Tender, juicy chunks of chicken simmered in a bold chile verde sauce. Serve it over rice or load it up in a burrito! It’s so flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious!
I love this even more than our pork chile verde which means I must be going crazy! Usually I’m all about a bunch of tender, shredded pork but there’s just something so good about this chicken dinner recipe that calls my name! I especially love it with rice and beans but my family is starting to prefer it in a freshly made tortilla from our new cookbook, Raised in the Kitchen.
Whichever way you eat it, you’re going to devour this yummy Mexican chicken dinner.
The Ingredients You Need for Chicken Chile Verde
I’m going to break up the recipe ingredients into two parts – ingredients for the verde sauce and ingredients for the chicken. Here is your shopping list:
For the Verde
- Vegetable Oil
- Tomatillos – those green tomato looking thing in the produce section that have a papery layer on the outside. They are used a lot in Mexican recipes and are so tasty!
- Poblano Chiles – large, mild peppers popular in Mexican cuisine
- Red Onion – these get blended into the sauce and add so much flavor
- Garlic Cloves – flavor of course
- Jalapeño – roasted jalapeño adds heat and tons of flavor to the sauce
- Pepper – flavor
- Cilantro – freshness and flavor
For the Chicken
- Chicken Thighs – boneless, skinless and cut into bite size chunks
- Kosher Salt – helps dry brine the chicken
- Bacon – flavor
- Chicken Broth – helps deglaze the pan after cooking the bacon and adds moisture to the chicken
- Dried Oregano – flavor
- Cinnamon – may seem strange in a savory dish, but trust me!
- Cumin – it has to be in pretty much all Mexican dishes
- Ground Cloves – again, trust me here!
- Sugar – enhances the flavor
- Bay Leaves – flavor
- Orange Juice – acidity and tenderizing the chicken
- Lime Juice – acidity and it’s just so good paired with those Mexican flavors
- Lime Wedges – acidity
- Rice and Beans – excellent sides for the tender chicken
How to Make Chicken Chile Verde
Let’s make some chile verde sauce first, then we will jump into the chicken. Here are the basic steps:
For the Verde
- Position your oven racks, set your oven to broil and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
- Roast the tomatillos, poblanos (skin side up), onion, garlic and jalapeño. Broil until the poblano skins are blackened and the veggies soften.
- PRO TIP: Rotate the baking sheet halfway through broiling. Most ovens have hot spots, so you want to try to avoid one area of the sheet pan to get way over broiled.
- Move the poblanos, jalapeño and garlic to a cutting board to cool. Turn off the broiler.
- Transfer the tomatillos, onion and juices to a blender.
- Remove the skins on the chiles and jalapeño and add them to the blender with the garlic and cilantro. Pulse until the mixture is roughly pureed.
For the Chicken
- Put the pieces of chicken with 5 teaspoons of salt in a large bowl and toss together. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
- Chop the bacon coarse and add half of it into a dutch oven with the chicken broth.
- Bring the broth to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until all the liquid evaporates and the bacon sizzles.
- Add the rest of the bacon and continue to cook until a dark fond forms on the bottom of the pot and the bacon is crispy.
- Remove the bacon and place on a paper towel lined plate. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease and set the pot aside. Heat the oven to 325.
- Heat the bacon grease in the dutch oven over medium heat until it shimmers. Add all the spices and dried herbs and stir until fragrant. Add the chicken and brown in batches.
- Return the browned chicken to the dutch oven and all the remaining ingredients including the tomatillo mixture. Stir everything together and cook until it simmers.
- Transfer the dutch oven to the oven and cook until chicken is tender.
- Remove the pot from the oven and discard the bay leaves.
- Scrap the brown bits from the sides of the pot and stir in cilantro. Season to taste. Serve over rice with beans and lime wedges.
All of these instructions in full detail can be found in the recipe card below.
Why Chicken Thighs Instead of Breasts?
I love the flavor that chicken thighs have and chicken breasts tend to get tough and rubbery as it cooks over time. If you are worried about calories or fat, go with chicken breasts, but I prefer thighs in this one
How to Get the Most Flavor
Some of these steps might seem silly or unimportant, but a few of the steps are key to packing this dish full of flavor.
- Roasting the peppers and tomatillos
- Allowing the chicken to sit coated in salt and browning it before adding it to the sauce
- Bacon, bacon, bacon!
- Giving the chicken a good simmer for a long time allows the flavors to deepen and intensify.
Don’t skip these steps!!
Poblano Peppers vs. Anaheim or Pasilla Peppers?
Sometimes at the grocery store, the poblano peppers will be called pasilla peppers so those two are interchangeable. Anaheim peppers are not the same thing, they pack a tiny bit more heat but can be used as a substitute for poblano peppers, especially if you like more heat.
Can You Make Chicken Chile Verde in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?
Yes, absolutely! I prefer the flavor and texture that come from making this on the stove top, but if a slow cooker or instant pot fits better in to your schedule, then here’s the gist:
Make the verde sauce and prep the chicken as written in the instructions. Brown the chicken on the stove top as well. Then add all the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir everything together. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Make the verde sauce and do the salt brine as written in the instructions. Turn your instant pot to saute and brown the chicken in batches. Add the chicken broth to the pot and scrap the sides and bottom to clean any brown bits left from browning the chicken. Add all the remaining ingredients to the instant pot. Place the lid on the pot and cook on high for 15 minutes. Allow it to vent naturally.
How to Store, Freeze, and Reheat Chile Verde
If you have leftovers, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for 5-6 days.
If you want leftovers to last longer, it freezes great! Place it in a freezer safe container (or better yet, use your Food Saver). It will keep in the freezer for 3-4 months.
To reheat frozen leftovers, you can thaw it in the refrigerator over night or reheat it straight from frozen. Reheat in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.
So now you can make both this version and our pork version and let us know what your favorite is! There’s just the slightest change in ingredients, but something about this chicken chile verde has won me over!
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Chicken Chile Verde
For the Verde
- 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 12 Tomatillos husks and stems removed
- 4 Poblano Chiles stemmed, halved, and seeded *see note
- 1 Large Red Onion cut into 8 wedges
- 7 Garlic Cloves unpeeled
- 1 Jalapeño stemmed and seeded **see note
- 1 teaspoon Pepper
- 1/2 Cup Cilantro minced, plus extra for serving
For the Chicken
- 4 pounds Boneless, skinless chicken thighs trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-2 inch pieces
- 6 teaspoons Kosher Salt divided
- 6 pieces Bacon
- 1 Cup Chicken Broth
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 1/4 teaspoons Ground Cumin
- 1 Pinch Ground Cloves
- 2 teaspoons Sugar
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 3/4 Cup Orange Juice
- 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
- Lime Wedges for serving
- Rice and Beans for eating over the top of
For the Verde
Adjust 1 oven rack to lower-middle position and second rack 6 inches from broiler element. Heat to broil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Place tomatillos, poblanos, onion, garlic, and jalapeño on prepared sheet and drizzle with vegetable oil. Arrange chiles skin side up and broil until chile skins are blackened and vegetables begin to soften, about 10 to 13 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through broiling.
Transfer poblanos, jalapeño, and garlic to cutting board to cool a little. Turn off broiler.
Transfer tomatillos, onion, and any accumulated juices to a blender. When poblanos, jalapeño, and garlic are cool enough to handle, remove and discard skins and add poblanos, jalapeño, garlic and cilantro to the blender. Pulse until mixture is roughly pureed.
For the Chicken
Toss the chicken pieces with 5 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, chop the bacon coarse. Add 1/2 the bacon to a dutch oven and add the chicken broth. Bring to simmer over high heat. Cook, adjusting heat to maintain vigorous simmer and stirring occasionally, until all liquid evaporates and trimmings begin to sizzle, about 12 minutes.
Add the remaining bacon. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until dark fond forms on bottom of pot and trimmings have browned and crisped, about 6 minutes longer.
Using slotted spoon place bacon on a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat; set aside pot. Heat the oven to 325.
Heat reserved fat in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and cloves and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and brown in batches then pile it all back in the pot along with any juices and the bacon.
Stir in orange juice, lime juice tomatillo mixture, bay leaves, sugar, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in chicken and bring to simmer.
Cover, transfer to oven, and cook until chicken is tender, about 1½ hours, stirring halfway through cooking to release anything stuck to the bottom.
Remove pot from oven and discard bay leaves.
Using heatproof rubber spatula, scrape browned bits from sides of pot. Stir in cilantro; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve, over rice and beans with lime wedges.
** Leave the jalapeño half seeded for a little more spice. Yum!
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READ: Chicken Chile Verde