Smoky Chicken Chili Recipe

There's no better way to celebrate game day or any other event that brings people together than with a big bowl of chili. When it comes to this warm and comforting food, there are plenty of ways to make it, but a lot of recipes involve ground beef. If you want a twist on traditional chili that's still packed with smoky flavors and a melody of beans, then this smoky chicken chili will do the trick. It's hearty enough for the main course but would also make a great side to accompany dinner. All you need to do is top with your favorite add-ins like avocado and sour cream, and there's no doubt you will be scraping your bowl down to the last bite.

Recipe developer Jennine Rye came up with this delicious dish that takes chili from average to amazing. "I love how warming and flavorful this dish is, it's great for autumn time! The flavors are really rich and well balanced, and it's also very protein dense with the chicken and the beans," Rye raves. She also explains why she prefers this over traditional chili. "Chicken chill is a great alternative for flexitarians or those who are wanting to cut down on their red meat consumption," Rye explains. "The shredded chicken chunks also add a different texture to the chili than beef mince would do, which makes a nice change. I love all types of chili, but it's always nice to have options!" 

Gather the ingredients for this smoky chicken chili

Let's hit the ground running. You can kick things off by heading to the store and gathering all the necessary ingredients to make this dish. You will need olive oil, red onion, bell peppers, garlic cloves, coriander stalks, ground paprika, ground cumin, chili powder, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, chicken stock, a cinnamon stick, chicken thighs, black beans, kidney beans, dark chocolate, salt, and pepper. The recipe also calls for two optional ingredients — avocado and sour cream.

Slice and cook the onion and bell peppers

Grab a cutting board and a sharp knife and slice the onion and bell peppers. Then, take out a large, flat-bottomed pan and drizzle in the olive oil. Place it on your stove and add the onion and bell peppers. Sauté the veggies for 5-10 minutes until softened.

Chop the coriander and add spices to the veggies

Take out the coriander and remove the leaves from it. Go ahead and set the leaves to the side to use for serving, you won't need them in the pan. Then, take the coriander stalks and chop them into little pieces. Then, you can toss them into the pan with a few other spices, including garlic, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add in the chicken

Now, it's time to add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, chicken stock, and cinnamon. Once you have added those, tuck the chicken thighs in between the other ingredients in the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. "I love cooking with chicken thighs, in my personal opinion I'm not sure how chicken breasts became the prime chicken meat," Bryant says of using thighs over breasts. "Chicken thighs have more flavor and they are much more juicy, as well as often being cheaper — especially if they are bought on the bone." 

Place the cover back on the pan and cook on low heat for 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. "The most important area to watch out for in this recipe is quite simple but it's also pretty vital — make sure the chicken is cooked through," Bryant notes. "You can do this either visually or using a meat thermometer (165 F is the safe temperature for cooked chicken) but you don't want to eat partly uncooked chicken, so do check it when removing it from the bone." 

Shred the chicken and add beans

Use a fork to shred the chicken meat away from the bones and the remove the bones from the pan and discard. Now, you can add the tin of black beans with their juice to the mix. Be sure to drain the liquid from the kidney beans ahead of time and then add just the beans to the pan.

The last thing you need to do is toss in the dark chocolate, which happens to be the special ingredient. "Chocolate and chili spices are a truly classic pairing. In fact, they were commonly paired together as a drink centuries before we began adding sugar to chocolate," Rye explains. "Adding a few squares of dark chocolate to this chili adds both richness and depth, helping to promote the beautiful spices while counteracting any acidity from the tomatoes, adding overall balance and complexity to the dish."

Give the mixture a few good stirs, and then let simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy

Since the smoky chicken chili is good to go, you can spoon the mixture into bowls or cups of your choice. At this point, top with the optional ingredients of sour cream and avocado if you choose to do so. This would also pair well with a side of rice.

Rye also provides a few additional serving suggestions you may want to try. "This chicken chili is great as a hearty dinner option and it can be a great way to feed a big group of people. I took this dish to a gathering of friends last week and we had it on baked potatoes with cheese," she explains. "We also eat it at home with various sides, sometimes just a salad, rice as a classic side, fries or tortilla chips, or just some simple crusty bread is delicious." Yum! 

Have extras? "Leftovers keep well covered in the fridge for up to three days. Make sure to thoroughly reheat the dish before eating," Rye says. We hope this hits the spot! 

Smoky Chicken Chili Recipe
5 from 43 ratings
If you're getting tired of beef chili, give this smoky chicken chili recipe a spin instead.
Prep Time
Cook Time
smoky chicken chili in bowl
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 10 fresh coriander stalks
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, plus the liquid
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 ounce dark chocolate
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
Optional Ingredients
  • avocado, for serving
  • sour cream, for serving
  • rice, for serving
  1. Heat up a large, flat-bottomed pan and add the olive oil, then add the sliced onion and bell peppers. Sauté for 5-10 minutes, until they are softened.
  2. Remove the leaves from the fresh coriander and set them aside. Chop the coriander stalks and add to the pan along with the garlic, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Add to the pan the tin of chopped tomatoes, the tomato puree, the chicken stock, and the cinnamon stick.
  4. Nestle the chicken thighs into the pan and simmer, covered, on a low heat for 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Using a fork, gently remove the chicken meat from the bones. Remove the bones from the pan.
  6. Add the tin of black beans with the liquid, the drained kidney beans, and the dark chocolate. Stir everything together and then leave to simmer for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve as desired, optionally with avocado, sour cream, or with rice.
Calories per Serving 815
Total Fat 44.9 g
Saturated Fat 12.0 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 191.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 54.7 g
Dietary Fiber 18.8 g
Total Sugars 12.2 g
Sodium 1,675.8 mg
Protein 49.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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