Chicken cacciatore, a rustic and comforting dish, is a testament to the simplicity and richness of Italian cooking. This dish, with its tender chicken thighs, is simmered in a robust tomato sauce, infused with Italian herbs, garlic, and a blend of bell peppers and mushrooms. It’s a meal that fills the kitchen with heartwarming aromas, making it perfect for family gatherings or a cozy dinner. The addition of a splash of cooking wine elevates the flavors, while a touch of heavy cream adds a luxurious texture. Its ease of preparation and one-skillet cooking method make it an ideal choice for busy moms who want to serve a delicious and satisfying meal without spending hours in the kitchen.

Why You’ll Love Chicken Cacciatore

  • One-Pot Wonder: All cooking is in just one skillet, making clean up a breeze.
  • Easily Customizable: Minor substitutions make this easy to adapt for gluten-free and dairy-free diets.
  • Nutritious: Packed with vegetables like bell peppers and mushrooms, contributing to a well-balanced meal.
  • Make-Ahead Magic: Tastes even better the next day, great for meal prep or busy weeknights.
Bird's eye view of Chicken Cacciatore in a cast-iron skillet.

Ingredient Breakdown & Substitutions

Discovering the perfect balance of ingredients is key to mastering chicken cacciatore. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each component, along with versatile substitutions, ensuring you can tailor the dish to your taste and dietary needs.

  • Chicken Thighs: Ideal for their juiciness and flavor. Substitute with chicken breasts or drumsticks if preferred.
  • Bell Peppers: Adds sweetness and color. Feel free to use any color bell pepper.
  • Mushrooms: For earthiness. Portobello or cremini mushrooms are great options, but feel free to use your favorite mushroom variety.
  • Tomato Sauce & Paste: This forms the base of the cacciatore’s sauce, contributing to its rich and smooth texture. If you need to omit the tomato paste, increase the tomato sauce to 12 ounces to maintain the sauce’s depth and richness.
  • Italian Seasoning: A key flavor component. Make your own blend with basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.
  • Flour: Can be substituted with a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour blend if needed.
  • Butter: Can be substituted with extra olive oil or a plant-based butter substitute.
  • Heavy Cream: Adds richness, but can be substituted with half and half, a plant-based alternative, or omitted for a lighter sauce.

Using substitutions may affect final taste and texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

Absolutely, chicken cacciatore tastes even better the next day as the flavors meld together.

How can I make this recipe more kid-friendly?

To make this dish more appealing to children, consider cutting the chicken into smaller pieces and reducing the amount of red pepper flakes to lower the spice level.

Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?

Technically, yes. You could make this with any cut of chicken. However, the cut of meat you use will determine how flavorful the sauce turns out and how juicy your chicken is. We recommend dark meat over white meat for the best flavor and maximum juiciness.

Is there a substitute for wine?

Using wine goes back to the traditional way this dish was made, and it provides the best flavor. Different regions of Italy were known for preparing cacciatore with both white and red wine. We are partial to red wine in this recipe. However, you can always replace the wine with chicken broth in its place.

Serving Suggestions

Chicken cacciatore pairs beautifully with pasta, rice, or crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce. It’s a versatile dish that fits well in a casual family dinner or as a comforting meal for special occasions. A light salad or veggies make great side dishes to balance the hearty flavors.


  • Sauce Too Thin: Simmer for a few extra minutes to reduce, or add a small amount of tomato paste.
  • Chicken Not Fully Cooked: Ensure chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If needed, simmer longer in the sauce.
  • Flavors Too Mild: Adjust seasoning with extra salt, pepper, or Italian seasoning.

Tips From the Chef

  • Brown the chicken well to enhance its flavor and add depth to the sauce.
  • Use high-quality canned tomatoes for a consistent and rich flavor in the sauce.
  • Cook the vegetables until just softened to avoid mushiness.
  • Let the dish simmer gently to meld and intensify the flavors.
  • Add a Parmesan rind to the sauce while it simmers to impart an additional layer of savory depth (remove the rind before serving).
Close up of Chicken cacciatore in skillet

Storage & Reheating Instructions

Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container as soon as they’ve cooled down to room temperature. Properly stored, chicken cacciatore will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  • Allow the chicken cacciatore to cool completely before freezing. This prevents ice crystals from forming and affecting the texture.
  • Portion the dish into freezer-safe containers or zip-top bags. This makes it easier to thaw only what you need later.
  • Label each container with the date. Chicken cacciatore can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • To prevent freezer burn, remove as much air as possible from zip-top bags.


  • Thaw frozen chicken cacciatore in the refrigerator overnight. Avoid thawing at room temperature as it can lead to bacterial growth.
  • For quicker thawing, you can use the microwave’s defrost setting, but be sure to reheat and consume it immediately after.


  • Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the dish is heated through, about 10-15 minutes.
  • If using a microwave, cover the dish and reheat on a medium setting to avoid drying out the chicken. Stir periodically to ensure even heating.
  • Ensure that the chicken cacciatore reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before serving. This is especially important when reheating from frozen.

By following these storage, freezing, and reheating instructions, you can ensure that your chicken cacciatore remains as delicious and safe to eat as when it was first made.

More Amazing Chicken Recipes

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.