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Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore – a hearty, rustic, tomatoey Italian stew – is an easy family favourite that can be left to bubble away in the background until it’s time for dinner. 

It’s simple to prepare, is bursting with flavour and is like a little bit of Mediterranean sunshine on your plate, making this perfect as both a winter warmer or light summery dish.

Overhead view of slow cooker chicken cacciatore with basil leaves and white background.

If there is a way to make a humble slow cooker chicken recipe that’s a casserole-style meal the whole family will love, that’s also super easy but tastes a little bit special – this HAS to be it! 

In this delicious Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore we have chicken thighs braised in a tomato sauce with basil, oregano, olives, onions and mushroom, seared and then thrown together to cook long and slow for ultimate aromatic flavour.

It’s perfect served with pasta, rice or mashed potatoes, and is also gluten and dairy free, AND it freezes really well so you can batch cook it anytime for those time-poor days later. Winner!


Why you’ll love this Chicken Cacciatore recipe

⭐️ A more exotic tasting stew

⭐️ Simple ingredients but tastes special

⭐️ Easy prep and then slow cooks on its own


Side view of slow cooker chicken cacciatore with tomatoes and basil leaves.

What is Chicken Cacciatore?

There will always be a place in our hearts for a more traditional British Chicken Casserole, obviously. BUT how about a more summery, Mediterranean-style dinner for a midweek bowl of goodness?! 

This is where Chicken Cacciatore comes in – a dish that originates from Italy and involves using traditionally Italian flavours and ingredients, such as tomatoes, olives and herbs.

The word ‘cacciatore’ means ‘hunter’, so this is a kind-of gathering in a pot-type of meal (similar to the French Chicken Chasseur or Hunter’s Chicken.) 

How we came up with this recipe

This is my take on the dish – I wanted to create a simple, easy-to-prepare recipe for us to recreate during a typically frazzled week.

The slow cooker HAD to come in here. While we do sear the chicken to get that depth of flavour, the rest is then thrown in to cook on its own until serving. 

There’s also a way to make it without searing (see the tips below), and an oven and hob version too, so plenty of options if you’d rather scale back on effort. 

If it’s more summery chicken slow cooker recipes you’re after (less time near a hot oven/hob = win), you could also try my Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos, Honey Barbecue Pulled Chicken or Chicken and Chorizo Stew.


Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Ingredients Notes

  • Bone-in chicken thighs – You can also use skinless boneless thighs for a dump-style recipe but the depth of flavour of the chicken won’t be quite as good. If you use boneless chicken thighs you’ll probably only need about 750g rather than 900g of bone-in chicken thighs
  • Onions and garlic – You can use fresh or pre-chopped frozen for these if you prefer
  • Chopped tinned tomatoes – Good quality tomatoes are going to make a difference for this recipe. I use Cirio
  • Tomato purée – Again, try to get good quality if you can
  • Oregano – Dried is fine
  • Sundried tomato paste – It’s OK to leave this out if you don’t already have it in and don’t want to buy a whole tube just for this

How to make Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Browning chicken thighs in a black slow cooker for a recipe.

1. Brown your chicken first in a frying pan with hot oil (or in your slow cooker if it’s suitable for browning).

Overhead photo of ingredients for slow cooker chicken cacciatore recipe ingredients in a slow cooker. Onions, tomatoes, carrots, olives, mushrooms and dried herbs.

2. Add everything except the basil into the slow cooker.

Lid on crock pot slow cooker showing chicken thighs cooking.

3. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 4-6. 

Cooked chicken thigh lifted from a slow cooker chicken cacciatore, with basil leaf on top.

4. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with your chosen side dish.


Substitutions

  • Veggies – The thing I really like about this Chicken Cacciatore dish is that it’s so easy to mix up with whatever you have in the fridge or store cupboard and change it to your family tastes. Some recipes use bell peppers (mostly American versions of the recipe I’ve found) but I don’t as I’m not keen on them. Feel free to add them in if you prefer or regular peppers are good too
  • Red wine – If you fancy indulging yourself then you could marinate the chicken for a couple of hours beforehand in oregano and red wine. Before browning your chicken, pour off the marinade and then add it back in with the tomatoes etc

Leftovers

In the fridge You can keep this recipe in the fridge for 3 days. Reheat fully before serving.

In the freezer This Chicken Cacciatore freezes so well. When it is totally cold, I portion them up into these dishes, label and freeze them. You may need to add a splash of more liquid when it is defrosted as you’re reheating. 

Top tips

To make this Chicken Cacciatore in the oven

Firstly brown your chicken thighs (you may need to do this in several batches depending on the side of your pan), then set aside. Add some more oil to your pan if necessary and fry your chopped onions and garlic until slightly golden and softened.

Next, add in chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, sundried tomato paste (if using), mushrooms, olives, carrots and dried oregano.

Give it a good stir and add the chicken back in. Bring everything to the boil and then pop into a preheated oven for 1.5 hours.

To make this Chicken Cacciatore on the hob

You could also do a speedy version on the hob by cooking the chicken thighs in the oven for around 25 minutes while you bubble the sauce away on the hob. The flavour won’t be quite the same but it’ll still be delicious! 

What to serve with Chicken Cacciatore

I tend to serve my Chicken Cacciatore with rice (brown rice is good for texture), cous cous, mashed potatoes, pasta or even soft polenta. All of them work well.

FAQs

Do I really have to brown the chicken before cooking?

While I am always here for the shortcuts, I do think this dish benefits from a quick sear of the chicken, HOWEVER, it’s not a total deal breaker. 

You can just dump all of this in together (à la dump bag recipe-style), but the chicken may fall apart and shred and won’t be quite as strong in flavour.

It will still be delicious though, so if you really don’t have the time or inclination to brown the meat, go ahead and throw it all in. 

Can you recommend a good slow cooker?

The Morphy Richards Sear & Stew Slow Cooker is my all-time favourite because you can use it for initial browning on the hob, which this recipe benefits from, and it’s really light. 

For induction hobs, I recommend the Lakeland Digital 6.5l Slow Cooker instead.

Help! My sauce is too thin!

If your Chicken Cacciatore needs thickening, whisk a small amount of cornflour with some water (or a little of the sauce), and stir slowly in. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes or until it’s thickened up.

This is called a ‘slurry’. If you just sprinkle cornflour straight into the dish, it will form lumps that are almost impossible to get rid of. I promise this step is worth the extra dirty bowl!

Is Chicken Cacciatore healthy?

Chicken thighs are a little higher in fat, particularly if they have the skin on, to reduce this you could take the skin off, or use chicken breasts. Although I would say thighs are much nicer! Still, Chicken Cacciatore is a really healthy recipe, packed full of vegetables.

It’s also gluten and dairy free.

Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.

Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).

4.77 from 26 votes

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

This rich, flavour-filled and aromatic Chicken Cacciatore (a hearty, rustic Italian-style stew) is a perfect slow cooker recipe for a midweek dinner that the whole family will love.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 6 People

Ingredients 

  • 900g Chicken thighs, Bone in
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 200 g Onions, Peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 4 Cloves of garlic
  • 400 g Tinned tomatoes
  • 100 g Tomato paste or puree
  • 250 g Mushrooms, Chopped into medium chunks
  • 250 g Carrots, Peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 75 g Olives, Drained and chopped a little
  • 1 tbsp Dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp Sundried tomato paste, If you have it, don't worry if you'd prefer not to buy a whole tube
  • Salt and pepper
  • 30 g Fresh basil

Instructions 

  • Brown your chicken first in a frying pan with hot oil (or in your slow cooker if it’s suitable for browning).
  • Add everything except your basil into the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 4-6.
  • Garnish with fresh basil and serve with your chosen side dish.

Notes

Chicken: You can use skin on or off chicken thighs for this recipe. The skins can go a little soft in the slow cooker but they do keep the meat very tender.
You can also use bone in or bone out chicken thighs. Boneless are easier to eat, but I do think that bone in gives more flavour. If you use boneless you’ll probably only need about 750g rather than 900g of bone in chicken thighs.
Red wine: If you fancy indulging yourself then you could marinate the chicken for a couple of hours beforehand in oregano and red wine. Before browning your chicken, pour off the marinade and then add it back in with the tomatoes etc
To make this in the oven:
  1. Firstly brown your chicken thighs (you may need to do this in several batches depending on the side of your pan), then set aside. Add some more oil to your pan if necessary and fry your chopped onions and garlic until slightly golden and softened
  2. Next, add in chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, sundried tomato paste (if using), mushrooms, olives, carrots and dried oregano
  3. Give it a good stir and add the chicken back in. Bring everything to the boil and then pop into a preheated oven for 1.5 hours
To make this on the hob:
You could also do a speedy version on the hob by cooking the chicken thighs in the oven for around 25 minutes while you bubble the sauce away on the hob. The flavour won’t be quite the same but it’ll still be delicious!
Serving suggestions: Rice (brown rice is good for texture), cous cous, mashed potatoes, pasta or even soft polenta
To thicken the sauce: If your Chicken Cacciatore needs thickening, whisk a small amount of cornflour with some water (or a little of the sauce), and stir slowly in. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes or until it’s thickened up
This recipe is gluten and dairy free
 

Nutrition

Calories: 411kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 25gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 125mgSodium: 640mgPotassium: 979mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 7951IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 94mgIron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Family Food, Italian
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Sarah Rossi founder of TamingTwins.com and author of 'What's for Dinner?' books.

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2 Comments

  1. I just got my slow cooker and I am so amazed with what it can do as I try to multitask around the house. I can’t imagine how I managed to live without. Thank you for this recipe. I am so excited to try different dishes and this one would be my next.