Warm up with a spicy and flavorful bowl
This time of year, the days are short in our part of the world. And the nights are cold. Fortunately, we have chili to keep us warm.
Chicken chili is a bit lighter than the beef version, so we don’t sink down in our snowshoes. But green chilies and white beans make it plenty tasty and hearty.
Good thing this recipe yields a big batch. You’ll want seconds.
Recipe: Chunky Chicken Chili with Green Chilies
You could make this dish with ground chicken if you prefer, but we think chicken chunks add nice texture and flavor. We like to pair the chicken with white beans (Great Northerns in this case), but you could substitute kidney or pinto beans. Or even black beans.
Green chilies run the gamut from mild to spicy wild. We suggest using a mix of two or more varieties to add interest. We used Hatch chilies, but milder Anaheim or poblano chilies would work well, too. We also added a few jalapeño peppers for zip. We used a combination of green and red (ripe) jalapeños. You can roast the chilies or not (see Notes for Procedure). We roasted the Hatch chilies, but didn’t bother with the jalapeños.
Prep time for this dish is about half an hour. Cooking time adds 1½ hours.
This recipe makes several quarts. Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container. Or just freeze them (and have ready-made chili on hand for weeks).
- 1 pound dried white beans (or substitute canned beans if you prefer – see Notes; use 3 15-ounce cans)
- ~3 pounds of boneless chicken (thighs or breasts)
- ~2 teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste; see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons oil (we use olive oil, but any cooking oil will work)
- 2 medium onions (2 to 3 cups, diced)
- 8 to 12 ounces fresh or frozen green chilies (to taste; can substitute canned chilies – see Notes)
- 2 to 3 red or green jalapeño peppers, or a mix of the two (to taste)
- 4 cloves of garlic (or to taste)
- additional salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon dried ancho chile powder (or substitute another variety; see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried coriander
- garnish of jalapeño slices or dice, or chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)
- The night before you plan to make the chili, sort through the dried beans, removing any grit or stones. Cover the beans with water, then let them soak overnight (see Notes if using canned beans).
- Cut the chicken into chunks of 1 to 1½ inches. Season with salt to taste. Place a large soup pot or Dutch oven (one that holds at least 6 quarts) over medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the oil. When the oil is heated (in about 15 seconds – it’ll shimmer), add the chicken pieces and brown them on each side. Don’t overcrowd the cooking pot – brown in batches if necessary. When the chicken chunks are browned, drain them on a plate lined with a paper towel.
- While the chicken is browning, peel the onions and cut them into dice of ¼ inch or so. Set aside.
- Wash the chilies, then cut off their stems (if you want to roast the chilies beforehand, we tell you how in the Notes). Cut the peppers in half and scoop out the white pith and seeds with a teaspoon. Then cut the peppers into dice (you may want to reserve some jalapeño dice or slices for garnish). Remember, chilies are spicy and can burn your skin, so wear kitchen gloves while doing this step. Set the diced peppers aside.
- Peel the garlic and cut it into fine dice or thin slices. Set aside.
- By now, the chicken should be done browning, so you can remove it to drain. Using the same cooking pot (add more oil if necessary), sauté the onions. Season with salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us) and cook until the onions begin to brown (usually 7 to 8 minutes). At that point, add the chopped chile peppers and garlic, and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Add the chile powder, oregano, cumin, and coriander, then stir them into the onion mixture. Drain the beans and add them to the cooking pot. Add the browned chicken chunks. Add just enough water to barely cover the mixture. Reduce the heat to the barest simmer, then cook for 1½ hours.
- Test to make sure the beans are thoroughly cooked and soft (they’re usually done after an hour, but sometimes can take longer; continue cooking until they’re done). Adjust the salt if necessary.
- Ladle the chili into serving bowls, adding garnish if desired.
- Green chilies develop deeper flavor if you roast them (though we don’t bother doing this with jalapeño peppers). To roast, just heat the chilies under the broiler or over a gas flame until their skins begin to blister and turn black. Turn the chilies and repeat until all sides are blistered. Then place the roasted chilies in a bowl and cover it with a damp towel. Allow the chilies to steam for about 15 minutes. Then rub the skins off the chilies (wearing kitchen gloves). Cut the stem ends off the chilies, remove the seeds, and cut away the white pith. Then dice the chilies as directed in Step 4.
- The heat level of chilies can vary quite a bit. If you’re unsure, take a small bite of one to gauge the spiciness.
- Anaheim chilies are very mild, and they’re available at every supermarket. Poblanos have more heat (and better flavor), and are also widely available.
- We particularly like Hatch chilies, which get their name from the city of Hatch, New Mexico (where they’re grown). Fresh Hatch chilies are available only in late summer, but you can buy them frozen. Or freeze your own – which is what we generally do.
- If you don’t have fresh or frozen green chilies on hand, the canned version will work fine in this recipe. You generally can find canned chilies in the Mexican food section at your supermarket. The cans come in various sizes, though 4-ounce containers are very common. Canned chilies tend to have very little heat, so we suggest starting with at least 8 ounces. After the beans have cooked for a bit, you can taste them to gauge the heat level. If the flavor isn’t bold enough for you, add more canned green chilies. Or sprinkle in some hot sauce, or more ancho chile powder.
- Want to use canned beans instead of dried? Here’s how: After the chili has cooked for 45 minutes, open the cans and drain the beans into a colander or large sieve. Rinse them to remove the gunk they’re packed in, then drain the beans and add them add to the chili. Cook for another 45 minutes.
- Want a dish with more heft? Add some potatoes: Peel 3 or 4 potatoes and cut them into dice of about ½ inch. Add them to the chili pot in Step 7.
- We suggest using ancho chile powder in this dish because it’s fairly mild, and its flavor marries well with green chile peppers. If you want something bolder, try dried chipotle chile powder. Both of these chile powders tend to be available at supermarkets. We also like dried red Hatch chile powder, but that can be harder to find. You’ll probably have to order it online.
- A reminder on terminology: Chile (with an e) powder is made from dried red chilies that are ground up. Chili powder is a combination of chile powder plus cumin, coriander, and other spices.
- If your supermarket doesn’t carry chile powder, you can substitute commercial chili powder. But remember, chili powder contains cumin and coriander, which are also listed as ingredients in this dish. So you may want to reduce the quantity of cumin and coriander we call for (or eliminate them altogether).
- We use kosher salt for cooking and baking. Kosher salt is less salty by volume than regular table salt (its crystals are large and more coarse, so they don’t fill a measuring spoon as tightly). If you’re using regular table salt, use about half as much as we suggest. But, as always, adjust the seasoning to your taste.
“Yum,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “We need a chicken in every pot – of chili.”
“So you’re not going to ask, ‘Where’s the beef?’” I said.
“No, I don’t want to ruffle your feathers,” said Mrs K R. “Or lay an egg.”
“Yeah,” I said. “That would be fowl.”
“One more pun like that and I may put up a squawk,” said Mrs K R.
Better stop now. Don’t want her to brood over this.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Cabbage Chili with Spicy Sausage
Slow Cooker Homestyle Chili
Pumpkin and Pork Chili
Texas-Style Chili con Carne
Meat and Potatoes Chili
Roast Squash & Sweet Potato Chili with Kale
BBQBeef Brisket Chili
Pulled Pork Green Chile Chili
Chunky Pork and Sweet Potato Chili
Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans
Or check out the index for more recipes
I have never thought of making chilli using chunky meat, and I love how it turned out..those chicken pieces look really juicy and tender!
Hi Angie, chunky chili (whether chicken or another meat) is a nice change. Something you can really sink your teeth into. :-) Thanks for the comment.
It looks hearty and comforting - perfect for these cold rainy days in Oregon.
Hi Pam, this is perfect rainy day food! Very comforting. :-) Thanks for the comment.
oh wow! Juicy tender meat with a kick!! Gorgeous pics as usual!
The days are definitely short, but they are getting longer. We have been definitely noticing it around here and it's wonderful. I'll take chili anytime of year, though.
Hi Ansh, this does have a kick! Which we like. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, it'll be Daylight Savings Time in a few weeks, which makes a big difference. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This doesn't need potatoes for me, it looks delicious and perfect the way it is! Chunks of chicken, white beans, green chilies minus the cilantro is what I'll try! Thanks for the recipe, John! No brooding here! :-)
Hi Pam, we sometimes add cilantro to this recipe, but usually don't -- the green chilies are enough. And the potatoes would probably be over-the-top. Although sometimes over-the-top is good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yum!! Gotta try it!!
Hi Mary, you do! :-) Thanks for the comment.
With more storms on the way a huge, steaming hot bowl of this spicy chili would be fabulous! Comfort food keeps the winter blues away!
Hey, that looks good, I just made some chicken-chile last week with enough for the freezer. I love those jalepeno peppers you added as the garnish. Thanks....Pat
This is my favorite kind of chili, love the chilies and spices that you used, looks amazing!
I must say that I'll be cluckin' over this! Love it, John. However here in Denver we have 70 degrees. Crazy, huh? Whatever. This will go down great in any weather.
Your chili recipes are always so well conceived. Do you ever just "wing" it? GREG
Looks so hearty and weather appropriate :). I bet this dish will be great as well using ground turkey. Thanks for the inspiration.
Those chicken chunks and the green chilli... superb!
Hi Deb, can never get enough comfort food! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pat, it's so nice to have chili in the freezer, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cheri, it's good stuff! You'd like. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, we're supposed to get your weather next week! Really strange winter thus far. But chili is always good! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Greg, LOL! Actually I almost always wing it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amira, ground turkey would be excellent in this, I'll bet. Need to try that! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, we really like the texture -- and flavor! -- of chunky chili. Thanks for the comment.
Gosh I had NO idea that chili powder had cumin and coriander in it. I might have to casually toss that out at the next party I am at and see if it suddenly makes me a popular party guest. I am taken that you use the BIG beans. Makes it different. Thanx for the salt substitution warning too. I love potatoes, but in my opinion I personally would love to let the chicken and beans carry the load. Bottom line----delish!
I love all your chilli recipes, this one especially. I hardly ever cook chilli, I don't know why because I enjoy eating a good chilli.
I've got a bag of white beans that need to be used! Great recipe once again, John!
Delicious John I really have to buy some ancho chile powder online as we are so far from Mexico. Mind you, we do grow wonderful jalapenos in our locality. This is a wonderfully heart warming dish and you have photographed it, as always, so beautifully 8)
Hi Carol, potatoes are often an unexpected surprise in chili. Fun to use occasionally. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Gerlinde, we love chili, so it's something we make quite a bit at this time of the year. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Debra, you'll love those beans in this dish! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Merryn, if you like spicy, order some chipotle chile powder too -- good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
After five years of drought, we've been getting a deluge of rain this winter. This chicken chili would make me more than happy to stay inside -- if only to curl up with a big bowl of it.
Hi Carolyn, you really have been getting a lot of rain! You need some of this -- comfort food, you know. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Well, I clealy love saying it: chunky chicken chili. I have no doubt I'd love eating it.
This looks like something I need especially in the cold weather we are having! Yum!
Oh yum, I love this, so comforting☺
I really like how chunky this is, I'll need to remember to do that!
For me, Hatch and Poblano make a wonderful duo. I'd love to make this soup tonight! And love that it makes a big batch. It's always great to have leftovers that taste even better the next day! And I hate it when I sink in those snow shoes! :)
Oh boy, that looks like a bowl of yummy! Very warming for cold nights. :)
Whoa, that is chunky! And I love it -- a warming, hearty stew we all need on a cold day. Great flavors. :)
Hi Jeff, it's fun to say chunky chicken chili! More fun to eat it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Peachy, you do need this! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Natalia, isn't this nice? Perfect in cold weather! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Caroline, chunky chili has such nice texture! It's a nice change. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lea Ann, we know how to make a small batch of chili, but can never see the point. Leftovers are SO good! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lydia, it IS a bowl of yummy! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judy, when we say chunky, we mean chunky! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I make chili a lot, especially this time of year (and also because we have half a cow in the freezer.) But I love the change of chicken chili. I have resorted to cans of peppers -- mostly cuz they're always in the pantry and I don't want to go to the store. Next time, I'll be roasting some peppers. (PS --I adore your puns, even though someone (?) said they're the lowest form of humor. I have friends in loew places.)
I recently made chili with leftover Thanksgiving turkey (from the freezer). Love the white beans with this--and the mix of green chiles!
I love the white beans and BIG chunks of chicken in your chili, John. Sometimes you want to depart from the beef and kidney bean chili and your chunky chicken version looks fabulous! :)
Hi Rosemary, we're the lowest of the low. :D Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lisa, we like to make chili with leftover turkey, too! Or curry. Or soup. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anne, this is a really nice change-of-pace chili. Really good! Thanks for the comment.
This looks like the poster child for clean eating! So fresh and simple. Love those big chunks of chicken! I actually prefer chicken chili to ground beef - so this makes me happy!
Hi Tricia, this is a pretty clean dish. And tasty! Thanks for the comment.
And now....... I want chicken. But I kinda always want chicken. Yep. It's delicious! :)
Thats one chunky delicious soup that I want to have now specially in a summer raining weather here down under.
Hi GiGi, chicken has great flavor, doesn't it? Lovely in this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Raymund, this would be good rainy weather eats! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Love that you made this with chicken! I love chili but sometimes beef chili is a bit too heavy for me!
Hahaha... “One more pun like that and I may put up a squawk,” said Mrs K R. You both crack me up! Loving this dish, living in the tropics we have actually started eating dishes with chilli often, someone told me there was a lot of good reasons why to do that. Anyways... shall add this yummy dish to the weekly shopping list for sure.
Hi Ashley, chicken is such a nice change from beef, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anna, chilies are good, aren't they! And although we eat a lot more chili during the cold weather months, we've been known to make it in the summer, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This soup is right up our alley as it sounds so spicy and flavorful! Love all of those spices and jalapenos make everything better :P Wish I could have a big bowl right now, John!
Hi Marcelle, jalapenos do make everything better, don't they? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Making chili using chunky chicken sounds like a wonderful idea, John. The chicken look really juicy and tender. Absolutely loving how delicious and pretty it looks.
Hi Anu, chunky chicken in chili is SO good. A fun chili variation. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love to alternate chicken chili with the classic beef chili. Yours sounds so flavorful and delicious!
Hi Liz, chicken chili doesn't get enough love, IMO. It's got a lot going for it, doesn't it? Thanks for the comment.
This sounds awesome. I love chicken chili - even more than its more famous beef counterpart. I lived in NM for a time, so a little spice is always welcome!
Hi cakespy, NM has wonderful chilies! Love everything about them. :-) Thanks for the comment.
My youngest daughter is giving up red meat, and I was just saying I needed to find a chicken chili recipe. What perfect timing! I'll be sure to give this one a try.
Hi Beth, your youngest daughter will like this. You will, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I really like the idea of a chili witrh chicekn, especially chicken chunks! Makes it more satisfying I find. And I have been using white beans more and more, great choice and wonderful with all the flavor and heat.
Hi Evelyne, chicken chunks are wonderful in chili! Better, by far, than ground chicken. IMO. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Chicken curry is one of my favorite things to eat. And I definitely prefer the dark meat—so much more flavor and they don't dry out in the simmering process. And they definitely need long simmering as you have here so the chicken absorbs all those great curry flavors.
Hi Frank, chicken really does absorb strong flavors, doesn't it? So good! And I agree the dark meat is better in a dish like this. Thanks for the comment.
That looks so delicious!
Wanna try it!
Hi Mary, you'll like it! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Beautiful and delicious looking chili...I love the creamy texture of the white beans and my husband will sure enjoy the chunky chicken.
Have a great week ahead John :)
Hi Juliana, love chunky chicken! SO nice in chili. :-) Thanks for the comment.
How did I miss this? You know you're talking my kind of food with this recipe! Who wouldn't LOVE this dish? It's got everything - beans, chicken and green chile! YUM!
Hi MJ, you'll love this. And I know you have plenty of Hatch chilies in your freezer. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oooh I so love the spicy kick from those thick jalapenos and green chilies - and loving how chunky this chicken soup is! Thanks so much for sharing - we are having an oddly warm winter but I still love my chili and a bowl of this would be perfect for me no matter what the temps!
Hi Shashi, ours has been unusually warm, too, but we do get interludes of rather cold weather -- perfect for this! Thanks for the comment.
Somehow coriander cumin and oregano always work so well together in stews no? Another recipe to add to my weeknight meal plan. I am so out of ideas these days... Thank you John! :)
Hi Helene, love the combo of cumin and coriander, and they do play nicely with oregano. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Wonderful recipe.I like this and I think this is very delicious. I am going to make this recipe for my family and husband Thanks for sharing
Hi Maha, they'll enjoy this! :-) Thanks for the comment.
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