chipotle chicken chili or “C3”

$9.51 recipe / $1.19 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
5 from 20 votes
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I know, I know, I just made a chicken soup-type dish. Well, sometimes you’ve gotta work with what you’ve got. I have a ton of chicken in the freezer, I had some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce left over from another test recipe, and it’s getting all fall-like outside. What does that add up to? Chili, of course.

I went pretty light on the chicken in this recipe to keep costs down (even though I got a crazy-good deal on the chicken) and beefed it up with a couple different types of beans and corn. Most of the flavor in this dish comes courtesy of the sweet-spicy-smokey chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. They definitely have a kick, so start with just two peppers and a couple spoonfuls of sauce, and add more to taste.

The V8 juice was my biggest cost and I could have done better. V8 offers a depth of flavor that plain tomato juice can’t, so I wouldn’t suggest skipping this secret ingredient. Check the bottom shelves of the juice aisle for the large metal cans because they cost less than the resealable plastic jugs. If you have some left over, into the freezer it goes! (makes a great base for soups and cocktails!)

If you can’t get a good deal on chicken like I did, you can easily make this into a vegetarian stew. Just add some diced sweet potato for bulk and you’re good. Although it’s so far from chili at this point that I don’t know if it can go by that name anymore, but who cares, it tastes good.

Chipotle Chicken Chili (C3)

Top view of a bowl of Chipotle Chicken Chili

Looking for a classic chili recipe? Check out my Simple Homemade Chili!

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Chipotle Chicken Chili or "C3"

5 from 20 votes
This chipotle chicken chili has smoky chipotle peppers, shredded chicken, and hearty beans for a meal that will fill you up and satisfy your taste buds.
Servings 8
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 1 hour 10 minutes
Total 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.24)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.28)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 3/4 lb. chicken breast ($1.46)
  • 1 32oz. bottle V8 juice ($2.69)
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomato ($0.95)
  • 1 15oz. can kidney beans ($0.99)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans ($1.19)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels ($0.54)
  • 1/2 4oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (up to) ($0.68)
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder ($0.15)
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin ($0.08)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
  • salt to taste ($0.05)


  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until soft and transparent (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the chicken breast, V8 juice, diced tomatoes, beans (drained), corn, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Stir to combine. Open the can of chipotle peppers and take two out. Mince them and add to the pot. Take two spoonfuls of the adobo sauce from the can and add to the pot as well. Stir it on up.
  • Bring the pot up to a boil over medium-high heat with a lid. Once reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and let the pot simmer for one hour (lid on).
  • After an hour, carefully remove the chicken breast and shred the meat using two forks. Return the shredded meat to the pot. Give the chili a taste and add more chipotle peppers if desired. Add salt as needed. I added about one teaspoon of salt, but this will depend on how salty your beans were, so start with a little and add more as needed.

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Enjoy! Goes great with cornbread, cheddar cheese, or a dollop of sour cream!


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 287.75kcalCarbohydrates: 38.15gProtein: 18.04gFat: 8.1gSodium: 754.54mgFiber: 11.68g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Side view of a bowl of Chipotle Chicken Chili
I garnished with green onions because I had them laying around.

Step By Step Photos

onion and garlic in pot
Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large pot with olive oil until tender (about 5 minutes). (I’m not sure why I keep re-taking this picture… I could have just taken one and used it for all 100-million recipes that start this way.)

raw chicken breast added to pot
Add the raw chicken breast – whole. It will get shredded later. This recipe is admittingly light on chicken, but I think that’s an okay compromise for price. Plus, you get plenty of protein from the bean/corn combo.

tomato juice, can of black beans, can of kidney beans, and can of diced tomatoes
Then add all of this… and one cup of frozen corn. Also, I drained the beans so that I wouldn’t have too much liquid in my chili.

spices and all other ingredients added to pot
Add your spices (chili powder, cumin, oregano).

Can of chipotle peppers
And this is what the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce looks like. It’s a very small can (4 ounces) and is usually sold with the other Mexican grocery items. It’s easy to miss because it looks a lot like the small cans of sliced jalapeno peppers. Make sure to get the kind that is “in adobo sauce.”

chipotle peppers
When you open up the can, there are little peppers in there like this, plus a bunch of yummy sauce. (I had left overs from a can in a plastic container in my fridge). Anyway, mince up the peppers and spoon some of the sauce into the pot as well. Start with just two peppers and add more later if you want. I ended up using about half of a can.

shredded chicken with two forks on counter
So, bring the pot up to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer with a lid on for an hour. This will make the chicken nice and tender. Take the chicken out and shred it with a fork, then return it to the pot.

shredded chicken added to pot of chili
And then you’re pretty much done! Add more chipotles and some salt if desired. I added about a teaspoon of salt and ended up using about half of the can of chipotle peppers (plus sauce).

Top view of a bowl of Chipotle Chicken Chili
Serve with some cornbread to soak up the chipotle goodness!

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  1. This is now on my short list of go to recipes. I had a few squash that needed to be prepared and since I love vegetables, I diced them and added them in with the onions. I added a little more chili powder and chipotle than the recipe called for just for flavor and heat.

  2. Could I slow cook the chicken, garlic, onion, corn and v8 together, and then shred the chick and add the beans before serving?

    1. That would probably work fine. I’d just go ahead and add the beans with everything else. I have other slow cooker recipes where I add the canned beans in the beginning and they don’t break down or anything. :)

  3. This is one of my all-time favorite recipes! I just got an instant pot and have started using it for EVERYTHING. If you were making it in an instant pot, how long would you put it in for? Thanks! :)

    1. It’s hard to say without testing it, but I think I’d try the poultry setting because the most important part here is to get the chicken to that shreddable texture. :)

    1. Yes you definitely can use the Spicy V8. A few folks before have mentioned it makes it even better!

  4. If I chose to use pre-cooked chicken breast, how would I alter this recipe? Obviously wouldn’t need the hour long wait anymore but would I just make sure everything is warmed through or do I need to keep it in the pot for a prescribed amount of time?

    1. I would still simmer it for about 20-30 minutes to let the flavors blend and give the tomatoes time to mellow out (they can be quite acidic if you don’t let them simmer a bit). :)

  5. I was looking for a recipe to use up specific leftovers and was directed to this one. It was delicious! Everyone had seconds, and what was left was quickly claimed for tomorrow’s lunch. We will be adding this to our favorite recipes.

  6. I have made this chili probably a dozen times, just as the recipe instructs, and it’s ALWAYS delicious. Although curious what the calorie count is… has anyone calculated?

    1. The nutrition information is going to be based on the ingredients you use and how many servings you actually seperate it into. The listed nutrition information says it’s 287.85 calories per serving.

  7. Thank you Anjana for the comment – I was unsure if I would like the V8 but now I’ll try veg stock first! This looks amazing I think we will try it this weekend!

  8. One of my Budget Bytes favorites.  Made it again tonight.  So easy and delicious.  And great leftover!  Thanks Beth!

  9. Omg! Hands down the best chili recipe out there. I was so skeptical since I didn’t have the v8 juice. I just subbed some veg stock and it was mind blowing and so filling as well. Thank you for sharing your recipe 🙌😁