Bone-in, skinless chicken thighs cooked in the slow cooker create the luxe flavor in this Italian slow cooker chicken cacciatore recipe for an incredibly easy weeknight or weekend meal.
Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
You know how the saying goes. It’s what waiters around the world have used for years to push the daily special.
“This meat is so tender it falls off the bone.”
And then sometimes it is. And sometimes it isn’t.
I’m here to tell you, today, right now, that thanks to this slow cooker chicken cacciatore recipe, the meat LITERALLY falls from the bone.
But don’t just take it from me. This is the day you’re going to absolutely want to try it for yourself. And like any good salesperson, I’m going to guarantee you’re going to love it.
This slow cooker chicken recipe is from the New York Times #1 best-selling cookbook, Skinnytaste Fast & Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes, written by my friend and fellow blogger Gina Homolka of the popular food blog Skinnytaste.
Skinnytaste Fast and Slow is the follow up to her best-selling cookbook The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor that included her recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup I shared here.
Both books offer calorie-conscious recipes geared to home-cooked, family-friendly dishes that are totally approachable. You won’t find long lists of specialty ingredients, food substitutes, or fat-free versions of real food, nor does Gina preach strict rules of what to, and what not to eat.
Instead, Gina purposefully creates recipes using whole ingredients to create loads of flavor, and always keeps portion size in mind. These recipes fit perfectly into every style of cooks kitchen.
In Skinnytaste Fast and Slow, Gina shares 140 recipes that fall into two categories: Slow cooker or prepared in under 30 minutes so that no matter how you cook it, preparation is minimal every time.
Now THIS is cooking!
There were so many recipes I wanted to share from this book that it was hard to narrow down just one. I had to choose whether to go slow cooker with dishes like Chicken and Dumpling Soup, Slow Cooker Italian Turkey-Zucchini Meatballs, or Slow Cooker Asian Pork with Mushrooms, or choose a dinner ready in under 30 minutes like Spiralized Beet Salad with Seared Scallops and Orange or Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Shooters.
But what won out for me in the end was the promise of fall off the bone chicken.
What’s in This Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore?
Like I said, this easy chicken cacciatore recipe doesn’t require any special ingredients. Here’s everything I threw into my slow cooker to create this unbelievably good dish:
- Bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Garlic cloves
- Yellow onion
- Crushed tomatoes
- Bell peppers
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Fresh thyme
- Bay leaves
How to Make Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
In this Crockpot chicken cacciatore recipe, the chicken is first seared in a separate pan, or if you have an Instant Pot you can skip the stove and sear it right in the slow cooker. The garlic and onions are then cooked down in the same pan before being added to the slow cooker.
Then, the remaining ingredients get dumped in. After that, all that’s left to do is to pop the lid onto the slow cooker and let it works its magic.
Once the chicken is cooked, you can serve it as is on the bone, or do what Gina does and shred the chicken (discarding the bones) and put back into the sauce to create a saucy chicken ragu.
Serve it over pasta, polenta or spaghetti sauce or sprialized zucchini noodles topped with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. And bonus points that its easy enough for weeknight but totally wow-able for weekend entertaining.
The sauce holds up well as leftovers and only gets better and deeper with time. While I haven’t frozen the sauce yet, I’m sure it would hold up well to save for later.
Can I Use Chicken Breasts Instead of Thighs?
You likely can, but keep in mind that breasts will need to cook for longer in the slow cooker.
Do I Have to Brown the Chicken First?
Technically no, but I recommend doing so to add even more flavor to this slow cooker chicken cacciatore.
Tips for Making Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
In this recipe, Gina recommends always using bone-in chicken thighs for the ultimate flavor in both the chicken and what’s infused into the tomato based sauce. The bone also ensures juicy bites of chicken every time. Gina’s original recipe called for 8 chicken thighs, but because my package had 10 I threw in the extra two.
I also doubled the amount of mushrooms because, well, we love mushrooms. Even with those additions there was plenty of sauce to go around.
I used fresh thyme in this recipe but you could easily substitute or add oregano or rosemary too.
More Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes You’ll Love
- Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup
- Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken and Rice Bowls
- Slow Cooker Chicken Fajita Chili
- Slow Cooker Whole Chicken
- Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
- 10 bone-in skinless chicken thighs , about 5 ounces each, trimmed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves , finely chopped or pressed
- ½ large yellow onion , chopped
- 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ½ medium green bell pepper , chopped
- ½ medium red bell pepper , chopped
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms , sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Generously season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray or a drizzle of olive oil and then add the chicken. Cook until nicely browned, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a slow cooker.
- Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium and coat with more cooking spray or another drizzle of olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to the slow cooker.
- Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, thyme and bay leaves to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
- Discard the bay leaf and transfer the chicken to a large plate or cutting board. Pull the chicken meat from the bones (discard the bones), shred the meat and return it to the sauce. Stir in the parsley. Serve with pasta, polenta or spaghetti squash topped with Parmesan cheese.
What to Serve With Chicken Cacciatore
This cacciatore is definitely filling enough, but sometimes you just need a drink, salad and a little something sweet to complete the meal.
- Drink: Rosemary Lemon Drop Cocktail
- Salad: Our Family’s Favorite Salad
- Side: Easy 5-Minute Parmesan Zucchini
- Side: Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks
- Dessert: German Chocolate Brownie Pie
Craving more life balance, less stress, and better health? Check out my Nourished Planner, the daily planner to help create simplicity and under-schedule your life.
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