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Quick Chicken Cacciatore

This Quick Chicken Cacciatore has tender boneless chicken thighs in a flavorful homemade tomato sauce that’s full of onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic, herbs, and red wine. It’s so easy to make and ready in less than an hour!

Happy New Year, friends! After all of the big holiday cooking, I am ready for some quick and easy meals, and I’ll bet you are too. This chicken cacciatore recipe is the perfect place to start!

And not only is this a quick and easy chicken cacciatore, it’s also hearty, comforting, and absolutely delicious.

It makes a great weeknight dinner, Saturday or Sunday dinner, or even dinner for guests (heck, they might even think you spent all day in the kitchen…and your house will smell like an Italian restaurant!).

What is cacciatore?

Cacciatore (pronounced like catch-uh-tore-ee) means hunter in Italian.

In cooking, cacciatore typically refers to braised meat made “hunter-style” with ingredients like onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, herbs, and maybe even some wine.

Traditionally, this dish is made with bone-in chicken pieces that are slow-simmered in the sauce…and so it can take a bit longer to cook to get the chicken nice and tender.

But this easy chicken cacciatore recipe cuts down on the time. It’ll be ready to eat in about 45 minutes, yet you still get tender chicken and tons of flavor.

The secret? Boneless skinless chicken thighs! They’re tender, juicy, tasty, and very forgiving (relatively inexpensive too). It would take a lot to overcook them to the point of dryness, even after reheating leftovers. Win!

You can serve the thighs whole with the sauce, or you can chop them up into bite-sized pieces after cooking and stir them back into the sauce. Either way, I think it’s best served over pasta!

a piece of chicken being lifted out of the pan of quick chicken cacciatore with a wooden spoon

Ingredients you need:

Note: Exact amounts are in the recipe card below.

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Bell peppers (any color; I use green)
  • Fresh mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Red wine (I use Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Canned crushed tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano tomatoes)
  • Tomato paste
  • Basil (dried)
  • Oregano (dried)
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hot cooked pasta (for serving, optional)
  • Fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)

Here’s a look at how to make Quick Chicken Cacciatore:

Note: This is just a quick overview of the steps. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe with detailed instructions.

2 images; one of boneless skinless chicken thighs on a white plate with salt and pepper shakers on the side with text that says season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, both sides; the other of the chicken thighs being browned in a pan with text that says brown chicken in olive oil on both sides
2 images; one of the browned chicken thighs on a plate with tongs with text that says remove chicken from pan to a plate; the other of onions, peppers and mushrooms in the pan with text that says add olive oil, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and some salt and pepper to the pan
2 images; one of the onions, peppers and mushrooms being cooked in the pan with text that says sauté until the vegetables are softened; the other of a spoonful of garlic being added to the pan with text that says add garlic, sauté for another minute
2 images; one of red wine being poured into the pan with text that says add red wine; the other of the vegetables and wine cooking in the pan and being stirred with a wooden spoon with text that says deglaze the pan, simmer until wine is nearly evaporated
2 images; one of tomatoes, tomato paste, and herbs added to the pan with text that says add tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, and sugar; the other of the tomato and vegetable mixture being stirred together in the pan with a wooden spoon with text that says stir until well-combined
2 images; one of the browned chicken thighs added back to the pan with text that says add the chicken back to the pan; the other of the chicken in the pan covered with sauce with text that says cover the chicken with sauce
2 images; one of the pan on the stove covered with a lid with text that says cover, simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, adjust seasoning if needed; the other of a serving of chicken cacciatore in a bowl over spaghetti with a forkful of chicken being taken out with text that says enjoy, it's best served over pasta

Tips & Tidbits:

  • Yes, you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you’d prefer. They can dry out more easily, though, so be careful not to overcook them.
  • Use a dry red wine that you would drink (rather than cooking wine). The flavor is going to concentrate, so you want it to taste good. I usually go with my favorite inexpensive (less than $10) Cabernet Sauvignon, and I’ve also used Pinot Noir and Shiraz.
  • Not into cooking with wine? Use ½ cup of chicken or beef broth or stock. For even more flavor that’s kind of reminiscent of wine, add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in addition to the broth.
  • I prefer using San Marzano tomatoes because they tend to be sweeter and less acidic, but you can use any kind.
  • You can replace the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, and sugar with a 24-ounce jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • Like things spicy? Add some crushed red pepper flakes when you add the garlic.
  • It may seem like there’s too much sauce compared to the chicken thighs, but you will definitely want all that extra sauce for the pasta!
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • For longer storage, freeze in an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag for 2 to 3 months; thaw and reheat.
quick chicken cacciatore in a bowl over spaghetti with another bowl and two forks in the background

Like I said, I love this served over pasta – spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, bowties, corkscrews, egg noodles – any kind will do. And some parmesan cheese on top is always welcome.

You could also serve it over polenta, rice, quinoa, mashed potatoes, and even spaghetti squash or zoodles. Or maybe you’d rather enjoy it with nothing except for a crusty piece of bread to mop up all of that yummy sauce. Delish!

I hope you try this Quick Chicken Cacciatore recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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quick chicken cacciatore in a pan with a wooden spoon on the side

Quick Chicken Cacciatore

This Quick Chicken Cacciatore has tender boneless chicken thighs in a flavorful homemade tomato sauce that's full of onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic, herbs, and red wine. It's so easy to make and ready in less than an hour!
Print Recipe Rate/Comment Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 359
Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!

Ingredients

  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs, about 1¼ pounds total
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups chopped onions, about ½-inch pieces
  • 2 cups chopped green bell peppers, about ½-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons total)
  • ½ cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, I like to use San Marzano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, add more or less to taste (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • hot cooked pasta (any shape), for serving (optional), use 8 ounces dry pasta for 4 servings cooked
  • fresh chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • In a large deep skillet (I use an 11 or 12-inch skillet), heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot.
  • Add the chicken thighs and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.
    Note: The chicken will not be cooked through at this point (it will finish cooking in the sauce later); we are just looking for some nice color.
  • Remove the thighs from the pan to a plate; set aside.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan along with the onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and some salt and pepper; sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add the garlic; sauté, stirring constantly, for another minute.
  • Add the red wine to the pan; deglaze the pan by scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is nearly evaporated, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, and sugar (if using); stir until well-combined.
    Note: The amount of sugar you need, if any, will depend on the acidity of your canned tomatoes and your own personal tastes. I always start with a smaller amount (1 teaspoon) and add more later if needed. You can leave it out if you prefer.
  • Add the browned chicken back to the pan; cover the chicken with the sauce.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature of 165°F).
    Note: If you'll be serving this with pasta, I suggest cooking the pasta while the chicken simmers.
  • Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings (and sugar) if needed.
  • Serve over hot cooked pasta and top with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.
    Note: You can keep the thighs whole and give one to each person (this is what I do), or you can chop up the cooked thighs into bite-sized pieces and stir them back into the sauce.

Notes

  • It may seem like there’s too much sauce compared to the chicken thighs, but you will definitely want all that extra sauce for the pasta!
  • Not into cooking with wine? Use ½ cup of chicken or beef broth or stock. For even more flavor that’s kind of reminiscent of wine, add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in addition to the broth.
  • You can replace the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, and sugar with a 24-ounce jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • Like things spicy? Add some crushed red pepper flakes when you add the garlic.
  • You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you’d prefer. They can dry out more easily, though, so be careful not to overcook them.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • For longer storage, freeze in an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag for 2 to 3 months; thaw and reheat.
  • Estimated calories shown are for the chicken and sauce only and do not include pasta.
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