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Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

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The best family weeknight dinner idea of seasoned chicken thighs slow-cooked in a hearty herby tomato-based sauce. Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore is easy to make, and everyone loves it!

Chicken cacciatore in a black crockpot.


Chicken cacciatore is a classic Italian dish many people love for its combination of tender chicken, flavorful vegetables, and a rich tomato sauce. Making this delicious meal in a slow cooker simplifies the process and enhances the flavors as they meld together over a longer cooking period. 

This slow cooker recipe allows you to enjoy the mouthwatering flavors of chicken cacciatore without hovering over the stove for hours. Just gather a few essential ingredients, such as chicken pieces, red pepper, onions, mushrooms, and a flavorful tomato sauce, and let your slow cooker do all the work. The best part is you can customize the recipe to your preferences, making it a versatile option for impressing your friends and family.

Once you’ve prepared your ingredients and your slow cooker is filled with the delightful aroma of chicken cacciatore, you can enjoy a scrumptious, home-cooked meal that will transport you straight to Italy with every bite. Try serving it over pasta or with a crusty loaf of bread for a truly satisfying experience.

Why You’ll Love This Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

  • Easy to make. You can simply sear the chicken before placing all the ingredients into your slow cooker, letting it handle the rest of the cooking process. This easy recipe requires minimal effort, leaving you free to attend to other tasks while your dinner cooks.
  • Versatile. You can customize it to your preferences or if you have picky eaters in your home. Feel free to experiment with different spices and herbs to fine-tune the flavors to your liking. You can add more vegetables or swap out any that don’t suit your taste.
  • Ideal for batch cooking and leftovers. Because it’s a slow cooker meal, you can easily cook larger portions to enjoy throughout the week. The flavors meld together in the refrigerator, making the dish taste even better the next day.

Ingredients

  • Paprika
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Crushed tomatoes – You can also use tomato puree.
  • Red wine – You can substitute chicken stock with a dash or two of red wine vinegar.
  • Tomato paste
  • Bay leaves
  • Bone-in chicken thighs with or without skin – I like to use skin-on chicken thighs, but skinless chicken thighs are good, too. The chicken skin adds more flavor.
  • Pitted kalamata olives – Use black, green, or a mix of both.
  • Red onion
  • Capers
  • Red pepper
  • Cremini mushrooms
  • Fresh rosemary or thyme stalks (optional)
Ingredients to make slow cooker chicken cacciatore.

How to Make This Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

  • Step One: Mix the paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Then, dry rub the chicken with the seasonings. If you’re using chicken thighs with the skin on, pan-sear them over medium-high heat in a frying pan to form a golden-brown crust. Remember, you don’t need to cook the chicken all through at this stage, as they will continue to cook in the slow cooker.
Steps to make slow cooker chicken cacciatore.
  • Step Two: Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Transfer the seasoned chicken to the slow cooker, followed by the kalamata olives, red onion, capers, red pepper, mushrooms, and fresh herbs. Gently toss everything to combine.
  • Step Three: Cook the chicken cacciatore on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6 hours. This will ensure the chicken is perfectly cooked and the flavors meld beautifully together. 
Steps to make slow cooker chicken cacciatore.

Equipment Needed

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  • Slow Cooker: This versatile kitchen appliance perfectly cooks this dish, allowing the flavors to meld together while you go about your day.
  • Knife: You’ll need a sharp knife to chop and dice the vegetables and trim the chicken if necessary. A chef’s or Santoku knife will work perfectly for these tasks.
  • Cutting Board: A sturdy cutting board is essential for keeping your workspace clean and organized while prepping the ingredients for your chicken cacciatore.
  • Skillet: A non-stick or stainless steel skillet helps brown the chicken before adding it to the slow cooker. This step adds depth of flavor to the dish and helps create a delicious, golden-brown sear on the chicken.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: To accurately measure the liquid and dry ingredients, you’ll need a set of measuring cups and spoons. This ensures the proper ratio of ingredients for the perfect chicken cacciatore.

Serving Suggestions

When you make a delicious slow cooker chicken cacciatore, it’s essential to consider the right accompaniments to elevate your meal further. 

Pasta Pairings

The classic Italian dish pairs exceptionally well with a variety of pasta options. When choosing a pasta for your chicken cacciatore, consider the following types:

  • Spaghetti: This thin, long pasta is a classic choice for chicken cacciatore. It effortlessly twirls around your fork, making every bite fun and flavorful. Simply cook your spaghetti noodles according to the package instructions and enjoy with your chicken cacciatore!
  • Fettuccine: A wider and flatter pasta, fettuccine pairs well with the bold flavors of slow cooker chicken cacciatore. The noodles allow the rich sauce to cling to each strand, creating a delightful and cohesive dish.
  • Penne: If you prefer tube-shaped pasta, penne makes an excellent choice. Its ridges can hold on to the tasty sauce, and the hollow centers allow it to be filled with the deliciousness of the chicken cacciatore.

Remember to cook your pasta of choice al dente to maintain a slight bite, ideally complementing the tender chicken and flavorful sauce.

Rice Options

For those who would rather serve their slow cooker chicken cacciatore over rice, there are several tasty options to consider:

  • White rice: A simple choice, white rice offers a blank canvas that allows the flavors of the chicken cacciatore to shine. Its soft, fluffy texture pairs wonderfully with the robust sauce.
  • Brown rice: For a healthier and nuttier option, brown rice brings additional depth to your meal. Its chewy texture adds to the sauce’s richness, creating a delightful contrast.
  • Parmesan risotto: For a luxurious and indulgent choice, consider serving your chicken cacciatore atop a creamy, cheesy Parmesan risotto. This rich, velvety side dish will take your meal to the next level.

For a low-carb version, you can serve it with zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, or spaghetti squash.

I also like to serve it with either crusty bread or garlic bread, as it’s perfect for sopping up all that delicious sauce.

Chicken cacciatore in a slow cooker with a wooden spoon.

Storing and Reheating

Storing your slow cooker chicken cacciatore is a breeze! After enjoying this delicious meal, transfer any leftovers into an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh and tasty for up to 5 days.

When it’s time to reheat your chicken cacciatore, you have several options. If you’re in a hurry, the microwave is a quick and efficient method. Place your leftovers in a microwave-safe container, cover it with a lid or plastic wrap, and heat it on medium power for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.

If you’d rather reheat your chicken cacciatore on the stovetop, that’s also a great choice. Simply transfer the leftovers into a saucepan and warm them over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or scorching. You might want to add a splash of water or chicken broth if the sauce seems too thick.

For a more laid-back approach, you can even reheat your slow cooker chicken cacciatore in the slow cooker itself. Place the leftovers in the slow cooker, set it to the low or warm setting, and let the chicken cacciatore heat slowly for an hour or two. This method is perfect for enjoying a piping hot meal without fussing over the stove.

Can I Freeze?

Freezing your slow cooker chicken cacciatore is a great option for meal planning and having a delicious, easy-to-reheat dinner on hand. Here’s how you can prepare and store your chicken cacciatore for freezing.

First, let your slow cooker chicken cacciatore cool completely at room temperature. This will help preserve the dish’s quality and prevent the formation of ice crystals. Ensure you don’t leave it out for too long; moving on to the next step within an hour or two is best.

Next, portion your chicken cacciatore into freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty resealable plastic bags. Smaller portions will allow for quicker defrosting and reheating later on. Be sure to leave space at the top of the container or bag for expansion as the food freezes.

Before sealing the container or bag, remove as much air as possible. This helps to reduce the risk of freezer burn and maintain the quality of your dish. Label your containers or bags with the date and contents to know when it was prepared.

Your frozen slow cooker chicken cacciatore can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it, let the chicken cacciatore defrost in the refrigerator or reheat it directly from the freezer using the microwave, stovetop, or slow cooker.

Chicken cacciatore on a bed of noodles on a plate.

Recipe Variations

Spiciness Levels

To adjust the spiciness levels, you can experiment with different ingredients.  For those who enjoy their Chicken Cacciatore on the spicier side, add red pepper flakes or a diced jalapeño or serrano pepper. Just remember to start with small increments when adjusting the heat and taste along the way so you achieve the perfect level of spiciness for your palate.

Alternative Vegetables

The traditional Chicken Cacciatore recipe calls for bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms, but don’t be afraid to get creative with your vegetable choices. You can add variety and additional nutrients by incorporating other vegetables. Some ideas include:

  • Zucchini or summer squash: Slice and add them in the last hour of cooking to avoid overcooking.
  • Eggplant: Cut into cubes and add during the last hour of cooking, giving it enough time to soften and absorb the flavors.
  • Olives: Choose either green or black olives, pitted and sliced, for a tangy, briny kick. Add them in the last 30 minutes of cooking to preserve their taste and texture.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Chicken selection: This recipe can use chicken breasts or thighs. If you prefer a leaner option, choose skinless breasts or thighs, which can also help save time as there’s no need for browning. Just remember that both cuts of meat will yield different flavors and textures.
  • Chop ahead of time: To make your mornings less hectic, consider chopping all your vegetables the night before. That way, when it’s time to cook, you can easily add everything to the slow cooker without spending too much time in the kitchen.
  • Cooking time: Remember the general rule of thumb regarding slow cooker cooking times. Low and slow cooking for 6 hours can help to develop deeper flavors, while a quicker option of 3-4 hours on high can still deliver a delicious meal when you’re short on time.
  • Serving suggestion: Feel free to serve your chicken cacciatore over your favorite pasta, rice, or even mashed potatoes. Don’t forget to sprinkle it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese or chopped parsley for an extra touch of flavor.
Chicken cacciatore on a bed of noodles on a plate.

FAQs

Sometimes when cooking slow cooker chicken cacciatore, you might find the sauce too watery. Don’t worry; it’s easy to thicken the sauce to achieve the desired consistency. 

1. Let it simmer: One of the simplest ways to thicken the sauce is to remove the cooked chicken from the slow cooker and let the sauce continue to simmer with the lid off. This allows some of the liquid to evaporate, thereby thickening the sauce. The sauce may take up to an hour to reach your desired consistency, so be patient.

2. Cornstarch slurry: A classic method for thickening sauces is to use a cornstarch slurry. Combine equal parts cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl, mixing until smooth. Add the slurry to the slow cooker, stirring gently to incorporate. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remember that a little goes a long way, so start with a small amount and build up as needed.

3. Flour-based roux: Another option is to use a flour-based roux to thicken your sauce. Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add an equal amount of flour, whisking constantly to create a smooth paste. Cook the roux for a few minutes, then gradually add it to the slow cooker, stirring until fully combined. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens.

4. Reduce it on the stovetop: If you’re short on time, transfer the sauce from the slow cooker to a pot on the stovetop. Simmer the sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the desired consistency is reached.

Yes! You can opt for boneless chicken breast, boneless chicken thighs, or chicken legs.

A fork with chicken cacciatore.
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Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

The best family weeknight dinner idea of seasoned chicken thighs slow cooked in a hearty herby tomato-based sauce. So easy to make and everyone loves it!
4.41 from 5 votes
Print Recipe Save Recipe
slow cooker chicken cacciatore
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:4 hours
Total Time:4 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Mix together paprika, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Dry rub the chicken with the seasonings. If using thighs with the skin on, then you can pan sear the chicken over medium-high heat until a golden brown crust forms, but do not cook the chicken all the way through.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine and bay leaves into the slow cooker.
  • Transfer the chicken thighs to the slow cooker. Top with kalamata olives, red onion, capers, red pepper, mushrooms and fresh herbs. Gently toss to combine.
  • Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6 hours.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 417kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 26gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 731mgPotassium: 794mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1441IUVitamin C: 35mgCalcium: 75mgIron: 3mg
Servings: 6
Calories: 417kcal


2 Comments

    1. That’s a good question. We haven’t tested it ourselves, but I would start at an hour and check the temperature.
      I would probably bring it to a low simmer, and then transfer it to a 350 oven for an hour.

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