When we say Texas chili, the first thing that comes to mind is a stew in red sauce with beef. But chili can also be made using other types of meat, like pork, venison, goat or chevon, turkey, and yes, chicken meat too.
You’ll find a lot of different versions of Texas chili made with chicken. There’s Texas chicken chili in red sauce, Texas white Chicken chili, and smoked chicken chili, made using smoked chicken meat instead of ordinary chicken meat, or smoking chicken chili to achieve a smoky flavor.
There are two ways to make this dish. The easier way is to buy barbecue or smoked chicken and use it to make chili. The other option requires a smoker or a smokehouse where you will smoke your pot of chicken chili.
Smoked Chicken Chili Trivia
- Smoking is one of the oldest cooking techniques. But when we hear or read “smoked”, we usually think of preserved meats like pork, beef, chicken, fish, etc. We also think about smoked cheese. But it is not uncommon to smoke cooked food, and not just chili. There is also smoked baked macaroni and smoked buttered corn, for example.
- The basic goal of smoking is to preserve food, which is important during the pre-refrigerator era. Today, smoking is also used to infuse food with a smoky flavor.
- The lore of the Texas chili origins is not complete without mentioning the Chili Queens, thought to have sold Texas chili to cowboys and other travelers stopping by for a quick meal.
- The internet is filled with creative (even crazy) ideas. Looking for tips and instructions on how to make a DIY smoker (or smokehouse) will definitely lead you to tutorials that range from simple and practical to unconventional, where they use not just concrete blocks or steel drums but also clay flower pots, steel filing cabinets, even galvanized steel trash can to make a smoker. If this project interests you, sure, give it a try!
Smoked Chicken Chili Production & Farming in Texas
Smoked chicken chili is very popular in Texas, a state where smoked meats (including smoked chicken) are very popular. The ingredients used to make smoked chicken chili are always available in Texas stores, groceries, supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and other specialty stores.
While you can cook smoked chicken chili any time of the year, Texans love to make this dish during the cold season. It is made for occasions when the host expects many visitors to come and eat.
Smoked chicken chili is also a favorite easy go-to recipe for those thinking of ways to use leftover rotisserie chicken.
Enjoying Smoked Chicken Chili
Smoked chicken chili is comfort food that is perfect to eat especially during cold weather. It is best eaten hot – freshly-cooked is the best, although re-heated smoked chicken chili is just fine too.
Smoked chicken chili is a very versatile dish and you can enjoy it with a lot of different kinds of foods and drinks. You can have it with bread or rice. You can even mix it with noodles! It is a great food to eat while drinking beer (and watching TV, either binge-watching your favorite show or watching sports). If it has become too thick, you can even use it as a dip for nachos! You can put this in a tortilla and top with sour cream, chopped cilantro, and fresh lime.
If you have a smoker, you can store your freshly-cooked smoked chicken chili in the smoker to keep it warm, especially if people are arriving throughout the day and you will be serving this all day long to guests. As for leftovers, it is best to refrigerate it. Make sure to put it in a food container with a lid. Here, it will stay in good condition for four days. You can also freeze it, if you want leftovers to last longer, for as long as three months (considering how delicious smoked chicken chili is, it is highly unlikely leftovers will last that long!). In any case, try to portion leftovers, using containers that will hold enough for one or two persons. This is ideal especially if you live alone and you don’t expect to finish a bowl of leftovers, so you can just thaw and reheat just enough smoked chicken chili that you can finish in one meal.
In a Dutch oven pot, put shredded chicken, onions, herbs, spices, and seasoning (salt, peppercorns, cayenne pepper, etc.) before adding chicken broth. You can add tomatoes and tomato paste if you want a red smoked chicken chili instead of white. You can also add corn starch diluted in hot water if you want the broth to thicken. Stir well so that everything mixes together and cook it inside the smoker. It is important that the Dutch oven pot is just partially covered to allow the smoke to infuse its flavor into what you are cooking.
This is basically how you do it. Online, you will find a lot of different ways to make smoked chicken chili, each technique with its own set of ingredients, cooking techniques, etc. See what technique interests you and give it a try!
You’ll find other recipes that require more ingredients, like shredded cheddar cheese, corn, celery, butter, heavy whipping cream, Worcestershire sauce, and masa harina (maize dough from ground nixtamalized corn). Some even use coffee and/or wine or beer.
Some people say a real Texas chili has no beans. But go ahead and put beans on your smoked chicken chili. You are not alone. Meat Church, a company from Waxahachie, Texas specializing in barbecue supplies and recipes showed a video tutorial on smoked chicken chili with beans.
For herbs and spices, you can see recipes using any or all of the following: paprika, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and powdered black pepper.
The toppings can vary also, depending on what you want. You can top your smoky chicken chili with cheese (other options include low-fat cheese, non-fat cheese, or vegan cheese), sour cream (a healthier option is low-fat sour cream or non-fat Greek yogurt), hot sauce, more jalapenos, sliced avocado, fresh onions, green onions, chives, black olives, and crispy bacon. You can serve your smoked chicken chili on a bed of fresh greens, like lettuce, spinach, or kale.
Some cooking tips:
- You can also use cutlets or bite-sized pieces of chicken meat (canned or frozen) in making smoked chicken chili.
- It is easy to make a gluten-free and dairy-free version of smoked chicken chili. Just use dairy-free shredded cheese and do not use sour cream.
- A useful tip on smoking chicken without a smoker or smokehouse: if you can’t find a smoked chicken or barbecue-flavored rotisserie chicken to use in smoked chicken chili, the trick is to have liquid smoke and a roasting pan with a rack and lid. Read about it here.
Chicken meat is always a great choice for protein because there are many benefits to eating chicken meat. Aside from being a good source of protein, chicken meat is also a great choice for people who are looking to lose weight. Chicken meat is a great source of B vitamins that helps the body stay energized, filled with healthy red blood cells. The body also gets vitamin D for strong bones and iron for blood and muscle health.
High consumption of pork and other red meat could lead to many different types of cancer later in life. This risk can be lowered if you opt for chicken instead of red meat. Chicken meat also means lower cholesterol compared to a diet of red meat. Other benefits include improved blood pressure and healthy skin.
The rest of the ingredients of smoked chicken chili (jalapeno, onion, garlic, pepper, and tomatoes (not to mention the spices) all have health benefits.
Jalapeño contains small amounts of fiber. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, and K, antioxidants, calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Jalapeño pepper promotes weight loss and speeds up metabolism. It helps repair cells and boosts the body’s immunity. It can help slow down the onset of gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Jalapeño peppers can help manage the pain brought about by gout flare-ups and rheumatoid arthritis. The vitamin K in jalapeno helps promote bone health. Wounds also heal faster thanks to a diet consisting of jalapenos. Other benefits include reduced blood clotting, improved heart health and vision, and cancer prevention.
Onions are a great source of vitamin C, folate, pyridoxine, and potassium. The researchers found that the risk of colorectal cancer was 79% lower in those who regularly consumed allium vegetables, such as onions. This also helps control the blood sugar level in the body, boost bone density, and improve digestive health. Onion helps fight inflammation. It also helps lower the risk of heart disease. The antioxidants in onions help in lowering the risks of cellular damage, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Garlic contains calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc, and Vitamin C. Garlic helps control cholesterol-causing lipids in the blood. Garlic also has antioxidants, which may help prevent free radicals that contribute to chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. Garlic helps manage high blood pressure.
Peppers are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, folate, iron, and potassium. Peppers also help lower blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, the likelihood of anemia and chronic diseases. People who regularly eat peppers may experience delay in age-related memory loss.
Tomatoes are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, as well as calcium, folate, lycopene, and potassium. Tomatoes promote heart health and help prevent certain cancers.