This creamy and flavorful southwest chicken chili is loaded with protein and veggies. A satisfying meal made with chicken, spices, and beans. This chili is gluten free/dairy free and provides the ultimate combination of comfort and flavor in every bowl.
Warm up with a big bowl of this hearty and comforting southwest chicken chili. This recipe originated from my mom, but I’ve made quite a few tweaks to it over the years to make it gluten free and a little bit cleaner.
It's a great alternative to regular beef chili. Made with shredded chicken breast, a combination of beans, lots of veggies, and bone broth. This chili packs a punch when it comes to nutrients and has nearly 30 grams of protein in each serving.
What to Love About this Southwest Chicken Chili
- Gluten free & dairy free - This southwest chili gets its thick and creamy base from pureed corn and arrowroot starch. No dairy or gluten here.
- Nutritious and filling - Tons of veggies like celery, peppers, onions, and leeks and made with plant-based and animal protein.
- Flavorful - Packed with tradition chili and southwest flavors.
- Great for leftovers - Double the batch and freeze some for later. Or it's perfect for leftovers throughout the week.
- Shredded chicken - I use cooked and shredded chicken breasts, but you can use shredded chicken thighs or pulled rotisserie chicken.
- Tapioca starch - This is used to thicken the base. You can use tapioca starch, arrowroot starch, or corn starch.
- Beans - I like using a combination of black beans and pinto beans, but you can just use one type of beans if you'd like.
- Chicken broth - I highly recommend using chicken bone broth. Not only is it more nutritious but it also adds more protein to each serving compared to regular chicken broth.
- Corn - I use frozen sweet corn, but canned corn can also be used.
A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
Variations and Substitutions
White chicken chili: For more of a traditional white chicken chili, you can omit the pureed corn and add 4 ounces cubed cream cheese when you add the chicken, beans, and corn. Stir chili until cream cheese has melted and then continue to simmer (just know this will no longer be dairy free if you add in the cream cheese).
Spice lovers: For an extra kick, you can add additional chopped jalapeño, tabasco, or red pepper flakes.
Chicken tortilla soup: I have had multiple people make this chili without the pureed corn so it's more of a chicken tortilla soup. So, feel free to skip the pureed corn for more of a soup like consistency.
Vegetarian: Looking for a vegetarian chili? No problem! Skip the chicken and double up on the beans.
How to Make
Step 1: In a large stock pot, sauté the veggies with the extra-virgin olive oil. Next, add the spices, seasonings, and tapioca starch.
Step 3: Using a blender, puree the corn and water until smooth.
Step 2: Mix the seasonings, spices, and starch in with the veggies. Add the chicken bone broth and bring to a boil.
Step 4: Add pureed corn to broth and veggies. Reduce heat to low/medium low.
Step 5: Add the shredded chicken, beans, and corn.
Step 6: Fully mix chili and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes before serving.
Tips for the Best Chicken Chili
Simmer - After all ingredients have been added, allow chili to simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes to allow everything to marinate (can simmer even longer if needed).
Double the recipe - I'm not going to lie... this chili requires a lot of chopping! If you're doing the work, double up so you have some for freezing. I love freezing this chili in smaller quantities (using freezer safe bags) so I can easily grab 1 or 2 servings at a time when needed.
Add more seasonings - After adding the chicken, corn, and beans, taste the chili and add additional seasonings to your liking.
Add additional broth - As chili simmers, it will start to thicken. If you like your chili on the thinner side, feel free to add additional broth at the end.
Use rotisserie chicken - For an even easier chili, use pulled rotisserie chicken (note a lot of rotisserie chicken contains a lot of additives and preservatives, which are not considered "clean."
Toppings & Serving Suggestions
As with any chili, there are so many delicious toppings you can add to really enhance the flavor.
- Sliced avocado
- Fresh cilantro
- Lime wedges
- Diced red onion
- Grated cheese
- Sour cream
- Tortilla chips
Storing and Reheating
Refrigerator: Allow chili to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
Freezer: Allow to cool and then place chili in an airtight freezer-safe container, or freezer bag (Stasher bags are my favorite), and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Reheating: Reheat in a small saucepan over medium low heat, or heat in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl (cover chili to avoid splattering).
This makes about 6 servings. However, I always double this recipe as it is way too good not to have leftovers for freezing.
I have never made this in the slow cooker, but I don't see any reason why you couldn't. With the slow cooker, you can cook the chicken with the rest of the ingredients. Add all ingredients, except pureed corn (including raw chicken) to your slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-7 hours, or high for 3-4 hours. Once chicken has reached 165-degrees F, remove from crockpot and shred. Return shredded chicken and pureed corn to crockpot. Stir and keep on low.
More Dinner Recipes
Southwest Chicken Chili
- 1 large stock pot/Dutch oven
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped (if you like spice, keep the seeds)
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 large leeks, white part only, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. dried oregano
- 2 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. tapioca starch (or arrowroot starch)
- 4 cups chicken bone broth (regular chicken broth works too)
- ½ cup water
- 4 cups frozen sweet corn, thawed
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1.5 lbs. cooked and shredded chicken breasts
- Add the olive oil, chopped veggies, and garlic to a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until veggies begin to soften; about 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and add in all the spices and tapioca starch (oregano through starch). Continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly (this helps to bring out the flavor of the spices).
- Add broth to veggies/spices and bring to a simmer.
- While broth/veggie mix is simmering, puree the water with 1 ½ cups of the corn in a blender. Add the pureed corn to the other ingredients in the stock pot/Dutch oven.
- Add the beans, shredded chicken, and remaining corn and mix until combined. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes before serving.
- Serve and enjoy!
- There's no magic amount of chicken needed in this chili; I have found that anywhere around 1 ½ lbs. works well.
- If you're new to leeks, here are some tips:
- Before cutting, rinse each leek.
- Cut each leek where the white starts to turn green (you'll only want the bottom/base of each leek) and discard the green tops.
- Cut the root off of each leek and then cut down the middle lengthwise (so you have two long half-moon shapes). Then slice the short way into ¼" slices.
- You can discard the outside layer of the leek if it’s too tough to cut. And if you notice some dirt inside each layer of the leek you can rinse the sliced leeks. Simply place in a strainer and lightly rinse with water.
- You can simmer for longer than 30 minutes, but I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes to let all the flavors meld together.
- Leftover ideas: Try making nachos, or quesadillas, with any leftover chili.
- Recipe states 6 servings, but if they are on the smaller side you can get 8 servings.