Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore (with slow cooker option)
Yield: 4 servings
Tender, flavorful chicken and lots of healthy veggies are the hallmark of this easy meal. Leftovers improve with age and any remaining sauce can be enjoyed like your favorite marinara.


  • 4 meaty bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (~2 pounds total)*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (4-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms (and/or 1 sliced bell pepper, color of choice)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (could use ½ teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, with liquid
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon stirred into ¾ cup water**
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup pitted and sliced olives, optional (I’ve used black and green)


  1. Heat the oil in the pot of an electric pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot) on “Sauté” mode. Add the chicken, and cook skin side down, about 6 minutes or until nicely browned. Flip the chicken pieces and sear for another 5 minutes to lightly brown. Transfer the chicken to a plate, reserving the drippings in the pot.
  2. Add the mushrooms, bell pepper if using, celery and onion to the pot. Cook and stir until somewhat tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, another minute or so. Place the chicken back in the pot. Add the stewed tomatoes and tomato paste. (I squish any large tomato chunks with my hand.) Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning and optional red pepper flakes. (You can also add a few grinds of black pepper if you wish.) Pour in the bouillon/water mix.
  3. Close and lock the lid. Select high pressure according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Allow 10 minutes or so for the pressure to build.) Cook for 11 minutes.
  4. Release the pressure carefully using the quick-release method; this will take a minute or two. Unlock and remove lid, turning it away from you. At this point the internal temperature of the thighs should have reached 165℉. (I’ve had a reading that’s higher than that, but not to worry as the thigh meat doesn’t dry out as quickly as breast meat.)
  5. At this point, you can stir in the balsamic vinegar and optional olives and serve the chicken, but if time allows I like to reduce the sauce to thicken it first. To do this, remove the chicken to a plate and wait to add the vinegar and olives. Switch the setting back to “Sauté” and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes or until thickened to your liking. Then stir in the balsamic vinegar and add the chicken back, if desired, for a minute or two to warm. (Tip: If you don’t to wait but prefer a thicker sauce, you could thicken it with a bit of cornstarch.)
  1. Slow Cooker option: I have prepared this meal in my slow cooker with good results. In this case, follow the recipe as written, sautéing the chicken and veggies in a separate pan on the stovetop and then transferring to the slow cooker if your cooker does not have a sauté option. The precise cooking time will vary somewhat based on size of cooker used, but it will likely take 4-6 hours on low, or half that on high. In order to thicken the sauce, remove the chicken to a plate and then cook on high heat for 30-60 minutes or until thickened to your liking. Add the chicken back in after stirring in the olives and balsamic vinegar. When slow cooking, I do go slightly scant on the 2 teaspoons of herbs and follow the other details as written above.


*For best flavor, I recommend using bone-in chicken. However, you may use skinless chicken, if preferred. In this case, there is no need to brown it first and you will likely need 2 tablespoons of olive oil when sautéing the vegetables
**An equal amount of chicken broth could be used in place of the water and Better than Bouillon. In this case you may wish to add an extra pinch of salt at the end.

A few more things...

You could also add some capers, use herbes de Provence instead of the Italian seasoning and/or vary the vegetables according to what you like and have on hand.
Traditionally served over polenta, my family enjoys this meal with mashed potatoes, although pasta, rice or cauliflower rice work well, too.  Optionally, enjoy it as a stew with a piece of crusty bread.

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