Creatures of chili habit, I urge you to try a new blue-ribbon winner: White Chicken Chili.
While white chicken chili starts with the familiar chili flavors of sautéed onion, cumin, oregano, and cayenne, instead of a tomato base, it is made in a creamy white sauce with chunks of tender chicken, hearty white cannellini beans, and flavorful green chiles.
Readers may already know my Crockpot White Chicken Chili.
This white chicken chili recipe is an adapted stovetop version.
It still tastes like it simmered all day but is ready in a jiffy.
Why You Should Try White Chicken Chili
When you need to warm your spirits on a cold night, it’s Game Day, or you need to feed a crowd, the Dutch oven beckons for a batch of comforting chili.
With white chicken chili, we’re not breaking up with all our other chilis.
We’re just changing it up.
- Healthy. Unlike typical white chicken chili recipes (such as Pioneer Woman’s white chicken chili, yes I SAID IT) this easy white chicken chili recipe is made without heavy cream or cream cheese for a healthy, balanced meal.
- Flavorful. Green chiles are a dynamo ingredient in some of my favorite Tex-Mex recipes, like Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas (also featured in my cookbook) and Green Chili, and add a spice-but-not-spicy, deep flavor.
- Perfect texture. Part of the beans are puréed with an immersion blender (my secret to thickening chili!) to deliver a creamy texture.
- Toppings! White chicken chili can be loaded with toppings galore, leaving you blissfully wondering whether the toppings or the chili is the main meal.
How to Make the Best White Chicken Chili
White chicken chili is made with sautéed onion and spices, boneless skinless chicken breasts cooked to tender perfection, white beans, diced green chiles (of course!), chicken broth, and finished with lime, cilantro, and mega toppings.
It’s a one-pot-stop that is fantastic leftover and freezes well.
- Onion. A yellow onion or white onion is an important ingredient for building the base flavor.
- Spices. The spices that typically star in taco night—cumin, oregano, garlic, and cayenne (optional)—are turned up to give this chili loads of flavor.
- Chicken. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts, delivering lots of healthy protein for a filling meal.
- Beans. Cannellini beans (or Great Northern beans) are mild and creamy, and add a double-punch of protein along with the chicken and extra potassium.
- Cilantro. For a fresh finish. Feel free to omit if you are averse to cilantro.
- Lime Juice. Balances the rich chili flavor and adds a brightness.
- Sauté onion. Add seasonings.
- Add the chicken, beans, and green chiles.
- Add broth. Simmer. Once the chicken is cooked through, let it rest on a plate and then dice or shred it.
- Purée a portion of the chili with an immersion blender.
- Stir in the chicken.
- Add cilantro and lime juice and then simmer. Serve, topping with lime juice and any other desired toppings. ENJOY!
White Chicken Chili Topping Ideas
While enjoyable on its own, white chicken chili is even better with toppings, such as the following:
- Crushed tortilla chips
- Guacamole (see Best Guacamole Recipe)
- Plain Greek yogurt or nonfat sour cream
- Avocado slices
- Jalapeño slices
- Shredded cheese, such as cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
- Pickled Onions
- To Store. Store leftover chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To Freeze. Place chili in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container and freeze for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- To Reheat. Warm the chili in the microwave or on the stove top until steaming.
White chicken chili is freezer-friendly. You could individually portion the chili in freezer-safe ziptop bags and lay flat to freeze for future bowls of chili on a cold day.
Meal Prep Tip
White chicken chili reheats like a dream. You could prep the soup in advance and transfer to crockpot to keep warm until serving later that day, or rewarm on the stove from the refrigerator.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. I’ve joked that there were a house fire, this is an item I’d grab, but I’m not so sure I’m joking. This beauty will last a lifetime.
- Immersion Blender. A hand-held, less-mess blending tool for soups, like Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup and Mushroom Soup.
- Ladle. Effortlessly serve up all your stews and soups.
White chicken chili doesn’t mean you are saying goodbye to your traditional chili, but rather making room for a new friend in your life.
I know you’ll love getting acquainted!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, white chicken chili can be made in the slow cooker or stove top. I have adapted this white chicken chili recipe for the crock pot in this OG Well Plated recipe Crock Pot White Chicken Chili.
Traditional chili is made with a tomato base, whereas white chili has a creamy broth base without tomatoes. Regular chili is also typically made with beef, and white chili, chicken.
To thicken white chicken chili and make it not watery, I purée part of the beans with an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can instead transfer a few ladlefuls of the chili to a food processor or blender and pulse roughly, then return it back into the chili.
White Chicken Chili
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion or 1/2 large, 1/4-inch diced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts trimmed of excess fat (2 to 3 breasts)
- 2 15-ounce cans reduced sodium cannellini beans, or Great Northern beans rinsed and drained
- 2 4.5-ounce cans diced green chiles
- 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice about 2 limes
- Diced jalapeño, diced avocado, nonfat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips
- In a Dutch oven or a similar large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until it is beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the cumin, oregano, salt, and garlic. Let cook for 30 seconds, until the garlic is very fragrant.
- Add the chicken, beans, green chiles, and broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat so that the liquid maintains a gentle, steady simmer.
- Continue simmering until the chicken registers 155 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, about 12 to 14 minutes; if the size of your pot is such that the chicken is not fully submerged, flip it over once halfway through. Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. Let rest 10 minutes. Dice or shred it into bite-sized pieces.
- With an immersion blender, puree a portion of the chili to thicken it, leaving some of the beans whole. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can instead transfer a few ladlefuls of the chili to a food processor or blender and pulse roughly, then return it back into the chili.) Continue simmering 5 minutes more to further thicken it.
- Stir the chicken, cilantro, and lime juice. Simmer 5 minutes more to allow the flavors to marry. To serve, portion into bowls and top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Add any other desired toppings and enjoy.
- TO STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days
- TO FREEZE: Place chili in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container and freeze for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- TO REHEAT: Warm the chili in the microwave or on the stove top until steaming.
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