3-Ingredient Chicken Cacciatore in the Slow Cooker

by Dorothy Reinhold on March 20, 2013

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This 3-Ingredient Chicken Cacciatore got me out of a bind the other night.

A neighbor called at noon to see if her son could come over and eat dinner with us. “Sure!” is always the answer in our household!

But I hadn’t been to the store and didn’t want to go out. What could I make with what I had in the house, that would likely appeal to a kid whose likes and dislikes are unknown? A pasta dish!

3-Ingredient Chicken Cacciatore in the Slow Cooker Recipe on Shockingly DeliciousSo into the slow cooker went chicken and sauce, and 4 hours later I had a delicious family dinner. Here’s how good it was: Our guest and my son, both 10, each had seconds, and my husband immediately claimed the rest for his lunch the next day.

And I made it again three days later.

If I say no one is going to give me the Julia Child award for this dish, do I sound like I am apologizing for it? Because I’m not apologizing for a dish that was so easy I could throw it together with three ingredients I had on hand, and that I could let bubble by itself in the slow cooker while I worked, and that fed a crowd.

Nope. No excuse or apology, just an explanation that this is the kind of simple, comforting dish I rely on day in and day out, and that I don’t even need a recipe to make. You won’t either, after you make it the first time.

Here’s the recipe. Consider it simply a guideline for your creative inner cook.

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Chicken Cacciatore in the Slow Cooker

Summary: Simple, comforting chicken and spicy red sauce over pasta — this easy slow cooker recipe takes weeknight dinner to a new level.


  • 1 ½ pounds organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs (this is ~6 meaty thighs)
  • 1 (25-ounce) jar Arrabbiata Sauce (I used Gina Rispoli brand, or use your favorite; see note below)
  • 1 pound curly shaped pasta (I used Safeway Select Trottole; see note below)
  • Garnish: Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


  1. Spray the inside of the slow cooker crock with nonstick spray. Add the chicken pieces and pour the pasta sauce over. Stir to coat all pieces.
  2. Close the lid and cook on low 4-5 hours, until chicken pieces are cooked through. No need to open it to stir or check, until the end. (If you open it to fuss with it or stir, you will let out a considerable amount of heat and it will take additional time to regain optimum temperature and you will delay your cooking.)
  3. About 25 minutes before you are ready to eat, heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. Boil pasta according to package directions, stopping when it is just al dente (firm to the bite). Drain and return pasta to pot, drizzling with a bit of olive oil so it won’t stick. Put the lid back on until you’re ready to serve.
  4. To serve, place a portion of pasta in a wide bowl, top with a piece of chicken and some sauce to cover it all. Pass the grated cheese at the table for those who like it.
  5. Serves 5-6.

Trottole Pasta Shape on Shockingly DeliciousThe pasta

I found this particular shaped pasta at Vons (or Safeway). It’s called Trottole, and the brand is Safeway Select. We love it for the fanciful shape! Trottole means “spins,” and it looks like the outside pasta thread is spun around a center pole, like a crazy, loopy fusilli. How do they do this? It’s great for pasta salads, soups, and for grabbing the sauce in any pasta dish.

Gina Rispoli Arrabbiata 25oz on Shockingly DeliciousThe sauce

On a whim (and because it was on sale!), I bought Gina Rispoli Arrabbiata sauce. It’s a full-bodied, slightly spicy sauce made from fresh onion and garlic, imported whole Italian tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and crushed red peppers. That’s it! No corn syrup or added sweeteners, no fake stuff. There’s a little bit of heat here, but it won’t blow the top of your head off. I had three children at the table the night I served this, and they all gobbled it up, with two of them asking for seconds.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours
Number of servings (yield): 5-6
Culinary tradition: Italian
My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 


{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenna g. October 28, 2015 at 10:23 am

Is this frozen thighs or thawed?


Dorothy Reinhold October 31, 2015 at 12:31 pm

These are not frozen, but I’ll bet you could get away with putting them in there frozen. Boneless skinless thighs are generally on the smaller side, so my guess is you would be fine starting with frozen. If you do that, make sure to check for doneness before eating (of course!). Go for it! And let me know how it works and I’ll add a note to the recipe.


Ashley Shelly September 8, 2015 at 6:06 am

How long should you cook this with chicken breast and is there another sauce you can use of your family does not care for spicy food?


Dorothy Reinhold September 9, 2015 at 1:32 pm

1. Please don’t use chicken breast! Breasts get so dry, so easily. I just really don’t like what happens to them.
2. You may substitute any jarred spaghetti sauce your family prefers. Use your favorite brand and style.
Thanks for your great questions!


Caroline August 26, 2015 at 11:26 pm

I LOVE Gina Rispoli sauces! Love marinara and tomato basil are dynamite! It’s expensive, but well worth it. I usually stock up when it’s buy 1 get 1. Can’t wait to try this with my girls!


Tandi August 4, 2015 at 3:43 pm

have you, or anyone else that you know of, attempted to make this completely in the crockpot? ie. add the pasta toward the end w/ a little water??? I know ppl do this with lasagna sometimes…?? thoughts or suggestions? We will have our 3rd child anyday & if I can find a way to make this even easier & have 1 less pot to clean, it would be amazing!! Thanks & God bless!!


Dorothy Reinhold August 4, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Gotta say, honestly, that I am not a fan of pasta in the Crock-Pot. I have never been happy with the texture at all. So nope, sorry, I didn’t do it with pasta in the pot along with everything else. (Why don’t you put some brown rice in the rice cooker, and serve this over cooked rice? I just did that last night and loved it. It doesn’t require pasta.) Best wishes on your new addition!


Jana S June 4, 2015 at 8:27 pm

I added mushrooms, red peppers and sweet onions on the bottom and it turned out delicious. My only question is why was it so watery? Too much sauce? Veg?
Served over angel hair pasta the first night. Second night, it was even yummier over sauteed & seasoned polenta (organic “log” from Trader Joes).


Sue kannatt May 28, 2015 at 9:19 am

I do one more I put frozen peppers and onions in bottom of pot then chicken then arabiatta sauce it’s the best


Sue kannatt May 28, 2015 at 9:26 am

I use boneless breasts just put them in whole not cut it Justus falls apart when done


Dorothy Reinhold May 28, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Sure, you can use boneless breasts. I tend to use thighs because I think they have way more flavor, but absolutely suit yourself. Hope you liked it!


Dorothy Reinhold May 28, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Great idea on the onions and peppers. Cannot go wrong with that.


James Owens March 11, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Springer mountain Farms chicken. Organic and delicious!!!


Dorothy Reinhold March 12, 2015 at 8:00 am

Thank you for the recommendation.


Sandy March 7, 2015 at 1:04 am

The numbers don’t add up in your commentary! The recipe makes 6 chicken thighs. You had five people eating (three kids and you and your husband). Two kids asked for seconds and the husband claimed the remainder for lunch the next day. That would be at least 8 chicken legs. Had you prepared a double recipe? I guess I’m obsessive compulsive on details adding up. The dish looks very good, though, and I’m copying it to make. I just wondered about the story that you told.


Dorothy Reinhold March 7, 2015 at 6:37 am

Ah, what an eagle eye you have! It’s all true. I noted that I made it twice in 3 days. One of those times generated the story that I told about my son and his friend, the leftovers for my husband, etc. I had probably either bought 2 packages of chicken thighs (so 8 or so thighs) or had bought a package of chicken thighs in which the thighs were smaller and there were more of them per package. That yielded the number required for my anecdote. When I made it again to work out the weights and amounts for the actual recipe, I used a more average package, so I noted that most of the packages had 6 thighs and weighed 1 1/2-2 pounds. I think 1 thigh per person is sufficient (unless you’re serving 17-year-old boys, which I will be soon enough). But of course your mileage may vary with servings sizes, etc. This is the sort of recipe you can “stretch” if you need to (sometimes I’ll add a can of diced tomatoes in their own juice). I would say if you have a portion of sauce and a thigh for each person you’re serving, you’re doing well! Let me know how it turns out for you.


Barri February 19, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Could I do this on high?.i want to make it tonight but I’d like it to be ready before 9 (is 4 now).


Dorothy Reinhold February 19, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Yes, you can do it on high. The rule of thumb with slow cookers is cooking on low takes twice the time of cooking on high.


Ashley February 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm

If I were to use chicken breasts instead, how long do you think I should cook them for?


Dorothy Reinhold February 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm

I never use breasts because they are so easy to overcook and I think thighs are better. That said, probably whack an hour or more off the cooking time. Test and see they are done! (Just guessing.)


Bobbi Driskill February 10, 2015 at 11:26 am

I’m trying this tonight with Tyson brand chicken, but do you recommend another brand that isn’t as fatty? It seems hard to get all the fat off of thighs and I hate fat!


Dorothy Reinhold February 10, 2015 at 1:45 pm

I tend to try to buy organic chicken when I can, and Tyson isn’t in my stores. I often buy Open Nature brand or the store’s organic brand. Hope that helps!


Ashley February 13, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Thanks so much for the quick reply! Perhaps I’ll just suck it up and eat some thighs, this recipe looks amazing!!


Dorothy Reinhold February 13, 2015 at 9:43 pm

I only ever buy thighs. The meat is so much more flavorful than breasts. IMHO.


Christina Kania January 27, 2015 at 7:43 pm

This is my father in laws favorite! I might have to make this for him to try !


Dorothy Reinhold January 27, 2015 at 9:22 pm

Then you MUST!


kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts March 21, 2013 at 5:38 am

I love fast throw-together dishes that turn into something that’s a repeat for your family. Since I’ll be gone from home 4-6:30 tonight, I think I’ll just go throw this in as I’ve got spaghetti sauce I put up in the fall, and chicken in the freezer.


Dorothy Reinhold March 21, 2013 at 5:43 am

That’s EXACTLY the strategy! Use what you have!


Amy Kim (@kimchi_mom) March 20, 2013 at 7:57 am

Shockingly easy! I’m doing this later this week! Thank you!


Stacy March 20, 2013 at 4:45 am

I love my crockpot but I just don’t think to use it enough. I would probably have made this on the stove and spent the time it took to cook stirring and adding water and fussing over it. Thank you for the reminder that the slow cooker is best for these sorts of meals. I am not surprised that your family and guest loved it, Dorothy. It looks and sounds delicious!


Dorothy Reinhold March 20, 2013 at 5:56 am

Thank you! You could absolutely make this on the stove or in the oven if you didn’t have a slow cooker. But man, the slow cooker just makes this so easy.


familyfoodie March 20, 2013 at 3:21 am

This is my kind of #WeekdaySupper… 3 ingredients and done! I love it!


Dorothy Reinhold March 20, 2013 at 5:56 am

FamilyFoodie (Isabel),
Oh yeah. Some nights you really, truly must keep it simple.


Mel E August 29, 2015 at 10:04 am

Hi Dorothy, I have a question for you. My husband and I both work during the week, so if I wanted to make this on a weekday I would need to start at approximately 6:30 am (before we head to work) and wouldn’t be able to eat it until around 6:00 pm. I know the recipe recommends that the chicken be cooked for 4-5 hours – will there be any issues if I leave it in the crockpot for the whole day?


Dorothy Reinhold August 29, 2015 at 9:42 pm

I say give it a go, and see what you think. FOR SURE don’t use chicken breasts, because they will be disintegrated into sawdust by that time. However, thighs with the bone in (skin off for this recipe) might be able to handle it. For that length of time, the meat will totally fall off the bone. So my answer is a qualified…”probably fine.” Try it and tell me what you think of the texture of the meat. I’m interested.


Dorothy Reinhold December 1, 2015 at 6:15 am

You are quite welcome Eden.


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