Buffalo Chicken Chili is a delicious take on traditional Buffalo Wing flavor. The chili can be individually customized for more heat or less, depending on each person’s tolerance. Also excellent as a vegetarian chili.
We’re huge Buffalo chicken wing fans in my house, or I should say we’re all fans of that classic Buffalo heat flavor that comes from wing sauce, butter, and garlic. The chicken sometimes is an afterthought or deliberate omission. Buffalo Chicken Chili is no exception. Classic Buffalo Wing flavor with great chili texture that’s bright and complex, but with a process that’s nearly effortless in assembly and cleanup.
Ingredients in Buffalo Chicken Chili-
Butter- I recommend using butter rather than oil to sauté the celery and carrots for Buffalo chicken chili. Traditional Buffalo wing sauce is made with butter as one of the ingredients for the chicken, giving a luscious, buttery (duh) flavor to the chili. And the four tablespoons in this big pot of chili is perfect to bind everything together and impart a rich taste.
Carrots and celery- You could add a lot more carrots and celery than called for in this recipe, you kind of can’t go wrong with these two. They add incredible texture and familiar flavors, again for the Buffalo wing experience.
Chili powder, garlic powder, and garlic cloves- Chili powder is classic mild heat for all chili dishes and the amount I recommend is just enough for good flavor but not so much that it overpowers the hot sauce. The combination of garlic powder and garlic cloves is intentional; garlic powder adds a more smoky flavor with is also reminiscent of the garlic flavor added to Buffalo wings.
Pinto or chili beans- The recipe calls for two cans of beans and I’ve experimented with pinto beans, chili beans, pinto and kidney, and pinto and black beans. Most any type of bean you love in your chili will also win here.
Fire-roasted diced tomatoes- Fire-roasted adds visual interest and also increases the bright and slightly smoky flavor in the chili.
Chicken broth- Chicken broth adds a great depth to the chili, but if you’re opting to make the chili vegetarian, vegetable broth works smoothly as well. I recommend four cups in the recipe because I like my chili to have just a bit more liquid for dunking bread and coating the toppings.
Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce- I use Frank’s anytime I want excellent Buffalo wing flavor, but Frank’s original also works very well. The amount called for in the recipe is enough to provide noticeable Buffalo wing flavor but keeps it mild enough for most adults. I like to serve the chili with extra wing sauce on the side for those who want even more heat. If you use a different brand or type of hot sauce, adjust up or down as desired.
Rotisserie chicken- Rotisserie chicken is fantastic in so many chicken soup-type recipes. It’s already cooked and is almost always moist and has excellent flavor, plus you can save what you don’t put into the chili for another chicken soup recipe or for making homemade chicken broth. Alternately, you could pre-cook three boneless chicken breast halves or use leftover chicken equal to two or three cups.
Toppings to recreate that Buffalo Chicken experience- I highly, HIGHLY recommend serving the Buffalo Chicken Chili with two important toppings. Crumbled blue cheese and fresh chopped celery. Many of my taster said the blue cheese is essential to truly enjoy the Buffalo Chicken experience and I agree. The fresh chopped celery adds a nice, fresh crunch to the chili. Sour cream doesn’t really add anything to the chili but if you need to tone down the heat at all, a dollop of sour cream on individual bowls helps with this a lot.
How do you make Buffalo Chicken Chili-
Since my method for Buffalo Chicken Chili is so quick on the stovetop, this is the way I recommend making it. It’s a one-pot recipe which makes cleanup a breeze. The whole thing comes together in less than an hour with these simple steps-
Saute’ the vegetables and seasonings- Let the butter soften the celery and carrots a bit and then add the dry spices, chili powder, garlic powder, and the garlic cloves.
Stir in the beans and fire-roasted tomatoes, broth, and hot sauce. Simmer the chili now until the carrots and celery are just right and the flavors have melded. About 15 minutes.
Add the chicken at the end, stir and let heat through.
Last- Get the blue cheese and celery ready for adding to individual bowls, have more hot sauce nearby for those that want it… and enjoy!
That’s it! This was such a hit with my tasters, even with a few who can’t handle a lot of heat (added sour cream for them!). One thing we loved besides Buffalo Chicken Chili being delicious, one-pot, ready in no time was, it’s even better the next day.
Buffalo Chicken Chili
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 carrot, large, chopped
- 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 cans pinto beans, (15 ounce) drained and rinsed. Or chili beans or combination of favorite beans for chili
- 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, (15 ounce) with juices
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup Frank's RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce, plus extra for serving original may be used if that's all you have
- 2-3 cups rotisserie chicken meat, 2-3 cups shredded into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- Crumbled blue cheese This makes the chili! Don't skip it
- Chopped celery
- Sour cream, not necessary except if you need to lower the heat level for anyone
- Tortilla chips, optional
- Limes, quartered. Optional, but some people like to squeeze some lime juice over the chili.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped celery and carrots, cooking until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, garlic powder, and garlic cloves. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the pinto beans (or whatever beans you're using), fire-roasted tomatoes with their juice, the 4 cups of chicken broth, and the Frank's wing sauce. Let the mixture start to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the shredded rotisserie chicken and teaspoon of salt. Stir and let heat through, just a couple minutes more. Taste for heat and salt, adding more if desired. You can also add more garlic powder. I've added more than the half teaspoon of garlic powder to the chili recipe before with success. Just depends on how you like the garlic flavor.
- Serve with plenty of crumbled blue cheese, freshly chopped celery, extra buffalo sauce, and sour cream if desired.
- The chili is delicious the next day as the flavors increase even more over night. If you have leftovers and more chicken broth, add another cup of broth, or water, sprinkle a little extra chili powder, garlic powder, and salt in and refrigerate to enjoy the next day. The step with adding more liquid to the leftovers is a personal preference for us but not necessary.
- If you like your chili really thick, reduce the amount of chicken broth to 3 cups rather than 4 specified in the recipe.
- When adding beans to the recipe, any type of chili-friendly bean works. Kidney beans, black beans, pinto, or a combination.
- If blue cheese is not your thing, you can substitute Gorgonzola which has a little milder flavor, or a sharp cheddar or any favorite cheese. But the blue cheese really improves each bite of the chili, so I highly recommend it.
- For a vegetarian option, we just leave out the chicken and make the rest as the recipe is written. You can also add cooked cauliflower or jackfruit in place of the chicken, though not necessary.
- Leftovers can be placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge for three days. The Buffalo Chicken Chili is also a great meal to make ahead and place in the freezer. Freeze for up to two months. Just thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.