Weeknight dinners don’t have to be boring or stressful. This easy Italian baked chicken thighs recipe is a simple sheet pan dinner. Made with fresh ingredients, this baked chicken (cacciatore style) is ready to eat in about an hour – but only takes about 20 minutes of hands-on effort. The flavorful herb and spice blend makes this zesty Italian chicken irresistible. Serve on its own, or over pasta for a meal the whole family will enjoy.
Sheet pan dinners can make life so much easier, don’t you think? Chop a few veggies, sprinkle a spice blend, and bake. For these easy baked chicken thighs, I went Italian with a cacciatore style blend of herbs and veggies without the all day simmer.
Table of Contents
Ingredients for Italian baked chicken thighs
For Italian spice blend:
- Dried Fennel
- Kosher Salt
- Dried Oregano
- Dried Basil
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Black Pepper
What is baked chicken cacciatore?
Chicken cacciatore is a hunter style stew, braised with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, herbs and wine usually cooked in a slow cooker or dutch oven. It simmers slowly to create a zesty tantalizing Italian chicken dish.
I’ve taken that basic premise and transformed it to a quick and easy sheet pan dinner, using chicken thighs and baked with familiar Italian flavors.
Why two roasting steps?
Because some of the ingredients take a little longer to cook than others, I make Italian baked chicken thighs in two steps.
The first roast is to give the heartier veggies a little more time to get tender. I’ve found onions and fennel need a longer roasting time and so does the chicken, so they go into the oven first.
After the chicken onions and fennel have par-roasted, the rest of the ingredients are added to meld and combine with those sturdier veggies.
How to make zesty italian chicken
- Add fennel and onions to the sheet pan and season with olive oil and half the spice blend. Arrange into a single layer.
- Season the chicken thighs with the remaining Italian seasoning and place on the bed of vegetables. Roast for 20 minutes.
- Transfer chicken thighs to a plate and add the mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, wine and broth to the vegetables. Stir to combine.
- Place the chicken thighs back on the veggies (skin side up) and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through with a crispy skin and the veggies are tender.
For crispier chicken skin in the oven:
Crispy chicken skin is something you don’t get with regular cacciatore but it’s possible with this baked chicken. The key is to rest the chicken on top of the veggies, skin side up. Because it’s not covered in sauce, the skin actually will roast and become crisp. I love that.
For extra golden and crispy chicken skin, just turn your oven to “broil” and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye on it, though…. You don’t want blackened chicken.
Crispy baked chicken cacciatore
You’ll love the simplicity of this dinner. It’s flavorful and saucy with a zesty seasoning that’s really lip-smacking. The cacciatore-style veggies and tender, juicy chicken thighs with that irresistible crispy skin had my tasters coming back for more until it was gone.
Note: If you’ve got a hungry crowd, you can easily add 4 more chicken thighs to this sheet pan dinner.
How to serve baked cacciatore
I like to sprinkle with some fresh herbs for a bit of brightness. You can use fresh basil, a sprinkle of fresh thyme or chopped parsley.
For family style, you can serve Italian chicken thighs directly on the sheet pan in the center of the table or transfer it to a casserole dish. The casserole makes it easier for passing.
What to serve with zesty Italian chicken:
- Plain Buttered noodles
- Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes
- Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes
- Mashed Cauliflower with Roasted Garlic and Thyme
More baked chicken recipes:
- Baked Stuffed Chicken Breast with Ham and Mushrooms
- Asian Chicken Wings
- Italian Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken
- Asian Chicken Thighs
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Easy Italian Baked Chicken Thighs Cacciatore
- half sheet pan
FOR SPICE BLEND:
- 1 teaspoon whole fennel seed crushed in a spice grinder or mortar & pestle
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
FOR CHICKEN CACCIATORE
- 4 large bone in, skin-on chicken thighs excess fat trimmed
- 1 medium onion sliced into bite sized pieces from root to tip
- ½ bulb fennel cut into bite sized pieces, reserve fronds for garnish.
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
- 8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms sliced into bite sized pieces
- 2 roasted sweet peppers can use jarred or make your own. Use red, orange or yellow.
- ⅓ cup kalamata olives seeded and quartered
- 2 tablespoons capers rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup chicken stock from rotisserie chicken or low-sodium canned broth.
- ¼ cup white wine
- 15 ounce can diced tomtoes in juice
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- fresh herbs like parsley or basil
- reserved fennel fronds
- shaved or grated parmesan cheese or pecorino romano
SERVE WITH YOUR CHOICE OF COOKED:
- egg noodles
- mashed cauliflower
- mashed potatoes
- crusty Italian bread
- Preheat the oven to 400°.
MAKE THE ITALIAN SPICE BLEND
- In a small bowl, combine the fennel, salt, oregano, basil, crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper. Mix to combine and set aside.
FOR THE ITALIAN BAKED CHICKEN:
- Add the onions and fennel to the sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Add half of the spice blend to the vegetables and toss to coat with the olive oil and spices. Spread out into a single layer.
- Season the chicken thighs with the remaining spice blend on both sides and place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Roast for 20 minutes.
- After the 20 minutes, transfer the chicken to another dish. Add the mushrooms, roasted peppers kalamata olives, and capers. In a 2-cup glass measure, add the wine and chicken broth, then stir in the tomatoes and garlic.
- Pour the wine mixture over the vegetables in the pan and mix to combine. Spread the vegetables out into a single layer and top with the chicken thighs and any juices that have collected on the plate.
- Roast for an additional 20 to 25 minutes until the chicken thighs are done. If you’d like more browning on the chicken, turn on the broiler and broil for 2-3 minutes more.
- You can serve on the sheet pan or transfer to a shallow casserole dish. If there seems to be too much liquid, spoon off a bit of the excess. We like it for serving over noodles and to soak up with bread. Garnish with fresh parsley, fennel fronds or fresh basil if desired.
- Very good served over egg noodles with a shave of parmesan cheese or pecorino romano.
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