From the AICR Test Kitchen
Week of May 5, 2014
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Tomatillo Turkey Chili

from the
American Institute for Cancer Research

Mix up a delicious batch of colorful chili to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Although many refer to this holiday as Mexico’s Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo actually marks the1892 battle in Puebla, Mexico, when an outnumbered Mexican army defeated the French. This was a turning point in Mexico’s struggle for independence.

Easy to prepare for a quick dinner or simmered in a slow cooker to be savored at a dinner party, this warm weather chili features the goodness of pinto beans. Pinto means painted in Spanish, appropriate because these nutritional plant-protein powerhouses are like little painted canvases with their beige background and reddish brown splashes of color.

When making this chili, use either Fresno or jalapeno peppers as the flavor base. In general, Fresno peppers are a little bigger, thinner and slightly hotter than most jalapenos. Both peppers contain vitamin C, beta-carotene and capsaicin, a compound that has antioxidant and analgesic properties as well as a potential cancer-preventive phytonutrient.

Our Cinco de Mayo chili uses fresh or canned tomatillos, which are native to Mexico and are commonly found in grocery stores. Also known as tomate verde, fresh tomatillos are in season now. Tomatillos look like small, green tomatoes (not surprising because they are a distant relative) covered with a papery husk. When buying tomatillos, look for those that are small, firm, but not rock hard, and green, yellow or purple outside. The husk should be basically intact and dry. You don’t want tomatillos where the husks have been ripped off. It is preferable to store tomatillos at room temperature for several days, although you can wrap them loosely in plastic and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. Before cooking tomatillos, remove the husks and rinse well. Their skin may feel somewhat sticky, which is normal. Their slightly lemon-like flavor is a perfect complement with the chili spices.

To colorful pinto beans, Fresno or jalapeno peppers, and tomatillos, add spices and herbs, bell peppers and corn, all of which are packed with cancer-preventive phytonutrients. Simmer together to create a light, yet spicy hot chili just perfect for warm weather. Add sides of whole-grain cornbread and guacamole with baked corn chips, and you have a celebration meal for your Cinco de Mayo gathering.

Tomatillo Chili

Tomatillo Turkey Chili

  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large red, orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey meat
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 fresh Fresno or jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. chili powder, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups diced tomatillos or 2 (11 oz.) cans
  • 1 cup frozen yellow corn
  • 1 (15 oz.) can no salt added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups low-fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • Lime wedges for garnish
  • 1/2 cup non-fat, plain, Greek yogurt, optional


Quick cooking directions

In large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell peppers and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and sauté until meat begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, Fresno or jalapeno peppers, coriander, oregano, chili powder and cumin. Salt and pepper to taste. Sauté 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add tomatillos, corn, beans and broth. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Divide chili among six serving bowls. Garnish with cilantro, green onions, lime wedges and yogurt, optional.

Slow cooking directions

In medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onion and turkey until turkey almost cooked through, but still slightly pink, about 5 minutes.

In slow cooker, add turkey-onion mixture and remaining ingredients except cilantro, green onions, lime and yogurt. Stir until combined. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Divide chili among six serving bowls. Garnish with cilantro, green onions, lime wedges and yogurt, optional.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 256 calories, 9 g total fat, (2 g saturated fat), 29 g carbohydrate,
19 g protein, 8 g dietary fiber, 75 mg sodium.

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