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People sometimes look at me oddly when I serve rice with my homemade chili. I don’t know why, but I always thought rice was perfect for spooning hot chili over. I like to place rice in individual serving bowls, add chili to the bowl, and then allow everyone to choose from a variety of toppings.
I make different types of chili. I am fond of Texas-style chili made with cubed beef chuck and no beans. Sometimes, I will make a vegan chili with 3 different beans and plenty of vegetables. I also like chili with ground beef or turkey. Lately, I have been making chicken chili with roasted chicken. Everyone seems to like this recipe best. It takes a little time, but it is so worth the effort. And, it actually isn’t hard to prepare.
I have some shortcuts for making roasted chicken chili rice bowls that I will offer following the recipe.
Rice is one of the easiest grains to cook. My favorite rice is short-grain brown rice because it is nutty and has a chewy texture that complements the chili. It also is a whole grain with plenty of dietary fiber, folate, phosphorous, and magnesium. And, it doesn’t get mushy from the chili liquid. But you can make any type of rice that you prefer for this recipe.
I often serve cornbread on the side with a steaming bowl of chili. I don’t add any other side dishes because the toppings offer up veggies, savory fruits, and dairy. This is a complete meal. I do like to offer lite beer or sparkling water.
- 4 bone-in skin-on split chicken breasts
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 3 onions peeled and diced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 3 green bell peppers cored and diced
- 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes
- Two 28-ounce cans of diced tomatoes with liquid
- One 15-ounce can of red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1-1/2 cups short grain brown rice rinsed well
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2-1/2 cups water
- 1-1/2 tsp sea salt
- Sliced jalapeño peppers
- Minced red onions
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
- Slices of ripe avocado
- Tortilla chips
- Lime wedges
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Rub the chicken breasts all over with half of the olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place the breasts, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Place to pan in the oven and roast the chicken for about 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F when checked with a digital meat thermometer.
- While the chicken is roasting, cook the rice: In a medium saucepot over high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the rice and stir it in the oil until it starts to sizzle and smell nutty. Add the salt and water. As soon as the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Leave the pot alone and allow the rice to cook until all the water is absorbed, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. When it is finished, remove the pot from the heat and let the rice sit, covered, for 8 minutes or until the chili is finished cooking.
- Start the chili while the rice and chicken are cooking. In a large pot, preferably a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, over medium heat, warm the remaining olive oil. Add the onions to the pot and cook until they are translucent, approximately 12 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Stir in the bell peppers, salt, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and cayenne. Cook for another minute until the spices and herbs smell fragrant.
- Place the tomatoes and their juices in the pot. As soon as the tomatoes come to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Allow the chili to simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring a few times.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool enough so that you can handle it. Once cooled enough, remove the meat from the bones and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You can remove the skin or add some to the chili. Add the chicken pieces and the kidney beans to the chili base and continue to cook for 20 minutes, stirring often.
- Divide the cooked rice into individual serving bowls. Ladle some chili on top of the rice. Top each with cilantro leaves. Serve with the toppings on the side.
Notes and Tips
- Roasting chicken on the bone with the skin imparts so much flavor and moisture to the meat. I definitely recommend doing this. If you want to use skinless boneless chicken, roast it for about 10 minutes less.
- One of the best tips I was ever given was to leave the rice alone while it cooks. If you peek too soon or too often, the steam will escape and the rice might not cook as evenly or completely.
Substitutions and Shortcuts
Chicken Breasts: One of my absolute favorite recipe shortcuts is picking up a whole roasted organic chicken from Whole Foods. It is seasoned perfectly and very tender. I would use that for this recipe to save a step. And yes, I would use both light and dark meat. And that carcass makes for an excellent bone broth.
Green Bell Peppers: I use green bell peppers in this recipe to add some color. If you want the chili to be a little sweeter and more colorful, use a combination of green, orange, and yellow bell peppers.
Diced Tomatoes: Canned diced tomatoes are super convenient, as long as you buy a brand with none or few added ingredients. For a smoother chili base, use crushed tomatoes. For a chunkier chili, use canned whole tomatoes that you can crush with your hands as you add them to the pot.
Red Kidney Beans: The reason I add red kidney beans is that they are very sturdy with a meaty texture. They also hold together. Feel free to use black beans or pinto beans if you prefer them to kidney beans.
Short Grain Brown Rice: I cook rice weekly, so I am relatively good at not ruining it. If rice cooking isn’t your forte, go ahead and use a boxed rice that can be cooked in minutes. You can also buy frozen cooked rice that you only need to heat up. If brown rice isn’t necessarily your favorite, long-grain white rice is fine. Or, go in another direction with quinoa that cooks in 15 minutes. Cauliflower rice is another good alternative.
Storage & Reheating
- Chicken Chili: Store any leftover chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also freeze the chili for up to 3 months. Just make sure to let it cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe bags or containers.
- Brown Rice: Store cooked rice separately from the chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Toppings: Store individual toppings in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. Use them within 3-4 days for the best quality.
- Chicken Chili: Reheat the chili on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. You can also reheat it in the microwave in a microwave-safe container, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.
- Brown Rice: Reheat the rice in the microwave with a damp paper towel covering the container to help retain moisture. Alternatively, reheat it on the stovetop with a little water or broth, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Offer a variety of toppings for guests to customize their chili and rice bowls, such as sliced jalapeño peppers, minced red onions, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, slices of ripe avocado, tortilla chips, and lime wedges.
- Serve with cornbread on the side for a hearty and delicious complementary dish.
- For beverages, consider offering light beer or sparkling water to pair well with the flavors of the chili.
Customization For Common Dietary Restrictions
- Vegetarian/Vegan: Replace the chicken with an extra can of beans, such as black beans or chickpeas, and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Omit the cheese and sour cream toppings or replace with vegan alternatives.
- Gluten-Free: Ensure that all canned ingredients and spices are gluten-free, and serve with gluten-free cornbread or tortilla chips if desired.
- Low-Carb: Replace the rice with cauliflower rice or serve the chili over a bed of greens for a low-carb alternative.
- Not roasting the chicken properly: Roasting chicken on the bone with the skin imparts so much flavor and moisture to the meat. Make sure to roast the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165°F when checked with a digital meat thermometer.
- Over-stirring the rice: One of the best tips for cooking rice is to leave it alone while it cooks. If you peek too soon or too often, the steam will escape, and the rice might not cook as evenly or completely.
- Overcooking the vegetables: Be careful not to overcook the onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Cook the onions until they are translucent and the garlic for just one more minute. Overcooking these ingredients can result in a mushy texture in the final dish.
- Using the wrong type of beans: Red kidney beans are recommended for this recipe because they have a sturdy, meaty texture and hold together well. If you choose to use other beans, such as black beans or pinto beans, be aware that they may have a different texture in the chili.
Yes, you can substitute the chicken with other types of meat such as ground beef, turkey, or even cubed beef chuck for a Texas-style chili. You can also make a vegan chili with a variety of beans and vegetables instead of meat.
You can use any type of rice that you prefer for this recipe. Long-grain white rice, jasmine rice, or basmati rice are all great options. If you’re looking for a low-carb alternative, you can also try cauliflower rice or quinoa.
Yes, you can use canned beans for this recipe. Just make sure to drain and rinse them before adding them to the chili. You can also use different types of beans such as black beans or pinto beans instead of red kidney beans. Just choose a sturdy bean with a meaty texture that holds together well in the chili.