This Instant Pot chicken Cacciatore recipe turns out lip-smacking chicken pasta with minimal effort. We’re talking seriously juicy chicken thighs smothered in a flavorful tomato sauce that you’ll later spoon on top of the spaghetti.
Even better, this delicious gourmet meal is done in the Instant Pot. The steps are simple and leave you with plenty of hands-free cooking time.
What Is Cacciatore?
“Cacciatore” means “hunter” in Italian. Besides the literal definition, it also refers to a cooking style in which the meat is seared and braised with several other ingredients.
The dish is usually cooked with chicken or rabbit, but considering the latter’s availability, chicken is our meat of choice for today.
Different regions of Italy cook the meat with a different set of vegetables. Some focus on onions and bell peppers while others prefer adding a tomato to the mix.
You can check out this chicken cacciatore if you don’t have an Instant Pot — it’s a more popular take on the Italian staple with all of the veggies combined. This one errs on the tangy side, which is pretty uncommon but still comes out with a mouth-watering braise.
Cacciatore is often served with bread or pasta. We’re choosing pasta, which pairs perfectly with the sauce.
Is Our Recipe Healthy?
Yes, chicken Cacciatore is a healthy dish. It contains just the right amount of calories (494 calories) from lean chicken, pasta, and loads of vegetables.
Meaty dishes are often high in saturated fats and sodium, so we try to keep those to moderate levels by using the ingredients as reasonably as possible. Each serving thus has just about 7.8 g saturated fats and 480 mg sodium, roughly translating to less than 1/3 of the daily recommendations.
When it comes to braising, juicy dark meat like thighs or drumsticks are the most flavorful choice. We love thighs the most, so that’s what we used.
Like other skin-on poultry cuts, the thighs should be seared skin-side down until the surface becomes golden and the fat renders out. Golden chicken skin means more flavor, and the additional fat means you won’t need to add extra grease in the next cooking step to prepare the sauce.
2. The Cacciatore Sauce
Set the chicken aside and sauté the onions and garlic in this chicken fat. Our chicken thighs didn’t have quite enough fat so we added a slice of butter, (it adds a little fragrance, too).
Next, we throw some mushrooms in with the aromatics to cook until they turn shiny. They lend a nice chewy texture to the dish.
Once everything is nicely browned, stir in some tomato paste and allow it to cook in the grease and coat everything evenly. Then, deglaze the pan with red wine vinegar (instead of actual red wine) to enhance the taste of our tomato sauce.
Next, add to the pan some tomatoes and bell peppers along with some herbs and seasonings. We used a combination of Italian seasonings, pepper, salt (the basics), and a little paprika for an appetizing kick.
Finally, simmer everything with some chicken broth to bring all of the flavors together and complete the sauce. Add the chicken back in and pressure-cook it in this sauce.
Storing and Reheating
Sealed properly, chicken cacciatore can keep for up to 5 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. For easier thawing/reheating later on, portion the cacciatore into individual servings and place those into either Ziploc bags or airtight containers.
Add the chicken and the sauce to a saucepan along with some water (1 tbsp per serving).
Close the lid and simmer everything for 5 minutes if refrigerated, 8 minutes if frozen.
Add the pasta to the pot and simmer for another minute. Turn off the heat and serve.
Since it’s thick and full of flavor, chicken cacciatore goes great with a crunchy, refreshing vegetable mix like this kale salad. A light, low-calorie cucumber juice makes for a great drink to round off the meal.
Other Flavorful Treats Featuring Chicken
By making an Instant Pot version of Pad Thai, we’re recreating this famous dish with the hope of reducing the cooking time and effort spent. The result is this simple, 20-minute recipe!
And when you don’t want to do much, consider this Instant Pot chicken shreds recipe. Flavorful, tender chicken shreds cook in 15 minutes without supervision, served inside a crispy shell with vegetables prepared while it cooks. Both time management and flavor are a yes.
Plug the Instant Pot in and select ‘sauté’ mode. Heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil and sear 24 oz worth of chicken thighs for 3 minutes, skin-side down. Place the chicken in a bowl and set aside.
Melt 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter in the pot. Add 1 tsp minced garlic, 4 oz chopped onions, and 8 oz brown mushrooms. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms turn shiny.
Add 2 tbsp tomato paste and give everything a good stir. Cook for about 1 minute, then add 2 tbsp red wine vinegar to deglaze the pot. Scrape the pot with a wooden spoon to release any bits sticking to the bottom.
Stir in 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt. Add the cooked chicken along with 1 cup unsalted chicken broth. Close the lid and turn it to seal. Turn the steam handle to ‘sealed,’ select ‘stew/meat’ mode on the machine, adjust the time to 15 minutes, and allow everything to cook.
Place a kitchen cloth onto the steam handle and turn it to ‘venting’ with a spoon. Carefully open the pot and select ‘sauté’ to cook everything for another 15 minutes.
Turn off the machine and stir in 2 tbsp basil. Serve with spaghetti, sprinkle parmesan on top, and enjoy.
Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 494Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 8g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Vitamin A 1301IU
Vitamin C 40mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.
The chicken comes out perfectly cooked and the sauce is rich and flavorful.