DJ Foodielow-carb, low carb, sugar free, sugar-free, gluten-free, gluten free, primal, paleo

Chicken Puttanesca

Prep: 10 mins | Cook: 20 mins | Total: 30 mins | Servings:4


Chicken Puttanesca
Chicken Puttanesca
Chicken Puttanesca
Not all recipes start as a fairy tale (unless, of course, that particular fairy tale is "Pretty Woman"). Some historic or traditional recipes exist out of necessity, be it for speed, available ingredients, perseveration, the masking of rotten flavors, tenderizing, etc.

Pollo alla Puttanesca literally means, "Whore's Style Chicken". It's essentially just chicken with "Sugo alla Puttanesca" (Whoreish Sauce); a sauce draped over the top of it. The sauce is a mixture of tomatoes, olives, capers, anchovies, garlic and chili flakes. If you're a bit squeamish of the anchovies ... bacon bits will do in a pinch!

Over the years, I've heard MANY stories about the origin of the name, ranging from being named for the aroma of Italy's "ladies of the evening" to it being an accumulation of leftovers that would collect, to being something that the prostitutes would quickly assemble between appointments. There are also tales of this being something tossed on the ladies of pleasure as they walked through the night time alleys, shouting "puttana, puttana!"

There are also stories of it being a relatively new recipe, with written examples of it only going back about 50 years! There are those that believe it's a name twisted from the word "puttana", which today means "prostitute" in Italian, but its origin lies in the latin "putus", meaning "boy". From this etymology comes the word "puttanesco", meaning "lower than" ... as in "boyish, girlish, whoreish, etc." It implies a lower status, while not necessarily meaning "prostitute". It could be interpreted, then, that the name simply means a sauce made from humble ingredients.

Whatever the case ... whatever the origin ... it is, no doubt, a tasty dish!

Preparation Note: This recipe goes quickly, so have everything chopped and ready to go, before you even start heating the pan.

Photo Note: Served over a bed of zoodles.

. .
IngredientsCaloriesFatProteinCarbsFiberSA'sNet Carbs
1/4 cup (54g)  extra virgin olive oil, divided (Buy Now) 477.55400000
4 each (681g)  boneless chicken breasts (skin, optional)809.3320.7144.890000
4 each (12g)  garlic cloves, minced16004004
1 small (110g)  red onion, diced440110208
1/2 cup (90g)  assorted italian olives, pitted and very coarsely chopped93.936.
1 tbsp (8g)  capers, drained and coarsely chopped1.
4 each (8g)  boneless anchovy filets, coarsely chopped16.8.82.320000
1/2 tsp (1g)  crushed red chili flakes3.
1 lb (454g)  assorted fresh tomatoes, diced82.3204.9917.464.99012.47
salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste0000000
Totals (of 4 Servings):1544.9182.05g154.39g37.84g10.2g0g27.64g
Per Serving:386.2320.51g38.6g9.46g2.55g0g6.91g *


  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 F.
  2. Pre-heat a large oven proof sauté or skillet over high heat.
  3. Coat the chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons of oil and season both sides of them with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the chicken breast in the hot pan and sear them. When one side is nice and golden brown (about 2 minutes), turn them over and place the entire pan in the oven. Let the roast in the oven for about 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. When the breasts are firm to the touch, remove the pan and place it on a hot burner on the stove. Quickly remove the chicken breasts from the pan and place them on plates.
  6. Add your remaining oil, garlic, onions, anchovies, olives, capers and chili flakes to the pan. This will likely cook QUICKLY. You want to lightly fry these ingredients in the oil, for about 1 minute.
  7. Add the tomatoes to the pan, with a bit of salt and pepper. Still over high heat, cook the sauce until the tomatoes are just cooked and the sauce is thick, about 2 more minutes.
  8. Divide the sauce between the chicken breasts and serve!

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* Learn More: More about this recipe and nutrition ...


i just made this. It was wonderful and  we did not miss the pasta at all. Thanks for the  recipe. 

 Nancy  1/9/2018


---Reply posted by DJ on 1/9/2018
Sure thing! I'm glad you enjoyed it! :-D

I just made this dish tonight with a few substitutions (sardines instead of anchovees) and i have to say it was amazing. I was a bit nervous about putting my skillet in the oven(new to cooking) bet everything came out as planned cooked great. Thank you for the recipe. It is definately going to come around again!


 Mike Scott  8/9/2016


This is a deceptively popular one, WinterFyre11. Everyone who has ever made it, loved it. A lot of people go into it questioning it, but ... for whatever reason a lot of people give it a go, and love it. I'm not surprised that they do, it's just the initial apprehension going into it. It's so good! Funny little name, too! ;)

 DJ  9/3/2014


Once I stopped giggling at the name of the dish (I'm half Italian and I recognized the word "puttanesca" right off, since the only words I picked up from family were the naughty ones), I read the ingredients and... oh. my. gosh! I gotta make this real soon. It sounds amazing!! My family need never know that the chicken they're eating had a--ahem--"colorful" past. LOL

 WinterFyre11  8/30/2014


Awesome, Joanna! I'll bet it was good! :)

 DJ  8/21/2014


i used this sauce over fried sole and it was the bomb!!! super flavorful and i used a ton of stuff from my garden!

 joanna  8/17/2014


Report back when you try it, Anne! I think you'll really enjoy it!

 DJ  7/6/2014


I love a good puttanesca sauce and I can't wait to try this one! I'm new to the low carb lifestyle and websites like yours are saving me from food boredom :)

 Anne  7/5/2014


Glad to hear it, Rosemary! It's a flavor I love, as well. Try it with fish, sometime. Also quite delicious! :)

 DJ  6/13/2014


I'm still making this dish! I love it and it has remained one of my absolute favorite recipes. It's so easy to make that I practically have the recipe memorized! Thanks for this great low carb recipe!

 Rosemary  6/11/2014


I'm glad to hear it, Rosemary! :) It's sort of a hidden treasure, somehow. It's not very popular, but it's one of the recipes that gets the most positive feedback. I can never figure out why that is. I think people are bashful because of the name ... In any event, I'm glad you like it!

 DJ  5/20/2014


This is my favorite dish! It's tasty, and makes a nice Sunday early dinner.

 Rosemary  5/19/2014


Donna, I don't blame you in the slightest! Most of my actual meals are a lot of the recipes from this site ... cut up into chunks and stir-fried. The tastes and textures are all there, but ... it's just faster to do a stir-fry. (It doesn't look as nice in a photo and ... technically some juice and texture, finesse, etc. is lost in doing this, but ... I'm ok with it for a quickie dinner! ;) ). I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

 DJ  4/11/2014


I made this tonight - Lovely! Both my husband (not a vegetable lover) and I loved it. Next time I make it I'm going to cut the chicken in strips and treat it more like a stir fry. Everything else the same though. Many thanks.

 Donna  4/11/2014


Thanks, Hollie! Yep, that's true. The origin story helps, for sure. I tend to find this kind of thing interesting, but ... for those that don't care ... they can just scoot down the page and gobble up the recipe. The two have been separated. In any event ... how was it?

 DJ  3/24/2014


This sounds so good. I'm on a salty trip at the moment and this is right up my alley. Making it tonight. Also, learning the origins of recipes help me remember the dish. Thank you for your blog. P.s. not much of a commentor but I like you site.

 Hollie  3/23/2014


I made this for my family this week -- so good!! Anchovies didn't even phase the kids. The roasting of the chicken worked perfectly. Love your site -- keep the great recipes coming!

 Shantel  2/7/2014