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Home Recipes 5 Ingredient Southwest Chicken Chili
Dutch oven full of southwest chicken chili.

What Is Southwest chicken chili

There are several varieties of chicken chili. One of the most common is white chicken chili, which is made with white beans (like cannellini beans or great northern beans), cream cheese and sour cream. This is not that.

Southwest chicken chili is actually a lot easier to make, and it’s healthier because it doesn’t contain any cream or cheese.

It starts with a shredded roasted chicken. You can use a store bought rotisserie chicken or make your own Grilled Whole Chicken. Then, you just dump all of the ingredients in a pot and let it cook on the grill, stove or in your crock pot or instant pot.


chicken chili ingredients: roasted chicken, salsa, pinto beans, enchilada sauce, rub.
  • Whole Roasted Chicken: You’ll need around 6 cups of shredded chicken.
  • Salsa: Be sure to buy the chunky kind. You want to see the tomatoes, bell peppers and onions. Choose mild, medium or spicy heat.
  • Pinto Beans: You’ll need two whole cans, including the liquid.
  • Enchilada Sauce: This recipe is made with red sauce, but you can also use green. Choose your preferred heat level.
  • Rub: The BBQ Guys Spiceology Signature West Coast Rub is perfect in this chili.

Substitutions: If you don’t have time to pick up the West Coast Rub, use your favorite taco seasoning or 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

How to cook Southwest chicken chili

To make this Southwest chicken chili a little smoky, cook it on a charcoal grill, pellet grill or gas grill with wood chips. Hickory, pecan and cherry wood are great choices. Set your grill to 300F degrees.

You can also cook this on the stove over medium heat or in a slow cooker for 2 hours on high or 4 hours on low.

  1. STEP ONE: Pull the meat from the roasted chicken and discard the bones and skin. You can save those to make chicken stock for another recipe. One chicken should yield around 6 cups of shredded tender chicken.
meat pulled from chicken next to bones.
  1. STEP TWO: Place the chicken in a large dutch oven with the salsa, pinto beans, enchilada sauce and rub. Stir to combine.
southwest chicken chili ingredients mixed in dutch oven.
  1. STEP THREE: Set your grill or stovetop to medium heat (300F degrees). If using a grill, set the Dutch oven lid on the grill grate to create a level surface. This will prevent the legs from sliding through the grate. Close the grill lid.
Dutch oven sitting on lid on grill.
  1. STEP FOUR: Cook uncovered for 90 minutes, stirring every half an hour.
southwest chicken chili cooking on grill.

How to serve Southwest chicken chili

A bowl of this Southwest chicken chili is great on it’s own, but it’s even better if you serve it alongside some taco toppings with some tortillas.

My favorite toppings include sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, diced tomatoes, jalapeños and crispy tortilla strips or tortilla chips.

bowl of southwest chicken chili with toppings.


If you have any leftover chicken chili, store it in smaller airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can also freeze leftover chili in an airtight container for up to six months.

For frozen chili, thaw it before reheating. Then, pour it into a pot. If it needs a little more liquid, add a couple tablespoons of water or chicken broth.

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Use a pre-roasted chicken to save time
  • Place your Dutch oven on a lid so it doesn’t slip through the grill grates
  • If cooking on the grill, leave the pot uncovered to absorb the smoke

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make this with green chiles?

Absolutely. You can use a salsa verde instead of the red chunky salsa and you can replace the red enchilada sauce with green enchilada sauce.

Is chicken chili healthy?

This chicken chili is much healthier than white bean chicken chili, because it doesn’t include heavy cream or cream cheese. The chicken is very low in fat because we’re not using any of the skin. And the salsa, beans, enchilada sauce and rub are also fat free. If you’re watching your calories, just be mindful of the type of toppings you add.

How is chicken chili different from traditional chili?

Traditional chili, like my Champion Chili Recipe with Smoked Tri-Tip, is made with kidney beans instead of pinto beans. Instead of salsa, it has canned tomatoes. And instead of a taco seasoning type of rub, classic chili is seasoned with rubs that are more chili powder forward. Lastly, it’s made with beef instead of chicken.

What type of beans are used in chicken chili?

This recipe uses pinto beans, which are very popular in Southwest cuisine. When pinto beans are mashed down and cooked they become refried beans. For this recipe, you can also use black beans or navy beans. Or you can use one can of each for more variety.

bowl of southwest chicken chili with toppings.

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5 from 2 votes

5 Ingredient Southwest Chicken Chili

Next time cold weather hits, make this one-pot meal of Southwest chicken chili. It only takes five ingredients.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 6 cups shredded chicken
  • 16 oz chunky salsa
  • 32 oz pinto beans, including liquid
  • 15 oz red enchilada sauce
  • 2 tbsp BBQ Guys West Coast Rub*

Optional Toppings

  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • green onions, diced
  • jalapenos, sliced
  • tomatoes, diced
  • tortilla strips
  • flour or corn tortillas


  • Pull Chicken: If using a rotisserie chicken or whole grilled chicken, pull the chicken meat from the bones. Discard the bones and skin.
  • Combine Ingredients: Place the shredded chicken in a Dutch oven or large pot with the salsa, beans (don't drain them), enchilada sauce and seasoning.
  • Cook: Place the pot on a 300F-degree grill or on a stove top over medium heat. Cook uncovered for 1 hour and 30 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes.
  • Serve: Serve with toppings.


*Instead of the West Coast Rub, you can use taco seasoning or 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin. 
You can also cook this in a slow cooker on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours. 
Nutrition values do not include the optional toppings. 


Calories: 365kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 37gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 615mgPotassium: 881mgFiber: 11gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 315IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 81mgIron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Southwest
Did you try this recipe?Be sure to rate it, leave a comment and save it so you can make it again. Show off your awesome results on social by tagging @girlscangrill

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christie vanover standing against wood wall.

Hey BBQ Family

Hi. I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and have dozens of top ten category finishes. People know me as the girl who is forever hovering over a grill, smoker or campfire with tongs in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

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Recipe Rating

1 Comment

  1. Great, simple recipe! I love that there are not many ingredients. It will definitely be in my regular rotation.