Chicken Cacciatore and Polenta

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Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore with Polenta is a hearty chicken dinner with a savory sauce made with bell pepper, tomatoes, and dried herbs served over creamy polenta that cooks at the same time as the chicken. 

Close up picture of polenta plated with chicken cacciatore and topped with fresh parmesan and parsley.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe: This all-in-one dinner cooks chicken, sauce, and creamy polenta at the same time. It’s efficient, full of flavor, and a total crowd-pleaser.

We’ve been making this saucy chicken dinner for years. Over time, we started cooking the polenta pot-in-pot style and have tweaked the flavors and cooking technique. So we wanted to update the post with new tips and photos to make it totally seamless for you. 

This is one of our go-to Instant Pot chicken dinner recipes that includes a grain, right alongside Creamy Chicken and Broccoli over Rice, Chicken Bacon Pasta in a Garlic Cream Sauce, and Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Pasta.

Ingredients for Instant Pot chicken cacciatore, including, tomatoes, mushrooms, butter, garlic, spices, broth, polenta, green pepper, onion, and chicken thighs.


Here’s what you need for this quick chicken and polenta Instant Pot dinner:

  • Chicken. We use chicken thighs for this recipe. 
  • Vegetables. We make the cacciatore sauce with green bell pepper, yellow onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, and mushrooms. 
  • Herbs. Flavor your sauce with dried oregano and basil. 
  • Parmesan. This is essential as a topping to add richness and creaminess to your chicken. 
  • Polenta. To serve your chicken over a nice base of creamy polenta, you’ll need coarse polenta, more cheese, dried parsley, and a pat of butter to finish it off. 
Overhead picture of onions and peppers being sautéed in an Instant Pot.

How to Make Chicken Cacciatore in an Instant Pot

This easy recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.

Start making your caciatore by seasoning the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper. Then you’ll brown them in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Remove the browned pieces from the Instant Pot and continue working with the remaining chicken. 

When your chicken is nicely seared, saute the green bell pepper, onion and garlic, then add the tomatoes, dried herbs, and return the chicken to the pot. 

If you’re making polenta with your chicken, grease a 7-inch round cake pan that will fit inside your Instant Pot with nonstick spray. Combine the water, polenta, parmesan cheese, parsley, alt and pepper in the prepared pan. Next, carefully add a trivet to the pressure cooking pot, placing it over the chicken in the pot. 

Overhead picture of chicken thighs on top of vegetables in and Instant Pot and ready to cook for chicken cacciatore.

Using a sling, carefully lower the cake pan of polenta onto the trivet. Now you’re ready to pressure cook. Cook the chicken and polenta on high for 8 minutes. When the cook time ends, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release and remove the lid. 

Use your sling to remove the pan of polenta, then stir in the butter. Remove the trivet from the pot as well. The chicken will be fully cooked, so you can remove it from the pot with tongs, leaving the sauce in the pressure cooking pot. 

Overhead picture of polenta cooked in an Instant Pot using the pot in pot method.

Bring the sauce to a boil using the saute feature and cook until it thickens nicely. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. If you want a smoother sauce, you can use an immersion blender to puree it now too. A few pulses will break down larger chunks, or you can make it fully smooth. 

To serve, spoon your sauce over the chicken on a serving platter and top with parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Fluff your polenta with a fork and serve it alongside the chicken cacciatore. Enjoy!

Overhead picture of polenta and Instant Pot chicken cacciatore plated and topped with parsley and parmesan, with a serving bowl of polenta, a serving bowl of chicken cacciatore and fresh parsley in the background.

Important Tips for Making Chicken Cacciatore with Polenta

  • The polenta in this dish is optional, but it’s lovely to make the side and main at the same time. It’s mildly flavored to complement the meal
  • Check out this post to make your own sling from tin foil. It’s a handy trick for all kinds of Instant Pot dishes, including cheesecakes and even potato salad
  • We like to use a tall trivet for the polenta because everything fits underneath better. If you only have the one that came with your Instant Pot, that may work too.
  • Be sure to use coarse polenta, not medium or fine. Otherwise, it will cook too quickly and the texture will be off. 
  • The polenta with thicken as it cools, so you can add a splash more liquid (water, broth or even milk) to loosen it up if it hardens too much. 
Overhead picture of polenta and Instant Pot chicken cacciatore plated and topped with parsley and parmesan, with a serving bowl of polenta, a serving bowl of chicken cacciatore and fresh parsley in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions about Instant Pot Chicken and Polenta

How should I store leftover chicken cacciatore?

Store cooled leftover chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. You can also freeze the chicken and sauce for up to 6 months. 

How should I store leftover polenta?

Your polenta will be the creamiest right after it’s cooked, as it hardens and will seize up as it cools. That said, you can still store it for up to four days in the fridge. 

Can I use chicken breasts to make chicken cacciatore?

Yes, you can use boneless chicken breast instead of boneless thighs with no changes to the recipe. If they’re especially huge, slice them in half horizontally to ensure they cook fully. 

What else can I serve with chicken cacciatore?

If you’re skipping the polenta, you can serve this tomato-sauced chicken dish with brown or white rice, mashed potatoes, or your favorite pasta

What’s the difference between polenta and cornmeal or grits?

Polenta, cornmeal and grits are all made from ground dried corn. Grits tend to be looser and more pourable than polenta, but the flavor is quite similar. 

Chicken cacciatore and polenta on served on a white plate, topped with fresh parsley and parmesan, and placed in front of an Instant Pot.

MORE Instant Pot Chicken Recipes

We love these other quick and easy chicken dinner recipes too:

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Overhead picture of Instant Pot chicken cacciatore with polenta topped with fresh parmesan and parsley.

Chicken Cacciatore with Polenta | Instant Pot recipe

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Additional Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Chicken
This Instant Pot Chicken Cacciatore with Polenta recipe features tender chicken thighs in a garlicky tomato sauce over creamy polenta for a family favorite weeknight dinner.
Print Pin Recipe


For Cacciatore

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs well trimmed (about 6 to 8)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced small
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 can 14.5 oz diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 jar 4.5 oz sliced mushrooms, drained, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese for serving
  • Fresh parsley leaves for garnish

For Polenta

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup coarse polenta
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • Heat olive oil in pressure cooker over medium-high heat (or using brown setting on an electric pressure cooker.) Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches cook chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes total, adding more oil as necessary. Transfer chicken to plate.
  • Add onion to the pressure cooker; saute until onion is soft, scrapping up browned bits, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add bay leaf, tomatoes and chicken broth; return chicken to pressure cooker and press into tomatoes until they are mostly covered.
  • Place lid on pressure cooker and lock in place. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Release pressure using quick release valve and remove lid. Add green peppers and stir into mixture. Lock lid in place again, bring to high pressure and cook for 2 more minutes. Use quick release and remove lid. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (If a thicker sauce is desired, you can remove the chicken to a plate and simmer sauce until it is the desired thickness. Do this before seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.)
  • Serve over rice or pasta.
  • Generously season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Select Saute to preheat the cooking pot. When hot, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Brown half of the chicken on one side, about 3 minutes. Do not crowd the pot. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate. Repeat with the remaining half of the chicken, adding another tablespoon of oil if needed.
  • Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot. Add the green bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Saute for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken and accumulated juices.
  • Spray a 7-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the water, polenta, parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Place a tall trivet above the chicken in the pressure cooking pot. Use a sling to carefully lower the cake pan onto the trivet. Lock the lid in place.
  • Select High Pressure and 8 minutes cook time.
  • When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid.
  • Use the sling to carefully remove the pan of polenta from the cooking pot. Add the butter and stir until melted. Remove the trivet from the cooking pot.
  • Use tongs to transfer the chicken to a platter and cover to keep warm. Select Saute and boil the sauce until it thickens, about 5 to 10 minutes. When thickened, if desired, use an immersion blender to pulse the sauce a few times to desired consistency. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.
  • Just before serving, fluff the polenta. Serve the chicken cacciatore with the polenta on the side.


* We like to use a tall trivet for the polenta because everything fits better underneath.
** Don’t substitute finely ground polenta, since this will cook too quickly. 
*** The polenta will thicken as it cools. If needed, add more liquid to return it to your desired consistency.


Calories: 533kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 62g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 296mg | Sodium: 576mg | Potassium: 1.058mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 436IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 145mg | Iron: 4mg


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