Mom’s Checkerboard Chicken Chili

Perfect for game day, a chilly afternoon, or a make-ahead dinner, this Checkerboard Chicken Chili is a staple in my family. My mom used to make this for us kids at least once per week. Her secret ingredient? A jar of white queso blanco. This chili gets its name from the two different kinds of beans we use: black beans and white kidney beans (like a black and white checkerboard). It’s hearty, loaded with veggies and protein, and downright delicious.

Ingredients needed to make Mom’s Checkerboard Chicken Chili

When I asked my mom for the recipe for her chili, of course she responded by saying, “Well, you know I never really use a recipe.” Alas, I got her to give me a general idea of what she uses and how she prepares it. Here’s the full ingredient list:

Tools used to make Mom’s Checkerboard Chicken Chili

The greatest part about soups, stews, and chilis is that they are always made in one pot. Way less mess! I’ve made this chili in both my Dutch oven and my soup pot, and both work well. You just want something large enough to fit all of your ingredients. Here’s the soup pot I love. Additionally, you’ll need a chef’s knife and a large cutting board for all of that chopping.

How to make Mom’s Checkerboard Chicken Chili

This recipe has a bit of chopping to get you started, but then you’re on your way. I recommend chopping everything before any of the cooking begins. You’ll start by chopping the chicken into 1-inch pieces and chopping all of your vegetables. Next, you’ll sauté the chicken until mostly cooked-through, then add the vegetables and spices. Cover with beer, stir, and let simmer until it smells like heaven in your house. For extra oomph, I stir in a cup of jarred queso blanco. This is certainly optional if you’d prefer a thinner soup consistency, or you don’t care for queso. But if you’re open to it, you should definitely try.

Looking for other hearty recipes?

Try these delicious options from The Ardent Cook

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Recipe Ingredients

3tbsp olive oil

2lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp salt, plus more to taste

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes

1 (4oz) can diced green chiles

1 (12oz) can beer

1 cup jarred queso blanco

Recipe Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Chop chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Add to the oil, along with the bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until chicken is mostly cooked through (it’s ok if it’s not all the way cooked, it will finish as the soup simmers). 
  2. Add the chili powder, salt, cumin, and coriander. Stir to coat the chicken and vegetables. Cook for a minute or so, then add the beans, tomatoes, green chiles, and beer. 
  3. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 25 minutes, uncovered. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the queso. 
  4. Ladle into bowls and serve with loads of sour cream and fresh cilantro. Maybe a cold beer, too. Enjoy!

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