There’s a billion different ways to make chili, but inevitably, I find myself returning to the same one over and over. It’s that good, and when you want your first fall chili, you want it the most comforting and familiar way possible.

That soup is coming later this year; as usual, I’ll make it to celebrate my birthday. This chili, instead, is the only one that comes close to competing with my favorite.

My Grandma Crippes introduced me to this chicken cilantro chili, but not because she made it for me, that I can recall. Once I asked her to send me the recipe for her special dessert, New York slice, and a few other of her classics. This came among her recipe cards.

I was intrigued because one usually uses chicken or other white meat in a white chili. But this is a good old fashioned tomato- and chili powder-based chili that happens to use chicken instead. It’s otherwise like the usual chili except for two things — the addition of what I’d call a ton of cilantro and  green pepper to add extra texture.

What comes out is a wonderfully comforting chili that almost competes with my mom’s recipe.

Grandma's Chicken Chili

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 poundchicken breast, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup chili powder, or to taste
  • 2 cans (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) hot chili beans
  • 1 (15 ounces) can tomato sauce
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, and cook another 4 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook for 30 seconds to a minute.

Stir in the beans and tomato sauce (I also added a titch of water to rinse the bottoms of the cans of chili beans and tomato sauce, so about 2-3 tablespoons water, if desired). Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the bell peppers and cilantro, and then cook for another about 7 minutes until the bell pepper is tender-crisp. Let cool slightly, if you can wait, and enjoy!