This easy chicken chili recipe is perfect for using up leftover cooked chicken. It's hearty, tasty, and very filling!
You can top it with your favorite toppings, including sour cream, shredded cheese, and jalapenos.
Don't you just love making chili in the fall and winter? Whether it's made with chicken or with beef, I find it absolutely delightful. Steaming-hot and well-seasoned, I think it's one of the best ways to keep oneself warm when it's bitter cold outside.
I've been making this chicken chili a lot ever since the weather started cooling off. We all enjoy it very much, especially The Picky Eater (and when she likes something I make it often!). It's an excellent way to use up leftover baked chicken breast or broiled chicken breast.
Here's an overview of what you'll need to make this tasty chili. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below.
Spices: I use kosher salt, black pepper, ground cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper.
Olive oil: I love cooking with this delicious oil. But if you prefer an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Aromatics: Onion, garlic, and diced chiles. They add so much flavor!
Chicken broth: I use regular broth here, not reduced sodium. I think it's more flavorful.
Heavy cream: Half-and-half might work too, but I haven't tried that, and I do like the richness of heavy cream.
Cooked chicken breast, shredded: You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken - just make sure you remove the skin.
Garnishes: Chopped cilantro, thinly sliced seeded jalapeño, shredded cheese, and sour cream.
Making this chicken chili is easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
First, you cook the aromatics and spices in olive oil.
Next, you add chicken broth and simmer to allow the flavors to meld.
Stir in the heavy cream and then the chicken. Cook just until heated through. The chicken is already cooked. You don't want to overcook it.
- It's always a good idea to wear gloves when handling jalapenos. They can irritate your skin.
- Since we're using cooked chicken in this recipe, it's important to cook it very briefly - all we need to do is reheat it. Overcooking will make it dry.
Frequently asked questions
By definition, since it's made with cooked chicken pieces and no tomatoes, it's going to be thinner than traditional chili.
The best way to make it thicker is to add just enough broth to get it to a stew consistency. Don't add too much liquid and then try to reduce it. Especially in this recipe, where the chicken is already cooked. This will just dry the chicken out.
My recipe calls for 4 cups of chicken broth. If you find that it's not thick enough to your liking, try using just 3 cups next time.
If you don't mind a little cornstarch, another trick is to whisk 1 tablespoon of cornstarch into the cold heavy cream before you add it to the chili. Make sure to whisk it well.
Absolutely! I love using rotisserie chicken in recipes. It makes life so easy. Just make sure to remove the skin. It won't work in chili in terms of its texture.
Yes. It's best to divide it into individual portions (in covered mugs or in mason jars) and freeze them. Then, you can gently reheat the individual portions in the microwave directly from the freezer.
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- Add ½ teaspoon of dried thyme to the spice mixture. It goes well with chicken.
- Use cooked turkey instead of chicken.
- A tasty garnish in addition to the other garnishes is salsa.
I usually just serve this tasty chili on its own, in soup bowls. It's hearty, delicious, and very filling, so you don't really need to serve it with anything. But if you'd like to serve it with something on the side, here are a few good options:
- Cauliflower rice - you can top the "rice" with the chili.
- Cheese biscuits
- Keto cornbread
- Savory cheese muffins
- Homemade pork rinds
You can keep most cooked leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days.
When I cook the chicken especially for this recipe, I follow the 3-4 days rule. But when I use cooked and reheated leftover chicken, I don't keep the leftovers for longer than a day or two.
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Easy Chicken Chili
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (use less if using fine salt)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 (7 oz) can diced green chilies
- 4 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 24 oz cooked chicken breast shredded (5 cups)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and thinly sliced
- ½ cup shredded cheese (I use a Mexican blend)
- ½ cup sour cream
- In a small bowl, mix together the spices. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, the green chilies, and the spice mix. Cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
- Add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the heavy cream, then the shredded chicken. Simmer just until heated through, about 5 more minutes.
- Garnish and serve.
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