Chicken Calabrese Recipe

Chicken Calabrese: A Rustic Italian Delight

Discover the rustic charm and spicy flavors of Italy with this authentic Chicken Calabrese recipe. Originating from the heart of Calabria, Italy, this dish brings the essence of Italian family cooking to your dining table. It’s a perfect blend of juicy chicken, ripe tomatoes, and a hint of spice, making it a must-try for anyone who loves Italian cuisine.

Classic Chicken Calabrese Recipe

Classic Chicken Calabrese Recipe

Dive into the heart of Italian cuisine with this Classic Chicken Calabrese recipe, a dish that embodies the simplicity and richness of flavors Italy is renowned for. Featuring juicy chicken, ripe tomatoes, and a hint of Calabrian chili, this recipe is perfect for those looking to bring a piece of Italy into their kitchen.

Ingredients Overview

  • Main Ingredients:
    • 4 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on for more flavor; boneless can be used for a quicker cook time)
    • 1 lb ripe tomatoes (heirloom or Roma for the best flavor; canned whole tomatoes if out of season)
    • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tsp dried oregano or 2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 1/2 tsp Calabrian chili pepper flakes (adjust based on heat preference; substitute with red pepper flakes if unavailable)
  • Alternatives for Availability:
    • Chicken: Thighs are preferred for their juiciness, but breasts can be used for a leaner option.
    • Tomatoes: Fresh, ripe tomatoes offer the best flavor, but high-quality canned tomatoes can be a great substitute outside the tomato season.
    • Calabrian Chili Peppers: These specific chilis give the dish its signature kick; however, red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne pepper can be used as alternatives.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

  1. Preparation Steps:
    • Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
    • Season the chicken thighs generously with salt and freshly ground pepper.
    • If using canned tomatoes, drain them and give them a rough chop to mimic fresh tomatoes’ texture.
  2. Combining Ingredients:
    • In a large bowl, combine sliced onions, minced garlic, chopped (or canned) tomatoes, and oregano. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, mixing well to ensure everything is evenly coated.
  3. Assembling the Dish:
    • Transfer the vegetable mixture to a baking dish, spreading it out evenly.
    • Place the chicken thighs on top, skin-side up, and sprinkle with Calabrian chili pepper flakes.
  4. Cooking:
    • Roast in the preheated oven for about 45-55 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the skin is crispy and golden.
    • Halfway through, check to ensure the vegetables aren’t drying out. Add a splash of water or chicken broth if necessary.

Tips for Best Results

  • Selecting the Right Type of Chicken:
    • Opt for higher welfare or organic chicken if possible. These options not only support ethical farming practices but often result in better taste and texture.
  • Fresh vs. Canned Tomatoes:
    • Fresh tomatoes are ideal when in season; look for ripe, fragrant tomatoes for the best flavor. In the off-season, choose whole canned tomatoes for their superior taste and texture over diced or crushed varieties.

This Classic Chicken Calabrese recipe is a celebration of Italian flavors and ingredients. With its straightforward preparation and adaptable ingredient list, it’s a versatile dish that can easily become a staple in your culinary repertoire. Enjoy the warmth and comfort of this Italian classic with your loved ones, paired with a side of crusty bread or a simple salad for a complete meal. Buon appetito!

Variations of Chicken Calabrese

Variations of Chicken Calabrese

The classic Chicken Calabrese recipe is a testament to the versatility of Italian cooking, allowing for numerous variations to suit any taste or dietary preference. Here are two popular twists on the traditional recipe that incorporate different ingredients and techniques for a delightful culinary experience.

With Pasta and Italian Dry Salami

Adding pasta and Italian Dry Salami to Chicken Calabrese brings a hearty and robust flavor to the dish. Opt for bucatini or penne to best capture the sauce and spices. Begin by sautéing diced salami until crisp before adding it to the tomato sauce, infusing the dish with a rich, savory depth. Cook pasta al dente and toss it with the chicken and sauce for a comforting meal. This variation is perfect for those looking to explore the fuller spectrum of Italian flavors in one dish.

One-Pan Chicken Calabrese

For a simpler, yet equally delicious version, try a one-pan Chicken Calabrese with added vegetables and potatoes. This method transforms the recipe into a wholesome meal that’s both convenient and nutritious. Incorporate bell peppers, zucchini, and Yukon gold potatoes with the chicken and spices. Adjust the Calabrian chili peppers according to your heat preference, allowing the dish to be customized for those who enjoy a milder or spicier flavor profile.

Nutritional Information

Nutritional Information

Chicken Calabrese, in its various forms, offers a balanced meal with a good mix of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals. A serving typically contains:

  • Calories: Approx. 450-550, varying with additions
  • Protein: 30-40g, crucial for muscle repair and growth
  • Carbohydrates: 30-50g, providing energy through vegetables and pasta
  • Fats: 20-30g, mainly from olive oil, offering heart-healthy monounsaturated fats

For those with dietary needs, the Chicken Calabrese can easily be adjusted:

  • Gluten-Free: Opt for gluten-free pasta or omit it altogether, focusing on the vegetables and chicken.
  • Low-Carb: Increase the ratio of chicken and vegetables while reducing or eliminating the pasta, ensuring a fulfilling meal that aligns with low-carb dietary guidelines.

By choosing fresh, quality ingredients and making adjustments as needed, Chicken Calabrese can be a nutritious addition to any diet, embodying the heart-healthy principles of the Mediterranean diet.

Cooking Techniques and Tips

Cooking Techniques and Tips

Cooking with Cast Iron Skillets

The use of a cast iron skillet is not just a cooking method; it’s an art that enhances the flavor of your Chicken Calabrese. Cast iron skillets provide even heat distribution, ensuring that your chicken cooks perfectly on all sides. Moreover, these skillets retain heat for a longer duration, making them ideal for achieving that desirable crispy skin on the chicken while keeping the inside juicy and tender. The skillet also contributes to flavor enhancement, as it accumulates seasoning over time, adding depth to every dish cooked in it.

Selecting and Using Fresh Ingredients

The secret to a remarkable Chicken Calabrese lies in the freshness of its ingredients. Ripe tomatoes and fresh herbs are central to this dish, offering a burst of flavor that canned or dried alternatives simply cannot match. When selecting tomatoes, look for those that are bright in color and slightly soft to the touch, indicating ripeness. For herbs like oregano, fresh leaves can add a vibrant and aromatic touch to the dish, elevating its overall taste profile.

Serving Suggestions

Serving Suggestions


A beautifully roasted Chicken Calabrese is best complemented with simple, fresh sides. A mixed green salad dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper offers a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the chicken. Additionally, a side of roasted vegetables or a light pasta can round out the meal, making it fulfilling yet balanced.

Salad Pairings

Consider salads that incorporate elements like arugula, spinach, or mixed greens, along with fresh vegetables and a tangy dressing to cleanse the palate. Adding elements like shaved Parmesan or a sprinkle of lemon zest can enhance the salad, making it a perfect pairing for the Chicken Calabrese.

Recommended Wines and Beverages

To complement the robust flavors of Chicken Calabrese, select a medium-bodied red wine such as Chianti or Montepulciano. These wines balance the richness of the dish with their acidity and tannins. For a lighter option, a crisp white wine like Pinot Grigio can also pair beautifully, especially if your dish leans towards the spicier side. Non-alcoholic options such as sparkling water with a twist of lemon or a basil lemonade offer a refreshing alternative to cleanse the palate and enhance the meal’s flavors.


  • Can I use chicken breast instead of thighs?
    Yes, but adjust cooking times to avoid drying out the meat.
  • How can I make this dish vegetarian?
    Substitute chicken with mushrooms or eggplant for a hearty vegetarian version.
  • What are the best substitutes for Calabrian chili peppers?
    Aleppo pepper, paprika, or a pinch of cayenne can be used for similar warmth and spice.

Chicken Calabrese is more than just a meal; it’s a journey to the heart of Italian culinary tradition. With each bite, you experience the warmth, love, and rustic simplicity that Italian cuisine is celebrated for. Buon Appetito!

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Chicken Calabrese Recipe

Chicken Calabrese Recipe

  • Author: Wendy Balderas
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This Chicken Calabrese recipe brings a piece of Italy right to your kitchen with its rich, spicy flavors and juicy chicken cooked with ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, and a hint of Calabrian chili. It’s a simple yet delightful dish that promises to impress.


  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • lbs Yukon gold potatoes, cut into chunks
  • ¾ lb ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, halved
  • 3 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried oregano)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ tsp Calabrian chili pepper (or substitute with Aleppo pepper)


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix potatoes, tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer vegetables to a baking dish. Toss chicken in the same bowl, then place over the vegetables.
  4. Roast until chicken is browned and vegetables are tender, about 50-60 minutes. Serve hot.


  • Substitute Calabrian chili with paprika and a pinch of cayenne for a less spicy version.
  • For a summer twist, add basil leaves before serving.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Roasting
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: per serving
  • Calories: 500
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 850mg
  • Fat: 22g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 45g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Protein: 35g
  • Cholesterol: 142mg

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating