Buffalo Chicken Chili

This Buffalo Chicken Chili boasts all the flavors of your favorite dip in a spicy, creamy chili form!

This Buffalo Chicken Chili is rich, creamy, hearty, as spicy as you want it, and the layers of flavor are out of this world! It’s made with juicy shredded chicken, sweet corn, smoky fire roasted tomatoes, creamy white beans and of course buffalo wings sauce all swaddled in a luxuriously creamy broth spiked with cream cheese. Top off your perfect bowl of Buffalo Chicken Chili with salty, sassy blue cheese, crunchy tortilla chips and creamy avocado and cozy up to this outrageously delicious bowl of comfort. This quick and easy Buffalo Chicken Chili is make-ahead friendly, pantry friendly and guaranteed to become a new favorite!

You can never have too many comforting chili recipes! If you love chili, make sure to try creamy white chicken chili, crockpot white chicken chili, easy turkey chili, hearty beef chilichipotle mango black bean chili (one of the first recipes I ever posted!), and of course this sassy buffalo chicken chili! 

top view of buffalo chicken chili garnished with  blue cheese and cilantro

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WHAT IS BUFFALO CHICKEN CHILI?

Buffalo Chicken Chili is the rich, creamy, spicy soup version of Buffalo Chicken Dip.  Both the dip and the chili are spiced with their namesake, buffalo wings sauce, and the chili is finished with cream cheese to make it indulgently creamy just like the dip. Top them both off with signature blue cheese and never look back.

So what exactly is buffalo wings hot sauce?  It is different than other sauces because it is a cayenne pepper hot sauce with a butter base. It is named after buffalo chicken wings that first appeared in the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY. 

The story goes that the college age son of the bar owner, Teresa, came in one night with a group of friends looking for a quick snack.  Teressa decided to fry up some wings and toss them in a concoction of butter and cayenne pepper sauce.  The buffalo wings were a huge hit and the bar soon became famous for them. Today, buffalo refers to anything smothered or spiked with buffalo wings sauce -like this chili! 

CHICKEN CHILI RECIPE

This Buffalo Chicken Chili recipe is a buffalo twist on my reader’s favorite Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder.  I took the creamy base, added buffalo sauce, white beans, celery and a new star was born. It combines a deeply complex flavor profile that’s absolutely mesmerizing with sensational creaminess that’s on your table in just over 30 minutes!  

The magical creaminess is four-fold:

  • a roux thickens the sauce and eliminates the need for heavy cream
  • cornstarch further thickens chicken chili without having to add extra butter required for a thicker roux
  • creamed corn adds extra body to the buffalo chicken chili with a slight sweet corn flavor to balance the buffalo wings sauce
  • cream cheese adds a rich, creamy tanginess to cut through the bold buffalo sauce without as much fat as heavy cream

The resulting Buffalo Chicken Chili is intoxicatingly rich and creamy but instead of tasting heavy like some creamy soups, its bright and vibrant thanks to the buffalo wings sauce and pungent blue cheese.

Best of all, you can customize this one pot wonder just how you like it by making it more or less creamy, more or less spicy and adding any desired veggies.  Then just hope you have leftovers – because they’re even better.

How spicy is this buffalo chicken chili?

This Buffalo Chicken Chili is “medium” spicy if you use the ½ cup buffalo wings sauce. The good thing is, you can start with less, about ¼ cup if you like, then stir in additional wings sauce after the chili is done cooking. This way the chili is milder for the kiddos but you can add additional buffalo wings sauce to your own bowl.

WHAT BUFFALO wings SAUCE SHOULD I USE?

What makes Buffalo Chicken Chili unique is the BUFFALO wings sauce-not just any hot sauce.  Buffalo wings sauce is a spicy hot sauce with the addition of melted butter, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. It is spicier, smoother, richer, rounder and less of a pure cayenne punch than original hot sauce – it is just plain more delicious in my opinion.

I use Frank’s RedHot BUFFALO Wings Sauce– NOT Frank’s original sauce.  You’ll want to look for “Wings” on the label.  Take care, however,- there is “buffalo” and there is “hot buffalo.” I recommend “buffalo” – it’s hot enough! Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce is usually located near the other hot sauces or barbecue sauces. 

That being said, you can use a different cayenne pepper hot sauce if you prefer but it won’t taste like true Buffalo Chicken Chili – just spicy chicken chili.  If using a different hot sauce, you will want to start with less and add more to taste.  

a ladle scooping up buffalo chicken chili showing how creamy it is

How else can I USE BUFFALO WINGS SAUCE?

If you’re worried about purchasing a bottle of buffalo wings sauce just for this Buffalo Chicken Chili – worry no more!  It is fabulous to jazz up practically everything.  Specific recipes using buffalo hot wings sauce include:

Ingredients and substitutions for Chicken Chili

This Buffalo Chicken Chili is made with easy to find ingredients almost all of which are dump and simmer except for a quick sauté of the veggies.  Here’s what you’ll need in addition to buffalo wings sauce:  

  • Chicken: I prefer using boneless skinless chicken thighs or rotisserie chicken for chicken chili. See my detailed suggestions below.
  • Celery: Is a nod to the celery traditionally served with buffalo hot wings. It adds texture and a slight sweetness that pairs well with the buffalo wings sauce. 
  • Bell pepper: I prefer using red bell pepper in this chicken chili because it’s sweeter but use whatever color you prefer or have on hand.
  • Onion: Use half a large yellow onion or you may substitute the onion with 1 teaspoon onion powder.
  • Garlic: You can substitute the fresh garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder if that’s all you have on hand.
  • White beans: I suggest Great Northern Beans because they are creamy, tender, nutty and don’t fall apart as easily as cannellini beans.  You may use cannellini if that’s what you have on hand, but only simmer for 5-10 minutes. 
  • Canned corn: I used canned sweet corn and cream style corn. Cream style corn makes the soup extra creamy with the added bonus of subtle sweet cream flavor.
  • Fire roasted diced tomatoes: Are ultra flavorful from being smoked and not as acidic as regular canned tomatoes.  Look for them next to the traditional diced tomatoes. If you can’t find them, regular will work fine.
  • Chicken broth: Use low sodium broth so we can control the salt. The canned beans are fairly high in sodium, so using a low-sodium broth helps prevent the chili from being overly salty and it allows us to amp up the flavor with chicken bouillon.
  • Chicken bouillon: Please do not skip! It’s a secret ingredient that adds a rich depth of flavor that makes the chicken chili taste like it’s been simmering for hours on the stove.  You can use granulated chicken bouillon, chicken bouillon cubes or better than bouillon.   If using cubes, crush and add directly to the soup, don’t dissolve in water first.
  • Cornstarch: Helps thicken the chicken chili and make it creamy without having to add loads of cream cheese or heavy cream. 
  • Spices: Chili powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, and dried oregano round out the flavors of the chicken chili. 
  • Cream cheese: Just 4 oz. of brick-style cream cheese thicken the base of the Buffalo Chicken Chili and make it super creamy. 
showing how to top a bowl of buffalo chicken chili by adding chips, blue cheese and avocados

WHAT CHICKEN IS BEST FOR CHICKEN CHILI?

I highly recommend chicken thighs (boneless or bone-in) for the best chicken chili recipe. I didn’t always use chicken thighs for my soup recipes, but once I started, there was NO going back. Chicken thighs are dark meat which means they are inherently juicier, richer tasting and produce far more tender chicken than chicken breasts.  They are also harder to overcook and stay tender for days with a more palate pleasing texture, even when reheated for leftovers.

In addition, chicken thighs are browned first which adds an important layer of flavor to the Buffalo Chicken Chili as all those golden, flavorful bits become part of the broth.

CAN I USE CHICKEN BREASTS?

Absolutely!  You can still use chicken breasts in Buffalo Chicken Chili, it’s just a matter of personal preference.  Please note that because chicken breasts are leaner than chicken thighs, they will not be as juicy or as flavorful.  If using chicken breasts, I suggest bone-in chicken breasts but boneless will also work.

CAN I USE ROTISSERIE CHICKEN?

Yes!  Rotisserie chicken is my second choice to use in this chicken chili recipe after chicken thighs.   Rotisserie chicken comes lightly seasoned for an added depth of flavor and is a mix of both light and dark meat.  It also comes perfectly tender and ready to slurp up.  I always like to stock shredded rotisserie chicken portioned into 3 cup measurements in my freezer so they’re ready to add to any soup or casserole recipe.

I recommend shredding your rotisserie chicken as soon as you get home from the grocery store because the chicken is easier to shred while it’s still warm.  It also allows you to see how much chicken you need for this recipe, and how much leftover you have for something else.  And bonus, it saves a step at dinnertime and takes up less room in the fridge.

To use rotisserie chicken, shred the chicken, discarding the bones and add about 3 cups shredded chicken to the Buffalo Chicken Chili when the recipe calls for adding the shredded chicken back to the soup.

CAN I USE LEFTOVER CHICKEN?

Yes, just make sure your chicken isn’t overly seasoned or you may need to reduce the seasonings in the recipe.  Add about 3 cups shredded or chopped leftover chicken to the soup when the recipe calls for adding the shredded chicken back to the soup.

CAN I MAKE THE chicken chili GLUTEN FREE?

Yes!  If you want to make gluten free Buffalo Chicken Chili, use gluten-free flour – the rest of the ingredients should be gluten free. Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wing’s Sauce is gluten free.

CAN I ADD OTHER VEGETABLES?

Absolutely!  I’ve stuck with the basics, but you can add chayote, green beans, spinach etc.  I’ve included all sorts of variations below.

How to Make Buffalo Chicken Chili 

Step 1: Sear the chicken. Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then sear on both sides until golden. The chicken will NOT be cooked through at this point, but that’s what you want! Remove the chicken to a plate, but leave the drippings in the pot. 

showing how to make buffalo chicken chili by searing chicken in a Dutch oven

Step 2: Sauté the veggies. Add extra olive oil and a pat of butter to the pot. Cook the celery, onions, and bell pepper until softened. Then, add the garlic and cook just until fragrant. Sprinkle in flour and cook one additional minute.

showing how to make buffalo chicken chili by sauteing onions, celery and bell peppers

Step 3: Simmer the chili. Add the chicken back to the pot and the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the cream cheese. Let the chili simmer for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is tender enough to shred. 

showing how to make buffalo chicken chili by adding broth, corn, tomatoes and seasonings to a pot

Step 4: Shred the chicken. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Once shredded, return the chicken to the pot and stir in the cream cheese. 

showing how to make buffalo chicken chili by adding shredded chicken back to soup

Step 5: Serve! I like to garnish my buffalo chicken chili with blue cheese, crushed tortilla chips, avocado and cilantro, but add whatever garnishes you’d like. 

showing how to make buffalo chicken chili by stirring the chicken into the pot

Tips for Making Buffalo Chicken Chili 

  • Prep Ahead. You can trim your chicken, chop your onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and prep all your toppings ahead of time.
  • Use chicken thighs. This recipe will work with chicken breasts or chicken thighs, but for best flavor use chicken thighs or shredded rotisserie chicken.  
  • Rotisserie chicken. Stock shredded chicken or rotisserie chicken portioned into 3-cup freezer bags so you always have chicken ready to add to any soup, casserole or pasta.
  • Don’t skip the sear.  Searing the chicken results in the Maillard reaction, in which amino acids and reducing sugars produce browning, and as we know, color= flavor!  The delicious brown bits left in the bottom of the pan will season the entire Buffalo Chicken Chili as they permeate the broth.
  • Don’t burn drippings.  Sear the chicken until golden but you don’t want any black specks because this will make the chicken chili taste burnt.  If the chicken is browning too quickly, turn down the theat.
  • Stir often. The chili can stick to the bottom and burn while it’s simmering because it’s quite thick, so you’ll want to stir often so the bottom doesn’t burn.  
  • Use soft cream cheese.  You want the cream cheese pretty soft before it goes into the chicken chili so it will melt more easily. I chop into cubes and microwave for about 30 seconds.
  • Stir until melted. If you have white specks after you add the cream cheese, this isn’t the cream cheese curdling, this is simply unmelted cream cheese. Continue to cook on low until the cream cheese is fully incorporated.
  • Make it less thick. I love my Buffalo Chicken Chili thick and creamy BUT the consistency is totally up to you! For a thinner soup, simply add additional chicken broth.
  • Season to taste. Spice up your chicken chili with additional buffalo wings sauce or add chicken bouillon to enhance the flavors.

WHAT TOPPINGS ARE BEST WITH BUFFALO CHICKEN chili?

Buffalo Chicken Chili is delectable on its own but it benefits greatly from a secondary flavor profile.  You can create a toppings bar and let everyone pile on their favorites to make the chicken chili exponentially more delicious:  

  • Blue cheese crumbles: Salty, pungent and sassy; always a favorite with buffalo wings sauce to cut through the heat.
  • Dressing:  A drizzle of blue cheese dressing or ranch if you live on the edge.
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt: Add a wonderful creaminess but most importantly, cuts through the richness and tanginess of the chicken chili.
  • Cheese:  Monterrey Jack, Colby, sharp cheddar or Pepper Jack for added heat.  Use freshly grated cheese for superior taste and melting ability.
  • Crushed tortilla chips: You can’t beat the CRUNCH of salty, chips or strips!  They’re texture is particularly sublime in this decadent, creamy chili.
  • Cilantro:  Chopped cilantro adds a fresh, zesty flair. 
  • Avocado:  Chopped or sliced avocados add a wonderful, earthy creaminess. 
  • Buffalo Wings Sauce: Pass around the buffalo wings sauce so individuals can customize the heat.
  • Sliced jalapenos: Also a fabulous topping for those who want more heat.
  • Green onions:  Adds a fresh zip of flavor.

Recipe Variations to Try 

  • Add blue cheese to the soup.  Instead of adding blue cheese as just a topping, try stirring ½ cup directly into the Buffalo Chicken Chili.
  • Use rotisserie chicken. To make this recipe even easier, skip searing the chicken thighs and sub in shredded rotisserie chicken instead.
  • Use ground chicken.  Substitute the chicken thighs with ground chicken and cook it with the onions. You could also use ground beef or ground turkey.
  • Swap beans.  You can use red kidney, pinto or cannellini beans.  You’ll want only want to simmer cannellini beans for 5-10 minutes or they will beak down too much.
  • Add vegetables. Add any of your favorite veggies such as zucchini, chayote, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, etc.
  • Add bacon.  Salty, crispy bacon, especially with zippy, cooling blue cheese is always a big win.
  • Add rice. Add 1 cup of long grain white rice after the chicken has been cooking for 5 minutes and simmer for 8-12 minutes. You will need to add additional chicken broth to accommodate the rice.
  • Make it vegetarian. Omit the chicken and add an extra can of beans and vegetables.
  • Make it cheesy.  Stir Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese directly into the soup.   
  • Make it spicy. Stir in additional buffalo wings sauce to amp up the heat.
  • Make non-creamy chicken chili.  Omit the flour, cornstarch and cream cheese for a broth-based soup.  
top view of a pot of buffalo chicken chili with a ladle

Can I Prep This Recipe in Advance?

Yes! The prep work for this creamy Buffalo Chicken Chili can be done ahead of time so that it’s just a quick sauté and simmer to dinner. To save time:

  • Trim chicken: Trim off excess fat from chicken then store chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. 
  • Pep aromatics: Dice onions, bell pepper, and celery and mince garlic, then store in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator.   
  • Measure Spices: It doesn’t take long to measure out the spices, but you can certainly do it beforehand and store the mix in an airtight bag or container. 
  • Prep Toppings: Chop cilantro, jalapenos etc. and/or make tortilla strips.

How to Store and Reheat Buffalo Chicken Chili 

  • Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 
  • Stove: Reheat large batches on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally – about 10 minutes.
  • Microwave: Transfer individual servings to a microwave-safe dish and cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir, then continue to microwave at 30-second intervals, if needed.

Can I Freeze Buffalo Chicken Chili?

Buffalo Chicken Chili does not freeze well due to the cream cheese which can become unpleasantly grainy as the dairy and fat separate. If you plan on freezing, omit the cream cheese and it will freeze great for up to 3 months.  When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, warm on the stove and then add the softened cream cheese.

What to Serve with Buffalo Chicken Chili 

Tasty Sides with Buffalo Chicken Chili

Looking for More Easy Chili Recipes?

showing how to top a bowl of buffalo chicken chili by adding chips, blue cheese and avocados

Buffalo Chicken Chili

This Buffalo Chicken Chili is rich, creamy, hearty, as spicy as you want it, and the layers of flavor are out of this world! It’s made with juicy shredded chicken, sweet corn, smoky fire roasted tomatoes, creamy white beans and of course buffalo wings sauce all swaddled in a luxuriously creamy broth spiked with cream cheese. Top off your perfect bowl of Buffalo Chicken Chili with salty, sassy blue cheese, crunchy tortilla chips and creamy avocado and cozy up to this outrageously delicious bowl of comfort. This quick and easy Buffalo Chicken Chili is make-ahead friendly, pantry friendly and guaranteed to become a new favorite!
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs patted dry OR rotisserie chicken (see notes)
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can sweet corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can cream style corn
  • 1 14 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes (with juices)
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tsps EACH smoked paprika, ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried oregano, salt, pepper

Add later

  • 4 oz. cream cheese cubed, softened

Instructions

  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven/soup pot. Season chicken with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper then sear until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate but leave drippings.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium low heat. Once melted, increase to medium-high heat and add onions, celery and bell pepper; cook for 5 minutes or until onions are softened. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Sprinkle in flour and cook one additional minute while stirring (it will be thick).
  • Add chicken back to the pot followed by beans, creamed corn, corn, diced tomatoes, hot wings sauce, chicken bouillon and all seasonings. Whisk cornstarch with 1 cup of chicken broth and stir in. Add remaining chicken broth.
  • Cover the soup to bring to a boil then uncover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until chicken is tender enough to shred, stirring often so the bottom doesn’t burn. Remove chicken to a cutting board; shred, then stir back into the soup.
  • Turn heat to low and stir in cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • Season with salt/pepper and/or buffalo wings sauce to taste. Thin with additional chicken broth if desired. Serve with blue cheese, crushed tortilla chips, chopped avocados, sour cream and/or cilantro.

Notes

Tips for Success

  • Prep Ahead. You can trim your chicken, chop your onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and prep all your toppings ahead of time.
  • Rotisserie chicken:  To use rotisserie chicken, add about 2 ½ cups shredded chicken to the chili when the recipe calls for adding the shredded chicken back to the soup.
  • Buffalo Wings Sauce: I use Frank’s RedHot BUFFALO Wings Sauce– NOT Frank’s original sauce.  You’ll want to look for “Wings” on the label.  Take care, however, – there is “buffalo” and there is “hot buffalo.” I recommend “buffalo” – it’s hot enough!  If using a different hot sauce, you will want to start with less and add more to taste.  
  • Customize spice level:  This Buffalo Chicken Chili is “medium” spicy if you use the ½ cup buffalo wings sauce. The good thing is, you can start with less, about ¼ cup if you like, then stir in additional wings sauce after the chili is done cooking. This way the chili is milder for the kiddos but you can add additional buffalo wings sauce to your own bowl.
  • Stir often. The chili can stick to the bottom and burn while it’s simmering because it’s quite thick, so you’ll want to stir often so the bottom doesn’t burn.  
  • Use soft cream cheese.  You want the cream cheese pretty soft before it goes into the chicken chili so it will melt more easily. I chop into cubes and microwave for about 30 seconds.
  • Stir until melted. If you have white specks after you add the cream cheese, this isn’t the cream cheese curdling, this is simply unmelted cream cheese. Continue to cook on low until the cream cheese is fully incorporated.
  • Make it less thick. I love my Buffalo Chicken Chili thick and creamy BUT the consistency is totally up to you! For a thinner soup, simply add additional chicken broth.
  • Season to taste. Spice up your chicken chili with additional buffalo wings sauce or add chicken bouillon to enhance the flavors.
  • Gluten free: Use gluten-free flour – the rest of the ingredients should be gluten free.
  • Recipe variations:  See post for how to use cream cheese, sour cream, other veggies, etc. 

How to Store and Reheat

  • Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 
  • Stove: Reheat large batches on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally – about 10 minutes.
  • Microwave: Transfer individual servings to a microwave-safe dish and cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir, then continue to microwave at 30-second intervals, if needed.

How to Freeze

Buffalo Chicken Chili does not freeze well due to the cream cheese which can become unpleasantly grainy as the dairy and fat separate. If you plan on freezing, omit the cream cheese and it will freeze great for up to 3 months.  When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, warm on the stove and then add the softened cream cheese.

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9 Comments

  1. Ramya says

    Will be making this soon with few subs perfect for hot and raining days in Singapore will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Ramya, I hope you get a a chance to make it soon!

  2. Larisa says

    I made the Creamy Buffalo Chili last night and it was such a huge hit. I followed the recipe to a T (I did use rotisserie chicken) There is so much flavor and the right amount of heat with the Buffalo Sauce. I am really looking forward to leftovers today. I’ve made about 20 of your recipes and every single one has been a hit! So delicious.

    • Jen says

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Larisa and make my day! That is awesome you have made so many of my recipes thank you! I love hearing they have all been winners including this chili!

  3. Deb says

    This looks great! Creamed corn is unavailable here in the Netherlands. Do you have any suggestions on how to substitute?
    Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Hi Deb, you can omit it and add either use broth or half and half in its place. The chili will still be very creamy if you use broth, good luck!

  4. Nikki says

    This soup was the perfect mix of spicy and creamy. We can always count on your recipes. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment Nikki, I’m so pleased you all loved it!

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