Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

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It’s a comforting classic made super easy in your slow cooker. This Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore is a delicious, no-fuss dinner perfect when you need a super hearty meal with a lot of fuss.

If there is an ingredient you don’t care for: peppers, capers, olives, they could be omitted, but I love the flavor they add.

Got picky eaters? Me too. Serve them some pasta tossed with the sauce, some cut-up chicken pieces, and all mushrooms and olives carefully removed 😉.

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

So much flavor, so little work. You will love coming home to this warm and cozy, super-filling dinner.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Serving Size 6

Ingredients 

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • coarse ground pepper
  • 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
  • 8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
  • ½ large onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 15 ounce
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes 14 ounce
  • ½ medium carrot finely grated
  • ¾ teaspoon thyme dried
  • ½ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon base
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • ½ cup chopped roasted red peppers
  • 1 tablespoon capers drained
  • 6 Kalamata olives optioal

For Serving

  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles or other pasta rice, polenta or zucchini noodles are options as well.
  • grated parmesan
  • chopped fresh parsley

Instructions 

  • Cook chicken. In a 12-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat. While oil heats, season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Sear chicken, cooking on each side for 2-3 minutes. Set aside on a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.
    A skillet containing seasoned chicken thighs that have been browned on both sides.
  • Saute mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add an additional tablespoon or more of oil if needed and add mushrooms to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes until browned and set aside on a plate & refrigerate when cool.
    A skillet on a blue cloth showing sautéed sliced white mushrooms.
  • Cook garlic and onion. Add a tablespoon or more of oil and add chopped onion, cooking 3-5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  • Put veggies and seasoning in slow cooker. Put onions and garlic mixture in the slow cooker. Add crushed tomatoes. Add whole tomatoes, crushing tomatoes with your hand when placing them in the slow cooker. Add carrots, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and stir together.
    The slow cooker at an early stage of preparation, filled with a red tomato sauce base, including chopped onions and herbs ready for the chicken to be added.
  • Add broth and base. Measure broth in a measuring cup. Add chicken base to the measuring cup and whisk together. Pour into slow cooker, scraping all of the bouillon base out with a spatula into the tomato mixture, and stir to combine.
  • Add chicken and cook for 2 hours. Place chicken into the tomato mixture and nestle into the slow cooker so that the chicken is covered with the sauce. Cook on high for 2 hours.
    An intermediate step in the cooking process showing the slow cooker with just the sauce made of crushed tomatoes, herbs, and onions before the chicken is added.
  • Add mushrooms. At two hours, add in the fresh rosemary, roasted red peppers, cooked mushrooms, capers, and Kalamata olives if using. Cook for an additional 15-30 minutes. Check the chicken with a meat thermometer to see if the internal temperature is 165 and remove the chicken to a plate.
  • Thicken. Remove the lid from the slow cooker and continue to cook the sauce until it has thickened, an additional 30-45 minutes.
    The completed Chicken Cacciatore dish inside a white slow cooker, with chicken thighs nestled amongst a thick tomato sauce with mushrooms and olives.
  • Cook pasta. While the sauce thickens, bring water to a boil and cook spaghetti according to package directions, or prepare other pasta or food to serve with chicken. Drain and transfer noodles to a serving platter or individual plates.
  • Season and serve. Taste the sauce and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Return chicken to the sauce. Place chicken onto pasta, adding additional sauce to serve, and garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese.

Notes

I put the olives as optional more for personal preference and because not all chicken cacciatore recipes call for olives. 
This chicken could also be cooked on low for about 4-5 hours, checking with a meat thermometer.
You could easily cook up to 8 chicken thighs if you wanted and still have enough sauce.
I used Cento brand for the tomatoes and Swanson’s reduced-sodium chicken broth.
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore served over spaghetti noodles, garnished with chopped parsley and grated parmesan,

A little grated carrot and thyme into marinara sauce is a trick you’ll keep using once you try it,. It adds excellent flavor. You sometimes see cacciatore seasoned with oregano and basil, but we love the rosemary/thyme combination much more. This recipe isn’t just heavily seasoned tomato sauce with chicken. It has real flavor of its own.

Chicken Cacciatore Tips

  • Managing the Sauce Thickness: If you find your sauce is too thin after cooking, a quick fix is to mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a little cold water and stir it into the sauce about 30 minutes before the end of cooking. This will help thicken it without altering the flavor. Conversely, if your sauce is too thick, a splash of chicken broth can loosen it up to your desired consistency.
  • Browning the Chicken: Don’t skip browning the chicken thighs. This step isn’t just about cooking; it’s about layering flavors. The caramelization on the chicken adds a depth of flavor that you won’t get by just tossing everything in the slow cooker. Plus, it gives the chicken a more appetizing colo
  • Fresh vs. Dried Herbs: The recipe calls for dried thyme and fresh rosemary, which works beautifully. However, if you have fresh thyme on hand, using it can elevate the dish even more. Remember, fresh herbs are less potent than dried, so you’ll need about three times the amount when substituting fresh for dried.
  • Choosing Tomatoes: The quality of canned tomatoes can vary greatly between brands. Opt for a brand known for its rich flavor and quality. San Marzano tomatoes are widely regarded for making a superior sauce, so they’re worth the splurge if you can find them.
  • Taste and Adjust Seasonings: Before serving, taste the sauce and adjust the salt, pepper, or herbs to your liking. The flavors can change during the cooking process, so a final seasoning adjustment can make all the difference.
  • Serving Suggestions: While pasta is a traditional accompaniment, don’t be afraid to mix it up. Polenta, rice, or a bed of creamy mashed potatoes can also serve as excellent bases for this dish, offering a delightful contrast to the robust sauce.
  • Prep Ahead: You can brown the chicken and sauté the mushrooms and onions the night before, then store them in the fridge. The next morning, you can quickly assemble everything in the slow cooker. This little bit of prep can make your morning routine smoother.
  • Slow Cooker Size and Cooking Time: Be mindful of the size of your slow cooker. A dish that’s too crowded or too sparse can affect cooking times and outcomes. If you’re using a larger slow cooker and doubling the recipe, you might need to adjust the cooking time slightly.

Ingredients

  • Crushed tomatoes. You’ll find these in the canned goods aisle. They’re crucial for creating the base of the sauce, giving it body and richness.
  • Whole peeled tomatoes. Also located in the canned goods aisle, these tomatoes add texture to the sauce. If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can substitute with additional crushed tomatoes.
  • Kalamata olives. Look for these in the condiment aisle or the specialty/International foods section. They add a unique, briny flavor that elevates the dish. If you can’t find Kalamata olives, black olives can be a good substitute, though the flavor profile will be slightly different.
  • Capers. Found in the condiment aisle, capers bring a tangy, salty burst that contrasts nicely with the richness of the sauce. If you don’t have capers, a small amount of chopped green olives could mimic the brininess they contribute.
  • Fresh rosemary. This herb is typically in the produce section. Its aromatic flavor is key to the dish’s depth. If fresh isn’t available, dried rosemary can be used, but remember to use less as it’s more concentrated.
A marble countertop with bowls of ingredients including onion, garlic, cooked spaghetti, parsley, crushed and whole tomatoes, grated carrot, olive oil, salt, pepper, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, capers, Kalamata olives, fresh rosemary, and raw chicken thighs.
  • 12-inch skillet. Essential for browning the chicken and sautéing the mushrooms and onions, creating a flavor foundation for the dish.
  • Slow cooker. The centerpiece of this recipe, it gently cooks the chicken and sauce, melding the flavors together perfectly over several hours.
  • Measuring spoons and cups. Precise measurements of ingredients ensure the balance of flavors in the cacciatore sauce.
  • Tongs. These make it easier to handle and turn the chicken while browning, ensuring an even sear on all sides.
  • Large plates. Useful for setting aside the chicken and vegetables after browning and sautéing, before they go into the slow cooker.
  • Wooden spoon. Ideal for stirring the sauce ingredients in the slow cooker without scratching the surface.
  • Spatula. Helps to scrape all the flavorful bits and liquid bouillon base into the slow cooker, ensuring no flavor is left behind.
  • Can opener. Necessary for opening the cans of tomatoes if they don’t have pull-tab lids.
  • Whisk. Used to mix the chicken bouillon base with the broth, ensuring it’s well combined before adding to the slow cooker.
  • Meat thermometer. A crucial tool to check the doneness of the chicken, ensuring it reaches the safe internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Large pot and colander. Needed for boiling the pasta, rice, or preparing polenta that will serve as the base for the chicken cacciatore.
  • Cheese grater. For grating fresh parmesan over the dish before serving, adding a final touch of flavor.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with pasta, mashed or roasted potatoes, polenta, rice, risotto, zucchini noodles, roasted vegetables, salad, bread or garlic bread.

Troubleshooting and Help

close up of Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Can I use skin-on chicken thighs instead of skinless?

Absolutely, you can use skin-on thighs if you prefer. Just keep in mind that skin-on pieces might add a bit more fat to the sauce. If you’re okay with that, go for it! Browning the skin side first will also add some nice flavor and texture to the dish.
What if I don’t have a slow cooker? Can I make this in the oven?
Definitely! If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use an oven-safe pot with a lid, like a Dutch oven. Preheat your oven to about 325°F (165°C), and follow the same preparation steps for browning the chicken and sautéing the veggies. Once everything’s ready, cover the pot and let it cook in the oven for about 2 to 2.5 hours. Just check the chicken for doneness around the 2-hour mark.
Can I add other vegetables to this recipe?
For sure! This recipe is pretty versatile. Feel free to add bell peppers, zucchini, or even spinach for some extra veggies. Just remember to add the softer veggies, like spinach, towards the end of the cooking time so they don’t overcook and lose their texture.
What can I do if my sauce ends up too thin?
If the sauce is thinner than you like, you can thicken it up easily. One way is to mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a bit of cold water to make a slurry, then stir it into the sauce about 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Another option is to let the sauce cook with the lid off for the last 30-45 minutes to reduce and thicken.
Is this dish spicy? How can I make it kid-friendly?
The recipe as is isn’t spicy, making it pretty kid-friendly from the start. But if you’re worried about the capers or olives being too much for the kids, you can always leave them out or serve them on the side. You can also adjust the garlic and herbs to suit their tastes.

Storing Leftovers

Storing and freezing your Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore is pretty straightforward. Here’s how you can keep it tasting great for later:

In the Fridge:

  • Let the chicken cacciatore cool down to room temperature before you plan to store it. This helps prevent condensation inside the container, which could make the sauce watery.
  • Transfer the cooled chicken cacciatore into airtight containers. If you have both chicken and sauce, you can store them together or separately, depending on your preference.
  • Label the containers with the date, so you know when you made it. This dish can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.

In the Freezer:

  • For freezing, follow the same cooling and transferring steps. Make sure to use freezer-safe containers.
  • When freezing, leave a little space at the top of the container. The sauce might expand a bit as it freezes, and this prevents the container from cracking or the lid from popping off.
  • Frozen chicken cacciatore will last for about 3-4 months for the best quality. Remember to label the containers with the freezing date.

To Reheat:

  • If refrigerated, you can reheat the chicken cacciatore in a microwave or on the stovetop over medium heat until it’s heated through. In the microwave, cover the dish and heat in short intervals, stirring in between to ensure even warming.
  • For frozen cacciatore, it’s best to thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating. If you’re in a hurry, you can reheat it from frozen, but it might take a bit longer, and you should ensure it’s heated evenly throughout.

More Crockpot Chicken Recipes

Chicken is affordable, and slow cooking is easy. That makes these recipes, some of our favorites for dinner, easier.

With its rich sauce, tender chicken, and the perfect blend of herbs and vegetables, this is a dish to love.

The plate is set on a white marble background with a blue cloth,
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
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