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Hearty Smoky Chicken Chili Recipe

This Hearty Smoky Chicken Chili is a super healthy comfort food that’s gonna warm you right up! Loaded with fresh vegetables, beans, shredded chicken and a smoky flavor from chipotle peppers for some major depth of flavor! It’s the perfect dinner idea.

It’s chili weather and you definitely need to give my Crock Pot White Chicken Chili or 30 Minute Best Beef Chili a try!

The Best Chicken Chili Recipe

I find that chili is the perfect way to get all the nutrients that we need into one delicious bowl. Plus, the kids will eat it without even realizing there are lots of nutrient-packed ingredients like meat, beans, and vegetables in it. And this Smoky Chicken Chili is a great example!

Chicken Chili is great when you still want to have a meaty chili but maybe you don’t want beef or you are simply out of it. This particular chicken chili is also loaded with lots of vegetables and beans. So you won’t miss the beef at all!

What I love most about it is the rich smoky flavor. Adding chipotle peppers and smoked paprika lends the perfect amount of smokiness that dresses up the chili perfectly.

It’s fun, flavorful, healthy, and easy to put together for a weeknight meal.

close up of chicken chili with beans and vegetables

Why You’ll Love This Easy Chili

This is a simple stovetop chili that you’re going to love. Here are the reasons why this recipe will soon become a hit in your house!

  • It’s ready in under an hour. Some chili recipes take all day to make, but not this one! This chili can can be ready in under an hour. There’s no rule saying that you can’t let it simmer longer either!
  • It’s packed with protein. This is because the chicken, cannellini, and black beans add a ton of protein to this dish.
  • It’s a one-pot meal. You can cook the chicken and the chili in the same pot. So there’s little to no mess while making this dinner.
  • You can keep a lot of the ingredients in the pantry for a quick weeknight meal. I usually grab a few cans of each of the canned ingredients so I have them on hand to make this recipe anytime.
a bowl of smoky chicken chili with sliced jalapenos, sour cream, and cilantro

Recipe Ingredients

Here is the list of ingredients that you need to make Smoky Chicken Chili. Remember to scroll down to the recipe card below for the exact amounts needed.

  • Avocado Oil: You can also use olive oil or a different cooking oil of your choice.
  • Skinless Boneless Chicken Breasts: This is the best cut of chicken to use if you want to keep the meal low in fat. You can use skin-on for more flavor if you’d like.
  • Sweet Onion: You can also use white onion or yellow onion.
  • Garlic: A good chili always has fresh garlic! I highly recommend using fresh instead of dried garlic for this recipe.
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce: You can find the little cans at the supermarket with other Mexican foods like black beans, salsa, and taco ingredients.
  • Cumin: Cumin is a warm and hearty spice that is perfect for this chili.
  • Chili Powder: You can use more or less depending on how spicy you’d like the chili.
  • Smoked Paprika: The smoked paprika is a big player in this recipe! This is because it helps add to the deep smoke flavor.
  • Ground Coriander: Coriander adds a bit of freshness to the dish and it has a slight citrus flavor.
  • Sea Salt: Sea salt is a great ingredient to have around because it brings out the flavor of whatever you use it on. Kosher salt will also work.
  • Carrots: Carrots add a little earthy sweetness and texture to the chili.
  • Red Bell Pepper: I like to use red bell peppers for a little sweetness. You could also use yellow or orange bell peppers.
  • Canned Fire Roasted Tomatoes: Muri Glen is my favorite brand!
  • Tomato Sauce: Make sure that you buy unsalted tomato sauce. Muri Glen is also my favorite brand for tomato sauce.
  • Chicken Broth: Vegetable broth is also ok to use. Try to use low-sodium broth so that you can control the salt level of the chili.
  • Cannellini Beans: These are also called white kidney beans. I love adding these to my chili for extra fiber and protein!
  • Black Beans: I always seem to have a can of black beans laying around! If you’re out, you can substitute with more kidney beans if you don’t have any.
smoky chicken chili with beans and vegetables

Optional Toppings:

  • Shredded Cheese: Cheddar, Pepper Jack, or Mozzarella will work great.
  • Sour Cream: Or you can use plain Greek yogurt.
  • Jalapeno Peppers: This is for those of you who want to add some more heat! Candied Jalapeno peppers would also add a fun twist of spicy sweetness!
  • Red Onion: Or you could use sliced green onions.
  • Avocado: Diced avocado will work or you can even add a dollop of this easy-to-make Guacamole. Avocado is great because it adds a little creaminess and healthy fat to the recipe.

Substitutions & Variations

This chili is pretty versatile! So you can make this Smoky Chicken Chili several different ways and it will still be delicious.

  • Use beef instead of chicken. This is an easy swap! You can use ground beef or stew meat for a chunkier chili.
  • Save time and use a rotisserie chicken. If you are short on time you can always use a rotisserie chicken straight from the grocery store. Just pull the chicken off and use it in the chili as is.
  • Make it vegetarian: You can omit the meat if you want this to be a vegetarian meal. I suggest adding more beans, more vegetables, or using less stock.
  • You can use sweet potatoes instead of carrots. This is an easy swap if you don’t have any carrots.

How to Make Smoky Chicken Chili

Follow these quick and easy steps to make this easy chili recipe!

  • First, you’ll sear the chicken in a large pot. You can do this in the same pot that you’re cooking the chicken in. Actually, it’s better to do it this way for more flavor! You’ll see why in a sec.
  • Then remove the chicken from the pan and add the onions. Let the onions cook and they will start to release their natural liquids and se that liquid to scrape up any bits leftover from the seared chicken.
  • Now add in the garlic and chipotle peppers. Stir them with the onions and cook for about 30 seconds.
  • Next add in the carrots and red peppers. Again, stir to combine. And then add in the spices.
  • After all the spices are added, pour in the fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato sauce. Once everything is combined, add the chicken breasts back to the pot.
  • Pour the chicken broth over the chicken. The chicken will now need about 15 minutes for it to cook through. Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it with two forks.
  • Add in the beans to the chili. And then add the chicken back in. Let the chili simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Then taste for seasoning and add any salt if needed.
  • Serve with your favorite toppings. Don’t forget to add toppings like shredded cheese, red onions, avocado, and jalapenos to your homemade Smoky Chicken Chili!
close up of chicken chili with beans and vegetables

Tips for Success

These are some tips and suggestions to make sure that your chili is a complete success!

  • Season the chicken before cooking. It may seem a little silly, but seasoning as you work through the dish develops the best flavor. The first chance to add seasoning to the chili is with the chicken so don’t skip this step!
  • Drain and rinse the beans. Your chili will have the best flavor if you drain and rinse the beans. And it also may take away the metallic taste that the beans sometimes get from being in the can.
  • Enjoy the chili on the day after you make it. I’m a firm believer that chili tastes better on the second day!
a bowl of smoky chicken chili with sliced jalapenos, sour cream, and cilantro

Chili Topping Ideas

Here are some of my favorite chili toppings.

  • Shredded Cheese: Cotija cheese would also be delicious!
  • Diced Avocado: Or better yet, you can make guacamole to go on top. Try my Roasted Tomato Guacamole!
  • Tortilla Chips: This is my kids’ favorite topping. They love to crumble up tortilla chips in their hands and sprinkle them on top.
  • Salsa: I love swirling some fresh and tangy salsa into my hot chili. This Salsa Verde tastes great with smoky chili.
  • Pickled Vegetables: Some of our favorite things to put on top of chili are my zesty pickled onions and of course some pickled jalapenos for a little heat.
  • Crema: You can keep it simple with a dollop of sour cream or go all out with my Chiptole Avocado Crema!

How to Store & Reheat

Store any leftover chili in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I like to repurpose the deli containers from the supermarket for easy storage.

Then you can reheat the chili on the stovetop (recommended) or in the microwave.

Can I Freeze Homemade Chicken Chili?

You can absolutely freeze this recipe. In fact, I encourage it! I like to double Smoky Chicken Chili and freeze the other batch for another day. It’s an even faster way to get a warm dinner on the table in a fraction of the time.

Just remember that the chili will reheat faster if you thaw it overnight in the fridge first.

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a bowl of smoky chicken chili with sliced jalapenos, sour cream, and cilantro

Smoky Chicken Chili Recipe

  • Author: Krista
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This Smoky Chicken Chili is loaded with fresh vegetables, beans, and a smoky flavor from chipotle peppers. It’s ready to eat in under an hour!


  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 14 oz. muir glen diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 14 oz. muir glen tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 14 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 oz. can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • optional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, red onion, jalapeno and avocado (if paleo just do an avocado)


  1. Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large dutch oven to medium-high heat.
  3. Add in avocado oil and chicken. Saute each side for 3-4 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and let rest on a place.
  4. Immediately add onions to dutch oven, and cook until onions are translucent about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Next add in garlic and chipotle peppers, saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stirring the whole time.
  6. Add in the red pepper and carrots, cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Next add in the spices: ground cumin, chili powder, coriander, smoked paprika and sea salt. Give it a quick stir and then add in the fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir everything together.
  8. Add chicken breast back to the pan and cover with chicken broth. Let the chicken simmer for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove the chicken from the broth. Place on a cutting board and shred chicken using two forks. Put the shredded chicken back in the pot along with cannellini beans and black beans.
  10. Stir everything together and cover. Let the chili cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt as needed and serve.
  11. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, red onion, jalapeno or avocado.


  • Serving Size: 2 cups
  • Calories: 328
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Sodium: 958 mg
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 31 g
  • Fiber: 8 g
  • Protein: 30 g
  • Cholesterol: 68 mg

Keywords: red chicken chili, smoky chicken chili, easy chicken chili, best chicken chili recipe

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