This slow cooker chicken cacciatore is the classic family-favorite meal of your dreams, but made even easier in the crockpot! The chicken comes out super tender, and the veggie-packed tomato sauce is delicious served over a bed of pasta.
It’s super savory, saucy, tasty, and easy! I am a HUGE chicken cacciatore fan and this variation does not disappoint.
I love the veggie combo in cacciatore, and this recipe has lots of garlic and herb flavor with a tiny hit of spice from red pepper flakes. And as a bonus: the leftovers save really well!
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What is chicken cacciatore?
Chicken cacciatore is an Italian dish often prepared with chicken and a tomato-based sauce, usually served over pasta.
The word ‘cacciatore’ means ‘hunter’ in Italian. Dishes like chicken cacciatore (also sometimes made with rabbit) are made ‘hunter-style’, i.e. braised in a sauce with tomatoes, onions, vegetables, herbs, and sometimes wine.
This style of cooking was made popular during the Renaissance.
Here’s what you’ll need for this crockpot chicken cacciatore recipe:
- chicken thighs (I prefer chicken thighs here over chicken breasts, as they stay juicier with this method of slow cooking. Boneless, skinless chicken is easiest here, but if you can only find bone-in, skin-on, be sure to remove the skin prior to cooking and remove the bones after cooking.For bone-in meat, add 30 minutes of cook time if cooking on high. If using frozen chicken, make sure to thaw it fully in the refrigerator before cooking it in the crockpot.)
- canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- tomato paste
- chicken broth (Low-sodium is best, so you can control how much salt is added.)
- Italian seasoning
- fresh rosemary
- red pepper flakes (optional, depending if you like a little spice or not)
- red bell 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 skipping the stovetop method of thickening the sauce, this dish will be more of a stew, so in that case I’d recommend a shorter-cut pasta like penne or rigatoni.
How to Make Chicken Cacciatore in the Slow Cooker (Easy!)
This is a super easy chicken cacciatore recipe, thanks to the crockpot!
Start by placing canned tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, seasonings, rosemary, and garlic in your slow cooker. Stir to combine.
Next, add diced bell pepper, 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 3 to 4 hours or low for 7 to 8 hours.
When it’s done, the vegetables should be softened 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 somewhat thin.
You have two options at this point: either shred the chicken using two forks to make this a stew-like dish, or thicken the sauce on the stovetop (my preferred method, but it does require an extra step).
If using method 2, use tongs to remove the cooked chicken. Set it aside on a plate. Then, pour the sauce from the slow cooker into a large saucepan.
Cook it over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, until it thickens. (It should be about the same consistency as marinara sauce).
Then, serve the sauce with the chicken over a bed of pasta (if desired)!
What to Serve With Chicken Cacciatore
Aside from pasta (or in addition to), there are lots of delicious side dishes that would pair well with chicken cacciatore, such as:
- Kale Caesar Salad (vegan)
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Oven Roasted Zucchini and Squash
- Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Feta
- Lemony Quinoa Salad with Spinach
Once the chicken and sauce are fully cooled, store chicken cacciatore in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
I recommend storing any cooked pasta separately, otherwise the pasta might soak up moisture from the sauce and get soggy.
Can you freeze chicken cacciatore?
Yes! Place it in an airtight container (without the cooked pasta) and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, move the chicken cacciatore to the fridge one day before you’re planning to eat it.
Once it’s thawed, reheat it in the microwave for a couple minutes, or in the oven in a foil-covered baking dish at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes. Make sure the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
What type of chicken should I use?
Chicken thighs are my favorite cut of chicken to cook in the slow cooker, because they get super tender and don’t dry out over long cooking periods (like chicken breasts tend to).
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are ideal for this recipe because you don’t need the fat from the skin in a slow-cooked setting, and you won’t have to dig around a bone while eating your food.
But, if you can only find bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, that’s fine! Just remove/discard the skin and cook the same way, adding 30 minutes to the cooking time if cooking on high. The bone should be easy to remove after cooking.
You can also make this with chicken breasts, but the meat might get drier. (I would use 4 pieces rather than 6 since chicken breasts are larger).
I would also use the shredded chicken stew cooking method (see recipe card) if using chicken breasts, to reintroduce some moisture into the shredded chicken!
Is this cacciatore sauce spicy?
I wouldn’t say this sauce is very spicy, but the crushed red pepper flakes give it just enough heat (for me at least!). If you don’t like spice, feel free to reduce the amount to 1/4 teaspoon or just a pinch, or leave it out entirely.
You can always start by adding less red pepper flakes, then add more to taste when you’re simmering the sauce on the stove.
This slow cooker chicken cacciatore recipe is healthy comfort food at its finest. I hope you love it! (You’ll find the full recipe at the bottom of this post.)
More delicious chicken dishes to try:
- Crockpot Mexican Chicken
- Instant Pot Chicken Thighs with Maple Mustard Sauce
- Slow Cooker Chicken Drumsticks (Honey Mustard)
- Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken
- Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
- Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Thighs
- Honey Lemon Chicken (Slow Cooker)
- Mediterranean Chicken Thighs with Veggies (Sheet Pan)
- 1 15-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs* (about 1 1/2 - 2 lb)
- pasta, for serving
- chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Place the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, rosemary, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes in the bottom of a slow cooker insert. Stir to combine and create the sauce.
- Add the bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and chicken thighs to the slow cooker and toss to coat in the sauce.
- Turn the slow cooker on and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 7 to 8 hours, until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through and easy to shred with a fork.
- After cooking, the sauce should be fairly loose. 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 stove over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, until thickened to the consistency of marinara sauce. Remove from the heat and nestle the chicken thighs back into the sauce. Garnish with parsley and serve over pasta.
*I prefer chicken thighs in this recipe over chicken breasts, because they stay juicier with the slow cook method. Boneless, skinless chicken is best here, but if you can only find bone-in, skin-on, just remove the skin prior to cooking and remove the bones after cooking. For bone-in meat, add 30 minutes of cook time if cooking on high.
For choosing which pasta to use: If using the stovetop method at the end to thicken the sauce, you can serve it over any type of pasta (I love papperdelle). But if you're going with the other method (without thickening the sauce), I'd stir cooked pasta right into the stew and use a shorter cut like penne/farfalle/rigatoni/etc. to roughly match the size of the shredded chicken.
For storage: Let chicken and sauce cool fully. Store chicken cacciatore in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. (Keep cooked pasta separate).
To freeze, Place it in an airtight container (without pasta) and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, move the chicken cacciatore to the fridge one day before you're planning to eat it.
To reheat (once thawed), either microwave it for a couple minutes, or reheat in the oven in a foil-covered baking dish at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes. Make sure the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.