Jerk Chicken Chili

5 Oct

Jerk Chicken Chili

I first made this jerk chicken chili when I went camping for the first time. I was tasked with choosing dinner recipes, and this recipe stood out because it seemed relatively simple and could be made in a single pot yet had an interesting combination of flavors. It turned out delicious, and I set about making it at home recently, wondering if I only remembered it being so tasty because we had been starving and in the wilderness (well, relatively so – we were actually at a well-established campground with treehouses). But this chili turned out equally delicious prepared in more traditional surroundings!

This recipe is a great way to use leftovers of my perfect roast chicken (especially after cooking it with a jerk rub), but you can also use a cooked rotisserie chicken purchased from the grocery store to make this especially easy. The chili was outstanding paired with a generous dollop of sour cream and some fantastic honey-glazed cornbread. The inclusion of all-spice adds a slight twist to the traditional chili flavors (I would recommend grinding whole all-spice, if possible, for maximum flavor; I love my trusty mortar and pestle for things like this), and the bit of chocolate stirred in at the end is a great touch. I think next time I make this, I’ll replace one cup of the stock with a cup of beer (ideally something dark and smoky), adding it slightly before adding the stock to deglaze the pan.

Jerk Chicken Chili (adapted from Smells Like Home)
Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 habanero or scotch bonnet peppers, minced*
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp thyme**
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 3 – 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded/chopped
  • 4 cups stock***
  • 1 large can (28 – 32 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed****
  • 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes*****
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 ounce semisweet/dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal or 3 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water (optional for thickening)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*This makes for a very spicy chili (how I like it!); if you’re usually less spice tolerant, only use one pepper or even omit the peppers altogether (don’t forget the chili powder will lend some spice too).
**I used fresh, but dried should work equally well.
***Chicken is obviously ideal, but I used vegetable (Better Than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base) as that’s what I had around, and it worked quite well.
****Feel free to switch this up for your favorite beans – kidney beans, navy beans, or white beans would all work well.
*****Crushed or whole tomatoes will also work.


  1. In a dutch oven or large pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 large onion, diced and 1 bell pepper, diced, and sautee until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced, 2 habanero or scotch bonnet peppers, minced, 2 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp ground allspice, and sautee until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add 3 – 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded/chopped, and stir to coat with spices.
  4. Add 4 cups stock, 1 large can (28 – 32 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed, and 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 15 – 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, 1 ounce semisweet/dark chocolate, and 2 tbsp cornmeal or 3 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water (optional for thickening). If using the cornstarch/cornmeal to thicken, raise heat to medium-high and let thicken.
  6. Turn off the heat, and let sit 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

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