicken pieces into the sauce.  Arrange them with the crispiest skin sides facing up.  Turn the heat to low and let the chicken cacciatore simmer for 60 minutes, covered, with the lid slightly ajar.
  3. When the chicken has finished cooking, sprinkle with a 1/4 cup of parsley and a cup of pitted and chopped green and black olives.  If using black oil-cured olives, make sure to rinse them to remove some of their salt.
Chicken cacciatore in pan with metal tongs.

Chicken Cacciatore is best served in the pan with a big loaf of crusty Italian bread.  Our no knead focaccia recipe would also be perfect. 

Alternatively, the sauce can be used for about a half-pound of pasta.

What to serve with chicken cacciatore

This is truly a hearty one-pan dish.  Light sides such as a green salad with a simple vinaigrette are all that’s needed.  With that said these sides all go well with chicken cacciatore.

Substitutions and additions

  • Mushrooms – A great way to add some more easy flavor to this dish.  A half-pound is a good amount.
  • Capers – A strong flavor, so go lightly, especially if using all the olives.
  • Carrots – Another great veggie to add.
  • Spinach – Fresh baby spinach added right at the end gives the hearty cacciatore a light touch and a great color.
  • Vinegar – Can be substituted for the wine or used together.  It will give a nice tangy flavor similar to the sauce from chicken scarpariello.  A 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar is a good amount.
  • Cherry peppers – These little flavor bombs add a great taste to this dish.  Use about 4 peppers cut into small pieces.

Top tips

  • Dark meat chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks) are recommended.  They are more tender, juicy, and flavorful than white meat.
  • Searing the chicken until crispy is a crucial step.
  • Salting the chicken before and after searing is recommended.
  • If the sauce is too thin after an hour of cooking, remove chicken, and cook the sauce uncovered over medium heat for 10 minutes more to thicken.
  • Black oil-cured olives are very salty.  Rinse well before using them.
  • Red wine can be substituted for white.
Chicken Cacciatore in cast iron pan on white marble table.

More chicken recipes

  • Chicken Milanese – classic Italian chicken cutlets fried in seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • Chicken Agrodolce – chicken thighs with eggplant, zucchini, and olives in a sweet and sour sauce.
  • Chicken Fricassee – chicken braised in a white wine cream sauce with carrots, onion, celery, and mushrooms.
  • Italian baked chicken and potatoes – full chicken cut into pieces and seasoned with oregano, onions, garlic, parmesan cheese, and plenty of olive oil, then roasted to perfection. 
  • Chicken Scarpariello – chicken pieces with sausage, potatoes, and cherry peppers braised in a tangy white wine and vinegar sauce.
  • Chicken Sorrentino – thin chicken cutlets pan-seared then baked with eggplant, prosciutto, and fontina cheese in a simple Marsala tomato sauce.
  • Chicken Valdostana – thin chicken cutlets topped with fontina cheese, prosciutto, and mushrooms in a white wine sauce.

If you’ve enjoyed this chicken cacciatore recipe or any recipe on this site, we want to know so tell us in the comments below. We would love to hear how you did and it’s nice to show others as well. Thanks!

Watch the video below where Jim will show you how to make this recipe with easy-to-follow instructions.

Some people learn by watching. If you’re that type of person, you can find most of our recipes on YouTube and our Facebook page.

Chicken Cacciatore

5 from 16 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Chicken cacciatore recipe made with seared chicken pieces braised in a super hearty and rustic tomato sauce.

Ingredients 

  • 4 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions sliced
  • 1 celery rib chopped
  • 2 bell peppers sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup green olives pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup black oil-cured olives rinsed, pitted and chopped
  • 28 ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock or homemade chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Heat a large cast-iron pan or dutch oven to medium-high heat. Dry chicken pieces well with paper towels and season on all sides with salt and pepper.
  • To the pan, add the olive oil and sear chicken pieces for 3-4 minutes per side. Work in batches and do not crowd the chicken. Place seared chicken pieces on a plate and sprinkle with salt.
  • When finished with the chicken searing step, turn heat to medium and saute the peppers, onions, and celery until soft (about 7-10 minutes). Add in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
  • Next, add the white wine and scrape all the flavor bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine cook out for 2 minutes then add in the tomato paste, chicken stock, and plum tomatoes.
  • Stir the sauce together and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Arrange all the chicken pieces in the pan with the crispiest sides facing upwards. Turn heat to low and simmer covered with the lid slightly cracked open. Cook for 60 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
  • To finish add the chopped parsley and sprinkle the olives on top. Give it all a stir and serve with crusty bread. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Dark meat chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks) are recommended.  They are more tender, juicy and flavorful than white meat.
  • Searing the chicken until crispy is a crucial step. 
  • Salting the chicken before and after searing is recommended.
  • If the sauce is too thin after an hour of cooking, remove chicken, and cook the sauce uncovered over medium heat for 10 minutes more to thicken.
  • Black oil cured olives are very salty.  Rinse well before using them.
  • Red wine can be substituted.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or the chicken cacciatore can be frozen for up to 3 months.  

Nutrition

Calories: 766kcal | Carbohydrates: 18.1g | Protein: 90.7g | Fat: 33.7g | Saturated Fat: 7.7g | Cholesterol: 269mg | Sodium: 1266mg | Potassium: 1308mg | Fiber: 4.1g | Sugar: 10.8g | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 6mg

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

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36 Comments

  1. Could this be finished in the oven rather than the stove, and if so, what temperature do you recommend? I hate fiddling with trying to keep a simmer going on the stove.

    1. Hi Linda, see the Substitutions and Additions section where Jim mentions you can use vinegar in place of the wine. Thanks for the comment and glad you’re enjoying the recipes!

  2. Hi Jim,
    Made this for dinner tonight & like all your recipes, this knocked it out the park. My husband can’t stop talking about it. Since he is a fellow Long Islander, I like to make a lot of your recipes.
    Keep them coming.
    Denise

  3. 5 stars
    Hey, James. Former LI boy here from Patchogue. I enjoy your channel and love all the NY classics I grew up with and my Italian girlfriend’s mothers made! This version of Hunter’s Chicken is on point. Obviously, hunters out in the woods would throw in anything they had hence all the variations in recipes for this one. The capers are an interesting touch tho’ not sure I have seen that before! Continua a cucinare!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this yesterday, and it was great. I had to use crushed tomatoes, because that is what I had on hand. I also added 1 carrot and mushrooms. I should have added capers, but I just didn’t think of it. Overall, this dish was excellent.

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe turned out great. A definite 5-star. Better than other recipes I have used for Chicken Cacciatore. I like the additions of celery and capers; that really enhanced it. I always add mushrooms when I came ChxC. But this time I quartered the mushrooms instead of slicing them (as I have seen you do with other recipes) and that seems to work better. I always scale your recipes down to 1 or 2 servings and that works very well. Thanks. You mentioned pepper flakes….I always add them early in the process so the seeds’ essential oils can permeate the olive oil. Am I doing that wrong? It seems to me that adding them at the end of a recipe defeats their purpose of providing extra heat.

    1. Hi there, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed! I usually add the crushed red pepper flakes around the same time as the garlic and cook it in the oil for about 30 seconds. Then I’ll often add more at the end if I want a little more heat. Hope that helps!

  6. 5 stars
    I made this last night. We loved it and will definitely make it again. I normally would have served it with pasta, but the suggestion of crusty bread led me to making a garlic bread that I melted low-moisture mozzarella onto and it was perfect. I just saw the suggestion for making it crispier in the oven by baking/roasting and may try that next time.

  7. 5 stars
    Jim, I love this recipe, especially the addition of the olives. Your cooking is always spot on and yet you’re so relaxed. I was happy you mentioned in a reply about baking it because my cast iron skillet couldn’t hold it all. I noticed at the end of the video you had the dish in long casserole. Thanks for giving the baking option!

    1. Hi Bev, thanks so much for the comment. I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe – the olives really are game changers!