The Best Chicken Cacciatore of Your Life

Homemade Chicken Cacciatore is an Italian classic! Succulent chicken in a flavorful tomato sauce – Comfort food at its finest!

Serve on a bed of pasta or with a side of roasted potatoes for a delicious home-cooked meal.

a serving dish full of Chicken Cacciatore with a plate of spaghetti in the background.

Growing up with an Italian grandmother, this is one of those dishes I’ve been making for most of my life. This classic Italian favorite combines tender chicken thighs with a rich tomato-based sauce accented by aromatic herbs and vegetables. Whether you’re an experienced cook or just starting out, this recipe will guide you through the process step by step.

Why This Recipe Works

  • The combination of chicken, pancetta, and aromatic vegetables creates a richness that epitomizes Italian comfort food.
  • Slow braising the chicken gives the sauce a delicious richness and makes the chicken fall off the bone tender.
  • Mushrooms add an earthy profile that elevates the dish.

Ingredient Notes

all of the ingredients for this recipe laid out on a table.
  • Chicken: Skin-on fresh chicken thighs or legs are preferred for their rich flavor and tenderness. You can substitute them with chicken breasts if needed, though they may be less juicy.
  • Flour: Use all-purpose/plain flour. You can also use whole wheat flour as a substitute.
  • Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil provides the best flavor. Canola oil can be a substitute.
  • Pancetta: Adds a salty richness to the dish. It can often be found in the deli section of your grocery store. Bacon can be used as a substitute.
  • Vegetables: I use onions, carrots, and celery in my recipe, but if you prefer the more traditional addition of peppers, they can be added to the other vegetables if desired. They add a sweet or slightly spicy note depending on the variety used. Any color of bell pepper works well. 
  • Garlic: Use fresh garlic for the best flavor profile, but jarred or garlic powder can be a last-minute alternative.
  • Mushrooms: Brown mushrooms, such as cremini, baby bella, or chestnut mushrooms, all add an earthy flavor, but white mushrooms can also be used.
  • Herbs: This recipe calls for fresh parsley, dried oregano, and a bay leaf, but fresh basil, thyme, or rosemary can also be used.
  • Wine: We prefer a dry white wine like pinot grigio, but red wine can be an alternative if you prefer a richer sauce. You can use extra stock and a splash of vinegar for a nonalcoholic option.
  • Chicken Stock: Found in the soup aisle, vegetable stock can be used as a substitute.
  • Crushed Tomatoes: Adds texture and flavor to the sauce. Diced or chopped tomatoes can be used as a substitute, but tomato paste may be needed to thicken the sauce.

What Chicken Is Best

Raw chicken meat parts assortment on cutting board

It’s always best to use chicken on the bone for braising chicken. Chicken thighs or legs work best as they don’t dry out as much as breasts.

How To Use Chicken Breasts In Chicken Cacciatore

If breasts are your preference, I recommend brining the breasts (on the bone) for at least an hour first. This will help stop them from drying out during cooking.

Place the breasts in a large bowl with two quarts of cold water mixed with 1/3 cup kosher or sea salt (not table salt) to brine. Cover and put in the refrigerator for 1 to 8 hours. Just be sure to dry the chicken well and allow it to come to room temperature before cooking.

How To Make Chicken Cacciatore

Preparing The Chicken

Blot 6 to 8 chicken thighs with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then season with salt on both sides. This ensures the skin becomes crispy during frying.

slated chicken thighs in a plate.

Mix ½ cup (120 ml) all-purpose flour with salt and pepper, and coat the chicken in this mixture, shaking off the excess. The flour helps to create a golden crust and adds texture.

chicken thighs in flour on a white plate.

Once all the chicken is coated, set it aside until it’s needed.

Cook The Pancetta

In a large stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil and cook 4 oz (113 g) pancetta until golden brown. This step adds a salty, rich flavor to the dish.

The browned pancetta for the Chicken Cacciatore in a large stockpot.

Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove the pancetta and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.

Browning The Chicken

If needed, add the remaining olive oil to the pot. Brown the chicken thighs skin side down until golden (about 5-7 minutes). Flip and brown the other side for 1-2 minutes. In this step, you’re only browning the chicken. It will finish cooking in the sauce.

Don’t overcrowd the Pan – Brown the chicken in batches if necessary, ensuring that there is enough space between the pieces. Overcrowding the pan can lead to the release of excess moisture, causing steaming.

The seared chicken for Chicken Cacciatore in a stockpot.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain the excess fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pot.

Making The Sauce

Reduce heat to medium-low, and add 1 chopped medium yellow onion, 2 small carrots, and 2 ribs of celery. Cook until softened and starting to brown (about 5 minutes).

the onions, celery, and carrots cooking in the pot for Chicken Cacciatore.

If you like your Chicken Cacciatore with peppers, you can slice or chip them and cook them with the onions, celery, and carrots.

Increase heat to medium and add 1 lb/500g of sliced mushrooms.

the sliced mushrooms added to the pot with the onions, celery and carrots.

Cook the mushrooms for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 minced garlic cloves and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute).

Stir in 2 tablespoons (30g) chopped fresh Italian parsley and 2 teaspoons (10g) dried oregano. These ingredients bring aromatic and herbaceous notes to the dish.

Pour ½ cup (120 ml) white wine, increase the heat to high, and bring it to a boil. Make sure to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Continue to cook until the wine mostly evaporates, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Add ½ cup (120 ml) chicken stock, a 28 oz (800 g) can of crushed tomatoes, salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir to combine everything.

The sauce for Chicken Cacciatore in the stockpot.

Finishing The Dish

Place the pancetta back into the pot along with the bay leaf and nestle the chicken thighs and any accumulated juices into the sauce.

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 30-35 minutes. Make sure the chicken reaches a temperature of 165°F (71°C) to 170°F (76°C), indicating that it’s fully cooked.

The finished pot of Chicken Cacciatore ready to serve.

Just before serving, you may choose to remove the chicken skin. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Serve the Chicken Cacciatore over cooked pasta, rice, or with crusty bread.

Chicken Cacciatore on spaghetti with a glass of red wine in the background.

How To Make slow cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Follow the recipe through step 13, bring to a simmer, then transfer to a slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours, until chicken is cooked through. 

Storage & Freezing Instructions ❄

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To freeze, portion out servings in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.


What is cacciatore sauce made of?

Cacciatore sauce, used in dishes like Chicken Cacciatore, starts with tomatoes for a rich, tangy base. Aromatics like onions, garlic, and herbs infuse complexity, while mushrooms or peppers add depth. Simmered together, it complements proteins like chicken or rabbit.

What is a cacciatore in culinary terms?

In culinary terms, “cacciatore” signifies a dish prepared in the “hunter” style. Originating in Italy, where “cacciatore” means “hunter,” this approach involves ingredients hunters would use: meats, veggies, and herbs. Typically braised or stewed, cacciatore dishes yield rich, savory flavors. They often include a tomato-based sauce, aromatic veggies, herbs, and slow-cooked protein, creating a rustic, comforting meal.

What region is chicken cacciatore from?

Chicken Cacciatore, or “Pollo alla Cacciatora” in Italian, is a classic Italian dish from the central and southern regions. While no specific region solely claims it, it’s linked to places like Tuscany, Umbria, and Campania. “Cacciatore,” meaning “hunter,” mirrors its rustic roots—made with countryside ingredients. Its popularity spans the globe, becoming a beloved symbol of Italian-American and international cuisine.

a close up image of Chicken Cacciatore on spaghetti with a glass of red wine in the background.

Let’s Make
The Best Chicken Cacciatore of Your Life

Indulge in the richness of our Chicken Cacciatore recipe. Tender chicken, savory pancetta, and aromatic vegetables are simmered to perfection in a robust tomato sauce.

Prep25 minutes

Cook1 hour

Total1 hour 5 minutes

Prevent your screen from going dark


  • Blot the chicken thighs with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then season them with salt on both sides.

  • Place the flour on a large plate and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken thighs in the flour, shaking off excess. Set aside.

  • In a large stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook the pancetta until golden brown. Remove pancetta and set aside.

  • If needed, add the remaining olive oil to the pot. Brown the chicken thighs in batches, skin side down, until golden (5-7 minutes). Flip and brown the other side for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

  • Drain excess fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pot.

  • Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until softened and starting to brown (about 5 minutes).

  • Increase heat to medium and add mushrooms. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute).

  • Add chopped parsley and dried oregano, cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes.

  • Increase heat to high, pour in white wine, and boil while scraping browned bits from the bottom. Reduce until wine mostly evaporates (5-6 minutes).

  • Add chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

  • Return pancetta to the pot, along with the bay leaf. Nestle the chicken thighs and any accumulated juices into the sauce.

  • Reduce heat to low, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30-35 minutes until chicken is cooked through and reaches 165°F (71°C) to 170°F (76°C).

  • Just before serving, remove the chicken skin if desired. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 526 (26%)| Carbohydrates: 27g (9%)| Protein: 28g (56%)| Fat: 32g (49%)| Saturated Fat: 8g (50%)| Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g| Monounsaturated Fat: 15g| Trans Fat: 0.1g| Cholesterol: 124mg (41%)| Sodium: 448mg (19%)| Potassium: 1106mg (32%)| Fiber: 5g (21%)| Sugar: 10g (11%)| Vitamin A: 3962IU (79%)| Vitamin C: 19mg (23%)| Calcium: 95mg (10%)| Iron: 4mg (22%)

Nutritional Data Disclaimer


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here