Red Chicken Chili

This Red Chicken Chili recipe with bell peppers, pantry spices, and a crunchy Frito topping is a quick one-hour chili recipe that will warm you up on a cold night.

the chili in a bowl with toppings.

I call this “red” chicken chili because I think the assumption about chicken chili is that it’s white. This is obviously not that, so hence the name. Thank you for understanding.

So, instead of white, we’re going red, and instead of cooking all day, we’re going to have this chili finished in about an hour. It’s a quick, easy bowl of cozy.


  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Chopped onion, red bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic
  • Chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, kosher salt, and pepper
  • Chicken stock or chicken broth
  • Tomato sauce
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Chopped cilantro and lime juice
two bowls of chili with toppings on the side.

Chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and to keep them juicy and delicious, they are cooked whole in the chili as it simmers. I find they taste better (aka not as dry and sad) if you wait to cut them up until after they’ve cooked through.

Veggies: Red bell peppers, onions, jalapeno, and diced tomatoes make up the veggie part of the program. You can use any color bell pepper you like (I love yellow bell peppers and red ones) and white, yellow, or red onion works great, too.

Spices: I use a mix of chili spices, but if you have a chili seasoning on hand (the kind with a mix of spices – not just chili powder), you can use it instead. You’ll need three tablespoons total.

Other add-ins: This is a no-bean chili, but if you want to add some pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, or cannellini beans, you are welcome to do that.

Toppings: And what is a bowl of chili without some delicious toppings? Incomplete. So, I go with crushed corn chips and little dollops of guacamole and sour cream.

How to Make Chicken Chili

There are three parts to the chili: brown, simmer, and reduce.

Brown: Start by browning the chicken breasts over medium-high heat in the pan or pot you plan to cook the chili. You don’t need to cook them through – just lightly brown them on both sides. Take them out, and saute the veggies in the same pan with the seasonings.

browned chicken breasts in a pan.

Simmer: In goes chicken stock, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Stir it all together and then place the whole chicken breasts into the pan so they are covered by the liquid. Cover the pan, bring it to a boil, and then lower the heat to maintain a simmer for 10 minutes.

the chicken breasts cooking in the chili.

Reduce: Take the chicken out and let it rest on a cutting board. It should be fully cooked at this point. Leave the lid off the pan and simmer the chili for 10 to 15 minutes or until it’s thickened. Cut the chicken into pieces, add it back to the pan, and stir in some cilantro and lime. If you’re adding beans, now is the time – stir them in, and they will warm up fast.

Now it’s ready to serve!

the diced chicken added back to the pan.

Chicken Chili Toppings

  • Add some crunch: Crushed Fritos or tortilla chips
  • Add some freshness: Chopped cilantro, diced avocado, sliced green onions, or diced jalapeno work great.
  • Add some cheese: I like shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese.
  • Add some richness: A dollop of sour cream and guacamole are my faves.
chicken chili in a pan with a wooden spoon.

Make it Ahead

  • What I love about this chicken chili recipe is that it tastes even better the day after you make it. The flavors meld together and deepen when you make it ahead.
  • This chili will keep well for three to four days in the refrigerator, and you can freeze it, too. Store it in a freezer container, and it will keep for several months.
  • You can reheat it on the stove or in the microwave. If it’s too thick, loosen it up with a splash or two of chicken stock or water.

If you need a warm-up, I hope you give this easy chicken chili a try. It’s cozy and comforting – perfect for a chilly night.

Happy Cooking,

a bowl of red chicken chili topped with fritos, sour cream, and guacamole.

More Chili Recipes

📣 Do you love this recipe? I would love to know! Leave a comment below the recipe, along with your recipe star rating.


Red Chicken Chili

the chili in a bowl with toppings.

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 1 review

This warm and cozy chicken chili is a quick-cooking chili that’s ready in about an hour. The chicken is kept whole while it simmers, making it juicy and tender. Add your favorite toppings for a delicious dinner.

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: American


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (stem, seeds, and ribs removed)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime 

Optional Toppings

  • Crushed Fritos
  • Shredded cheese like cheddar or pepper jack
  • Chopped cilantro


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan (or pot) over medium-high heat. While it heats, pound the chicken breasts with a meat mallot so they are of equal thickness (a good to four to five whacks on each piece is good). Season the chicken breasts with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Brown the chicken in the pan on both sides, about five minutes or so on each side. You aren’t cooking them through at this point, just getting a light golden crust. Once browned, remove them from the pan and set them aside. 
  3. Lower the heat to medium and cook the onions, bell peppers, and jalapeno in the oil for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the black pepper. Stir to coat the veggies evenly in the spices.
  4. Add about 1/4 cup of the chicken stock and as it simmers, scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the stock, the tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Give it a stir, and then place the whole chicken breasts into the liquid so they are completely covered.
  5. Turn the heat to medium-high and cover the pan with a lid. When the chili boils, lower the heat to medium and simmer it with the lid on for ten minutes.
  6. Take the lid off and remove the chicken breasts, and set them aside. Stir the chili and adjust the heat, so it maintains a strong simmer. It should be bubbling but not violently. While it simmers, cut the chicken into pieces approximately 1-inch big.
  7. Simmer the chili for 10 to 15 minutes or until it’s thickened. Add the chicken back in and simmer it for five minutes longer. Add the cilantro and lime juice, stir and garnish each serving with toppings, if using.


I think this chili tastes even better the next day, so it’s great for making ahead for easy dinners and lunches. It will keep well for three to four days in the fridge or you can freeze it, too.


  • Calories: 312
  • Sugar: 11.4g
  • Sodium: 969.3mg
  • Fat: 12g
  • Saturated Fat: 6.6g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 3.6g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 23.1g
  • Fiber: 5.5g
  • Protein: 30.8g
  • Cholesterol: 84.5mg

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

The nutrition is an estimate only. It was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.

Post, recipe, and photos updated from the archives. First published in December 2015.


  1. I’m a big fan of all your chili recipes, but this is among my favorites in terms of taste, how easy it is to make and the time it takes to cook. Thank you!

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