Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore is made with tender chicken in a rich, hearty tomato sauce that delivers the same classic Italian flavors you know and love in a fraction of the time!
Chicken Cacciatore is a classic Italian dish, made with chicken that is braised in a rich, hearty, tomato sauce filled with peppers, onions, capers, and olives. It is a bright, acidic, comforting dish that traditionally takes hours to make.
Unless of course, you use an electric pressure cooker!
Just like my recipes for Instant Pot Fettuccine Alfredo and Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana, this recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore delivers a classic Italian dish much faster than the classic recipe, yet sacrifices NOTHING in terms of flavor.
Chicken thighs are quickly braised with a rich sauce made with tomatoes, wine, capers, and garlic. Add in peppers, onions, olives, and mushrooms, this dish has it all! But best of all, this recipe is easy enough to prepare for a weeknight meal, yet impressive enough to serve for company.
Ingredients for Chicken Cacciatore
- Chicken Thighs: Chicken thighs are a bit richer in flavor than chicken breasts, yet they still cook up really fast, making them perfect for this Italian dish. For best results, use skinless chicken thighs. I have provided cooking times for both bone-in and boneless chicken thighs.
- Bell Peppers: This recipe calls for two bell peppers. Use any color or combination of colors you like.
- Onion: A white or yellow is best, rather than a red or sweet onion.
- White wine: I recommend using a dry white wine, such as a chardonnay or pinot grigio, to add a nice acidic depth of flavor to the cacciatore. Feel free to use additional chicken stock/broth in place of the wine if you don't care to cook with alcohol.
- Chicken Stock: Use either low-sodium store-bought or homemade chicken stock or broth.
- Mushrooms: Use sliced baby Bella or button mushrooms, or omit the mushrooms if you don't care for them. This recipe will still be plenty flavorful!
- Capers: Capers add the perfect salty, briny finish to the cacciatore. If you happen to not like capers, you can omit them, but keep in mind you may need to finish with additional salt.
- Olives: Use Kalamative or black olives, or omit them if you don't care for olives.
- Crushed Tomatoes: Use canned tomato puree or crushed tomatoes as the base for this hearty tomato sauce.
- Balsamic Vinegar: This sounds odd, but by finishing this dish with vinegar, the flavors really pop and the overall finish is mouthwatering. Feel free to use red wine vinegar if you don't have balsamic on hand. Do not use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
How to Make Chicken Cacciatore in the Instant Pot
Even though this recipe has a lot of steps, they are truly simple and key to developing the most incredibly flavorful Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore. And if you are unfamiliar with cooking in an instant pot or the functions on your instant pot, be sure to glance over my tips for How to Use an Instant Pot.
Step One: Saute the Chicken
To add additional flavor and texture to the chicken cacciatore, I recommend sauteeing the chicken thighs. This does take a few extra minutes of prep time but gives the dish the best flavor.
- Turn the instant pot to saute, add in a bit of oil, and let heat for a minute or two.
- While the oil is heating, liberally season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Add the chicken thighs to the oil, in a single layer to the heated oil. Keep in mind it is better to work in batches to sear the chicken so that they can truly sear, not steam.
- Cook the chicken until golden on each side and then remove the chicken and place it on a plate.
Step Two: Saute the Vegetables
Just like sauteeing the chicken, sauteeing the onions and peppers will help to really enhance the flavor of the traditional dish.
- Add the onions and peppers to the inner pot and saute for 2-4 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.
- Once the onion has softened, add in the mushrooms and garlic and saute for another 30-60 seconds.
Step Three: Deglaze the Inner Pot
Any time you saute ANYTHING in the inner pot, you must deglaze the pan to prevent a burn notice. It is easy-peasy to do!
- While the inner pot is still on the saute function, add in the wine (or additional chicken stock) and use a spatula or spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Let the wine cook off for 1 to 2 minutes, just to evaporate the alcohol and deepen in flavor.
- Turn the Instant Pot OFF by hitting cancel.
Step Four: Layer Ingredients
- Stir in the chicken stock, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, thyme, olives, capers, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Nestle the seared chicken thighs into the sauce.
- Pour the tomatoes over the chicken thighs and DO NOT STIR!
Step Five: Pressure Cook
- Close the lid on the pressure cooker, being sure the vent knob is placed towards the sealed position.
- Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.
- Once the cooking time has elapsed, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 10 minutes. This will keep the chicken super tender and juicy.
Step Six: Thicken the Cacciatore Sauce
At this point, your chicken cacciatore has an insane flavor and can be enjoyed as is. However, if desired, you may want to thicken the tomato sauce, for a richer, thicker sauce.
- To do this, remove the cooked chicken from the inner pot and place it on a clean plate.
- Turn the saute function back on the Instant Pot.
- Stir in the balsamic vinegar and then simmer the sauce to thicken for just a few minutes.
Step Seven: Serve
Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore is best served over pasta, rice, spaghetti squash, polenta, or even mashed potatoes. Something to soak up the delicious sauce. And of course, a little freshly grated parmesan cheese never hurt anything!
Mom Tip: If your kids are opposed to vegetables, olives, and capers in their tomato sauce, as mine are, blend a bit of the cacciatore sauce for them. Dice up the chicken and serve with the blended sauce over pasta.
FAQs on Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore
Absolutely! You can replace the chicken thighs with boneless skinless chicken breasts. I would sear the chicken breasts as you did the chicken thighs and decrease the cooking time to 6 minutes.
No! While it does help to develop flavor in the chicken cacciatore, you can skip this step. Just add an additional minute to the cooking time.
More Instant Pot Italian-American Recipes
- Instant Pot Lasagna
- Instant Pot Creamy Italian Pasta
- Instant Pot Chicken Marsala
- Instant Pot Lasagna Soup
If you tried this recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore
- 1-½ tablespoons olive oil divided
- 6-8 skinless chicken thighs bone-in or with bone
- kosher salt and pepper
- 1 green pepper diced
- 1 red pepper diced
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ cup dry white wine such as Riesling or Chardonnay
- ½-3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock *see note
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons capers
- ½ cup Kalamative olives sliced
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Turn the instant pot to saute, add 1 tablespoon of oil, and let heat for a minute or two.
- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and liberally season with salt and pepper on both sides. Add the chicken thighs to the oil, in a single layer (you may need to work in batches). Cook the chicken until golden on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. Once golden, remove the chicken and place it on a plate.
- If the inner pot is dry, add in the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil and add the onions and peppers. Saute for 2-4 minutes, or until onions begin to soften. Once the onion has softened, add in the mushrooms and garlic and saute for another 30-60 seconds.
- Add in the wine and deglaze Instant Pot, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Let the wine cook off for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the Instant Pot OFF by hitting cancel.
- To the inner pot, add the chicken stock, oregano, olives, capers, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine and then nestle the seared chicken thighs into the sauce. Sprinkle chicken with a bit of salt and pepper. Pour the tomatoes over the chicken thighs and DO NOT STIR!
- Close the lid on the pressure cooker, being sure the vent knob is placed towards the sealed position. Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes for boneless chicken thighs and 8 minutes for bone-in chicken thighs.
- Once cook time has elapsed, allow pressure to release naturally for at least 10 minutes. After pressure has naturally released, open Instant Pot and remove the cooked chicken to a new clean plate.
- Turn the saute function back on the Instant Pot (hit cancel and then saute). Stir in the balsamic vinegar and then simmer the sauce to thicken, for 3-5 minutes. Taste and adjust the sauce with more salt and black pepper.
- Serve chicken with sauce over noodles or rice topped with fresh basil and parmesan if desired.