Turkey White Chili

If you are starting out with dry beans (recommended), to speed up the process you can put beans into a bowl and pour boiling water over them by 2 inches and let them sit for an hour instead of soaking them overnight (then drain).

You can also use a pressure cooker to cook the beans more quickly than on the stovetop without needing to pre-soak them.

You can also use canned white beans. If you use canned beans, drain them from their juices and combine them with the turkey stock in step one.  Only heat the beans and turkey stock enough to bring the stock to a simmer. You don't need to cook the canned beans because they are already cooked.

This recipe can easily be doubled.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Bean Cooking time: 3 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 5


  • 1/2 lb dry white beans, soaked overnight in water, drained OR 2 15-ounce cans white beans, drained
  • 3 cups turkey stock
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onions, chopped (divided)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, stem and most seeds removed, chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilies
  • 2 cups diced cooked turkey
  • Salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon)

Garnishes and extras

  • 1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup (loose) chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped (or guacamole)
  • Chopped tomatoes or salsa
  • Corn tortilla chips and/or fresh warmed flour tortillas


1a Cook beans if using dry beans: Combine soaked and drained beans, turkey stock, and half the onions in a large soup pot and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer until beans are very soft, 1 to 3 hours or more, depending on the type of white beans you are using.

Cannelli beans are tender and tend to cook rather quickly. Navy beans take longer. Add additional water (or watered-down stock), if necessary.

Or you can skip the soaking and cook the beans in turkey stock with the onions in a pressure cooker. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, then let release naturally for 10 minutes.

1b If using canned beans:  Combine the beans and the turkey stock in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.

2 Cook jalapeño, onions, garlic, green chiles: Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat, cook chopped jalapeño (if using) and (remaining) onions in oil until tender. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more. Add green chilies and seasonings and mix thoroughly.

3 Combine jalapeño mixture and turkey to stock: Add the jalapeño onion mixture to the stock and beans.

Add the turkey and salt to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes or more (up to an hour) until the beans are thoroughly soft and the stew has thickened.

4 Serve: Serve topped with grated cheese. Garnish with cilantro, chopped fresh tomato, salsa, chopped green onions, and/or avocados. Serve with fresh warmed flour tortillas or tortilla chips.

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  • Penny

    YUM – perfect as written! used dried navy beans – only note to self is to NOT overcook the beans in Step One. used 1/2 HOT and 1/2 MILD green chiles for a nice kick. Perfect with a dollop of sour cream and avocado atop.


  • WW

    Great recipe- made with northern canned white beans, jalepeno and 1.5 lb ground turkey. By far my favorite white chili recipe. Anyone have the nutritional info as made in the recipe?

  • Lyn

    Thank you for this recipe! My husband and I both loved it. I especially love that it’s healthy. It’s a keeper!

  • Chef B.

    Prepared recipe, added a few tweeks, for heat used Ancho chili pepper & chili paste (sambal), for creaminess refried veg beans, lots of garlic, over jasmine rice delicious

  • Emiko

    I think this is my favorite turkey leftover recipe. I personally get tired after the third day straight of turkey. This changes it up enough without taking away from the awesomeness of the turkey. I used 2 cans of cannellini beans, and loved the creaminess. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making some more at the end of December.

  • vrs

    A half tsp of orange extract balances the spices and the sweetness of the corn. Added red pepper and cilantro for holiday color!

  • Janna

    I used 2 cans of cannellini beans, 4 cups ground turkey, chicken stock. I also used masa harina to thicken the soup up.


  • Quinn

    I just made this with my leftover turkey and was so pleased with the results! I used the canned canellini beans to save time and added some diced green peppers for a little color. I topped the chili with some fresh avocado and shredded mexican cheese for a perfect cool flavor contrast to the heat from the peppers. Now I have leftovers I don’t mind eating again! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Trillium

    Made this today as an alternative to boring turkey leftovers. It was enthusiastically accepted. I cheated and used 2 cans of organic cannellini beans and reduced the amount of stock by a cup. I also tightened it up at the end with 2 Tbl. of masa harina mixed with stock. Will definitely be making this again. Thanks!

  • Linda

    White chili is one of my favorites. We add a can of evaporated milk to make it whiter. I am a fan of pressure cooking too! What a time saver. But sometimes I make a white chili with canned beans. Two cans, my favorite combo is 1 can of butter beans, and 1 can of white beans.

  • Stephanie

    Yum! This one is a keeper and we won’t wait for turkey leftovers to have it again!


  • scott

    I just made this today, only slightly different. I added oregano, thyme, 2 bay leaves and cayenne pepper in with the beans. It turned out great. Unfortunately, I tried to make corn tortillas (again) and those weren’t so great :(

    Great recipe, thanks

  • Lisa Anderson

    I made this tonight and we loved it! What really caught my eye and made me want to try it was the ground cloves you have in it. Amazing flavor all around. The only thing I did differently was adding a can of Rotel Hot with Habanero and I also used chicken broth. I have really enjoyed all the recipes of yours I have ever tried.. and plan to try many, many more!

  • Staci

    Elise, My family loved this recipe. I used the canned beans and Chicken stock, since it is still too early for Turkey day leftovers, I used Turkey cutlets, cubed and cooked in the olive oil w/onion & jalepeno.They couldn’t believe how much flavor it had! I served it w/ buttermilk cornbread! This was requested on our nightly menu again! Thanks for a great chili recipe

  • Amanda

    I’m pretty much brand new to cooking, so this may seem a little silly. If using ground turkey, should chicken broth or stock be used? I can’t seem to find premade turkey stock anywhere. Thank you in advance for any help!

    Sure, use chicken stock or broth. ~Elise

  • Kristen

    I was going to make the Turkey Chili for Super Bowl Sunday but was going to try the canned beans (1 can mashed/1 can whole nothern beans). If I do that, how much chicken broth would I add (I’m doing chichen chili, no turkey around here this time of year)? I am thinking you had three cups of broth for the dry beans so not sure how much to add if I’m using the canned beans. Don’t want to make it too runny! Thanks for any guidance Elise.

    Hi Kristen, why don’t you try starting with 2 cups of chicken broth and see how that goes? You can add more if it gets too thick. You could also add the full amount of chicken broth and just simmer the stew longer to thicken it. ~Elise

  • Rich

    I just made a pot of this stuff using two cans of cannelini beans and a pound of ground turkey instead of leftovers from Thanksgiving. Took about three hours to reduce to the right consistency and it’s awesome, and I forgot to include the green chili peppers. But I made up for it by doubling the cayenne and the jalapeños.

  • Jon

    Just the right amount of heat and spice to warm up the body on a cool night. I am glad I stumbled on this as I was contemplating what to do with those last few pitiful pieces of leftover bird (please no more sandwiches!). Since I was the only one if the family that really ate it that first night and I had fixed a pretty big batch I had to store it in the fridge for a couple of days. Let me tell you it was even better the next time; the flavors had really kicked it up a notch. I had cheated with canned beans since I was in a hurry, but I already have a bag of dried beans waiting for the next time.

  • sara

    I always wondered what to do with left over turkey from the winter holiday. I stumbled upon this recipe and it was surprisingly delicious! The cilantro adds great flavor and tortilla chips really compliment the chili. Love the recipe and will definitely be using it again! Thanks!

  • Stacey

    Made this yesterday for dinner. I didn’t have any left over turkey just chicken (AKA your Chicken White Chili). Since I wasn’t going to be able to watch it, I threw it in the crockpot on low for the day; I omitted the oil since I didn’t need to cook up the jalepeno or the onion. Topped it with cheese, avocado, and a few corn chips. Rather tasty, but I’ll use a little less stock next time as it was a bit runny.

  • Todd

    I made this the other night and it was delicious! I cut the spice down a bit and served it with shredded cheese and corn chips. Yum! Thanks for all the great recipes.

  • Nancy

    I made this today and it was delicious. Hubby and I both have bad colds and it hit the spot. I love your blog.


  • Alicia*

    ::thumbs up:: Would you believe?! No leftover turkey, but I have left over turkey stock. I cheat with canned beans and I assume ground turkey can be used instead of the cooked turkey (browned first)? The key to any chili is the seasoning. Elise, if you say this is “kicked up” then it’s probably still mild for Mr. Asbestos Palate. One other tip: I recently made white chicken chili using roasted green chilies. Seemed to have a richer taste.

    Sure, brown the ground turkey first. Should work fine. ~Elise

  • Rayfil Wong

    Great recipe.
    This dish appears to be all about textures.

    The beans create a creamy texture.
    I want to take a nice nap after my meal.

    Very nice.

  • RothRandom

    I made this recipe last night! It was simply fantastic and delicious!. I left out the cloves (I totally missed that ingredient while I was at the store) and it still tasted great with everything else. I also left out jalapeno and it was absolutely fantastic. I have no leftover turkey now, and I can’t wait to try this with boneless skinless chicken breast. This is a dish I will definitely be cooking again. Thank you!

  • Krystal Ford

    This is a very tasty way to get rid of the 5lbs of cooked turkey left in my fridge. I used only one tin of white beans, so it was more soup like. Which was my intention, since I am preparing a new soup everyday for 30 days, and I am on day 12 today.

  • Shellybean

    I use the canned white beans when I make white chili and a good way to make the chili really creamy is to add one can of whole beans, then mash up the second can of beans (I put them in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher) before adding them to the pot.

    Great idea, thanks Shellybean! ~Elise