Warm and comforting Chicken Chile Verde is an easy and flavorful Mexican stew made from boneless skinless chicken thighs cooked in a tomatillo and green chile sauce. It makes amazing leftovers and is best served with rice, flour tortillas, or tortilla chips.
This Chicken Chile Verde has rich layers of flavor and lean protein. It’s a total comfort food that’s loaded with plenty of healthy ingredients that takes me back to my childhood. Made from a smoky green chile sauce and juicy chicken, it’s a warm and satisfying meal to enjoy on a chilly day!
This recipe is actually a version of my family’s traditional chile verde made with pork. Instead of using pork shoulder, I used boneless skinless chicken thighs which cut the cook time way down and made everything a little less fatty. The flavor is just as amazing and makes for a healthier bowl overall!
Chili verde with chicken is cooked low and slow on the stovetop, giving you a delicious gluten-free dinner in about 1 hour. I’ve even included instructions on cooking it in a slow cooker and Instant Pot to save you time and effort.
What is Chile Verde?
Chile Verde, or “green chili”, is a Mexican stew that’s made with tender pieces of meat cooked in a flavorful green chile and tomatillo sauce. The traditional version uses pork shoulder, other meats like beef and chicken can also be used. It’s comforting, a little spicy, a little tangy, and can be served on its own, over rice, or with tortillas.
For this recipe, I’m using boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of pork to cut back on the cook time as well as the amount of fat. This recipe can be cooked on a stovetop, in a slow cooker, or in an Instant Pot.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Chicken thighs – Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are best as they have great flavor and don’t dry out as much as chicken breasts do.
- Tomatillos – This round green fruit looks just like a green tomato with a papery outer layer. They’re used in salsas, sauces and more and adds a tasty tang to the sauce. Learn more about tomatillos.
- Green chile peppers – Roasting jalapenos, poblano, and serrano peppers will increase the flavor and give your dinner a kick!
- Onion and garlic – These will be blended with the peppers and tomatillos to make the green chile sauce.
- Lime juice and cilantro – To add balance and flavor at the end.
How to make chicken chile verde
- Broil the peppers: Place the tomatillos, jalapenos, poblanos, and serrano peppers on a baking sheet with foil and broil on high. When the skins are blackened and blistered, remove from the oven, flip, and broil for another 5 minutes.
- Steam and remove the skins: Remove them from the oven and loosely cover the baking sheet with foil or plastic wrap to help them steam. Pull and rub off as much loose skin from the peppers as possible (view some step-by-step photos on how to roast poblano peppers).
- Make the green sauce: Add the roasted peppers and tomatillos, onions, and minced garlic to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Sear the chicken: Place the chicken in a large pot over medium-high heat with oil and season with salt. Sear it on all sides for about 20 minutes or until it’s browned.
- Simmer for 30 minutes: Pour the chile verde and water all around the chicken in the pot. Mix it well, cover, lower the heat, and cook for 30 minutes.
- Season and serve: Just before it’s done, stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Add more salt as necessary, then serve!
How to make chicken chile verde in a slow cooker
For the best flavor, make the green chili sauce just like if you were making this on the stovetop and season the chicken with salt. You can sear the chicken beforehand or just add it right into the slow cooker. Pour the green sauce and water on top and cook on LOW heat for 4 to 6 hours.
Right before it’s done, stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Feel free to shred the chicken right in the pot or serve it whole.
How to make chicken chile verde in an Instant Pot
Again, make the green sauce ahead of time in the oven. Turn the Instant Pot to “Saute” mode, heat some oil in the pot, and sear the seasoned chicken on all sides. Once it’s brown and crispy, turn the Instant Pot off.
Pour the sauce and water all around the chicken and secure the lid (making sure the vent is sealed). Set the IP to “High Pressure” and cook for 15 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release, then set the valve to “vent”.
You can shred the chicken using two forks or serve the thighs whole as soon as it’s ready.
Tips, tricks, and substitutions
- Afraid it may be too spicy? Omit the serrano peppers. If jalapenos are also normally too spicy for you, feel free to use only 4-5 poblanos instead.
- Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the best flavor. If you’re looking for an even leaner meat, you can use chicken breasts instead.
- No pork or chicken? You can use beef stew meat like chuck shoulder or roast instead.
- Make this vegetarian! Swap out the meat for cubed tofu or vegetables and beans like mushrooms, chickpeas, and kale!
- Need a quicker option? To save 20 minutes, substitute the chicken thighs for leftover cooked shredded chicken or a store-bought shredded rotisserie chicken.
- I recommend serving this with some authentic Mexican rice or arroz verde (green rice) and some tortilla chips or homemade flour tortillas. To keep it low carb, serve with cilantro lime cauliflower rice.
- Serve leftovers on homemade tostada shells with refried beans, Cotija cheese, cilantro, and lime wedges.
- Don’t forget the tangy toppings! Add a dollop of cilantro lime crema, sour cream, or Mexican crema on top.
Storing, freezing, and reheating
To store the leftover chicken chile verde, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for 5 or 6 days so you can enjoy it for lunches throughout the week.
To freeze, keep the cooled leftovers in a freezer-safe container and freeze for 3 or 4 months. It’s perfect for when you need a quick and easy dinner!
To reheat, let any frozen leftovers thaw in the fridge or cook right from frozen. It’s easy to reheat in a microwave for a few minutes or in a pot on the stove.
More chicken recipes
- Chicken Tamale Casserole
- Chicken Taquitos (Baked or Fried)
- Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Easy Green Chicken Chili