This Southwest chicken chili bake is a flavorful blend of tender chicken, vibrant bell peppers, and aromatic spices, all cooked to perfection in a rich, tangy salsa verde sauce.
Creamy white beans and fresh cilantro add texture and freshness, while a bubbling layer of melted cheese tops it all off. It’s a flavorful, comforting chili that combines the zesty spirit of the Southwest with the heartiness of a classic chili.
What Makes This Southwest Chicken Chili Bake so Good?
The secret to this chili’s deliciousness lies in the bold chili flavors and the tender, juicy chicken. Here’s what makes it oh-so-good:
1. Spice: A blend of chili powder, cumin, and paprika adds layers of smokiness and warmth. The spices work harmoniously to create deep, rich flavors.
2. Fresh Ingredients: The use of fresh ingredients like diced yellow onions, bell peppers (red or green), and minced garlic ensures a burst of natural flavors.
3. Salsa Verde: With its tangy tomatillo goodness, salsa verde brings a unique twist to this chili. It provides a refreshing, slightly tart counterbalance to the hearty chicken and beans.
4. Beans: White beans, such as Cannellini or navy beans, bring creaminess and texture to the chili. They soak up the flavors and add a volume to each spoonful.
5. Cheese: Who could forget the bubbly cheese on top? Whether you choose cheddar, Monterey jack, pepper jack, or a combination of them all, the cheese’s gooey goodness makes this chili.
Let’s Get Cooking – How to Make This Easy Chili Bake
Step 1: Sauté the Chicken and Onion
Start by heating up some avocado oil (olive oil works too) in a large oven-safe skillet. Add in the bite-sized chicken cubes and diced onion, letting it all sizzle until the chicken is nicely browned on the outside.
Step 2: Spices
In the same pan, toss in the bell peppers and minced garlic. Sauté until they’re soft and aromatic. Then, sprinkle in the chili powder, cumin, paprika, sea salt, and black pepper and let it cook some more.
Step 3: Rice and Salsa Verde
Next, stir in the basmati rice, allowing it to toast briefly in all that flavorful goodness. Pour in the salsa verde, chicken broth, and water and cover. Let it all simmer for 15 ish minutes, until the rice is cooked to perfection.
Step 5: Cheese
Now, it’s time for the best part. Remove the pan from heat and sprinkle a generous layer of shredded cheese on top. Bake in a preheated oven until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown on top. Scoop, top, and enjoy!
Ideas to Fancy Up Your Southwest Chicken Chili
If you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of additions to elevate your Southwest chicken chili:
- Corn: A handful of sweet corn kernels will provide an extra burst of sweetness, crunch, and color.
- Avocado Slices: Creamy avocado slices make a fantastic topping, adding a cool contrast to the spicy warmth.
- Sour Cream: A dollop of sour cream (or Greek yogurt) will creaminess and a pleasant tangy flavor to the chili. It can also mellow out the heat if it’s too spicy.
- Jalapeños: Turn up the heat by adding one seeded and chopped jalapeño during cooking. You can also top this chili bake with fresh sliced jalapeños.
What you’ll love about this recipe
How to store and Freeze This Chili Bake
Leftovers are inevitable with this delicious chili bake. To store, let the chili cool completely, and transfer it to an airtight container. It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
For longer storage, consider freezing it – it freezes great. Portion out servings in freezer-safe containers and store for up to 3 months. You can also ladle the chili into Ziplock bags, leaving a little room at the top for expansion, lay flat and freeze. This will save space in your freezer.
With its vibrant flavors and hearty textures, you’re going to absolutely love this Southwest chicken chili bake. The combination of bold spices, fresh ingredients, creamy beans, and of course, that cheesy finish, makes it a meal that’ll fill you up annnnd warm you from the inside out. Change up your chili routine this season with this easy one-pan Southwest version and let me know what you think!
Southwest Chicken Chili Bake
- 2 TBS avocado oil (or olive oil)
- 1 pound chicken breasts (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
- 1 yellow onion (diced)
- 1 bell pepper (red or green, chopped)
- 3 tsp minced garlic (or 3 cloves minced)
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup basmati rice (white)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 cups salsa verde
- 1 can white beans (Cannellini or navy beans, drained)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, pepper jack, or a combination)
- avocado and green onion (for topping)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large cast iron or oven-safe skillet, heat avocado oil over medium-high heat.2 TBS avocado oil
- Add cubed chicken and chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown chicken on all sides.1 pound chicken breasts, 1 yellow onion
- Add the chopped bell pepper, minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked and the spices are fragrant.1 bell pepper, 3 tsp minced garlic, 1 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, sea salt and black pepper
- Add rice, water, and chicken broth and heat to boiling. Once boiling, cover, reduce heat, and cook for 15-20 minutes until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.1 cup basmati rice, 2 cups water, 1 cup chicken broth
- Stir in the salsa verde, beans, and cilantro and stir to mix well.2 cups salsa verde, 1 can white beans, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- Remove from heat, sprinkle the cheese over the top of the chili. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and slightly brown on top.1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
- Serve chili in bowls and top with avocado, chopped green onion, lime juice, and sour cream.