An Instant Pot chicken cacciatore recipe for tender, saucy meat

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Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore

Active time:1 hour

Total time:1h15


Active time:1 hour

Total time:1h15



For someone who collects, develops, and cooks recipes for a living, I have an extremely inefficient, you might say non-existent, organization system for keeping track of every one of them. There are cookbooks. There is a filing cabinet. A few hide in Google Docs. Many watches are filed in my head and I simply display them on my phone whenever I am ready to create them.

A group is tagged and sorted into a folder in my personal email, and they’re fun time capsules. Often these are just notes or links that I sent myself. For others, I can see who sent me the recipe and when and what they said about it. I can think of where I was at that point in my life and why I might have asked for the recipe. Several are from my mother.

Marcella Hazan’s Italian cooking legacy lives on under her husband’s care

The very first entry in this folder is for “Mom’s Recipe” – for chicken cacciatore. I can’t tell you how accomplished and sophisticated I felt cooking and serving this sassy Italian classic of braised chicken and tomatoes to my then-boyfriend/now husband, on one of those quiet evenings. home that we used to have before we had our son.

I don’t cook a lot of meat at home these days, but I remembered this recipe – and its tantalizing flavors – fondly. I had been thinking of revisiting it when the new edition of Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” landed on my desk. Spell!

What I really wanted to do was convert this braise into something I could make in my Instant Pot for a more hands-on approach that didn’t require turning on the oven or stove. My mom’s recipe relied heavily on canned tomatoes, which can burn and burn in the Instant Pot, so I decided to see if an adaptation of Hazan might help me get over the finish line.

In fact, what succeeded was mixing his two versions of cacciatore in the book, which offer subtle differences in ingredients and techniques. I offer a recipe’s bell pepper as an option, and you can also play around with adding or subtracting other vegetables, like mushrooms or carrots. As Hazan notes, there are “countless permutations” in Italy that lay claim to the tradition of the cacciatore, or “cacciatora,” as she calls it.

After a few tests, I was delighted with the results: crispy meat nestled in a sauce of tender vegetables and cooking juices enriched with wine, ideal for a family meal served with a loaf of crusty bread. Best of all, the Instant Pot dramatically reduces braising time in Hazan’s recipe (although you should take into account the time it takes for the device to build up pressure). About 5 minutes to cook the sauce finished the whole thing.

It’s so satisfying and comforting that I hope it finds its way into your own recipe collection, wherever that may be.

Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore

This is an adaptation of Hazan’s stovetop recipe; if you prefer this cooking method, see VARIATION below.

We love the convenience and price of bone-in thighs, but feel free to substitute your favorite bone-in, skin-on or even a whole cut-up chicken. We tested this recipe in a 6-quart Instant Pot. It should also work in an 8 quart, but not in smaller devices.

Serve with crusty bread or another starch, such as pasta or mashed potatoesto soak up all the juices.

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days; reheat in the microwave or in a frying pan.

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  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed (3 to 4 pounds total)
  • Fine salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (7 ounces), halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, seeded, cored and thinly sliced ​​(optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio, plus more as needed (can substitute for low-sodium or no-salt-added chicken or vegetable broth)
  • One can (14 1/2 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

Wipe the chicken. Season lightly with salt and pepper on both sides.

In your electric multicooker on the highest SAUTE or BROWN setting, heat the oil for 3 minutes or until it begins to shimmer. Add half of the thighs to the pan, skin side down, and cook until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining thighs.

If at any time your Instant Pot displays the HOT message and shuts off, reduce the heat setting and wait for it to come back on (often it will cool down enough when you add the second batch of legs or, later, the onions). If the message persists, pour in some wine, scraping up the browned bits. Just be sure to save 1/3 cup wine for pressure cooking the chicken.

Stir the onions into the oil and melted fat left in the pan and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, if using, and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the wine, scraping up any charred bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up (overlapping is fine), along with any accumulated juices. Place the chopped tomatoes around the thighs (they may burn on the bottom of the pan), trying not to completely cover the chicken. Press CANCEL to turn off the heater.

Lock the lid in place, set the pressure relief knob to seal, select PRESSURE to the high setting and set the cook time to 9 minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, press CANCEL and manually release the pressure by moving the pressure release handle to the vent, covering your hand with a towel or oven mitt. Never place your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Meat temperature should be at least 165 degrees when checked with a thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone.

Transfer the thighs to a platter, cover with foil, and let the chicken rest while you finish the sauce.

Taste the sauce and season with more salt and/or pepper if desired. If you want to thicken the liquid, cook using the highest SAUTE or BROWN setting until you reach your desired consistency, usually 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve hot.

VARIATION: To make it on the stovetop, use a large Dutch oven. The steps are largely the same, but you’ll want to brown the chicken, then cook the onions over medium heat, adjusting the heat as needed. After mixing the wine and returning the chicken to the pan, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, checking occasionally for yourself make sure the pan is not dry. If so, add a little wine. If desired, remove cooked chicken from pan and thicken sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Per serving (1 leg including skin and 1/2 cup sauce)

Calories: 453; Total fat: 32g; Saturated fat: 8g; Cholesterol: 152mg; Sodium: 275mg; Carbohydrates: 6g; Dietary fibre: 1 g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 32g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking 30th Anniversary Edition”, by Marcella Hazan (Knopf, 2022).

Tested by Becky Crystal; questions by e-mail to

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