Spicy, flavorful, and simple to make, jerk chicken chili will give you a taste of the islands in your own kitchen!
Why you’ll love it: This uniquely flavored chicken chili is a fun variation of more familiar chicken chili.
How long it takes: 50 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: large pot or Dutch oven
Today I’m bringing you a taste of the Caribbean. Isn’t that what we all need sometimes? Thoughts of warm sunshine and sandy beaches, tall drinks and palm trees, especially during winter months when the sun doesn’t shine very much.
My husband and I went to Jamaica for our honeymoon and of course, we loved the food. Many different cultures are represented in Jamaican cuisine, including British, Indian, African, Chinese, and Spanish, so it’s hard to characterize the food. Let’s just stick with unique and delicious!
White chicken chili is credited to the American southwest area but with a few additions, I’ve made it a Caribbean entree. Fusion cuisine, folks! I think you’re going to love it.
If you’re looking for a more traditional chicken chili, I have a few recipes for that, too. Try my 5-ingredient white chicken chili (so easy!), Instant Pot white chicken chili, slow cooker white chicken chili, or my most requested recipe for white chicken chili.
About Jerk Chicken Chili
You’ll appreciate that fact that this is a one pan meal. It’s easy to make; from start to finish, it should take you about 50 minutes. Still sounds like too much time? Only about 15 minutes is active, the rest of the time is pretty much hands off while the chili simmers.
And you know what? You can let the chili simmer for a lot longer if you want. It’s really easy that way. Prepare it when you have a spare 15 minutes and let it simmer quietly on the stove while you take care of other tasks.
This savory jerk chicken chili is made with bite sized chunks of boneless skinless chicken breasts, white beans, chopped onions, green and red bell peppers, and canned diced tomatoes. That sounds a lot like any chicken chili, right?
To give it a unique Caribbean flavor, jerk seasoning and a dash of hot pepper sauce is added to the mix. Garnished with fresh mango and cilantro, jerk chili is a refreshing change from the ordinary. I think you’re gonna love it!
I’ll get you started on the recipe here but look for complete instructions, measurements and nutrition information on the recipe card below.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: You’ll need one and a half to two pounds of chicken; it’s up to you how meaty you’d like your chili to be. If you prefer, boneless skinless chicken thighs can be substituted. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Did you know that ice cold chicken, even a bit on the frosty side, is much easier to cut?
- Onion: Look for a medium sized sweet onion. Yellow cooking onions or a red onion are fine, if you’d rather.
- Bell Peppers: Any color will work: red, green, yellow, orange, or rainbow. Combine a couple colors to make the chili more visually appealing.
- Canned Tomatoes: Petite diced tomatoes are a perfect choice for this chili. Look for no-salt-added tomatoes if you can find them.
- Jerk Seasoning: A blend of several herbs and spices, jerk seasoning can be found in the spice aisle of the grocery store. The heat level can vary in different brands so start off with a smaller amount and add more to taste once you learn how spicy your blend is. For more information, take a look at the FAQ section.
- Cannellini Beans: You’ll need a couple of cans. Cannellini beans are white kidney beans. If you prefer, other types of beans can be used instead. Rinse and drain the beans before adding them to the chili.
- Chicken Stock or Broth: Look for reduced sodium or no salt added broth. Buy a carton or a couple of cans.
- Hot Pepper Sauce: There are so many types of hot pepper sauce! Use what you have in the house or one of your favorites.
- Fresh Cilantro and Diced Mango: Use for a garnish. They are optional but I highly recommend adding them.
How To Make This Chili
Like most chilis, jerk chicken chili is pretty easy to make. You’ll need a large pan or Dutch oven.
Heat a little oil in the pan and add the cut-up chicken. Brown it for five minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and peppers, and cook them for another five minutes or until they begin to soften. Smells pretty good already, doesn’t it?
Add the remaining ingredients: tomatoes, broth, seasoning, beans, and hot pepper sauce. Stir well and bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn the heat down and simmer for a half hour or so. More time won’t make much of a difference so don’t worry if you’re not ready to serve it.
Taste the chili and season with more salt, if necessary. Add more jerk seasoning or hot sauce, if you like. Put the hot sauce on the table so folks can add more if they like things spicy.
Jerk seasoning is a combination of spices and herbs and there are lots of different versions. The brand I bought contains sugar, spices (including red pepper, thyme, and allspice), salt, onion, and turmeric. Some blends are more spicy and contain Scotch bonnet peppers. You can make your own mix if you want. I can’t wait to try my friend Jo’s recipe for jerk seasoning over at JoCooks.
According to Britannica, the word “jerk” is a form of the Spanish word charqui, which refers to strips of dried meat, or jerky. The recipe is attributed to the Taino, who coated meat with spices and slowly cooked it over a smoky fire.
Make it your own
- Chicken alternatives: Boneless skinless chicken thighs are fine, if you prefer dark meat. Or add already cooked chicken (like rotisserie chicken or Instant Pot shredded chicken) to the chili when you add the beans.
- Adjust the heat. Increase the spices and hot pepper sauce if you like it spicy, or decrease them if you don’t.
- Add garlic, if you want.
- Only have one kind of bell peppers? No problem! A mix is more colorful but using a single color won’t affect the flavor of the chili.
- Use a different type of bean. Pinto, black, or navy beans are good choices.
- Looking for something different? Try my Jamaican rasta pasta. It’s an easy one pot pasta recipe that I’m sure you’ll love!
Storage & Reheating Tips
To Freeze: Jerk chicken chili is a perfect make ahead meal. You can easily make a double batch for future dinners. Put the chili in freezer safe storage containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator for best results.
Leftovers: Cool the chili before putting into an airtight container or covered dish. Leftovers will last for three to four days in the fridge.
Reheat: Put the chili into a saucepan over low to medium heat until warmed through. Individual portion can be gently reheated in the microwave, using a microwave safe bowl. Cover the bowl to avoid spatters.
more Chili Recipes
I already mentioned my white chili recipes but here’s a few more chili recipes for you to try:
- Slow cooker Texas chili (with big chunks of beef chuck roast)
- Vegetarian chili – stovetop or slow cooker
- Turkey and beef chili (feeds a crowd)
- Instant Pot chili (paleo and Whole30 compliant)
- Vegetarian quinoa chili with black beans
- Turkey quinoa chili (under 400 calories!)
- Creamy queso chili
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 teaspoons jerk seasoning
- 2 cans (15.5 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups reduced sodium chicken stock or broth
- Dash of hot pepper sauce, more to taste
- fresh cilantro and/or diced mango for garnish (optional)
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Add onions, and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
- Add tomatoes, jerk seasoning, white beans, chicken broth, and hot sauce and stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
- If desired, top with diced mango and/or fresh cilantro immediately prior to serving.
- Stored properly, leftovers will last for three to four days in the fridge or freeze chili in freezer safe storage containers and for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator for best results.
- To reheat, put the chili into a saucepan over low to medium heat until warmed through or gently reheat individual portions in the microwave.
- If you prefer dark meat, use boneless skinless chicken thighs. Or add already cooked chicken (like rotisserie chicken or Instant Pot shredded chicken) to the chili when you add the beans.
- Increase the spices and hot pepper sauce if you like it spicy, or decrease them if you don’t.
- If desired, substitute a different type of bean: pinto, black, or navy beans are good choices.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.