A delicious blend of chicken, spices, beans, and peppers come together to create this hearty White Chicken Chili. A bowl of this flavorful chili will warm you up from the inside out.

A bowl of chicken chili with cilantro and sour cream in the background.

If you are a fan of chili and have not yet tried White Chicken Chili, you must!

Although this chili is not technically white, it is softer and lighter in color than a traditional tomato based chili. My recipe is a bit richer in color than most and has a nice, creamy texture which is a requirement for chili in my book.

A bowl of chicken white bean chili with toppings shot from over the top.

White Chicken Chili vs. Traditional Chili

What makes White Chicken Chili different than traditional chili? Most obviously, it calls for chicken in place of beef. In addition, there are no tomato products of any type and instead, it has a deliciously seasoned chicken broth base. And, finally, white chili should include only white or lighter colored beans, so leave the red kidney and black beans in the pantry. Peppers are an important component as well, but if you are sensitive to heat, you can easily control the spice level and I’m going tell you how!

Ingredient Notes

The ingredients for White Chicken Chili with text overlay.
  • Chicken – You’ll need about 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast.
  • Beans – Creamy white cannellini beans are a must for this chili but I also like to add some pinto beans. Feel free to go with all white beans if you prefer. A combination of cannellini and small white beans works very well.
  • Peppers – Jalapeno and poblano – one of each. If you’re wary of spicy food, don’t fear the poblano pepper. They are very mild but add an utterly delicious flavor to this chili. The heat will come from the jalapeno and if you’re sensitive, you can control the heat level by doing a thorough job of removing the membranes and seeds from inside the peppers before dicing them. For a spicier chili, leave some of those seeds.
  • Onion – Diced yellow onion.
  • Broth – You want to go with a low sodium chicken broth and season to taste.
  • Seasoning/Garlic – Chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, salt and fresh ground black pepper. A flavorful, aromatic mix. You’ll also need some minced garlic.
  • Oil – Use a neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil.
  • Milk – A little 2% or whole milk to add some creaminess.
  • Cornstarch – Combined with the milk, it makes a slurry that helps to thicken the chili.

How to Make White Chicken Chili

Chicken, onion, and peppers are cooked with spices in a pot.
  1. Cut chicken into small bite-size pieces. Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven or large pot with two tablespoons vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, or until nicely browned. While cooking, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste. Remove from heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken to a plate. Set aside.
  2. Return pan to medium heat and add onion and peppers. Cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes until softened. Add 1 teaspoon minced garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute.
  3. Season the vegetable mixture with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, fresh ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1 teaspoon oregano.
  4. Cook and stir for a minute or two or until fragrant.
White beans are smashed and added to a pot with broth.
  1. Rinse and drain one can of cannellini beans, transfer to a small bowl and lightly mash with a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Set aside. Rinse and drain remaining can of cannellini beans and pinto beans (do not mash) and set aside.
  2. Add the mashed beans and whole beans to the pot.
  3. Add the browned chicken and chicken broth. Stir well to combine the liquid with the mashed beans. Increase heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Combine the milk and cornstarch and stir it into the chili. Simmer over low heat until thickened.
A ladle rests in a pot of white chicken chili.

Serving Suggestions

Set out the toppings you love and let everyone build their own bowl full of deliciousness. Topping choices include shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, and cilantro. And, don’t forget the tortilla chips!

A bowl of chicken chili surrounded by a pot and tortilla chips.

Storage Tips

Refrigerator

Transfer any leftover White Chicken Chili to an airtight container and promptly refrigerate. Use within 3 to 4 days or freeze for longer storage. Chili can thicken quite a bit upon chilling so add additional broth or a little water when reheating, if needed.

Freezer

Transfer the completely cooled chili to zippered gallon-size plastic storage bags. Push out the excess air, close the bags, lay them flat and freeze them solid. Once frozen, the bags can be stacked in your freezer to save space. For the best quality, use the chili within 3 to 4 months. To reheat, safely thaw the bags of chili in the refrigerator, then warm it on the stove or in the microwave.

A bowl of white chicken chili shot from over the top.

More Comforting Chicken Recipes

A spoon hovers over a bowl of chili.

This post was originally published on September 21, 2015. It has been updated with new text and images.

A bowl of chicken chili with cilantro and sour cream in the background.
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White Chicken Chili

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A delicious blend of chicken, spices, beans, and peppers come together to create this hearty White Chicken Chili. A bowl of this flavorful chili will warm you up from the inside out.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 365kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt divided
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans cannellini beans
  • 1 14.5 ounce can pinto beans
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper seeded as desired and diced
  • 1 medium poblano seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup milk 2% or whole
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Optional Toppings

  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • avocado
  • cilantro
  • sour cream

For Serving

  • tortilla chips

Instructions

  • Cut the chicken into small bite-size pieces. Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven or large pot with two tablespoons canola or vegetable oil and place over MEDIUM-HIGH heat. Add the chicken and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, or until nicely browned. While cooking, season with ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Remove from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a plate and set it aside.
  • Meanwhile, rinse and drain one can of cannellini beans, transfer them to a small bowl and lightly mash with a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Set aside. Rinse and drain the remaining can of cannellini beans and pinto beans (do not mash) and set them aside.
  • Return the pot to MEDIUM heat and add the onion and peppers. Cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes until softened. Add 1 teaspoon minced garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute. Season the vegetable mixture with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, freshly ground black pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Cook and stir for a minute or two or until fragrant. Add the chicken broth, mashed beans, whole beans, and the browned chicken, stirring well to incorporate the mashed beans. Increase heat to HIGH and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to LOW, cover the pot and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine milk with cornstarch. Stir the mixture into the chili and simmer over LOW heat until thickened.
  • Serve with optional toppings and tortilla chips.

Notes

Storage Tips
Refrigerator
Transfer any leftover White Chicken Chili to an airtight container and promptly refrigerate. Use within 3 to 4 days or freeze for longer storage. Chili can thicken quite a bit upon chilling so add additional broth or a little water when reheating, if needed.
Freezer
Transfer the completely cooled chili to zippered gallon-size plastic storage bags. Push out the excess air, close the bags, lay them flat and freeze them solid. Once frozen, the bags can be stacked in your freezer to save space. For the best quality, use the chili within 3 to 4 months. To reheat, safely thaw the bags of chili in the refrigerator, then warm it on the stove or in the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 1042mg | Potassium: 803mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 349IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 163mg | Iron: 6mg

Loosely adapted from Taste of Home

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Originally posted at From Valeries Kitchen