Chicken Cacciatore

The classic Italian stew (often called a Hunter's Stew), here made chicken thighs or drumsticks turned fall-off-the-bone in a rich tomato sauce laced with garlic, vegetables and a splash of wine, way more than the sum of its parts, all slow-cooked in a crockpot or in the oven or even on top of the stove, comfort food at its most comforting.

Chicken Cacciatore, a classic Italian stew ♥ Winter comfort food slow-cooked in a tomato-wine sauce.

Whole Food, Simply Prepared. Real Food, Fresh & Comforting. Budget Friendly. One-Pot Meal. Great for Meal Prep. Low Fat. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly. Rave Reviews.

  • "... man! was that good! ... a definite keeper." ~ Sally
  • "... it is wonderful. This is now my go-to recipe for chicken cacciatore." ~ Clara
  • "It was fall off the bone tender and delicious." ~ Annie

A collection of Garlic Recipes & Tips ♥ Recipes include nutrition info & Weight Watchers points.

Learning the Aroma of Garlic.

Here, we call this recipe “Kitchen Catch” for short whenever cooking up a big skillet of Chicken Cacciatore [pronounced catch–a–TOE–ree], a home-style Italian chicken stew.

My recipe is adapted from a favorite “little girl” dish made by my dear Auntie Karen on special occasions, including by personal request, on my birthday! I remember walking into her house anxious for the first whiffs of pungent onion and tomato and especially, luscious garlic.

Garlic is so common now-a-days, it's hard to imagine how glamorous and worldly garlic seemed to a teenager in the American Midwest during the 1970s!

No wonder I turned out to be a devoted home cook and dedicated foodie!

What's In Chicken Cacciatore? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. Usually I'm a big fan of substitutes, in this case, I recommend sticking with the recipe, it just works.

  • Chicken Thighs and drumsticks work so well here, they stay moist and tender during a long, slow cooking time. Avoid chicken breasts, they dry out too much.
  • The Vegetables Just everyday onion, red bell pepper, garlic and mushrooms, nothing fancy but full of so much umami.
  • The Tomato The tomato gravy is so delicious, don't forget something to soak it up, bread, rice, mashed potatoes. All the rich flavors start with both canned tomatoes and a can of tomato sauce. This is winter food, canned tomatoes are perfection.
  • Touches of Sweetness Red wine and a touch of sugar both deepen the tomato flavors and balance the tomato's acidity.
  • The Herbs The recipe leans on Italian seasoning, onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper.
Chicken Cacciatore, a classic Italian stew ♥ Winter comfort food slow-cooked in a tomato-wine sauce.

How to Make Chicken Cacciatore

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in three easy steps. You can do this!

  • BROWN THE CHICKEN Coat chicken thighs or legs with seasoned flour, then brown in a bit of oil. Set the chicken aside for the moment.
  • MAKE THE SAUCE Make the sauce in the same skillet, soaking up the fond (aka flavor!) that collects in the pan while browning the chicken.
  • SLOW COOK Nestle the browned chicken into the sauce, being sure to cover the tops of the chicken pieces with some sauce. Slow cook for several hours, either in an actual slow cooker, in the oven (my favorite) or even on top of the stove.
Chicken Cacciatore, a classic Italian stew ♥ Winter comfort food slow-cooked in a tomato-wine sauce.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their restaurant recipes for home kitchens. The most iluminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

Remove the Chicken Skins Before browning the chicken pieces, pulls off and discard their skins. Hang onto just one skin, let it sizzle in the skillet while browning the floured chicken pieces, so much flavor, much less chicken fat.

Heed the Specified Amount of Tomato The recipe specifies 24 ounces of canned tomato. Since current cans are usually 15 ounces or 28 ounces, it's tempting to just throw in two smaller cans (for 30 ounces total) or all the larger can (the whole 28 ounces). It's a stew, right? And stews are forgiving, right? Usually, that's the case. But here, even a few extra ounces throws off the balance of ingredients. I suppose you could scale up all the other ingredients, to retain the ratios. In fact, that's such a great idea, I'll try it next time and update the recipe!

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe homey Italian chicken stew inspires you, please do save and share! I'd be honored ...

Chicken Cacciatore, a classic Italian stew ♥ Winter comfort food slow-cooked in a tomato-wine sauce.


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 3 to 8 hours
8 servings
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste (be generous)
  • 8 chicken legs or thighs or a mix of both, skins removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, trimmed & quartered

  • 24 ounces canned diced tomatoes (see ALANNA's TIPS)
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • Browned Chicken

BROWN THE CHICKEN Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large shallow dish. Roll the chicken pieces in the flour until lightly coated. Heat a large Dutch oven or a large braising pan on medium high, add the olive oil, let it heat up until shimmery. Drop in the chicken pieces and lightly brown on all sides, turning once or twice, otherwise not moving in the pan so the pieces really brown without losing their flour coating. Set the chicken aside for a moment.

START THE SAUCE Add the onion, red pepper, garlic and mushroom to the pan and sauté just until beginning to soften. (If you'll cook the Cacciatore in a slow cooker, move the sautéed vegetables there now and continue combining everything there.) Stir in the remaining ingredients.

COMBINE Nestle the Browned Chicken into the sauce, use a spoon to cover the tops with sauce.

Now choose how to slow-cook the Cacciatore!

SLOW COOK IN THE OVEN (my favorite) Cover and cook in a 200F/100C oven for 2 - 3 hours (or even longer). To let the sauce thicken, uncover for the last 30 minutes or so.

~ or ~

SLOW COOK in a SLOW COOKER Let cook on low for 6 - 8 hours or on high for 3 - 4 hours. This works beautifully **when** it works but I have such miserable experience with unpredictable slow cookers, it's my least favorite method for cooking Chicken Cacciatore. Be assured, however, it's the state of slow cookers that's the problem (not the recipe) so if you love and trust your slow cooker and understand its in's and out's, go for it.

~ or ~

SLOW COOK ON THE STOVETOP Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 2 – 3 hours (or longer), stirring occasionally. Watch the temperature carefully, you don't want to burn the bottom. I have great success with this stovetop method on an electric stove, less so on high-BTU gas stoves which seem to always run hot.

TO SERVE Serve with mashed potatoes (maybe our family favorite Mashed Potatoes & Carrots?), rice or polenta to soak up the rich sauce.

ALANNA's TIPS If you’re feeding a crowd or want lots "planned over" to freeze, use an extra-large pot and just add up to double the meat, there’s already an abundance of sauce. Do choose chicken legs or thighs for Chicken Cacciatore, breasts are just too lean and dry for this dish. To save calories, I always pull the skins off the chicken legs or thighs before dusting them in flour. To keep the good flavor that comes from the chicken skin, though, I drop a single skin into the pot when browning the meat. This works with other chicken dishes too, try it! When browning the chicken, don't crowd the pieces, cook in batches if necessary. Kinda crazy, I know, but this detail really matters. The recipe calls for "24 ounces" of canned tomatoes, that's an odd amount since small cans are about 15 ounces and large cans about 30 ounces, it's something I work really hard to avoid when working on recipes. In this old recipe, however, I advise against just dumping in two small cans or one large can, it's just too much tomato. If anything, use one small can. Better yet, just buck up and use the full 24 ounces, this will mean figuring out how to use up a partial leftover can. Roasted peppers can substitute for tomatoes, just leave out the sugar, otherwise the stew will be too sweet. If the sauce hasn’t thickened when you’re ready to serve, stir in a few tablespoons of flour and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Leg with Sauce: 144 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 28mg Cholesterol; 454mg Sodium; 17g Carb; 3g Fiber; 8g Sugar; 11g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 3 & myWW green 4 & blue 3 & purple 3 & future WW points CALORIE COUNTERS 2/3 = 100-calorie serving (7g protein).

More Cold-Weather Chicken Stews

~ chicken recipes ~
Chicken Curry ♥, one-pot supper reminiscent of London's best take-away curries. Great with beef, too!

Chicken Cider Stew, another Quick Supper ♥, a colorful fall stew with sweet potatoes, carrots. Rave reviews. Weight Watchers friendly!

Moroccan Chicken ♥, a one-pot chicken stew simmered with eggplant and tomato in a sauce perfumed with Morrocan-style spices. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. High Protein.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ bell pepper recipes ~
~ mushroom recipes ~
~ chicken recipes ~
~ tomato recipes ~

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Mmmmmm! I *love* chicken catch. Aldi's sells big bags of frozen chicken thighs and I think this sounds like a perfect way to use them. Thanks Alanna! :)

  2. Anonymous1/28/2009

    I made your Chicken Catch to other day and man! was that good! I did make it in the crock pot and served it over fettucine. That recipe is a definite keeper. Except, next time, I'm going to use SKINLESS, boneless thighs or breasts. The skin was just.. know? But, anyway, thanks so much for the recipe.

  3. I made this last night for dinner, and it is wonderful. This is now my go to recipe for chicken cacciatore.

  4. Clara ~ That was my grandmother’s name, I do love it so! :-) And I’m so glad you love the cacciatore, “go to” is such a huge complement, thanks for letting me know!

  5. I chose your recipe for chicken cacciatore today. It was fall off the bone tender and delicious.

    I chose the slow oven cooking method. I could not find my oversized Corning baking dishes nor could the DHBob, finder of all things, so I had to go with a large metal handled Calphalon Teflon coated pan, it just fit.

    I had a package of 5 thighs I defrosted overnight then proceeded prepping at noon for the rest of this dish so we would have the dinner @ 3-4 PM. We eat early.

    I skipped the mushrooms, Bob is not a fan. I subbed onion flakes for powder, a red, yellow and orange pepper for the red pepper and canned tomatoes. I seared them in the olive oil before browning the chicken. I could have skipped the pepper skin charring as I forgot to put the lid on the dish in the oven and realized it in the first of the two 90 minute kitchen timer then put the lid on it for the remaining time. Total 180 minutes cooked as the timers do not do that much time at one felled swoop. Skipped the can of tomatoes in lieu of the added peppers as again he is not a fan but did use Ragu for the tomato sauce and a white zinfandel for the red wine as I never have a red on hand and aren't you supposed to use white with chicken? Options for the starch - was surprised to see no pasta so I went with rice assuming pasta would not be able to handle the excessive sauciness of this dish. No excessive sauce in my pot and that was probably due to the subbing of peppers for canned tomatoes and cooking sans a lid. I will make this again.

  6. Annie ~ Your cooking day, in a nutshell! Glad you liked the Cacciatore, I get all dreamy-eyed, just thinking about it. Leaving the lid off definitely cooks the sauce down, there’s a happy medium. Thanks for taking the time to write!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna