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Onion-Free, Garlic-Free Chicken Chili


Updated January 27, 2009

Making chili without onions or garlic is a double challenge: Not only do virtually all chili recipes include one or both of these ingredients, but you'll normally find one or both in commercial chili powders. The solution? Use other aromatics to build a satisfying flavor and use the other flavor components of spice mixes like chili powder and adobo to add heat and that indescribable "chili"-ness. Based on a rice-and-bean chili my family ate often when I was growing up, no one will guess anything's unusual about this party-ready chili. It's free from all "big eight" food allergens to boot.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and diced
  • 2 serrano peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 lb. ground chicken or skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. ground red pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. Hungarian paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano, or 3 Tbsp. fresh
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 6 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 15-oz. can black or pinto beans, or about 1 1/2 c freshly cooked small beans
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes (with juice), or about 3 c peeled, diced, and seeded tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice


  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat a small amount of oil over medium-low heat. Cook peppers gently for about five minutes, or until they barely start to brown.
  • Add chicken to pot and brown on all sides over medium heat (you may need to add a little more oil), about 8 to 10 minutes. When chicken is brown, add salt and pepper to taste, ground red pepper, paprika, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Stir thoroughly to coat chicken and peppers with spices.
  • Add chicken broth, beans, and tomatoes to pot and gently bring to a boil. When mixture boils, add rice, cover, and simmer for at least 25 minutes, covered. After rice is cooked, taste and adjust salt and pepper.
  • Chili is ready to eat at this point, but can be simmered further -- up to several hours -- for even stronger flavor. Simmer uncovered if you want a thicker chili and covered if you prefer a more soup-like texture. Stir every 15 to 20 minutes to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan while simmering.

Serves 8-10.

Ingredient note: If you buy whole chicken thighs, you'll find that boneless thighs are the easiest to use for this recipe, though they are slightly more expensive.

Storage: Stores in the refrigerator for about a week and in the freezer for at least three months.

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