Red Chicken Chili

Do you love this White Chicken Chili as much as I do? Mmmm, pretty much some of the best white chili ever. But to be honest, I’ve been feeling a little bad for it because in my culinary opinion, it needs a red chicken chili companion to exist side-by-side with in the Recipe Index forever. Don’t you think?

Huh? There are deeper issues in the world? More pressing than chili? Darn. And here I thought I was solving a great world dilemma.

Red Chicken Chili

Regardless, this red chicken chili is a must-make. I’ve been making the general recipe for many years now and my kids far prefer it over any other chili for the lack of beans (apparently, I need to go on another Great Bean Crusade to get them hip about beans again). Very simple to prepare, this chili is packed with flavor and extremely hearty and delicious.

What To ServeWe love to eat it smothered with avocado, sour cream, cheese, corn chips, and well, just about anything else our hearts desire in that moment.

I feel happy to finally post it for you. And despite the fact that it doesn’t mean anything to anyone, I’m glad our friend, White Chicken Chili, has a buddy now.

Red Chicken Chili

Red Chicken Chili

Yield: Serves 6

Red Chicken Chili

Note: Adjust the dried red pepper flakes and the cayenne pepper according to your desire for spiciness. The amount in the recipe is perfect for us, enough heat to make it interesting but not so much that my kids are dying. I've made this recipe with diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes and let me tell you, blending up the whole plum tomatoes is the way to go. More tomato flavor, baby.


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
  • 2-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I used this awesome method)
  • Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream, avocado (for garnish)


  1. In a 4- or 5-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the onions and reduce the heat to medium-low, cooking for 10-12 minutes until the onions are very soft. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, salt, and dried basil (if using fresh, you'll add it later). Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in a blender or food processor. They don't need to be creamed to a pulp - just six or so pulses to get them blended a bit. Add to the pot with the fresh basil, if using.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked chicken and stir. Simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. The chili will thicken and the liquid will reduce slightly. Serve with any additional toppings (chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream, avocado, etc.).

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Ina Garten

12 Responses to Red Chicken Chili

  1. Van says:

    Is there supposed to be a link to an awesome method for cooking the chicken? I mean I know how to cook chicken but if you say there is an awesome method for it I believe you 🙂

  2. Mary says:

    I am a HUGE fan of your White Chicken Chili, so this is going to be made ASAP. Love the description. You totally made me grin. Have a great week, Mel!

  3. Mel says:

    Kelly – I don’t know about converting this to a crockpot since I haven’t tried it. You can try throwing it all in and see how it goes. Good luck! 🙂

  4. Debra says:

    The way you served it isperfect! 🙂

  5. Kelly says:

    Could you tell me the time and instructions if I want to make in the crockpot (like that amazing white bean chili).

  6. grace says:

    you know, i think this is the first time i’ve ever seen a chicken chili that wasn’t white! very tasty, mel.

  7. Stephanie Haly says:

    This looks so yummy. I hate to be one of those people but do you have suggestions about how to do this in a slow cooker. I’m look for a recipe for dinner tomorrow night!!!

  8. I ADORE chili- this looks wonderful!!

  9. Kim in MD says:

    YUM! I have made Ina’s chicken chili recipe many times, and it is a family favorite! I add more chili powder and cumin and use cilantro instead of basil (because we are cilantro lovers). We love this chili, but we still love the white chili, too!

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