This recipe for chicken chili is the easiest to make, healthy and has great flavor. With a little bit of dried spices, it will be an easy comfort food to warm up leftovers too. This takes less than an hour to prepare, perfect for a weeknight meal! I will be honest, I have always eaten beef chili growing up. I had ever heard of chicken chili when I was a kid. The first time I had this chili was from my neighbor Barb that made it for us when my oldest daughter was born. I immediately asked for the recipe and have been making it for almost 20 years now. It is definitely a family favorite. My mom was in the kitchen a lot…as the youngest of 6 kids, you can imagine the casserole meals and big pots of stews and soups that were always around. I think she would have welcomed this pot of chili in a heartbeat.
How to Start
Start by cutting chicken breasts into bite sized pieces. I use two chicken breasts for this recipe. Then chop up one onion and three cloves of garlic. Brown the chicken first in a cast iron pot or heavy bottom pot, remove it to a plate, then add the onions and garlic to in the pot to brown. Finally, add everything into the pot including the chicken, and let it simmer for an hour.
Add the beans at the end
About 5-10 minutes before you serve it, add the beans. Since we are using canned beans that are already cooked, they only need to heat up in the chili.
What kind of beans to use
I found this great post from Camellia brand beans that talks about the different white beans. I use Great Northern beans for this recipe, but if you have Cannellini beans, it will still turn out delicious, see below!
Also called pea beans, Navy beans are small, oval-shaped, and quick-cooking. Because they get creamy when cooked, they’re perfect for mashing against the side of the pot, pureeing in dips, and thickening soups, stews, ragouts, and more. They have a mild flavor and are the bean of choice for classic Boston baked beans, Navy Bean Chowder, and quintessential South Louisiana-Style White Beans & Rice. Interestingly, the Navy bean name comes from its use as a food staple by the U.S. Navy in the early 1900s. While all beans are high in fiber, Navy beans have the most — 19 grams per cup!
Larger than Navy Beans but smaller than Cannellini beans, medium-sized Great Northern beans are known for their mild, nutty flavor and firm flesh. Great in soups and stews, they hold their shape better than Navy beans, take on the flavors of the foods they’re cooked with, and are commonly used in French cassoulets.
Cannellini beans are the largest of the group and because of their traditional kidney shape, they can also be referred to as White Kidney Beans. Meatier than Navy or Great Northern beans, they have a nutty, earthy flavor and tender flesh, and are often used in Italian dishes like Minestrone. They retain their shape and texture well, so they’re perfect to use in salads, soups, stews, and chili.
Also called “butterbeans”, Baby Lima beans are small, smooth, and creamy with a rich, buttery texture. They’re starchier than other beans and are often used in soups, stews, succotash, and casseroles, or just cooked simply with herbs and spices. In the south, they’re often cooked with ham or bacon and served over rice.
Substituting one variety of canned bean for another
The reality is that even though the different varieties have slightly different flavors and sizes, (and everyone has their personal favorites), they’re often used interchangeably in recipes. So, for example, if a recipe calls for Cannellinis, and you only have Great Northerns on hand, your dish will still come out fine and taste delicious. So try them all to see which you like best, and enjoy.
- 2-3 TBSP Olive oil
- 4 small chicken breasts, or 2 large
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 – 14oz can chopped tomatoes, (like petite diced tomatoes or stewed)
- 1- 14oz can chicken broth or stock
- 1 small can of chopped green chili’s
- 2 cans of White beans such as Great Northern
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- In a heavy bottom pot, like a cast iron pot, drizzle 2 TBS olive oil and heat to a medium heat. Brown chicken on all sides and remove to a plate. You don’t have to worry if its till pink, it will finish cooking when it goes back in the pot.
- Add additional 1 TBSP of olive oil, cook onions and garlic until they turn translucent. Watch they don’t burn.
- Stir in canned tomatoes, chili’s, broth and spices and add the chicken back into the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
- Stir in the canned beans with all their liquid and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
- Serve in bowls with tortilla chips, topped with shredded cheddar cheese, diced avocado’s and a drizzle of lime juice.