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.
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.
Table of contents
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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cook and stir for a minute or two or until fragrant.
- 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.
- Add the mashed beans and whole beans to the pot.
- 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.
- Combine the milk and cornstarch and stir it into the chili. Simmer over low heat until thickened.
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!
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.
More Comforting Chicken Recipes
- Chicken and Sausage Stew with White Beans and Spinach
- Creamy Southwest Chicken Soup
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Chicken Vegetable Tortellini Soup
White Chicken Chili
- 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
- shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- sour cream
- tortilla chips
- 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.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
Loosely adapted from Taste of Home
This post was originally published on September 21, 2015. It has been updated with new text and images.