Who doesn’t love a meal that cooks itself? Especially when it’s easy, reliably delicious comfort food like chicken cacciatore? Throw this recipe into a slow cooker and come back hours later to a hearty dinner. Even better, this recipe serves 8, which should take care of more than one meal. Chicken cacciatore tastes great leftover the next day, and it also freezes well.
If you’re not familiar with chicken cacciatore, it’s classic Italian-American food. Tender chicken falls off the bone into a thick sauce of tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms and garlic. It’s flavorful—but in a mild “everyone’s gonna like this” sort of way.
A slow cooker is a perfect place to cook bone-in chicken thighs. The meat becomes tender and flavorful, never mushy and bland. Browning the chicken (and onion) before adding it to the slow cooker gives the dish better flavor and texture; it’s not strictly necessary, but if you have the time then it’s worth the effort.
Chicken cacciatore can be served over something—like gluten-free pasta, cauliflower rice or spaghetti squash—but it doesn’t need to be. This meal is plenty flavorful and filling simply served alone in a bowl.
Time in the Kitchen: 20 minutes, plus 4 to 8 hours in a slow cooker
8 to 10 bone-in, skinless* chicken thighs
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 28-ounce/794 g can crushed tomatoes
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (227 g)
1 bay leaf
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Optional Garnishes: fresh basil or oregano, capers or black olives, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
*For this recipe, leaving the chicken skin on the chicken thighs tends to make the dish too oily
Season the chicken generously with salt. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with a drizzle of avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil. When the skillet is hot, add chicken. Cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes a side. Do not crowd the chicken in the skillet; brown in two batches if necessary.
Add the browned chicken to the slow cooker.
In the same skillet that the chicken was cooked, add the onions. Turn heat down to medium. Saute until onions are soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Season lightly with salt.
Add onion and garlic to slow cooker. Add tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Mix well, so the chicken is completely coated in tomatoes.