Chicken Cacciatore

There are so many “classic Italian dishes” that it can be hard to keep up. From piccata to marsala to scampi and beyond, it’s understandable if you can’t remember the exact makeup of every single one.

Vertical image of cooked poultry pieces in a vibrant tomato sauce with fresh herbs.

Unless, of course, you’re on a game show and the million-dollar question is which of the above is commonly made with capers.

But if what you’re after is an easy, one-pan, Italian-inspired meal that you probably already have all of the ingredients for on hand, chicken cacciatore is about to become your new BFF.

When I was first brainstorming to create my own version of this recipe, I knew there were several elements that were an absolute must. Traditionally, cacciatore is a hearty tomato-based braise of poultry, veggies, and wine, so you can count on all of the aforementioned ingredients making their way into the pot.

The Italian word cacciatore translates to “hunter” in English, while in the food world, “alla cacciatora” denotes a meal prepared “hunter-style.” That being said, we’re clearly not talking about some dainty little dish here.

Vertical top-down image of four pieces of cooked poultry in a red tomato and herb sauce in a cast iron skillet with a spoon.

We’re talking big bursts of tomatoey bubbles, thick pieces of succulent chicken, and extra napkins to protect our shirts. It’s rustic and rugged food.

So, with many variations out there including mushrooms, olives, and all kinds of herbs, how do you know what to choose to construct your cacciatore?

My secret is simple: I start with what I like.

When it comes to hunter-style Italian fare, there are countless recipes rolling around on the web for chicken cacciatore that claim to be the original. So we take what we know and go from there. First, the protein.

Since it’s burly hunters who originally chowed down on something akin to the cacciatore that we know and love today during the Renaissance period, they likely didn’t swing into Whole Foods to pick up a fresh, free-range chicken.

Vertical image of a white plate with a cooked poultry dish in a tomato and herb sauce next to a glass of white wine and green napkins.

Though it’s okay if you do. Rustic is what you make of it, using what you have available, whether that be freshly-nabbed protein and wild foraged mushrooms and herbs, or ingredients sourced for your favorite purveyors.

Theirs was likely centered around pheasant, rabbit, or other wild game. I was all out of pheasant, so I went with a more modern approach and used chicken. Dark meat is a bit more forgiving if it’s overcooked, so thighs are what I reach for when a recipe calls for chicken to be simmered in a sauce.

However, I’ve run into several picky eaters who strictly stick to white meat, and for that reason, including both means everyone invited to devour this dish will be happy. Opting for bone-in split breasts also gives you a little extra insurance that the meat won’t become dry.

Don’t get me wrong. I dig boneless skinless breasts, but they have a time and a place.

Typically, I adore the texture of mushrooms in a comforting stew-like meal, but I didn’t want to overcrowd the pan with more veggies in this case. If you have some on hand, feel free to add them. And if you like your meals on the salty side, throwing in some briny olives really does the trick.

Vertical image of a cast iron skillet with pieces of poultry in a tomato sauce with fresh herbs on top.

A riff on the classic mirepoix, to keep this recipe straightforward, an onion, garlic, and pepper party was just fine with me.

The red bell peppers not only add sweetness, which cuts the acidity of the tomatoes, but they magnify the crimson color of the sauce as well.

For me, cacciatore is the most foolproof choice when I’m scanning a massive Italian menu and just can’t make up my mind. You might find a similar stew on French menus as well, described as poulet chasseur (which again translates to “hunter’s chicken” in English).

When faced with a choice, my indecisive brain often bounces between something decadent with rich red sauce or something chicken-based that’s light and perfumed with wine. If this predicament sounds familiar, whether you’re dining out or concocting Italian classics in your very own kitchen, trust me when I say cacciatore offers the best of both worlds.

And what could be better when you’re on the hunt for the perfect dinner?

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Horizontal image of a white plate with large pieces of cooked poultry covered in tomato sauce with fresh herbs.

Chicken Cacciatore

  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Try a bite of this rustic, herby, tomato-infused chicken cacciatore and you’ll understand why it’s a stellar pick for any night of the week. Get the recipe.


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 split chicken breasts with bone and skin, halved crosswise (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, gently crushed 
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  1. Place the flour in a wide, shallow bowl or dish.
  2. Season the chicken pieces all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and the same amount of pepper. Dredge them in the flour and shake off any excess.
  3. Place a large heavy-bottomed cast iron pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Once it begins to shimmer, add the chicken pieces in batches skin side down and saute until golden-brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining oil. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute, stirring occasionally, until the veggies have softened, about 5 minutes. Season with the remaining salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes.
  5. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute more, stirring to coat the vegetables. 
  6. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes with their juices, oregano, and bay leaf. Stir to combine. Return the chicken pieces and their juices to the pan and nestle them into the sauce.
  8. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, reducing the heat to medium-low if needed. Simmer uncovered until the chicken is cooked through, for about 30 minutes.
  9. Transfer the chicken pieces to a platter. The sauce should be hearty and thick, but if it’s too thin, you can boil it for several minutes to thicken it up. Remove the bay leaf, pour the sauce over the top of the chicken, garnish with the parsley, and serve.
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Chicken
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: chicken, cacciatore

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to cut crosswise through the chicken breasts if this hasn’t been done already, rocking your knife back and forth if necessary, and slice through the bone. You could also use kitchen shears.

Horizontal image of raw poultry on a plate surrounded by other prepped ingredients.

Chop the onion, pepper, oregano, and parsley. Mince the garlic.

Thyme or rosemary can also be used as substitutes for the fresh herbs. All of these are interchangeable in classic cacciatore recipes, so use what you like! Just keep in mind that rosemary and fresh oregano tend to have the most powerful flavor, so you may want to use these more sparingly.

Gather the flour, thighs and breasts, tomato paste and canned whole tomatoes, white wine, and a dried bay leaf, as well as your salt, pepper, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. Measure out all of your ingredients.

I prefer the texture of whole peeled tomatoes, which you can gently break up with a spoon in the pan. But you can substitute canned crushed tomatoes if you prefer.

Step 2 – Sear the Chicken

Have one plate ready for the raw chicken once it’s been seasoned and floured, and another for the chicken after it’s been seared. Place the flour in a wide, shallow bowl or dish.

Horizontal image of dredging raw poultry pieces.

Season the poultry pieces all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and pepper, and then dredge them in the flour. Gently shake off any excess and place the chicken on one of the prepared plates.

Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to a large heavy-bottomed pan like a Dutch oven or a cast iron skillet, and place it over medium-high heat.

Horizontal image of searing raw poultry pieces in a cast iron skillet.

Once the oil begins to shimmer – but not smoke! – add the chicken to the pan. It’s best to work in batches so you don’t overcrowd your pan and lower the temperature of the oil too much.

Sear until a golden-brown crust develops, for about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pieces to the clean plate that you set out.

Step 3 – Saute the Aromatics

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining oil. The skin will have rendered some fat into the pan, which imparts even more flavor to the veggies.

Horizontal image of cooking aromatics in a cast iron skillet.

Many cacciatore recipes call for mushrooms, and if you want to add them, saute 1 cup of chopped mushrooms now. White button or cremini mushrooms make tasty additions that are easy to find at the grocery store, but wild foraged mushrooms would also be delicious if you have a source.

Saute the onion and bell pepper, stirring occasionally until the veggies have softened, for about 5 minutes. Season with the remaining salt and pepper, and the red pepper flakes.

Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring occasionally until it’s fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute more, stirring to coat the vegetables.

Step 4 – Deglaze the Pan and Simmer

Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the fond (another name for those tasty stuck-on brown bits) to release them from the bottom, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.

Horizontal image of cooking tomato sauce and aromatics in a cast iron skillet.

Add the canned tomatoes with their juices, along with the oregano and the bay leaf. Using the back of a spoon, gently crush the tomatoes to give them a head-start towards breaking down a bit, and stir to combine. Nestle the chicken pieces into the sauce, and add any juices that have collected on the plate to the pan.

Keeping the pan uncovered, bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and adjust the heat to medium-low as needed. Continue to simmer until the poultry is cooked through, for about 30 minutes.

Horizontal image of simmering pieces of poultry in a sauce in a cast iron skillet.

Dark meat typically takes longer to cook than white meat, but split chicken breasts tend to be very thick. The breasts may take 30 to 35 minutes to cook fully while the thighs may finish cooking in the sauce in just 20 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the thickest pieces reaches 160°F.

If the thighs are done first, you can set them aside and cover them loosely with foil if you like. But dark meat is very forgiving and stewing provides delectable results – it won’t dry out with a little extra cooking.

Step 5 – Garnish and Serve

Using tongs, transfer the chicken pieces to a platter. The sauce should be hearty and thick, but if it’s too thin, you can boil it for several minutes to reduce the liquid and thicken it up.

Horizontal top-down image of four pieces of cooked poultry in a red tomato and herb sauce in a cast iron skillet with a spoon.

You can also stir in a tablespoon of capers or about 1/4 cup of pitted olives at this point to add some briny flavor.

Remove the bay leaf, pour the sauce over the top of the chicken, and garnish with the parsley. Serve with your choice of polenta, rice, pasta, or crusty bread.

Sauce Swiping Strongly Encouraged

Many Italian dishes are served with some type of carb to make sure you inhale every last drop of sauce, and chicken cacciatore is no exception.

Horizontal image of a white plate with large pieces of cooked poultry covered in tomato sauce with fresh herbs.

Crunchy bread is an obvious choice, as well as pasta, which just screams cozy Italian bistro where the carpet’s cologne is redolent with garlic and onions. But I often turn to polenta to put under my cacciatore and I dare you to do the same.

If you skipped the mushrooms but decided you missed them in the end, this creamy polenta with baby bellas will make everything all better.

How will you serve up your hunter’s kitchen at home? Tell us about your special tricks and ingredients to make this dish your own in the comments below. And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it!

There’s no denying that this one-pan poultry bathed in tasty sauce is a weeknight champion. Maintain your status as hero of the kitchen every night of the week by trying these chicken recipes next:

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published June 2, 2014. Last updated on March 18, 2022.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation

About Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”

42 thoughts on “Chicken Cacciatore”

  1. I too haven’t tried this at a restaurant but have been curious. That’s cool that you gave it a try and produced great results! I’m sure the kid will enjoy tomatoes eventually. I used to be like that until I started trying them with various dishes and now they’re a staple!

  2. Spaceman,

    Thanks for the comment. You want to know a little secret? I can’t stand store bought tomatoes myself unless they are cooked. They’re like eating a slightly sour bit of card board. They grow them to ship well – not for tastes.

    Now homegrown tomatoes? That’s a different story. I’ll eat them all day long with a little salt and pepper (optionally with some cottage cheese).


  3. I drooled my way through reading this fabulous recipe! Chicken cacciatore is one of my husband’s favourite dishes, and I haven’t been able to get it quite right yet. This recipes sounds a bit different – the addition of the capers definitely makes it interesting – and I will have to try it. I’ve just invested in a heavy Le Creuset saute pan, so it will be ideal for cooking up this wonderful dish.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Im with you on staying in your comfort zone at restaurants! I always see things that sound nice but then I think what if there’s something in it that I dislike? Or if I don’t like it then I have just wasted my money! These are things I too need to overcome! And hopefully one day I will. This recipe sounds delightful! What do you think to maybe adding something to the chicken to give it a spicy kick? Do you think it could work with the other ingredients?

    • I’m the same way. I don’t go out all the time, so when I do, I want to be sure that I enjoy it. This is one I haven’t tried in a restaurant. Most often, I skip chicken dishes when dining out, since I make a lot of chicken at home. I’m all about the seafood when I go out.

      So, yeah, this would be a good recipe to try at home. I need something new to add to my list anyway. I’m kind of in a rut right now, and this looks beautiful. I’m glad it’s a tried and true recipe. I see a lot of recipes, but knowing that this many people like it, gives me more confidence.

  5. This is absolutely amazing, although many things are happening to me right now, am drooling and my stomach has these angry, sad, wishful growls, the presentation above is making my brain overwork itself hence the non-stop activity 🙂
    What a delight it’d be when i actually try this recipe out. 🙂

  6. Well you know what they say…..just put it in front of a man and he will eat it if it is remotely edible. Hehe. This looks like some seriously good chicken and other than spicing it up a little to add some seriously wanted heat, I can’t think of a thing i would do differently with this recipe.

    • You may be on to something there, taki! I’ve had some *major* failures in the kitchen over 19 years of marriage, and my husband has eaten every one without complaint. He says he’s just happy someone will cook for him, so he’s definitely going to eat whatever it is they make. It’s comforting. And it helps me be more adventurous for sure!

    • Oh, this does not apply at my house. My husband might try it, but he’s not going to finish it if he doesn’t like it. Some men might eat anything, but not all of them. I think I’d rather have him tell me (nicely of course) that he doesn’t care for something, rather than just humoring me. It’s also in his best interest, lest I keep making it thinking that he actually likes it. lol

  7. Something I always wanted to try. That really looks and sounds amazing. I have never tried capers so kudos to you son!! 🙂 I really like your blog and your recipes are great!

  8. I have been tried this at home, but it didn’t come through this manner. i think its yummy and the picture says more. ill try this tomorrow and get back.

  9. I have had this dish, chicken cacciatore, before when I was in college. But, it definitely did not look like your version. I love capers being incorporated into meat dishes.

  10. I am embarrassed to admit I have never even *tried* a caper. They look so much like something that humans should avoid eating to me. I really have no idea why I feel that way. Should I try to embrace the caper?

    Giada is amazing. I want to go live in her kitchen for a while and just listen to her say “mozzarella” repeatedly. And of course eat her delicious food.

    I’m going to print this out, despite its use of capers because I am able to admit my severe prejudice against them. Maybe I’ll make a new binder section: “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Caper”.

    I have read that it takes kids 7 tries to learn to like something. So, 6 more nights of tomato bunkers, and you’ll have a tomato-tolerant kid 😉

    • You should definitely try capers! I think they are very delicious. They have a unique flavor that can compliment many dishes (such as this one) well. Give it a try 🙂 I love them with chicken or on a bagel with smoked salmon.

    • I have never tried capers either … mainly because I’ve never even heard of them except on old BBC shows. I like your theory though on the 7 tries to get a kid to like a good. I will definitely be keeping this in mind.

  11. I love this blog so far. I believe I enjoy looking at pictures more than I like eating the food itself. I tried caoers once and I did not like them alone, but they compliment the dishes that call for them. I will definitely try this recipe. It is very aesthetically pleasing.

  12. I’ve never known exactly what chicken cacciatore was when I see it on a menu, and I always forget to investigate further. This gives me all the reason I need to make it and eat it as often as I can, haha. Yum!

  13. Its a delicious one-pot chicken dish. This is a simple dish for a weeknight family meal that I would wanna try. I wish that this would come out perfect! And I will definitely serve this comfort food with rice.

  14. Chicken cacciatore is a classic dish that I’ve actually never tried. I don’t know why because I love all of the ingredients, especially capers. I have put this on the menu for this week. 😀 It seems like a reasonably easy weeknight dinner choice!

  15. This looks relatively simple (and delicious) to make as a 19 year old. I know I may not be the target or expected demographic but I’m always looking for new recipes because I believe cooking is one of the greatest skills that every person should be exposed to.

    Living on my own shows the reality that you cannot eat out every night, it simply is not possible financially. While sometimes I do have to cut down and eat basic (Ramen and toast never gets old..) it’s nice to treat myself to something like this especially when I have friends over.

    Thanks again.

  16. I have been looking for a recipe for chicken cacciatore all week long, and this looks perfect! All of the recipes that I have found this week either called for a bunch of processed ingredients or was just too dang complicated. We are trying this for dinner tonight!

  17. What sort of magic did you use to get your two-year-old to eat capers? It HAD to be magic.

    Anyway, chicken is my favorite protein (always has been) and I’m always looking for new recipes to try with chicken. I’ll probably use all breasts instead of thighs because I prefer white meat but I’m going to try to keep everything else the same. I’ve already printed out the recipe and slipped it into my little recipe binder to try out on next Wednesday (yes, I plan all my meals that far in advance lol!)


  18. I’ve always been in love with all things chicken, yet I’ve never tried chicken cacciatore! The pictures themselves completely sold me on it though. I love capers too, so I’m so ready to try this at home! This would be great, especially with a marinara sauce spaghetti on the side… ahh I’m drooling. 😉

  19. Drat! I don’t know why I’m punishing myself by coming here! I’m gaining weight lately and the heavier I get, the more adenomyosis symptoms crop up. Thus, I’ve only been eating salads for dinner. Now, I’m literally hungry and salivating looking at the chicken cacciatore! Haha, TMI. But truly the dish looks so YUMMY!!!

  20. Very impressive. On the outside it almost looks like your ordinary chicken cordon bleu, but it’s actually quite more sophisticated than that. It’s a great looking dish and the addition of tomatoes in conjunction with the other spices plus the broth really brings out the flavor of the chicken.

  21. This dish is fantastic with spaghetti and or course some garlic bread on the side. It’s fairly cheap to make as well as being quick and easy.

  22. I have had chicken cacciatore in restaurants, as well as cooked by others, but have never attempted it myself. As you said, it looks fancy, so I assumed it was difficult to make. I like that your recipe calls for both light and dark meat, since many recipes don’t, and it doesn’t seem as if it takes long, either, so could be made on a regular weeknight.

  23. Another delicious chicken recipe. Just looking at the picture makes me terribly hungry. I am going to cook this one now while I am working. We can have it for supper tonight. We eat chicken most nights, so a new recipe always goes down well.

  24. This recipe looks so amazing that I can’t wait to try it. What I like about it is that you make it sound so simple. I’ve been trying to find a chicken cacciatore recipe that doesn’t seem like mission impossible and this is it for me. I think I will try this on the weekend because my mother-in-law is coming for lunch so I want to impress her. I’ll let you all know how it went!

    Now, just wondering if you have any suggestions for side dish?

  25. Lynne, you had me at chicken! I had never heard of this dish before, until today. It looks simple in the making, but with extraordinary results. Thanks for sharing such a culinary treat. I can’t wait to serve this dish for the family!

  26. I love this dish and always order it when I go out to eat. I’ve tried making it at home but it never comes out as good. I can’t wait to try this receive. Hopefully if I follow it step by step it will taste as good as when I order it.

  27. I have never ordered this at a restaurant as my hubby is Italian and keeps telling me homemade is much better try something new. I like to usually try things that I would not cook myself. I have tried a few different recipes and they have been ok, but I being a Giada fan myself think that I will be adding this recipe to my collection. I have guests over the weekend and was stressing about what to serve, now I know 🙂 Thank you

  28. I personally haven’t tried Chicken Cacciatore before, honestly speaking, because I had NO CLUE what it was when I saw it in restaurant menus, and I just didn’t want to waste my money on something I wasn’t going to like in the long run. Also, I never really got around to researching on it. Now that I know about all the tasty ingredients in this fabulous dish, it will definitely be the dish I order the next time I go out restaurant dining!

  29. Capers: the biggest cuisine debacle. I’ve only tried capers once through a do-it-yourself meal kit, and I wasn’t really keen on them. But for the sake of this dish, I’d be happy to try them again.

  30. Excellent recipe, it seems like many of us are similar about restaurants. My problem is always that if you are trying a new food at a restaurant, and you do not like it, is it because the restaurant did not make it correctly, or that you just don´t like the recipe. With chicken dishes, this is really important because chicken has such a light taste, any deviation by the chef can completely change the taste of a food.

    I really like your recipe, the addition of capers makes it a little more interesting. It also depends on your cooking style, but for my cooking which is probably heavy on oil, I make sure to place the chicken on paper towels during the middle stages.

  31. I love everything about this dish except the chicken thighs. I only ever use breast in my cacciatore – simply because I only eat or ever serve breast meat. It’s just a personal preference.

  32. This looks so yummy! I got some chicken in the fridge and did not know what to do with it till I saw this recipe. Usually, I cook it with fries but this will be much more tasty. Thanks for sharing.

  33. Well I definitely like the recipes that are more family oriented, and this one certainly fits into that category. On that note, I find it very fascinating that you have a two year old who loves capers. That is just not the flavor or texture of a food that you would think would appeal to kids that age, or that they would even be willing to try it. Maybe that means that the palette on that one is going to be top notch. Thanks for sharing, it looks delicious.

  34. Well, I think I have just enough wine to give this recipe a try. I don’t usually have white wine on hand. I’m just trying to decide what to serve with it. It will be a nice change of pace to my “usuals.” I make the same things a lot, since I know they eat that stuff.

    I think they will enjoy this though. What’s not to like? If not, I guess it’s more for me. Can I freeze it?


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