End of Summer Chicken Chili
Fresh summer vegetables and tender shredded chicken are the stars of this Chicken Chili recipe. Packed with zucchini, sweet corn, summer squash, fresh herbs, and a touch of jalapeno heat, this vegetable chicken chili makes the best of the season’s bounty!
Easy Chicken Chili Recipe
This easy Chicken Chili recipe is loaded with fresh summer produce like zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, and sweet corn kernels. The vegetables are simmered in a flavorful tomato-and-beer broth along with plenty of tender shredded chicken. I also stir in a big handful of chopped fresh herbs; parsley, dill, and basil add even more beautiful summery flavor. Top your bowl of chicken chili with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and slices of fresh avocado for a filling meal!
Why You’ll Love This Chicken Chili
This fresh-tasting chili is like eating spoonfuls of summertime! Here’s why you’ll love this recipe:
- Comfort food. This chili is a beautiful segue into the cold-weather season. Chili is known for being a comfort food, and this recipe’s summery twist transports you gently from late summer/fall into the winter months when you can make our favorite slow cooker chili recipe!
- Fresh & flavorful. This chili is chock-full of gorgeous fresh veggies, plus herbs plucked from the little herb garden just outside our back door. I especially love the pops of fresh sweet corn and the freshly-squeezed lime juice!
- Keeps well. This recipe makes a nice big pot of chicken chili. So invite some friends to join you or simply tuck the leftovers in the fridge for super tasty meals during the upcoming week. You can also freeze portions for a quick dinner later on.
“Made this last night. Didn’t have lime so used lemon. Excellent but will use lime next time. Loved using all the fresh garden veggies! Very fresh taste. Thank you!!!!!”Judy
What You’ll Need
Here’s the ingredients list for chicken chili. Scroll down to the printable recipe card lower down for the exact ingredient amounts.
- Butter – This adds lovely flavor and texture when sauteeing the chicken.
- Chicken – I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
- Olive oil – To lightly coat the chicken breasts.
- Salt & pepper – To simply season the chicken breasts.
- Onion – I use a yellow onion but a red onion is also good.
- Bell pepper – Red, orange, or yellow bell pepper works.
- Jalapeno pepper – Use as much or as little jalapeno as you like.
- Yellow squash
- Corn – For the best flavor and texture, cut raw corn kernels from a fresh cob and add them to the chili
- Tomatoes – Use canned, diced, fire roasted tomatoes or regular diced tomatoes.
- Beer – I like to use a light beer, for extra flavor. I promise the chili doesn’t taste like beer! If you don’t want to use beer, sub with the same amount of chicken broth.
- Dried spices – Cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika add traditional chili flavor.
- Lime – A squeeze of fresh lime juice over each bowl adds the perfect finishing touch.
- Fresh herbs – I use a handful of chopped parsley, dill, and basil – this adds delicious fresh flavor and color!
Tips and Variation Ideas
You can add and/or subtract the vegetables in this chicken chili – or throw in some beans, play around with the herbs, etc. Here are some suggestions for how to make this chicken chili recipe:
- Add beans. I often throw in a can of black beans. Or, try a can of white beans or kidney beans. Just be sure to rinse and drain the beans first.
- Use other vegetables. You can add more vegetables to this vegetable chicken chili if you want to make it even heartier. Sliced mushrooms, green beans, and/or pea pods all work well.
- Try fresh tomatoes. When tomatoes are in season, use them to make this chicken chili recipe! You can use chopped fresh tomatoes in place of the canned tomatoes, or do a half-and-half swap.
- Other herbs: Besides my favorite parsley, dill, and basil combo, you could also incorporate oregano, cilantro, or thyme in this chicken chili.
- Don’t forget the lime! I like to squeeze a generous amount of fresh lime juice over my bowl of chili right before digging in. It gives the perfect touch of brightness to all the fresh flavors. Place a bowl of lime wedges on the table so everyone can help themself!
This hearty vegetable chicken chili can certainly count as a one-bowl meal, although my family always insists on some honey cornbread muffins! Here are some suggestions for how to serve this chili:
- Offer toppings. Set out toppings for everyone to customize their own bowl of chili. Some of my favorites include sour cream and homemade ranch dressing. Fresh avocado and chopped green onions are always good. And my family HAS TO have some cheese with their chili – this particular chili is fantastic with shredded smoked gouda. But cheddar is always a more widely liked cheese.
- Cornbread. I know that part of the reason this chicken chili goes over so well with our family is that I always make a fresh batch of warm honey cornbread muffins. If I have the time, I like to also whip up some cinnamon honey butter!
- Rolls. If you’re not a cornbread fan, bake a batch of fluffy Rhodes rolls or these easy popovers. They’re perfect for dipping in chili!
- Drinks. Serve chili with cold beer or refreshing glasses of ranch water. Or make a bourbon margarita! For NA options, blueberry lemonade and strawberry lemonade are ALWAYS a hit. I have many other drink options as well.
How to Store and Reheat Extras
Chili is one of those dishes that keeps very well, and the flavors deepen as the chili rests in the fridge. Here’s what to do with leftover chicken chili:
- Fridge – Store leftover, cooled chicken chili in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Freezer – Place portions of cooled chili in freezer-safe ziploc bags and store them lying flat in the freezer to save space. Or use freezer-safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. Then thaw the chili thoroughly in the fridge before reheating it. Just know that the veggies will soften more when frozen.
- To Reheat – Heat chili on the stovetop in a heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat, stirring often, until it’s heated through. Or, place portions of chicken chili in a microwave-safe bowl, cover it to prevent splatter, and heat it in the microwave in 1-minute increments, stirring in between, until hot.
More Chili Recipes to Try
- Slow Cooker Chili – the BEST classic chili recipe!!
- Creamy Enchilada Chili
- Chili Stewed Tomatoes – enjoy as a side dish or add to chili or pasta sauce for a burst of fresh summer flavor!
End of Summer Chicken Chili
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 1 pound chicken breasts
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large yellow onion chopped into ½” pieces
- 1 large red bell pepper chopped into ½” pieces
- 4 large garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper use more if you like heat
- 1 large or 2 small zucchini cut into ½” pieces
- 1 yellow summer squash chopped into ½” pieces
- corn kernels cut from 4 large ears of fresh raw sweet corn
- 2 14.5-ounce cans diced fire roasted tomatoes or regular diced tomatoes
- 12 ounces light beer or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- ½ tablespoon chili powder use more if you like more heat
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- juice and zest from 1 lime
- 1 cup chopped fresh herbs of your choice I use ⅓ cup parsley, ⅓ cup dill, ⅓ cup basil
- Coat chicken lightly with olive oil and then sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, fairly generously.
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Then add 2 tablespoons of the butter.
- Once butter has melted, add chicken to pot and sautée until golden. Turn chicken over and sautée second side until golden. Then turn heat to medium, cover pan with lid, and cook just until chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove chicken to a cutting board and set aside.
- Return the same pot to the stovetop and heat to medium. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Once butter has melted, add onion, pepper, garlic, and jalapeno. Sautée for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add zucchini and yellow squash and sautée an additional 5 minutes.
- Add corn, tomatoes, beer, cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Stir to combine. Heat until bubbling and then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, use 2 forks to shred the chicken. Add shredded chicken to the pot, followed by the fresh lime juice and zest.
- Right before serving, stir in the fresh herbs. Adjust to taste with additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- To serve, offer plenty of toppings/mix-ins. Shredded smoked gouda is wonderful with this chili, and we always have cilantro, green onions, sour cream, and fresh limes. If you really want to offer something special with this chili pot, bake up a batch of fresh Honey Cornbread Muffins. They're a family favorite and easy to make!
This post was first published in 2014, then updated in 2023.