Award Winning Buffalo Chicken Chili

The last time I spoke to my brother Sam, he told me he and his family had sat around the kitchen table drooling over my recent blog post, My Favorite Silver Palate Chili, a beef-based chili with many beautiful layers of flavor. After much discussion, one of his children asked, “Yeah, Dad, but who’s gonna make it?” And there the discussion ended. I have to agree, the Silver Palate chili ingredient list is daunting. I promise you, Sam, this chicken chili recipe is a cinch to make, especially if you use store-bought rotisserie chicken for the meat.
lisa's chili

This recipe should be called Now You See It, Now You Don’t Chili because each time I have seen it served, the crockpot bowl has been completely emptied by the end of the night. At the 2nd Annual Vanderbilt Liver Transplant Team Chili Cook-Off this year, this chili, submitted by transplant team member Lisa, took home the top three awards: Best Chili, Spiciest Chili, and Kid’s Choice. I’ve modified Lisa’s version by adding a few more ingredients.

If you want an additional challenge, I’ve provided instructions on how to make your own Ranch Seasoning Mix rather than using the MSG-laden prepackaged mix.

Yield: Makes 4.5 quarts

Lisa's Chili

⅓ cup olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 or 3 colorful sweet bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 pounds cooked chicken meat
8 cups chicken broth
2  14.5-ounce cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
6 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained, not rinsed
2  7-ounce cans diced green chilies, drained
½ cup buffalo wing sauce (more if you like it really hot)
2 packages ranch dressing mix, or 6 tablespoons homemade ranch mix*
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon salt
2  8-ounce blocks of cream cheese, cut into small squares for quicker melting

Chili Toppings:
blue cheese crumbles
freshly chopped cilantro.

How much meat does a rotisserie chicken yield?

I spoke to Costco’s butcher, who said all of their rotisserie chickens weigh between three and five pounds. Here is a great tip he shared with me: those that weigh the most are the ones where the top of the chicken is smushed up against the container’s lid. The butcher told me any chicken not sold within two hours or that weighs less than 3 pounds is used to make the pre-made dishes like the chicken salad.

This chicken weighed 4 pounds 7 ounces and cost $5.00. It yielded a whopping 2 pounds 8 ounces of boneless meat.

There was 1 pound 13 ounces of skin and bones leftover. I placed it all in a bag in the freezer for a future pot of Chicken Stock from Rotisserie Bones.

Some of the other ingredients:

Fire Roasted Tomatoes add bite to soups. The ingredients include tomatoes, onion, and garlic powder. I like to pulse them in a food processor before using them.

Buffalo Wing Sauce is a hot sauce with added butter (or natural butter flavor). Folks use it as a condiment and pour it over cooked chicken wings.
lisa's chili


Wash and core peppers and peel the onions. I often cut them into chunks and pulse them together in a food processor.
Lisa's Chili Lisa's Chili

Prep chicken. If using rotisserie chicken, pull the meat off the bones and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Sauté the vegetables for 10 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Add diced chicken and stir.
Lisa's Chili

Add the rest of the ingredients except for the cream cheese and toppings and simmer for about 30 minutes. The hot sauce gives it an orangey color.
Lisa's Chili

Before you are ready to serve, cut the cream cheese into small chunks and add to the chili. Stir the soup as it melts. Add more buffalo sauce if you want more heat.

Wash, dry, and snip the cilantro leaves. Serve in a separate bowl alongside a bowl of blue cheese crumbles.
lisa's chili

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix:
I thought it would be a fun challenge to try and make my own Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix, so I searched the web for a homemade version and found one over at Gimme Some Love. This mix is excellent, and the advantage is there are no preservatives. The mix has a 3-month shelf life in the refrigerator.

Ranch seasoning.

1/3 cup dry buttermilk
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill weed
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried chives
1 teaspoon salt


Whisk ingredients together until blended. If you want a more finely ground seasoning mix, pulse the mixture in a food processor a few times.

Ranch seasoning.
Homemade on the left, packaged on the right.
Ranch seasoning.
*3 tablespoons of mix = 1 packet of store-bought mix. To test the mix’s flavor, I stirred in ¼ cup of plain Kefir, which is similar to liquid yogurt.
Ranch seasoning.
It was delicious as a salad dressing.
Ranch seasoning.

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe or pattern.

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© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

20 thoughts on “Award Winning Buffalo Chicken Chili

  1. Wes and I are having a few friends over for dinner tonight. I cant wait to make this for supper. It sounds delicious.

  2. I’m planning on making this recipe for super bowl Sunday and was wondering if it is ok to make the day before and reheat in the crockpot? Thank you

  3. This is delicious!! Fixed it over the holidays and it was a big hit– perfect “man” soup, and I loved it too!!

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