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 This Chicken Cacciatore Good for You?
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.
If possible, use healthier pasta options like whole-wheat pasta. They are more nutritious than refined pasta, adding a few extra vitamins and minerals to your meal.
Main Ingredients for Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore
1. The Chicken
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.
How to Make Chicken Cacciatore in the Instant Pot
Here’s a summary of this Instant Pot chicken cacciatore recipe. The full recipe (with ingredients and timing) is at the bottom of this article.
Sear the chicken and set it aside
Sauté the aromatics and mushrooms
Stir in tomato paste and deglaze with red wine vinegar
Pressure-cook the chicken with the rest of the ingredients
Quick-release the remaining pressure
Serve with cooked spaghetti; sprinkle parmesan and sliced basil on top
The perfect time to cook the spaghetti would be right after you put the Instant Pot in pressure-cooking mode. Boil a pot of water, cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions, drain it, and set it aside.
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.
Side Dishes for Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore
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.
Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore Recipe
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 24 oz chicken thighs about 4 medium
- 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp garlic about 1-2 cloves, minced
- 4 oz onions about 1 medium, chopped
- 8 oz brown mushrooms sliced
- 2 tbsp Hunt’s tomato paste
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 6 oz tomatoes about 1 large, diced
- 2 oz red bell peppers about 1/2 medium, diced
- 2 oz green bell peppers about 1/2 medium, diced
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted chicken broth
- 2 tbsp basil thinly sliced (chiffonade)
- 0.5 oz parmesan shredded
- 10 oz cooked spaghetti (about 4 oz uncooked)
- 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.