Chipotle Chicken Chili

Chipotle Chicken Chili

As a kid, when I heard the word “chili” it brought up images of brown chunky mush that looked (and smelled) like something you would feed a furry four legged companion. Between the gas inducing kidney bean “chili” that came out of the kitchen at home and the cans of Hormel that friends would warm up during sleepovers, I vowed never to take another bite of the foul stuff again.

Somewhere between midterms and shots of cheap tequila in college I discovered that “chili” didn’t mean “beans” in Spanish, and that when done right, it could be awesome. Like this Chile Verde, which is to this day one of my all time favorite dishes.

Chicken Chili

As I was gazing into the cupboard looking for dinner a few years back, all I saw staring back at me was a can of chipotle chilis, a can of cannellini beans, and a few dust bunnies in the dark reaches of my pantry. While I’d outgrown my chili aversion of yore, the thought of making chili with beans still made me cringe.

Limited by what my pantry had to offer, and too lazy to take the subway up to Union Square (yes, this was before we had a Whole Foods in Tribeca) I decided to make do with what I had, and the resulting chicken chili became the fourth post on this blog. It was simple, wholesome, and surprisingly good. The recipe has gone through a couple iterations, but it’s still one that I come back to when my pantry thins out like a head of aging hair.

Turkey Chili

This chicken chili is lighter than one made with beef, and yet the spicy, smokey chipotles pack a wallop of flavor. Best of all, it warms you up and fills your belly on a cold winter day; the kind of grey miserable day when you look out the window and wonder if the heavens have caught a cold.

Serve this with some pickled jalapeños, and if you have leftovers, toss them with some pasta and cheese for something different the next day.

Chipotle Chicken Chili
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Chipotle Chicken Chili
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Servings Prep Time
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
Cook Time
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 1 rib celery diced
  • 1 fresh Poblano chile seeds removed and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger - fresh minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 450 grams chicken - ground ground turkey also works
  • 2 chipotle chiles - canned minced
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from chipotles
  • 2 cups chicken stock low sodium
  • 450 grams cannellini beans - canned drained and rinsed
  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat, then add the olive oil, onions, celery, Poblano, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon. Sautee until the onions are tender and translucent (about 15-20 minutes).
  2. Move the onions to the side and add the ground chicken. Press it down flat, and use a spatula to break it up into large chunks. Continue sautéing until the chicken is cooked.
  3. Add the chipotles, adobo sauce, chicken stock, and cannellini beans. Let the chili simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until it's thick (about 1 hour). Taste and add salt as needed. Serve garnished with cheese and cilantro.

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  • leaf (the indolent cook)

    I’m more likely to have chicken in the fridge, so this is great. I love how light and fresh this looks.

  • Maureen

    I have all these ingredients most of the time.  I’m definitely going to try this.

  • Dale

    This looks delicious and pretty simple to make. Might have to try this out while the winter cold is still around!

  • chicagosdomesticdiva

    That looks sooo good,and I hate chili.

  • xman

    Ironic Typo Police! You called the usual chili “fowl stuff” and then gave a recipe for *chicken* chili.
    Foul stuff=bad
    Fowl stuff=good!

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hahah nice catch!

  • Rafael

    I´ve tried the recipe, it is delicious.

  • Oui, Chef

    I’ve tried lots of “untraditional” chills over the past few years including one with turkey, coffee and cocoa.  This one sounds great and I’m adding it to my new fangled chills to try list.

  • Rhonda

    I love chili, all kinds of chili, can’t wait to try this one!

  • hungryandfrozen

    Wondering if the heavens have caught a cold – cute! As someone who has actually got a cold themselves, I can see this chilli being perfect for my needs. Spicy enough that I can taste it, nutritious and warming and delicious. 

  • Kelly

    You managed to make a bowl of chili looks like a model on the magazine…. And I shouldn’t really look at this when I’m hungry…. I’d imagine chicken chili to be a lighter version and perhaps slightly healthier too.

  • Lindsay

    Yum!  Looks so good!

  • Myfudo

    Perfect match with my soft taco shells. Yum! Fantastic recipe, a must try!

  • kateq

    I don’t mind chili with beans–but I totally get the whole “what’s in the pantry?” thing.  My pantry had everything, sort of.  I had a big bowl of cannellini beans I had made from dry beans.  I had the remains of a really good roast chicken.  I had bell peppers and chipotles in adobo sauce and all the herbs and spices—so I made the recipe, using cooked chicken–delicious!!!

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  • VicM

    I made this today and it was wonderful. My entire family loved it. So many great flavors. I particularly like the hints of ginger, cinnamon and the adobo. The cilantro and avocado garnish add a fresh finish. Thank you Marc!


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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