What to Serve with Chicken Cacciatore: 13 Hearty Sides to Satisfy the Hunter in You
If you’re not sure what you want for dinner tonight, it might just be that you haven’t given chicken cacciatore enough thought.
So, let’s pause for a moment and give this classic dish its due respect.
Succulent chicken braised in sweetly acidic tomatoes, bursting with herbs and aromatics, and drenched in undeniable deliciousness, chicken cacciatore will always hit the spot.
This hearty Italian classic satisfies the pickiest palates and fills the hollowest of legs – all with minimal fuss in the kitchen.
The word cacciatore translates from Italian as “hunter.” And the name is entirely apt, too, because this rustic, simple, and filling preparation tracked down the keys to our heart, and is an amazing dinner any night of the week.
Sometimes the simplest things are the most satisfying.
So, if you’re craving something hearty, Italian, and packed with onions, tomatoes and delicate herbs, look no further than cacciatore.
And the fact that it’s cooked with red wine only makes the case for cacciatore even better. Anything cooked with red wine gets a big thumbs up from us.
But all that said, now that we’re all on the bandwagon, we should dig in and answer the lingering question of what to serve with chicken cacciatore.
We’ve got that covered for you too.
With the humble roots and hearty decadence of chicken cacciatore, we lean toward similarly rustic, straightforwardly and satisfying side dishes.
We’re thinking nourishing classics that can sop up that rich braising liquid – like polenta, a luscious mash, or some roasted vegetables.
That’s just a solid – and scrumptious – beginning, though. There are so many possibilities for transforming your cacciatore from a singularly delicious dish into a complete – and completely satisfying – meal.
Chicken Cacciatore Sides: Our List of Delightful Choices
So, warm up that skillet, sear that chicken, and brace yourself for a barrage of tasty side dish suggestions. Because it’s time to get cooking and it’s about to get delicious all up in here.
1. Mashed Potatoes
Mama mia, we love mashed potatoes!
They’re inherently rustic, creamy, and bring their own bit of quiet majesty to the table. Just look at them, all austere and comforting like the Mary Poppins of side dishes.
And – of course – they’re a fantastic side for chicken cacciatore. All that tomato and red wine sauce studded with veggies and herbs melds seamlessly with the smooth potato mash.
Or a not so smooth mash.
Cacciatore also loves toothsome smashed potatoes, and it won’t be offended by a straight-up potato puree either.
Cacciatore is easy breezy like that.
Oh, corn polenta we love you in so many ways.
You’re oh, so, creamy and dreamy.
You’re the decadent yin to the healthiness of yang.
And you – ever so elegantly – absorb the cacciatore sauce.
And when each bite of chicken meets the polenta – well, let’s just say that there’s going to be a lot of happy “mmmm-ing” around the table.
Here’s a tutorial on how to make the ultimate golden side dish from Chef Josh.
3. Crispy Roast Potatoes
Roast potatoes are potato-chip-crunchy on the outside, but soft and pillowy like mashed potatoes on the inside.
In other words, they’re pure tuber perfection.
When roasting them, mimicking the flavor of the cacciatore would be a double down of deliciousness. Grab that olive oil, salt, pepper, and then reach for the dried basil and oregano.
The herbosity will marry perfectly with the cacciatore – which will bring smiles to the faces of everyone around the table.
“Mmmm! Perfectly married herbosity!”
The one trick to remember is that you want to “wax off.” Meaning, avoid the waxy potatoes and go for russets, which have more starch.
Starch is our friend here.
4. Colorful, Caramelized Roasted Vegetables
When it comes to cacciatore, we don’t just like roasted potatoes.
Oh, no. We don’t roll like that.
We also daydream about a big sheet pan loaded with bright, colorful veggies that are lightly caramelized and bursting forth with flavor.
Bursting, we say!
For these you could definitely try the dried oregano and basil too – but don’t stop there!
When you yank that sheet pan from the oven, quickly toss the veggies with roughly chopped fresh basil and oregano.
When those fresh herbs hit the hot pan and vegetables their natural herby oils will infuse everything with a kiss of freshness that will make everyone want seconds.
5. No-Knead Crusty Bread
When it comes to bread, we’re a big fan of no-knead bread.
It’s not just because – you know – there’s no kneading involved, it’s also because it’s fool proof. There’s never a question that it’s going to be amazing.
You can’t mess it up. It’s perfect every time.
We’ve accidentally let it over proof, and *bam* it’s still perfect.
We’ve accidentally under-proofed it, and *bam* it’s still perfect.
With a subtle, addictive sourdough flavor that pairs perfectly with chicken cacciatore.
Yeah, we’re big fans of no-knead bread.
Anna at Crunchy Creamy Sweet has a fun recipe to introduce you to this bread-making technique.
Give it a shot, your plate will be happy you did.
Good things come in small packages. Nay, even tiny ones.
Sparkly jewelry comes in a small box.
Saffron – the world’s most expensive spice – comes in a small container.
High octane espresso comes in a cup that’s so small your cat’s paw could envelop it.
And, pasta doesn’t need to be long, unwieldy and rustic to be the perfect accompaniment to chicken cacciatore.
So, try making some small pastina that has flavor for miles.
It will nestle up to your chicken cacciatore in a most delightful way.
Small pasta is good. Rustic pasta is good. Textured pasta is good.
All pasta is good.
However, for a fun side for chicken cacciatore do you know what’s really amazing?
Imagine a veggie pasta, an herb pasta, or even a squid ink pasta that comes together in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.
That’s what we’re talking about.
Easy, vibrant, delectable pasta that you can make on a weeknight.
Grab the master recipe with variations from Linda A.K.A. “Garden Betty” for all the goodness.
8. Zucchini Noodles
Do you want an extra pop of color on the plate with your (already) stunning chicken cacciatore?
Well, well, well.
We can’t think of anything more fresh and vibrant than zucchini noodles, or “zoodles,” as they’re affectionately known. (The “zoodle” moniker rolls off of the tongue much better than the possible alternative “zuccigetti.”)
You can make them into the shape of spaghetti, fettuccine, or wide pappardelle noodles.
The one thing you can’t do is go wrong with these little strands of nutritious deliciousness.
Grab the recipe and technique from Lacey at A Sweet Pea Chef.
9. Gnocchi “Varietals”
Ruminate on the thought of little potato or vegetable dumplings coated in a tomato and wine sauce.
Think about how bright and lively that bite of food will be.
Now consider all the possibilities. Potato gnocchi? Spinach and ricotta gnocchi? Squash gnocchi?
You can make them all incredibly easily at home, or grab a package of premade gnocchi in the pasta aisle of the grocery store.
So many choices. So much flavor when it comes to gnocchi.
Such a world of yum on the plate.
10. Jasmine or Wild Rice
Maurice Sendak, author of the much dogeared children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, wrote a little culinary jewel called Chicken Cacciatore and Rice.
We kid, we kid.
It’s actually called Chicken Soup and Rice, and he didn’t necessarily have this particular dinner in mind. But he was definitely on to something.
Rice and chicken go together like Max and a wolf costume.
So, grab that jasmine rice or that wild rice and be prepared to round out your chicken cacciatore with style.
Need a sauce for rice? Feel free to add one or use the juices from your main dish.
11. Assorted Sautéed Greens
We’d walk a mile for a good sautéed green.
Be it spinach, broccoli, broccolini, watercress, arugula, kale, bok choy, or collards – they’re all delicious.
Once you toss them with good olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes, you have the perfect side dish for chicken cacciatore.
A little green savory spiciness is bright on the plate.
And when you take a bite of chicken along with the lightly sautéed greens – well – all is right in the world.
12. Baked Cheesy Fennel
We love fennel. It brings a light anise flavor to the plate, and pairs majestically well with hearty stews.
Like chicken cacciatore.
Be it braised, roasted, or sautéed, fennel complements – but doesn’t compete with – a main dish.
But what if it was baked and tossed with cheese and breadcrumbs? How delicious would that be?
Yeah, this is truly what goes with chicken cacciatore.
We’re really are grooving on Rosemary’s recipe over at An Italian in my Kitchen.
13. Hearty Green Salad
And finally, let’s pull out that big bowl or platter, pile it high with hearty and delicate greens, and toss them with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and lemon.
That’s all you need for the perfect side salad for chicken cacciatore.
Clean and fruity.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Well, I guess it could theoretically get “better” if there were some seeds or nuts, and some veggies piled high too.
But, we really think that a mix of arugula and frisée with olive oil, salt, and citrus will take you where you want to go.
What to Serve with Chicken Cacciatore: Beyond Sides and on to Desserts!
Well, we’ve explored the world of side dishes, but there are still more possibilities to round out your meal.
If you managed to have this meal and still require extra sustenance, then kudos to you!
Craving a little dessert, you say? Well, what better way to finish off your hearty Italian meal than with an amazing Italian dessert?
Luckily, Italian cuisine is chock full of tempting deserts that fit the bill perfectly.
If dinner is all about nourishing, then desserts can be all about revitalizing.
Let’s face it, after that fantastic meal, we’re going to have to snap you out of your self-induced drowsy-from-an-incredible-meal state.
Self-induced full-belly, nap-needing drowsiness….
You’ll need a “pick me up.” Oh! What do you know? That’s the literal translation of the word “tiramisu.” Of course, the espresso helps.
Oh, tiramisu and your layers of mascarpone cheese, cream, and ladyfingers soaked in cold espresso to reach a spongy decadence. Add a light dusting of cocoa powder, chill it well, and indulge in perfection.
It’s surprisingly light, making it a refreshing change of gear after a hearty chicken cacciatore dinner.
Wake Me Up Before You Affogato
We can’t move on from coffee-based desserts to serve with chicken cacciatore without mentioning affogato.
From the Italian word ‘drowned,’ affogato is right up there in the pantheon of simple desserts.
But don’t confuse simple with boring.
On the contrary, this single scoop of vanilla ice cream (or gelato if you want to be especially authentic) topped with a shot of hot espresso, is simplicity at its most exciting and elegant.
It’s the model of minimum effort for maximum taste.
That velvety, cold vanilla hits your taste buds, followed by smooth, bitter, hot espresso. All the contrasts make for a mouthful to remember and make the perfect way to finish of a filling and heavy dinner.
Ice Ice Baby
Keeping things on the cool side, granita is another great choice after chicken cacciatore.
We’re going to let you in on a little secret here. Traditionally this is a Sicilian breakfast, mostly eaten in the summer. However, it’s so good it can be eaten at dinner time too.
Granita is similar to sorbet but with more ice crystals.
Think of it as the very sophisticated and elegant distant cousin to the slush puppy! And elegant is right: it used to be made by mixing snow from Mount Etna with rosewater.
It’s a definite palate cleanser, and it comes in a wide variety of flavors, from almond to chocolate, mint to lemon. Another popular flavor is – yep, you guessed it – coffee.
Yeah, coffee – whether in dessert form or sending beautiful tendrils of steam from a large mug – really is one of the perfect ways to finish of a chicken cacciatore dinner.
That is, as long as it doesn’t keep us away from one more glass of wine. You don’t want to get too caffeinated so late in the day, after all.
Time for a Glass of Wine!
With wine as one of the key ingredients in its sauce chicken cacciatore is friendly and open to a variety of wine pairings.
A nice merlot would be a lovely match. It’s in the middle of the red wine spectrum – medium bodied, with balanced acidity and tannins – so it plays well with the chicken and tomatoes.
That said, if merlot isn’t your thing, then a sangiovese, pinot noir, Chianti, or zinfandel would also be a good choice.
As always, you shouldn’t cook with any wine you aren’t happy to drink.
So, with that in mind, pour your first glass from the bottle you used in your cacciatore sauce – and settle in to enjoy a delicious meal.
Because there are so many answers to what to serve with chicken cacciatore that there’s no need for stress. Let’s get cooking.
A few other favorite Italian meal side dish ideas…