When I gave up eating sausage, I knew Italian sausage sandwiches would present a problem. I always loved coming home on a Sunday to the smell of that big simmering pot of spicy sauce and peppers. What I always knew though, was that the sausage, strangely, was my least favorite part. Sure, the meat added heartiness to the sandwich, but the flavor and the spice could be replicated in a healthier way with veggies and lean chicken as the centerpiece.

If you’re trying to eat healthier, you have to try this easy slow cooker recipe. Just toss in all of the ingredients and forget about it until dinner time. The peppers and sauce are delicious, and the sprinkling of fennel seeds will trick your taste buds, just slightly, into thinking it’s the original sausage recipe.

If you like foods really spicy, consider adding even more hot pepper liquid. If you like milder foods, maybe just add one tablespoon or less.

I lucked out and found the most perfect pepper fennel sandwich rolls at the deli the day I was shooting these at home. If you don’t have a comparable option, a crusty Italian sandwich roll will be just as delicious. Or, if you’re looking to cut carbs, use a lettuce leaf wrap or eat all on it’s own — it’s that good!

Slow cooker Italian chicken, peppers and onions-2

Slow cooker Italian chicken, peppers and onions


  • 2 lb. chicken breasts
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 green pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
  • 8-ounces hot cherry peppers, sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp liquid from cherry peppers (depending on how hot you want the dish)
  • 36-ounce jar marinara sauce
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 2 tsp whole fennel seeds (optional)
  • salt


  1. Turn slow cooker on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  2. Pour some sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker, then add chicken breasts and lightly sprinkle with salt. Toss in garlic. Layer peppers, hot peppers, onions, sauce and chicken until all ingredients are in the pot. Consider how spicy you want your dish to be and add in cherry pepper liquid. Sprinkle in fennel seeds. Stir until ingredients are coated in sauce.
  3. Let cook. Once time is up, chicken will pull apart easily with tongs after cooking so long in the simmering tomato sauce.
  4. Serve on sandwich rolls, over rice or pasta, or wrapped in large leaf lettuce.
  5. Enjoy!

Also see, Vegan-friendly Starbucks drinks.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.