This Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore is the classic family favorite of your dreams, but made even easier in the crockpot! The chicken turns out super tender and the veggie-filled tomato sauce is delicious on a bed of pasta.
It’s super savory, sassy, delicious and easy! I’m a HUGE chicken cacciatore fan and this variant doesn’t disappoint.
I love the vegetarian combo in it cacciatore, and this recipe has lots of garlic and herb flavor with a tiny hint of red pepper flake spice. And as a bonus: the leftovers are really easy to store!
What is chicken cacciatore?
Chicken cacciatore is an Italian dish often made with chicken and a tomato-based sauce, usually served over pasta.
The word “cacciatore” means “hunter” in Italian. Dishes such as chicken cacciatore (sometimes made with rabbit) are prepared hunter’s style, ie stewed in a sauce with tomatoes, onions, vegetables, herbs and sometimes wine.
This style of cooking became popular during the Renaissance.
Here’s what you need for this Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore recipe:
- chicken thighs (I prefer chicken thighs over chicken breasts here because this slow-cooking method keeps them juicier. Boneless, skinless chicken is easiest here, but if you find only bones with skin, be sure to remove the skin before cooking and remove bones after cooking.For bone-in meat, add 30 minutes cooking time if cooking on high.
- fire-roasted diced tomatoes from a can
- tomato paste
- chicken soup (Low sodium is best so you can control how much salt is added.)
- Italian spice
- fresh rosemary
- red pepper flakes (optional, depending on whether you like a little spice or not)
- Red pepper
- Onion (yellow or white)
- Cremini mushrooms
- pasta (optional, for serving)
- fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)
I love serving this with pappardelle pasta, but any type of pasta should work!
If you skip the cooking method to thicken the sauce, this dish will be more of a stew, so I’d recommend a shorter-cut pasta like penne or rigatoni in that case.
How to Make Chicken Cacciatore in the Slow Cooker (Easy!)
This is a super easy chicken cacciatore recipe, thanks to the crockpot!
Start by adding canned tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, spices, rosemary, and garlic to your slow cooker. Stir to combine.
Next add diced peppers, onion and mushrooms. Place chicken thighs on top. Stir to coat everything in the sauce.
Then set the slow cooker to cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
When done, the veggies should be tender and the chicken should be fully cooked and tender. (You can use a meat thermometer to make sure it reaches 165 degrees F.)
The sauce will be a little thin.
You have two options at this point: either shred the chicken with two forks to make it a stew-like dish, or thicken the sauce on the stovetop (my preferred method, but it requires an extra step).
If using Method 2, use tongs to remove the cooked chicken. Set aside on a plate. Then pour the sauce from the slow cooker into a large saucepan.
Cook over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes until thick. (It should be about the same consistency as marinara sauce).
Then serve the sauce with the chicken on a bed of pasta (if desired)!
What to serve with chicken cacciatore
Pasta aside (or in addition to), there are many delicious side dishes that would go well with chicken cacciatore, such as:
Once the chicken and sauce are completely cool, you can store chicken cacciatore in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
I recommend storing cooked pasta separately, otherwise the pasta could absorb moisture from the sauce and become mushy.
Can you freeze chicken cacciatore?
Yes! Place in an airtight container (without the cooked pasta) and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw the chicken cacciatore, place it in the fridge one day before eating.
Once thawed, reheat in the microwave for a few minutes or in the oven in a foil-covered casserole dish at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes. Make sure the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
What kind of chicken should I use?
Chicken thighs are my favorite cut of chicken to slow cook because they are super tender and don’t dry out over long cooking times (like chicken breasts do).
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are ideal for this recipe because you don’t need the fat of the skin in a slow-cooked environment and you don’t have to dig around a bone as you eat.
But if all you can find is bone-in skinless chicken thighs, that’s fine! Simply remove/discard the skin and cook in the same manner, adding 30 minutes to the cooking time if cooking on high. The bone should come off easily after cooking.
You can also do this with chicken breasts, but the meat might end up being drier. (I would use 4 rather than 6 since chicken breasts are larger).
I would also use the shredded chicken stew cooking method (see recipe card) when using chicken breasts to add some moisture back into the shredded chicken!
Is this cacciatore sauce spicy?
I wouldn’t say this sauce is very hot, but the crushed red pepper flakes give it just enough spiciness (at least for me!). If you don’t like spices, feel free to reduce the amount to 1/4 teaspoon or just a pinch, or omit it altogether.
You can always start by adding less red pepper flakes and then add more to taste as you simmer the sauce on the stovetop.
This slow cooker chicken cacciatore recipe is healthy comfort food at its finest. I hope you love it! (See the full recipe at the bottom of this post.)
More delicious chicken dishes to try:
1 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs* (about 1 1/2 – 2 lb)
noodles, to serve
chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- In the bottom of a slow cooker insert, place the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, rosemary, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and make the sauce.
- Place the peppers, onion, mushrooms and chicken thighs in the slow cooker and toss in the sauce.
- Turn on the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours, until vegetables are tender and chicken is tender and easy to shred with a fork.
- After cooking, the sauce should be fairly fluffy. You can shred the chicken with two forks and stir into the sauce to create a stew-like dish OR (my preferred method) use tongs to remove the chicken thighs and set aside on a plate. Pour the sauce into a large saucepan and cook on the stovetop over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, until thickened to the consistency of marinara sauce. Remove from the heat and place the chicken thighs back into the sauce. Garnish with parsley and serve over pasta.
*I prefer chicken thighs to chicken breasts in this recipe because they stay juicier the slow cook method. Boneless skinless chicken is best here, but if you can find only bones and skin, simply remove the skin before cooking and remove the bones after cooking. For bone-in meat, add 30 minutes of cooking time when cooking on high.
To choose which pasta to use: If you end up using the hot plate method to thicken the sauce, you can serve it over any type of pasta (I love papperdelle). But if you go the other method (without thickening the sauce) I would stir cooked pasta straight into the stew and use a shorter cut like penne/farfalle/rigatoni/etc. to roughly match the size of the shredded chicken.
For storage: Allow the chicken and sauce to cool completely. Store chicken cacciatore in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. (Store cooked pasta separately).
Freeze, Place in an airtight container (without pasta) and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw the chicken cacciatore, place it in the fridge one day before eating.
To warm up (after thawing) either microwave for a few minutes or reheat in the oven in a foil-covered casserole dish at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes. Make sure the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.