White Chili

Chicken white chili with white beans, chicken broth, garlic, onions, green chiles, diced chicken, and Monterey jack cheese.

  • Yield: 8-10 servings


  • 1 lb large white beans, soaked overnight in water, drained
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (divided)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilies
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, chopped (optional)


1 Combine beans, chicken broth, garlic and half the onions in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are very soft, 3 hours or more. Add additional water (or watered-down broth), if necessary.

2 In a skillet, sauté remaining onions in oil until tender. Add chilies and seasonings and mix thoroughly. Add to bean mixture. Add chicken and continue to simmer 1 hour. Check seasoning, add jalapeno or serrano to level of desired hotness.

3 Serve topped with grated cheese. Garnish with cilantro, chopped fresh tomato, salsa, chopped scallions, and/or guacamole. Serve with fresh warmed flour tortillas or tortilla chips.

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  1. Matthew Conquergood

    I once won a chili cookoff with my white chili recipe which I will not bother you with, here. This recipe is close enough and any good cook will treat any recipe as a general guide only, anyway, modifying to personal tastes as the alchemy ensues. That said, I must agree that most white chili recipes are too mild and the jalapeno pepper is an important addition. If, however, you find it best to serve the chili in a milder format for less spicy savvy guests, might I suggest this serving suggestion from my own table:

    Serve your chili with optional add-ins. A particularly spicy salsa to add heat, and a cooling sour cream. It’ll be a smash hit, I guarantee it. Also, offering crushed tortilla chips is a nice way to thicken the chili up for those who usually add crushed crackers to their red chili.

    By the way, I’m originally from Kansas City, and those gals over at the Junior League are a mild-loving bunch. Try a half teaspoon of white pepper instead of 1/4 tsp red cayenne in your white chili so as not to darken the sauce. ;)

  2. knp

    White chili from the Beyond Parsley cookbook is great. If you don’t have the Beyond Parsley cookbook it is a must have.

  3. Nicky

    Hi Elise,
    we had “White Chili” for the first time this fall while visiting friends in Colorado. It was soooo good, I had to twist the host’s arm to get the recipe ;) But I haven’t reproduced it yet, maybe I’m a little scared, it won’t live up to my memories…
    Happy 2006 to you and your family!!!

  4. jayj

    Here’s the problem: if you’re a true believer, you never want to see the word “mild” anywhere near the word “chili”. But how can you get really hot chili without turning it red or green or whatever color the peppers are? Well, maybe I spent too much time working with chemical engineers, but here’s the answer for chili that’s as hot as you like it and still white:

    The active ingredient in hot peppers is a complex alkaloid called capsaicin. Turns out that capsaicin is very soluble in alcohol, but the red stuff in peppers is not so much. I do what the chemical engineering geeks call an extraction: stir about 2 teaspoons of Dave’s Insanity sauce (www.davesgourmet.com) in about 4 ounces of 151 rum (vodka would work too). Fairly quickly, before the alcohol picks up too much of the red coloring from the sauce, pour it through a coffee filter into a small glass jar. You can repeat the filtering process with a clean filter a couple of times and get down to an almost clear liquid. DO NOT GET THIS STUFF ON YOUR HANDS! I find that just a few drops of this capsaicin extract will turn a crockpot full of boring white chili into something really interesting – without turning it brown or green or red. If you have small kids or curious pets in the house maybe you shouldn’t keep this stuff around – but oh, it hurts so good!

  5. Greg

    As I was looking for something different to cook for the family tonight, I found this recepe. Even though I may have put too much ground cloves, it was still REALLY GREAT!! I may use WAY less ground cloves nevt time.

    I added sliced mushrooms (It wouldn’t be ME cooking if I cannot put mushrooms in it!) They made a GREAT addition!! I even had grated cheese out and forgot to put it on. It was great without it! I almost hurt myself eating WAY too much of this.

    My 16 year old tells me, “We will have this again…. right?”

    Greg James

  6. Lauren

    This recipe is such a crowd pleaser, especially when cooking for a sports crowd! It is delicious with all kinds of tortilla chips and I like to make it with Rotisserie chicken (if you can stand and pull apart the chicken for 2 hours). I really recomend buying Beyond Parsley, it is FILLED with other great recipes.

  7. kelly jeanie

    Elise, we just had this tonight. It was so good! The tomatoes and cheese on top were excellent. My husband had to add some hot sauce to his, but I thought it was perfect. My 10 month-old son liked the beans, he enjoys spicy things. I forgot all about adding the jalapeno, which I may do next time for my husband’s sake, but I thought it was perfectly spicy for me. Can’t wait to try it with tortilla chips, and it’s going to make great leftovers. Thanks so much!

  8. Marcia

    Very good. Sauteed the chicken with a little cumin and garlic sprinkled on and added a serrano (hey, we’re in Tx). Keeper.

  9. Jamie

    HOLY COW THIS WAS GOOD! Not only did this taste just perfect, but the presentation was beautiful. We put a dollop of sour cream, and guacamole on top of the monterey jack cheese and then sprinkled green onions and crushed tortilla chips on top. I also nestled a lime wedge on the side. Beautiful and superb. Thank you Elise! This was the recipe I was looking for.

  10. RC

    For a bit of a crunch texture to the chili, take some flour tortillas, cut them into strips and deep fry them till crisp….ladle soup into bowls, add a dollop of sour cream and throw some crispy tortilla strips on top with some green onions…a nice touch

  11. Barbara

    This was delicious. I did use Steve-Anna’s suggestions regarding black-eyed peas and using steak sauce. Instead of Great Northern, I used cannelli beans which are a little firmer.

  12. Jon

    Try marinating the chicken you use for this recipe in tequila, lime juice garlic and cayenne for a few hours before hand.

  13. Renee Aldrich

    I add white corn and sometimes white hominy. For a filler, if it comes out a little soupy, I add some cubed and peeled red potatoes.
    Yummmm. I liked the idea of the tortillas on top. Will try it.

  14. kim

    I always cook white chili. We usually top the chilli with sour cream and salsa.

  15. Cloverdose

    Waaaayy too much cloves. Skip the cloves!! It’s a clove overdose (cloverdose?). Completely overwhelms all other flavors in the dish!

  16. ms bd fox

    Hey guys remember the other white meat. PORK. I put grilled pork steaks in mine. Way better than chicken. Lot more tasty.

  17. Jim Price

    I fixed this chili last night. I was leary about using the cloves but added it anyway and in addition I added 1/4 cup of lime juice at the end of cooking. I think that really took the edge off the cloves and my wife really liked it.

  18. cp

    Hi, I made this tonight and it was pretty good. I made it a little too spicy for me, but my husband liked it. I squeezed fresh lime on the top before putting the cheese, and I think that really made the dish. Oh, and a blob of sour cream on top is great for cooling the “heat” down.

  19. Leila

    I made this a couple days ago, and it was very good! (I’m eating the leftovers as I type this, lol) However, I was surprised that some of the people that made it said that it was too hot, because I tasted it and I actually ended up doubling the cayenne pepper because it didn’t even seem spicy to me at all! I added a few jalapeno slices, but it still could have used a lot more heat. Perhaps next time I will add a whole chopped jalapeno to bring up the heat a few notches. I will definitely make this again, thank you!

  20. Andrew

    At the beginning of this recipe, it calls for 2 onions – which color? Red, white or yellow? I am guessing white but I am a beginner.

    Yellow or white are probably the easiest to work with. ~Elise

  21. Amy

    I absolutely LOVE this chili! My husband gives it a nod too! Fantastic!
    p.s. I did not add the jalepeno although we like spicy foods.

  22. Jackie Gaston

    This sounds good. I love Jardine’s chipolte salsa and I feel good about buying it because they make it about 8 miles from my house.

  23. Jessica

    To keep the sauce white, here are some alternative ideas.
    Using white pepper is a great idea instead of using the cayenne pepper powder. But I like a little more kick so the last 30 minutes I add a pinch of red pepper flakes; it adds the heat and also the red flecks of color in the white sauce look very appetizing. To keep the green color out with the green chilies I buy fresh ones and sauté them on the side and add those the last 45 min. I use a crockpot to cook the soup in and add the different ingredients at different times. It’s great if you have the time to be home and do this all day. I start with the beans in chicken broth with the garlic, white pepper and oregano. I don’t use cloves, personally I hate them. I season the chicken with garlic powder, (or you can buy all purpose seasoning from the Mexican food aisle) onion powder, white pepper and a small pinch of cumin. Then I add the chicken to the crock pot for a couple hours. Then I sauté the onions and green chiles and drain them and add them. Then I will add the red pepper flakes. And about 5 minutes before I am ready to dish up, I like to take a few roma tomatoes and de-seed them and dice em up and add that to the bowls or to the entire pot. And to serve with it, I make pepper jack quesidillas. YUMMY

  24. Brenda

    I have made this chili and instead of using the green chilis and jalapenos, I used a half can of Ro-tel for the heat(I liquify the Ro-Tel so there are no chunks). I also add fresh cilantro , sour cream, cheddar and avocado chunks before serving–YUMMY!!!

  25. Vicky

    I made this today and loved it. Doubled it, but needed to add more than doubled spices. I also mixed about 1C of Maza Flour w/broth of the chili to thicken, didn’t really thicken but added extra flavor. Absolutely delicious! First time I’ve made White Chili of any kind. I told my mother about this since it is also “wheat free” since she has celiac disease. Great recipe, love spicy so added extra red pepper. Some salt too. Deeeelish!

  26. Tess

    This looks like our recipe. Use less cloves.

  27. Angela

    Just made this and it’s already delicious – though I suspect it will be even better tomorrow as leftovers. I sort of combined the advice of Elise, Steve-Anna, and the other commenters, as well as my own preferences.

    I used allspice rather than cloves (which is close, but a little less harsh), subbed white pepper for cayenne (though I may add a little in later when my husband gets home), used the black-eyed peas and great northerns, and seasoned the chicken with Montreal Steak Spice (very tender and delicious!).

    Before adding the chiles and jalapeno (maybe half, we’ll see), I took out a couple of ladles full for my one year old. She’s devouring it as I type. Thanks for another great recipe, Elise!

  28. bill

    The only thing missing in this “White Chile” recipe is some White Chile Peppers! White Habeneros would add heat and keep it white.

  29. Annarose

    I was very picky as a child, but I loved the white chili my mother made. When I went off to college back in 2005, I wanted the chili recipe, but my mom misplaced it so e-mailed me this recipe instead. I’ve been making it every couple of months ever since! It was the first dish that I cooked for my husband shortly after we met and he still loves it. I’ve tried both variations and made it with canned beans a couple of times. It always turns out great. I used to make it exactly like the recipe states, but I’ve since acquired a crock pot so I prefer to just chuck everything in at the beginning and slow cooking it all day. Delicious and effortless! Thanks so much for this family favorite :o)

  30. jack hooper

    White chili peppers would give some strong taste. I like your recipe.

  31. patty

    We saute’ the chicken in olive oil coated in garlic/onion powder then shred and put into pot. We don’t add cloves or oregano, but double the cumin. Also, at the very end, we add 1 cup of cooked rice which totally thickens the chili and adds alittle more texture also. This recipie is fantastic!!!

  32. Gomez

    Great recipe, used fresh anaheim and poblanos instead of canned. Burned off skins with a torch.
    Diced a red Jalapeno and added it at the end for a little color. Thanks for the recipe!!!