Tomatillo Chicken Chili

So, yesterday, I whipped up a roasted tomatillo and chicken chili made as a light, healthy alternative to the standard turkey and black bean favorite. I’m not sure when ground turkey made the scene in the world of chili, but it was quickly welcomed and became a fixture in the North American palate. I think it was around the early 90’s.

This, coincidentally enough was the same time I met the humble tomatillo. I was in my early 20’s and had just moved into the neighbourhood of my city that was regarded as the “artist’s” neighbourhood. I landed a job at an “energetic, eclectic and friendly” bistro and the house-made salsa was made with a small, hard green tomato. This was where the education in fusion and world cuisines began for this guy.

Chili is, to so many, a hearty comfort food that can be enjoyed in different ways; a side dish, a complete meal, a snack and at any time of year. Not many dishes can fill all those check boxes. There isn’t a type of chili I won’t tip my spoon to; vegan to all-out meat lover’s style, and the hotter, the better.

As beef is kind of a rarity in my kitchen (my wife and daughter are both a bit sensitive to it in sizeable doses); we have moved comfortably into using turkey or chicken. My wife has a sensitivity to kidney beans; no worries, we can use black beans. With that, turkey and black bean chili is still most welcome at our table.

As I have recently found a good source of lean ground chicken at my local store, chicken chili is a mainstay in our revolving repertoire. A few days ago, I found in the produce section, my old long last pal, the tomatillo. My wife suggested whipping up a batch of tomatillo chicken chili and promptly scurried off to grab a couple tins of navy beans. So here we go….

Tomatillo Chicken Chili

Tomatillo Chicken Chili

A roasted tomatillo and chicken chili with white beans
Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American, Mexican, Tex-Mex
Servings 4


  • Soup pot, lined sheet pan, food processor or blender


A: Roasted Tomatillos

  • 1.5 lbs fresh tomatillos peeled, washed and halved
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

B: While the tomatillos roast….

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 lb ground chicken turkey would work just as well…
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 whole onion diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup banana peppers minced (jalapeño peppers could work just as well here..)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 400ml tins navy beans
  • 2 cups water or stock if using stock, chicken or vegetable stock would work best
  • 1/4 cup cilantro for garnish; purely optional


Roasting the tomatillos

  • Preheat your oven to 350F
  • Remove the papery skins from the tomatillos and wash in warm salted water; drain thouroughly.
  • Cut the tomatillos in half and place in a mixing bowl with the rest of the ingerdients from Part A. toss until they are all coated.
  • Place on a lined sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes or until the tops take on a golden brown color.
  • Once roasted, allow to cool enough to be handled safely. Puree and set aside.

Building the chili

  • Heat up the soup pot to meduim-high; add the oil, salt and pepper.
  • Once the salt and pepper begin to release their aromas, add the ground chicken. Stir until fully cooked and any water released is cooked away.
  • Add the lime juice and stir to deglaze the chicken from the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the onion, celery, garlic and pepper mince; stir thoroughly.
  • Add the cumin, chili powder, tomatillo puree and water.
  • Once it reaches a boil, add beans and reduce to a simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (you can simmer it for an hour or more, but it will rduce in volume, requiring more liquid to be added).



This green and white chili is a change from the standard red chili I make with black beans. 
I have a good, inexpensive source of lean ground chicken, hence I selected it for this batch. If you wish to use ground turkey, it would produce pretty much the same results.
If using pickled banana peppers for this recipe (which I did, since I have lots on hand in my kitchen and I’m too lazy to head out to the shops to get a fresh jalapeño), be sure to strain most of the brine off, lest it impart too much a vinegar dimension on top of the lime juice.
Keyword dairy free, gluten free, Tex Mex

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