Chicken ChiliChicken chili is my favorite and here’s why I like it. Many years ago I participated in a chili cook-off contest sponsored by a former employer who hosted a number of annual events to promote their company culture.

I did this more on a dare and succumbing to peer pressure rather than genuinely having an interest in the contest or confidence in my chili cooking ability.

At the time I only had one chili recipe and it was the one my Dad had made for years. It contained the standard ground beef, celery, onions, tomatoes, kidney beans and seasonings.

I figured in order to be competitive and to even have a shot in this cook-off that I would have to come up with something different.

The Chicken Chili Experiments Paid Off

Well, I started experimenting and knew back then that there weren’t going to be that many entries with chicken. Luckily we had plenty of advance notice of the event so I had a little time to prepare, experiment and test ingredient combinations. I’d never made chicken chili before.

Chicken Chili RecipeThe day of the cook-off finally arrived and I was a wreck. I liked the way this recipe turned out and was hoping that it was because this recipe was truly the best and not because I was sick of making chili.

Because this was a company chili cook-off, we all brought our entries in crock pots to keep them hot. All the employees tried all the versions. I noticed early on, in the taste testing, that the chicken chili in my crock pot was gone while many of the other crock pots had plenty of chili left.

At the time, I had considered this a bad sign. Because there wasn’t any left for everyone to taste…had I not made enough?

And the Winning Recipe Belongs To?

Chili Cook-off WinnerAs you can already guess by the post title, my chicken chili won the contest at no small surprise to me. What the prize actually was, in addition to the notoriety of having the best tasting chili in the company and a published recipe in the newsletter; I honestly don’t remember. It was probably something like a restaurant gift certificate.

I was so happy at having successfully created a combination of ingredients that didn’t embarrass me in front of my peers, that it didn’t matter.

I’ve continued to make this over the years and have never tweaked the recipe because for me, I like it the way it is. In my opinion, the tomatillos gives it that little something extra.

I still use chicken tenders in this recipe over chicken breasts or chicken thighs just because the meat is so tender and it adds to the velvety texture of the chili.

This recipe can be made in either a dutch oven or a crock pot. When I make it at home, I always use a dutch oven and like everything else, it tastes better the second day.  It also freezes really well. Enjoy!

Tequila Lime Chicken Chili - Cook-off Winner
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
This is a healthy detour from the standard chili recipe.
  • 2 lbs chicken tenders (cut in about 1” chunks)
  • 1 large can green tomatillos (chopped in food processor)
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 large or 2 small green peppers chopped
  • 2 cans green chilies drained (4 oz.)
  • 2 cans small white beans drained
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp ground chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
  • 3 cans chicken broth (low sodium)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup Cuban Style Mojo Citrus Marinade (optional)
  • 2 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice (optional)
  • ¼ cup tequila (optional)
  1. In Dutch oven heat about ¼ cup oil.
  2. Add onions, green pepper and garlic.
  3. Saute for about 3 minutes and add chicken tenders.
  4. Cook until chicken is white (about 5 minutes).
  5. Add chicken broth and seasonings and bring to a boil.
  6. Add green tomatillos, diced green chilies and white beans.
  7. Simmer 10 – 15 minutes.
  8. Add brown sugar, marinade, lime juice and tequila.
  9. Continue simmering for 15 minutes.
  10. Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with cold water and add to chili to thicken.