Southwest Chicken Chili

This southwest chicken chili is FABULOUS! I love the switch up of chicken instead of ground beef. It’s flavorful and pretty darn healthy too!

Papa Joe’s is this posh gourmet market here in Southeast Michigan. They only have two locations and they just opened a third mini-market sort-of-thing inside the concourse of our hospital last year. So far I’m loving their soups, salads and I’ve been especially in love with this chicken chili of theirs for the past month. I can’t get enough of it, I swear to you, I eat it every single day I’m working and dream about it at night. I even cry a little if they’re not serving it on a day I’m there. No joke.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Since I only work three days a week, and I was off for a long weekend, it got me thinking. I want that chili. I wasn’t about to drive 30 minutes to the nearest Papa Joe’s and I was definitely not driving up to the hospital for a bowl… so instead I made my own. Southwest style.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Papa Joe’s chicken chili doesn’t have corn or jalapenos in it… so it isn’t really a total recreation. But heck, I rather like the corn addition; it adds a little extra texture and sweetness that I like. Oh and for those that fear the jalapeno… please don’t omit it, just remove the seeds and ribs so it won’t be spicy, just really good flavor. And pleeeeeeeease remember to wash your hands after handling the jalapeno… because when you forget to, is the time you’re talking to the neighbor lady and itch your eye, then you’re eye starts to burn like H-E-double-hockey-sticks and you wanna curl into a fetal position and cry like a big ol’ baby, but you can’t because you talking to the NEIGHBOR LADY!! True story… and I don’t want a repeat. Ever.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Start by dicing up a medium green pepper, one medium onion, one jalapeno {seeds and ribs removed} and two cloves of garlic.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Drain and rinse two cans of pinto beans and set aside.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

In a large pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat, melt the three tablespoons of butter.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Throw in the peppers, onions, jalapeno and garlic. Cook until the peppers and onions are just beginning to soften.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Toss in the cumin and ancho chili pepper.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Oh! and the flour too!

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Mix until the flour has completely absorbed the butter and cook for only a minute.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Add in some chicken broth.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Then some whole milk or heavy cream.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

I add in a few heaping tablespoons of tomato paste and stir to get that all dissolved.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Next add the beans and shredded chicken.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Stir and thin it out with a little more chicken broth.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Then add in the corn, ya know… for a little corniness.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Season with two and a half teaspoons of kosher salt. I know what you’re thinking, it sounds like a lot. But go ahead and taste it after one teaspoon and then adjust to you’re taste buds.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Give it a good stirring…

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Cover and cook for 45 minutes, then uncover for the last 15 minutes.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

Ohhh… it’s good. I love the switch up of chicken instead of ground beef. It’s flavorful and pretty darn healthy too! Now if you’ll please forgive me, because I’m about to change that! Ps… if you look real close at my spoon you’ll see me upside-down. weeeeird.

Southwest Chicken Chili l

I highly, HIGHLY recommend a large dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt on your bowl of Southwest Chicken Chili. I ended up crushing corn tortilla chips and sprinkled them in while I ate! Ohmylord. My daughters sprinkled pepper jack cheese in there bowls, and my husband put Cholula in his.


Luckily for me this Southwest Chicken Chili makes a lot and is excellent the next day. And the day after that…


Enjoy! And if you give this Southwest Chicken Chili recipe a try, let me know by snapping a photo and tagging me on twitter or instagram!

Southwest Chicken Chili l

My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance! 


Southwest Chicken Chili

Yield: serves 6

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


3-4 cups Cooked Chicken, shredded {rotisserie works really well in this recipe}

2 cans Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup Corn

1 medium Green Pepper, diced

1 medium Onion, diced

1 Jalapeno, diced small {seeds and ribs removed}

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

3 tablespoons Flour

4 teaspoons Ancho Chili Powder

2 teaspoons Cumin

2-1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt {more or less to taste}

2 tablespoons Tomato Paste

3-4 cups Chicken Broth

3/4 cup Whole Milk or Heavy Cream

optional for serving:

Sour Cream

Cilantro, torn

Tortilla Chips, crushed

Pepper Jack Cheese


In a dutch oven sauté the green pepper, onions, jalapenos and minced garlic in three tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat.

Once soft, season with the ancho chili powder and cumin. Sprinkle with the flour and stir until the flour is absorbed and cook for one minute.

Add in one cup chicken broth and the 3/4 cup milk {or cream} stir and bring to a simmer. Stir in two tablespoons tomato paste.

Add in the drained beans, shredded chicken and corn. Stir and in more broth {as needed}. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour over medium-low, then remove the lid and simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, torn cilantro and crushed corn tortilla chips.

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78 Responses to “Southwest Chicken Chili”

  1. #
    Heather (Heather's Dish) — January 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    ok, i LOVE that this is a chicken chili that's not in a white gravy! so different and it sounds delicious. i kind of want a bowl of it for breakfast 🙂

  2. #
    movita beaucoup — January 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I've added this to my weekend to-do list!

  3. #
    Blog is the New Black — January 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Laurie, this looks amazing! (Not that I'm surprised). I heart chili of any type!

  4. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — January 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    This looks AMAZING. I will be bookmarking this recipe to make for superbowl sunday. Great job, Laurie 🙂

  5. #
    Amanda @ Thinly Sliced Cucumber — January 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Oh wow! I love chili and this recipe looks amazing. I usually make it with ground turkey but I think next time I will follow your advice and use shredded chicken. Love your beautiful, inspiring photos too! Oh, and I have totally done that with my jalapeno spiced hands- if it's a really hot pepper I sometimes wear gloves when I chop them 🙂

  6. #
    london bakes — January 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I've really liked chicken chilli when I've had it but never thought of making it myself – this looks so delicious!

  7. #
    Aarthi — January 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    so perfect chilli..Laurie you make me drool often..


  8. #
    Cassie/Bake Your Day — January 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    LOVE everything about this, can't wait to give it a try. I think the wind chill is about 7 degrees here today, chili is on my brain, big time!

  9. #
    CulinaryCache — January 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    This looks great, I'm making white chili for dinner, and this is making me hungry! Great post!

  10. #
    Bev Weidner (Bev Cooks) — January 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I have just died and gone to Southwest Chicken Chili HEAVEN.

  11. #
    D — January 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    …or, if you don't mind me saying, you can use half (or all!) of a pablano pepper instead of the jalapeno if you can find it. It has all the flavor but little heat compared to the jalapeno. I am new to your blog – have been reading back posts – I love it!!!!

  12. #
    Laurie {Simply Scratch} — January 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    D~ absolutely! A poblano would be awesome in addition or instead of a jalapeno! Great tip!

  13. #
    Culinary Collage — January 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Yum….I love Southwest Chicken Chili…..I'll have to dig out my recipe too!

  14. #
    Becky — January 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    This looks great! So thick and warm.

  15. #
    Maia — January 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    This sounds fantastic, and as always, I enjoyed your step-by-step photos. I love corn and usually go for cornbread with chili; never thought of simply adding it to the mix.

    Just last night, we finished off a big pot of my favorite chili. (I posted the recipe on my blog back in November:

  16. #
    Deanna — January 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    I've been looking for a chicken chili that's not white and I found it! Or um, you made it for me! I love to eat chili over rice. It may be weird, but it hits the spot.

  17. #
    Margy and Lee — January 17, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I've never seen a red chicken chili, but it makes total sense! We'll have to try this!

  18. #
    Grubarazzi — January 17, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    I love the shredded chicken and the corn in this…and the chicken broth instead of gravy. Niiiice. Can't wait to try this one at home.

  19. #
    Bridget — January 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    This looks amazing! I am a big fan of corn in chili.

  20. #
    Britt @ The Magnolia Pair — January 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    This looks amazing! Girl, Im starving now!!

    The Magnolia Pair


  21. #
    Shutterbug — January 18, 2012 at 2:14 am

    today is definitely a good day for some chili! i want some! 😉

  22. #
    Krissy's Creations — January 18, 2012 at 2:46 am

    I love Chili – in any way. And your recipe looks fantastic!

  23. #
    Wanna Be A Country Cleaver — January 18, 2012 at 3:04 am

    Is that a red 6-qt Lodge Dutch oven I see? Twinsies!! Ben bought mine for my 25th B-day. I knew he was a keeper.
    And chili is a must for these snowing Seattle nights. I'm digging this.

  24. #
    Ashley T — January 31, 2012 at 2:21 am

    I made this tonight. Mine turned out a little more like soup than chili (i added the chicken broth at once, instead of a little at a time). It was still amazing. My husband loved it. I had to tame it a little for myself with sour cream (i have a wimpy mouth). I have absolutely loved everything of yours that I have made!!! Keep the awesome recipes coming 🙂 You totally Rock!

  25. #
    Julie — February 1, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    I made this last night, turned out even better than expected…thick, flavorful, filling!

  26. #
    Anonymous — February 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    I never heard of Papa's Joe's and I live in southeast Mi. Sounds like I am going to have to go there.

  27. #
    LaurenV — April 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    This was FANTASTIC chili!

  28. #
    pmhennessy1 — May 8, 2012 at 5:12 am

    LOVE IT!!

  29. #
    Laurie {Simply Scratch} — May 8, 2012 at 5:16 am

    So glad! Thanks for coming by and saying so! 🙂

  30. #
    Kat — August 31, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I am definitely trying this tonite, can’t wait!! But I will put at least a half dozen jalapenos with the seeds! We love hot and spicy!!

  31. #
    Shelley — November 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I’m so excited to make this soup today! I love that you offer step-by-step photo instructions. I’m a horrible cook, but I want to be better. I seriously need this!

  32. #
    Stacey — November 6, 2012 at 2:30 am

    so I made this dish tonight and instead of pinto beans i used black beans and my husband LOVED it; and he doesn’t like beans!!!! Thanks sooooo much!!!

  33. #
    Ali @ WHOLEistically Fit — November 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Yum, yum, yum, & yum!!! This looks so good. I’ve already pinned it and this will be happening in my kitchen this fall/winter :D.

  34. #
    Karen G — November 17, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Your recipes are always soooo good! This was delish and turned out amazing! Thanks!!!

  35. #
    Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom — January 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    wow, this looks great! I’m so going to make this, yum!

  36. #
    Julie H — February 4, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Oh wow! This was delicious!! We cooked an all natural chicken and shredded the meat for the chili, then reduced the stock with celery and onion, instead of boxed broth. This recipe immediately made it into our “favorites” and we can’t wait to share with friends. Will add avocado as a topper next time. Thanks so much for an amazing recipe!

  37. #
    Maddy — November 7, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I just came across this recipe and had to make it. I didn’t have a jalapeno, so I subbed part of a can of chopped green chilis. (I didn’t want it to be too hot as my kids don’t like anything too spicy.) I also used my homemade chicken broth.

    Anyway…DELICIOUS! It’s a keeper. Many thanks for posting this recipe!

    • simplyscratch replied: — November 7th, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

      Yay! I’m so glad Maddy! I love your green chili swap out… I’ll have to try that!

  38. #
    Lisa — January 23, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Can you convert this to a crock pot recipe?

  39. #
    Lena — January 26, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    good base, but kind of bland. needed some extra oomph — added more kosher salt, cream, and cayenne pepper for more heat.

  40. #
    Carolina — March 3, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Want to take this chili to the next level? Char the Jalapeno and the corn before adding. The flavor was unbelievable!!

  41. #
    Joe — March 8, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Best chicken chili i have ever had!

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — March 11th, 2014 @ 1:30 am

      Why thank you Joe!

  42. #
    Rani — March 13, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Hi Laurie! First time commenting I believe, but I’ve tried a few of your recipes or used your ideas as inspiration so first, I must say thank you. Your chicken chili recipe is simmering on my stove as I type. I can tell it’s going to be delicious. I like using ground chicken to make chili so as to cut down on artery clogging fat but my family and I don’t care for the look of the traditional white chili. I typically achieve the red color by adding tomatoes/tomato sauce and thickening with masa flour but have never added cream/milk to my own method. I was skeptical at first but the dairy is discernible and think I prefer using the regular flour. Thanks again! I appreciate your work.

  43. #
    Rani — March 13, 2014 at 11:14 am

    *indiscernible, that is!

  44. #
    Vijay — April 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    As an extra i used a can of chipotle chili in adobo sauce. Highly recommend that.

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — April 21st, 2014 @ 10:56 pm

      Brilliant! Will definitely do that next time for sure!

  45. #
    Tanya — May 12, 2014 at 3:49 pm


    FYI – I made it gluten/dairy free with brown rice flour and coconut milk (so good – unsweetened) and still delish.

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — May 12th, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

      That’s great to know! Thank Tanya

  46. #
    Tina — September 24, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I LOVE this recipe!!! Thank you!! For my 2nd round I had to reduce to half a jalapeno, added more tomato paste, 1/2 tsp of vinegar (to brighten), and 1/4 tsp of instant coffee (to deepen). This is one I make every week now! Hubby loves it 🙂

  47. #
    plasterer bristol — January 2, 2015 at 4:44 am

    this sounds so delicious and easy to make. Thanks for posting this.

  48. #
    carmeysha — January 12, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Great recipe! I added Rotel tomatoes and chilies. Awesome add in and cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses on top. Will add this to my dishes to make. Enjoyed even better a day after.

  49. #
    Kenya — September 17, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Made it without beans still good.

  50. #
    Todd — May 2, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    I’d love to know how your chili turns out so red. After adding that much cream, it comes out pale orange, even after doubling the tomato paste and chili powder.

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — May 5th, 2016 @ 10:34 am

      Hi Todd! That’s so strange! Honestly I’m not sure why that it. But I will tell you that over the years since this recipe was posted, I’ve actually stopped adding the cream. When when I wrote my cookbook last year, I knew I wanted to included this recipe because it’s been such a success on my blog. Over time I have given it a few tweaks and updated it a bit to be easier and more healthful. If you’re interested, here’s the link to more information about my cookbook. Have a great day!

  51. #
    Katie — March 2, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    I love this recipe! This chicken chili recipe is full of flavor and very easy to make! I replace the whole milk/heavy cream with coconut milk and it tastes great! I also use lower fat butter with canola oil and a 1 tsp salt. This is always a hit in our house!!

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — March 12th, 2017 @ 4:14 pm

      I’m so glad, Katie! I’ve since made a few changes myself to make it easier and lighter! It’s a keeper 🙂

  52. #
    Melissa — May 1, 2018 at 10:48 am

    I make this recipe a lot, it’s a big hit! My dh loves it, my friend who doesn’t like anything remotely spicy loves it, her picky kids love it.

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — May 8th, 2018 @ 9:36 am

      I’m so happy to hear it, Melissa! Thanks for taking the time to make the recipe and leave a comment! ❤️


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