Chicken In Spicy Tomato Sauce


Any Italian recipe with “arrabbiata” in it’s title will be a little spicy, as the word translates as “angry”, and means hot chili peppers have been added to the ingredient list. The best part about making this type of recipe at home is that you can control the amount of heat you’d like in your dish.

We visit a local trattoria just up the hill from our farmhouse in the small town of Collazzone, called Da Leone, once a week, and one of my favorite dishes on their menu is this chicken dish. Like cacciatore, chicken braised slowly over low heat in sauce is so tender it literally falls off the bone.

In Umbria, this dish would commonly be served with a wedge of Torta al Testo, or Umbrian flatbread to sop up the tasty sauce, but any crusty Italian bread will work well.

This dish can be prepared with a whole chicken cut into pieces, but I often use chicken thighs, which are both inexpensive and full of flavor. For this recipe, I usually cook my chicken on the stovetop over low heat in a cast iron pan, but you could also use a roasting pan and bake the chicken in the oven if you prefer.


Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Chicken In Spicy Tomato Sauce

Chicken In Spicy Tomato Sauce

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes


  • 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 8 Medium Sized Chicken Thighs, or One (3 pound) Chicken Cut Into Pieces
  • 1 Small Onion, Peeled and Finely Diced
  • 5 Cloves Garlic, Peeled and Minced
  • 1 Red Chili Pepper, Finely Minced
  • 3/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 1/2 Cups Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • Sea Salt and Pepper 
to Taste

To Serve:

  • Green Tops From 4 Scallion Onions


  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom pan, and once hot, brown half the chicken pieces on each side until golden brown over medium high heat, about 3 to 4 minutes each side.
  2. Brown the rest of the chicken pieces and then move all to a plate.
  3. Add the chopped onion to the pan, and cook over medium heat until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and chili pepper to the pan and cook another minute or two until fragrant.
  5. Add the wine to the pan and turn the heat up to high.
  6. Use a fork to scrape up any brown bits off the bottom of the pan, and cook until the wine has reduced by 1/3 volume.
  7. Return the chicken pieces to the pan along with the tomatoes, dried oregano, and parsley.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil.
  9. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about an hour.
  10. Remove the cover, and cook an additional 15 to 20.
  11. At this point, the sauce should have thickened and the chicken should be so tender it falls off the bone.
  12. Alternately, instead of cooking the chicken on the stovetop, you could place the pot with the chicken and sauce in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F. and cook for an hour and a half, then uncover and cook an additional 15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  13. To serve, place the chicken on a warmed platter and spoon the sauce over top.
  14. Sprinkle with the chopped onions and serve immediately.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Made this the other night. Did the oven route because the timing that way was just going to work better for me. It was delicious and a big hit at our house. I used all bone in breast meat since we all prefer that. Served it with a little angelhair with garlic and olive oil. This was the first of your recipes that I have tired. (Recently discovered your site.) I am looking forward to trying more!

  2. On the stove top as I type this! Smells and looks great already… Can’t wait for the finished product!

  3. Summer colds are the worst! Can’t smell anything, taste is reduced, aches and pains….but cooking something Italian and simple is always a way to cheer things up…was surfing on the net out of curiosity and saw your recipe online…fresh ingredients and the right blend of tasty accents make this dish a favorite amongst those who like Italian fare…I add a nice zucchini in the mix as it takes in the flavor through the simmer 🙂 grazie e salute!

  4. Made this several times now….n the flavors are sooo good we also make it will garlic n olive oil angel hair….n serve with a crusty baguette….perfect combination !!!

  5. Turned out perfect. my wife doesn’t like her food too spicy so I skipped the whole green chili and added 1/8 Tsp. of Red Pepper powder, along with one can of drained artichoke hearts. The wife and I both devastated a whole 1/4 chicken served of Asian sticky rice with a ladle of sauce and a green pepper garnish. Definitely a cook again recipe

    Wheelchair Bob ( Home chef in training)

  6. Love, love your website and have referenced in often for several years ! Especially love this recipe and the recipes for chicken thighs stuffed and rolled with the parmesan cheese bread crumb mixture and then braised in the tomato sauce!! Thank you for your beautiful and wonderful website 🙂

  7. Please tell me if I should remove the skin before cooking the Chicken in Spicy Tomato Sauce.  Looks so good!

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