Prepare a savory Italian classic with this Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore featuring tender chicken thighs, aromatic herbs, and a rich tomato-based sauce . Enjoy a delicious, hassle-free and comforting rustic dish bursting with Italian flavors that’s perfect for busy weeknights.
Updated October 2023
Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore: A Flavorful Italian Classic Made Easy
Are you in the mood for a hearty Italian-inspired dish that’s packed with flavors but doesn’t require hours of cooking time? This Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore recipe is a delicious, savory dish that’s perfect for a cozy family dinner or impressing your guests at a dinner party.
Thanks to the Instant Pot’s magic, you’ll have a restaurant-worthy dish ready in no time. Whether you’re cooking for your family or entertaining guests, this flavorful and wholesome Italian classic is sure to impress. Plus, it’s naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo and Whole30-friendly.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
Before we dive into this hearty and nourishing recipe, let’s take a look at the key ingredients and why they are used:
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs: These provide a rich and tender base for the dish, absorbing all the delicious flavors.
- Olive Oil: Used for sautéing and adding a subtle Mediterranean touch to the dish.
- Garlic and Onion: These aromatic ingredients are the foundation of the dish, adding depth and flavor.
- Red Bell Peppers: For a sweet and slightly tangy flavor and a pop of color.
- Carrots: While optional for low-carb or keto diets, carrots add natural sweetness and texture.
- Mushrooms: They bring an earthy, umami flavor to the dish.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes and Tomato Paste: The base of our tomato sauce, providing acidity and richness.
- Dried Herbs (Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme): To infuse the dish with classic Italian herbaceousness.
- Kalamata Olives (Optional): For a briny, Mediterranean twist.
- Kale: Adding greens to your meal for both nutrition and color.
- Parsley and Basil Leaves: Fresh herbs for garnish and a burst of freshness.
- Arrowroot Starch (Optional): To thicken the stew, though you can omit it for a low-carb version.
Instructions: How to make Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore
- Season and Sear Chicken: Start by seasoning your chicken thighs with salt and black pepper. Heat olive oil in your Instant Pot* using the SAUTE function. Sear the chicken until it develops a beautiful brown caramel coating. Depending on your pot’s size, you might need to work in batches. Once done, transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Sauté Vegetables and Herbs: Add more oil to the Instant Pot if needed. Sauté the garlic, onion, bell peppers, carrots (if using), mushrooms, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and additional salt and black pepper to taste. Stir everything together.
- Add Chicken Back: Return the seared chicken to the pot. Cancel the SAUTE function, cover the Instant Pot with the lid, set the valve to SEALING, and press PRESSURE COOK HIGH (or MANUAL for older models). Set the timer for 10 minutes.
- Quick Release: Once the Instant Pot reaches pressure and cooks for 10 minutes, do a QUICK RELEASE to release the pressure.
- Final Touches: Carefully open the lid and stir in the Kalamata olives and kale.
- Optional Thickening: If you prefer a thicker stew, switch to SAUTE mode and stir in an arrowroot starch slurry (or use xanthan gum for a low-carb option). Cook for about 2-3 minutes until the stew bubbles and thickens.
- Garnish and Serve: Sprinkle your masterpiece with chopped parsley and basil leaves. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt or black pepper if needed.
*Note: We tested this recipe in a Instant Pot 6 Quart DUO.
Tips for Success
- Brown the Chicken: Don’t rush the browning step. It creates a flavorful base for your stew.
- Fresh Herbs: If you have fresh herbs on hand, feel free to use them for an even fresher taste.
- Thickening: Adjust the thickness to your preference. The arrowroot starch is optional, especially for low-carb diets.
Serve your Chicken Cacciatore the traditional Italian style way over a plate of pasta and garlic bread to soak up that amazing sauce. You can also lighten up the dish with some zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, roasted broccoli, Brussels sprouts, a Vegan Caesar Salad or your favorite sides. Don’t forget to pair it with a glass of your favorite Italian wine for the perfect dining experience.
Variations and Substitutions
- Protein: Swap chicken for other meats like pork or beef, or go for a vegetarian version with tofu or chickpeas.
- Vegetables: Customize your veggies based on what you have. Bell peppers, zucchini, or eggplant all work well.
- Spice It Up: Add some red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
- Plant-based: If you’d like a vegetarian version of this dish, you can substitute the chicken with tofu, tempeh, or even chickpeas. For a vegan version, skip the cheese garnish.
- Dietary Preferences: Adjust the recipe to meet your dietary needs, whether low-carb, keto, or gluten-free.
- Slow Cooker: Don’t have a pressure cooker? You can still make this humble dish in a crockpot like our Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore recipe.
Storage and Freezer Instructions
This Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore stores well in the refrigerator for up to three days.
For longer storage, freeze it in an airtight container for up to three months.
Portion any leftovers out in air-tight containers or freezer-friendly zip top bags and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, place the freezer bag to thaw overnight in the fridge
How to reheat
This dish also works great if you want to make it ahead on your meal prep Sunday. It heats up beautifully and we think it tastes even better on the next day.
To reheat, simply warm it in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat. You may want to add a splash of broth or water to maintain the sauce’s consistency.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What is Chicken Cacciatore, and where does it originate?
Chicken Cacciatore is an Italian dish, often referred to as “hunter-style” chicken. It’s traditionally made with chicken, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and a mix of aromatic herbs. This dish is popular for its rustic and hearty flavors.
2. Can I use bone-in chicken for this recipe?
Yes, you can use bone-in chicken pieces if you prefer. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are used in this recipe for their convenience and quick cooking time.
3. Can I make this recipe in a slow cooker instead of an Instant Pot?
Absolutely! To make Chicken Cacciatore in a slow cooker, follow the same steps for searing the chicken and sautéing the vegetables in a pan first. Then, transfer everything to your slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
4. Can I make this dish in advance?
Yes, you can prepare Chicken Cacciatore in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days. It also freezes well, allowing you to enjoy a homemade Italian meal whenever you’d like.
5. What’s the purpose of arrowroot starch in the recipe?
Arrowroot starch is used to thicken the stew, giving it a slightly thicker consistency. However, it’s optional, especially if you’re following a low-carb or keto diet. You can omit it if you prefer a thinner sauce.
6. What’s the difference between Chicken Cacciatore and Chicken Marsala?
Chicken Cacciatore features a tomato-based sauce with bell peppers and various herbs, while Chicken Marsala is made with a Marsala wine sauce, mushrooms, and sometimes cream. They both offer different flavor profiles and are equally delicious Italian chicken dishes.
7. Can I make this recipe with fresh tomatoes instead of canned?
Yes, you can use fresh tomatoes if you prefer. Simply chop them and use them in place of the canned diced tomatoes. You might need to adjust the cooking time slightly as fresh tomatoes release more liquid.
More Instant Pot chicken recipes you might like:
Prepare a savory Italian classic with this Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore featuring tender chicken thighs, aromatic herbs, and a rich tomato-based sauce . Enjoy a delicious, hassle-free and comforting rustic dish bursting with Italian flavors that's perfect for busy weeknights.
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs* , feel free to use chicken breasts if you prefer
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- ½ medium white onion , chopped
- 1/4 cup diced red bell peppers
- 1 cup sliced carrots , (leave out for strict low carb / keto)
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 28 oz canned diced tomatoes , drained
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 Kalamata olives , optional
- ½ cup chopped kale , stems removed
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley , plus more for serving
- Fresh basil leaves for garnish , optional
- 1 teaspoon arrowroot starch, plus 2 teaspoons water whisked together in a small bowl , feel free to use tapioca starch or cornstarch if preferred. You can also completely leave it out for low carb or use 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum instead)
- Instant Pot (we tested this recipe in the 6 Quart DUO)
Season chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat olive oil in the Instant Pot and press the SAUTE button.
Sear the chicken until you get a nice brown caramel coating. You may have to work in batches, depending on the size of your Instant Pot. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the inner pot back to the pressure cooker and add more oil, if needed. Saute the garlic, onion, bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and salt and black pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
Add the chicken back to the pot. Press CANCEL then cover with lid. Turn the valve to SEALING and press PRESSURE COOK HIGH (OR MANUAL - for older models).
Set the timer to 10 minutes.
Once the Instant Pot comes to pressure and cooks for 10 minutes, do a QUICK RELEASE.
Open the lid carefully and stir in the olives and kale.
OPTIONAL STEP: If you prefer a thicker stew, witch to SAUTE mode and stir in an arrow root starch slurry (or use xanthan gum for low carb) and cook for about 2-3 minutes until the stew bubbles and thickens up.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley, basil leaves and taste and season with additional salt or black pepper, as needed.
Serve hot over zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, pasta or your favorite sides.
*can also use 3 chicken breasts, sliced in half