Hearty Chicken Chili

This will fill you up without weighing you down. In other words…it’s my kind of comfort food.
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On one hand, I don’t want to eat something that makes stretch pants my only option. On the other hand, I do want something that will warm me up during these cold winter months. This dish gives me everything I want and nothing I don’t. I think I could live off it until spring.

It’s either Hearty Chicken Chili or hibernation.

Since I found this recipe a couple months ago, I’ve made it a handful of times – for many people – to rave reviews all around. I’ve departed from the original recipe here and there, trying different variations on what was supposed to be a vegan theme.

Yep. I have de-veganized this chili.


To get yourself going, you’ll need to dice up a big ol’ Vidalia onion. Because I’m a baby and onions make me cry, I tend to give it just slightly more than a rough chop. I also don’t mind larger chunks of onion throughout my chili – but if you prefer your onion pieces to be on the smaller side, either suck it up and do them by hand or throw a quartered onion in the food processor and pulse it a couple times.


Another ingredient you’re going to need are peppers. I buy bell peppers based solely on price, which means I always go green. Sure, the red ones are a little sweeter, but they’re also about double the price up by me. Added bonus? The green peppers have got something the red ones don’t – they add great contrast – in color, not flavor.

I can’t help it. Color comes into consideration when I cook…because I am constantly haunted by my Fine Art background…even in the kitchen.

Thanks to all the cooking I do though, I don’t think this artist will never starve.


One of the main reasons I think this dish is so delish is the fact that it has not one, but two whole heads of garlic. Don’t worry – I’m not trying to ward off vampires. We’re roasting our garlic.


Check out how the color of the garlic cloves totally changes once they’re roasted. The flavor also completely transforms from sharp and pungent to something velvety smooth and sweet. It mellows out and is nothing at all like raw garlic. If you’ve never roasted garlic, try it today and don’t be surprised when you start sneaking it into everything you make. It is so good it just has a way of wiggling into recipes.


Here’s where I went meat eater. By all means, you can keep your chili vegan by adding in another can of beans instead of the chicken breasts. It’s still scrumptious. Trust me – I’ve enjoyed many a vegan bowl of this stuff!


Or if you’re looking to go carnivore, but aren’t digging chicken, you could brown up some ground beef or turkey and add it to the mix. Italian pork or turkey sausage wouldn’t suck either. I’m telling you though, chicken’s the way to go. I’m partial to leftover buttermilk roast chicken, but if you don’t have any on hand, you could poach up a couple breasts or even use a ready-made rotisserie chicken.


Before serving, you’re going to simmer your chili with a wide array of exciting spices. No, that pile of cocoa powder isn’t on the plate by mistake…it’s supposed to be there…and don’t you dare leave it out 😉

There’s no point in lying to you…this recipe had me at cocoa powder…Jerry Maguiar style.

Hearty Chicken Chili

adapted from How Sweet Eats
Serves: 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time:
45-60 minutes

1 Vidalia onion, diced
2 green bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bulbs roasted garlic
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium or 3 small chicken breasts (roasted or poached)
2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste (or ketchup)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
hot sauce, to taste

Optional toppings: scallions, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), cheddar, etc.

To prep, roast 2 garlic bulbs and roast or poach a couple chicken breasts. This can be done a day or two ahead of time!

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil along with onions and peppers with a sprinkle of salt. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Squeeze out roasted garlic cloves into the pot, and stir well to combine with a large spoon, breaking them apart and evenly distributing the garlic paste. Add in beans, cubed chicken breasts, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, stirring well. Add in spices and hot sauce then let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Taste and season additionally if desired. At this point, you can serve or simmer your chili for however long you would like to develop the flavor.


Top off your bowl of chili with some shredded cheddar, a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of scallions…or…lots of all of the above.

Go ahead…you still won’t need stretch pants.


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4 thoughts on “Hearty Chicken Chili

  1. Becki Smith January 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm Reply

    This has become a new staple dinner for us. I made this chili using vegetarian ground hamburger as a substitute for the chicken (though Ray would have preferred the chicken, I think. 🙂 ) Kate loves it, too, and it’s so healthy for her with all the good veggies and beans. Thanks for posting!

    • Brie January 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm Reply

      Want to take one guess as to what I’m making myself for dinner tonight!? I cannot get enough of this chili. I’m so glad you and the rest of your family has been enjoying this as well – and it’s good to know that Little Miss Kate approves!

  2. Beckimsmith@gmail.com January 8, 2013 at 9:12 am Reply

    I was also wondering if you’ve ever tried making a hearty soup or stew in a slow cooker (the rebranded name for “crock pot” ha!) I’ve been thinking about getting one, but I’m not sure how you’d sauté onions and etc. maybe do it ahead of time and add it in? I like making one pot meals and it would be great if I could throw it all in a slow cooker in the morning and just have it ready at dinner time. Thanks!

    • Brie January 8, 2013 at 9:15 am Reply

      I’m guilty of never having tried a slow cooker/crock pot/whatever you want to call it. I know that some recipes direct you to do exactly what you said and saute onions, brown meat, etc ahead of time before setting and forgetting.

      I’m interested in getting a slow cooker though – it’s been on my to do list for a while now! When I do, I’ll be sure to post about my experience – or if you beat me to it, I’d love to hear an update 🙂

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