White Chicken Chili

This easy White Chicken Chili recipe is made with white beans, a trio of chiles, and lots of seasonings for maximum flavor. By using rotisserie chicken or chicken that you’ve already batch prepared, this can be on the table in just 45 minutes, making it a perfect weeknight dinner option.

A close up shot of a bowl of white chicken chili topped with sour cream, cilantro and a lime wedge.

I am a die-hard chili fan. It’s one of my absolute favorite meals during the fall and winter, and the best excuse for inhaling embarrassing amounts of shredded cheddar cheese and Fritos. I don’t discriminate when it comes to chili… ground beef, chunks of beef, and even chicken. As long as it’s thick, hearty, and a little spicy, I’m all-in.

One summer many, many years ago, my brother-in-law was on a chicken salad kick. To this day, it’s the best chicken salad I’ve ever had. He would blacken chicken breasts on the grill, then either cut them up or shred them, and combine them with a mixture of peppers, mayonnaise and seasonings. Seriously, SO. GOOD.

When I started thinking about a chicken chili recipe, I knew I wanted the flavor to replicate that salad. I used a good dose of chicken, an assortment of peppers, and lots of seasoning for tons of texture and flavor.

MY OTHER RECIPES

Chopped jalapeno and poblano peppers on a wooden cutting board.

How to Make White Chicken Chili

This is a wonderfully easy recipe that comes together quickly if you have chicken cooked and ready to go!

While you can definitely grill, roast or poach your own chicken breasts for this recipe, you could also pick up a rotisserie chicken from the store for a super quick weeknight meal (or use leftover chicken that you’ve already prepared). That’s definitely a bonus when it comes to chicken chili versus its beef counterpart – you can have a big pot of chicken chili done and ready to eat in under an hour, while beef chili recipes typically require at least a couple of hours of cooking time.

Onion, peppers and seasonings sauteed in a pot.

Here’s what’s involved with this white chicken chili:

  • First, we sauté the onion, peppers and spices to soften the vegetables and infuse them with tons of flavor.
  • Next we stir in some flour, which will help to thicken the chili.
  • Then we add the chicken stock, beans, chicken and lime juice. We mash up some of the beans to give the chili a thicker, heartier texture. Allow that to simmer for about 20 minutes so it will thicken up and the flavors can meld together.
  • Finally, the heavy cream is stirred in and warmed through, then it’s ready to serve!

In case you were curious, “white” chicken chili most definitely does not turn out white when you add chili powder, paprika and cayenne to it, ha!

White Chicken Chili simmering on the stove.

ADDITIONAL RECIPE NOTES

A few quick notes on the recipe:

  • This chili definitely has a kick to it; I would label it as moderately spicy (think “medium” when it comes to store-bought or restaurant salsa). If you prefer something milder, I would omit the cayenne in the recipe. If you want NO spice, then omit the jalapeño peppers, as well.
  • This chili is an excellent candidate for the crockpot! Prepare the chili as directed up until leaving it to simmer, then transfer it to a slow cooker and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Stir in the heavy cream about 30 minutes before planning to serve it.
  • I go light on the cream in this recipe (making it more “chili” less “white”), but if you want a really, super creamy chili, I’ve seen many recipes use cream cheese, so you could try adding it to this recipe if you’d like.
  • You can substitute ground turkey for the chicken, if you’d like. Brown it along with the onion, peppers and seasonings in step 1 and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
  • To freeze this chili, allow it to cool completely, then place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat over low heat on the stove, or in the microwave.

I love smothering my beef chili in shredded cheddar and Fritos; why should chicken chili be any different?! I used shredded Monterey Jack to top my chicken chili, and the Fritos were just as fabulous :)

This white chicken chili is a perfect complement to my favorite beef chili recipes; a must in my fall comfort food arsenal!

If You Like This White Chicken Chili, Try These:

An overhead shot of a bowl of white chicken chili.

(I also need to get my brother-in-law to make me a batch of that chicken salad once it’s grilling season again!)

One year ago: Dominic’s 1st Birthday Party
Six years ago: Maple-Walnut Ice Cream
Eight years ago: Russian Pound Cake

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White Chicken Chili

This easy White Chicken Chili recipe is made with white beans, a trio of chiles and lots of seasonings for maximum flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups (960 ml) chicken stock
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans cannelini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream

Garnishes:

  • Lime wedges
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until it is shimmering. Add the onions, peppers, cumin, chili powder, paprika, cayenne and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
  2. Add the flour and stir until no raw flour remains and it emits a nutty aroma, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in the chicken stock. Add 1 can of the beans and, using a potato masher, mash the beans in the pot, creating a thicker texture.
  3. Stir in the remaining beans, the chicken, lime juice and remaining salt, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and warm for an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately with additional lime wedges, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro or sour cream. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • This chili definitely has a kick to it; I would label it as moderately spicy (think “medium” when it comes to store-bought or restaurant salsa). If you prefer something milder, I would omit the cayenne in the recipe. If you want NO spice, then omit the jalapeño peppers, as well.
  • This chili is an excellent candidate for the crockpot! Prepare the chili as directed up until leaving it to simmer, then transfer it to a slow cooker and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Stir in the heavy cream about 30 minutes before planning to serve it.
  • I go light on the cream in this recipe, but if you want a really, super creamy chili, I’ve seen many recipes use cream cheese, so you could try adding it to your chili.
  • You can substitute ground turkey for the chicken, if you’d like. Brown it along with the onion, peppers and seasonings in step 1 and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
  • To freeze this chili, allow it to cool completely, then place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat over low heat on the stove, or in the microwave.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

All images and text ©Brown Eyed Baker, LLC.

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in March 2014. It was updated in October 2018 with new photos and extensive recipe tips.

[photos by The Almond Eater]