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    Chicken Puttanesca

    Our Chicken Puttanesca recipe features tender chicken thighs braised in a delicious tomato sauce with briny olives and capers.

    Easy enough for a weeknight, yet elegant enough for company, this is one dish you’ll want to put on repeat.

    When chicken thighs simmer gently for some time, they undergo a wonderful transformation. It turns amazingly tender and juicy, soaking up the rich flavors of the ingredients it’s cooked with.

    Today’s braised chicken dish brings on some big time Italian flavors. Like Chicken Cacciatore and Chicken Pizzaiola, our star protein cooks in a well seasoned tomato sauce. All you need is some pasta or crusty bread to serve it with, and you’ve got a meal that’s sure to win over any crowd.

    Why You’ll Love It

    • Bold and Rich Flavors: The blend of garlic, anchovies, capers, and olives, combined with the sweetness of tomatoes, creates a deeply flavorful sauce.
    • Simplicity Meets Elegance: Despite its sophisticated flavors, this dish is very easy to prepare. Most of the cooking time is hands-off, so you can relax while a great dinner is cooking.
    • Comforting Yet Light: While it’s very comforting, especially when served with pasta or bread, the dish manages to remain surprisingly light and healthy.
    • Weeklong Appeal: Because it’s so easy, you can enjoy this dish on any hectic weeknight. But it’s so good you’ll be equally happy serving it for a special Sunday dinner.

    So What is Puttanesca?

    Puttanesca is a classic Italian sauce that originated in Naples in the mid-20th century. The name “Puttanesca” refers to, um, ladies of the night. Not sure where that came from. 🤷‍♀️

    The sauce is known for its bold, robust flavors and typically includes tomatoes, garlic, olives, capers, anchovies, and chili flakes. These create a combination that’s savory, tangy, a little spicy, and full of umami.

    It is typically served with pasta, most commonly spaghetti. A few months back we cooked our version of Pasta Puttanesca for you. Today’s recipe takes uses the same sauce, but this time as a braising sauce for chicken.

    Chicken thighs smothered in tomato sauce along with olives in a stainless steel skillet.

    Ingredient Notes

    For a complete list, along with exact measurements, see the recipe card at the end of the post. Here are the main things you’re going to need to make chicken puttanesca:

    • Chicken: We prefer bone-in, skin-on thighs. The same recipe can also be followed with boneless, skinless thighs, or chicken breast. Just note that the cooking time may need to be adjusted.
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: For searing the chicken, and adding some extra flavor to the sauce.
    • Garlic: Always a must.
    • Crushed Red Pepper: For a touch of heat. Omit if you have a mild palate.
    • Anchovies: They don’t make the sauce fishy, but add an umami richness to the sauce. However, if you are strongly opposed to using them, substitute the anchovies with more capers.
    • San Marzano Tomatoes: You can use other canned tomatoes if needed, but San Marzano are best. Crush them by hand in a large bowl before adding to the sauce.
    • Tomato Paste: Deepens the tomato flavor and thickens the sauce.
    • Olives: We’re using both kalamata and green. You can go with whatever you have on hand.
    • Capers: Lends a unique tart and salty touch to the dish.

    How to Make Chicken Puttanesca

    1. Sear the Chicken: Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Sear them on both sides in the olive oil. Remove to a plate.

    Seared chicken thighs on a plate.

    2. Build the Sauce: Add garlic, crushed red pepper and anchovies. Sauté for about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, olives, capers and parsley. Bring to a simmer.

    Tomato sauce with olives and capers in a skillet.

    3. Braise the Chicken: Return chicken to the pan, spooning the sauce over the chicken. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 185°F with an instant read thermometer. While it cooks, check out our roundup of favorite Italian Recipes.

    Finshed product, ready to serve.

    Serving Suggestions

    We love this dish served over pasta, particularly long shapes like spaghetti or linguine.

    A serving of this dish served over spaghetti.

    Another great option is some nice crusty bread, like our easy No Knead Bread.

    A nice salad also goes well on the side. Think Caesar Salad, Wedge Salad or Greek Salad.

    If you’re watching carbs, you can easily enjoy chicken puttanesca all on it’s own.

    Helpful Tips

    • Properly Season the Chicken: Make sure you season the chicken thighs with enough salt and pepper before searing. This initial seasoning is important for developing the base flavor of the dish.
    • Sear the Chicken: Don’t rush the searing process. Getting a nice, golden-brown crust on the chicken not only adds a depth of flavor but also helps lock in the juices.
    • Hand Crush the Tomatoes: Hand-crushing the tomatoes gives the sauce a rustic texture and allows you to control the chunkiness of the sauce.
    • Balance the Flavors: If the sauce tastes too acidic from the tomatoes, a pinch of sugar can help balance it out. If you are using San Marzano tomatoes (which we recommend), you may not need any sugar.
    • Let It Simmer Slowly: The key to a tender chicken in this dish is the slow simmer. This gentle cooking method allows the chicken to become tender and absorb all the wonderful flavors of the sauce.

    Leftovers and Storage

    Chicken puttanesca is great as leftovers, when all of the flavors have time to mingle. Store it in an air tight container for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

    It freezes beautifully too, up to 3 months. Simply thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat, adding a dash of water if more liquid is needed.

    Close up shot of the featured dish.

    Add some major flavor to your dinner table with our easy chicken puttanesca recipe. I think you’re going to love this dish just as much as we do.

    Make sure to save or pin this recipe so you always know where to find it. And don’t forget to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you!

    Chicken Puttanesca, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    Serving of chicken puttanesca in a bowl atop the Gypsy Plate.

    More great chicken recipes:
    Chicken Vesuvio
    Marry Me Chicken
    Chicken Chasseur
    Chicken Tagine
    Chicken Provencal
    Fricase de Pollo
    Peruvian Chicken

    Featured image for chicken puttanesca recipe.

    Chicken Puttanesca

    Yield: 6 servings
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 45 minutes
    Total Time: 55 minutes

    Our Chicken Puttanesca recipe features tender chicken thighs braised in a flavorful tomato sauce with olives and capers. Easy and elegant, this dish is a crowd-pleaser.

    Ingredients

    • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
    • salt, to taste
    • pepper, to taste
    • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
    • 3-4 anchovies, chopped
    • 28oz canned whole tomatoes, hand crushed in a large bowl
    • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
    • ½ cup kalamata olives, halved
    • ¼ cup green olives, halved
    • 2 Tbsp capers
    • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped + more for garnish

    Instructions

    1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat extra virgin olive oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet and sear the chicken on both sides until golden brown (about 6-7 minutes per side). Remove to a plate. If there is excess fat in the pan from the chicken, remove some from the pan.
    2. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, crushed red pepper and anchovies. Sauté for about 1 minute.
    3. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, olives, capers and parsley. Bring to a simmer.
    4. Add chicken into the pan, spooning the sauce over the chicken. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 185°F with an instant read thermometer.
    5. Remove from heat, garnish with additional chopped parsley. Serve with pasta or crusty bread.

    Notes

    1. The same recipe can also be followed with boneless, skinless thighs, or chicken breast. Just note that the cooking time may need to be adjusted.
    2. We highly recommend using San Marzano tomatoes, as they provide superior flavor. They may cost a dollar or two more, but the difference is worth it.
    3. Technically chicken is done and safe to eat at 165°F. But for fall-off-the-bone tender thighs they should be cooked to 185°F. If you are substituting them with breasts, only cook to 165°F to avoid them drying out.
    4. The anchovies do not make your sauce fishy, but instead add umami notes to the sauce. However, if you are strongly opposed to using them, substitute with more capers.

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 6 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 411Total Fat 29gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 22gCholesterol 169mgSodium 860mgCarbohydrates 8gFiber 4gSugar 4gProtein 33g

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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