White Chicken Chili

This easy White Chicken Chili is like a milder, calmer cousin to Texas beef chili. Make it with canned or dry beans, and add extra chili peppers for more heat if you like! Keeps well and freezes well.

Best White chicken chili in a white serving bowl with chips

Elise Bauer

Do you like white chili? If you are not familiar with it, it's sort of the calmer, nicer cousin of a Texas chili. No frantically looking for something to put out the flames from a beef and habanero fest. White chili is made with white beans, chicken (sometimes pork), and mild green chiles.

(That said, if you must, must have scorching heat in your chili, there are ways to do that while still keeping the chili white. Read through the comments for some ideas.)

Video: How to Make White Chicken Chili


White Chicken Chili

Ingredients for White Chicken Chili

Personally, I love the flavors of mild Anaheim or hatch green chiles with chicken, white beans, and Monterey jack cheese. It's like a stew version of my favorite chicken burrito. Great with tortilla chips and your favorite taco toppings.

You can use either canned or dry beans. Dry beans will add a couple of hours of cooking time, but it's almost all hands off time and the flavor of the beans is terrific.

If you use canned beans, pick a good brand. I like Bush's cannellini beans. S&W has decent flavor too. Some of the organic, low salt canned beans brands are some of the most bland tasting beans ever sold. If you use those, you'll need to add more salt than you would expect.

Favorite Additions to This Chili

We've received some great suggestions from readers who have made this recipe over the years. Here are a few:

  • Top with avocado, sour cream, or both
  • Add corn kernels (especially good if grilled)
  • Add chopped green or red bell peppers
  • Add hominy for a posole-style chili
  • Use pre-cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken for an even faster soup
White bean chicken chili in a serving bowl with chips

Elise Bauer

What to Serve With White Chicken Chili

Top this hearty soup with cilantro, chopped fresh tomato, salsa, chopped scallions, and/or guacamole, and serve with a side of warm flour tortillas or tortilla chips.

Storing and Freezing White Chicken Chili

Like so many stews, this chili is even better the next day when the flavors have had more chance to meld. The chili will last several days in the fridge.

To freeze, cool the chili completed then transfer to freezer containers or bags. Freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge and reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop.

How to Make Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Using a slow cooker to make this chili allows you to put this together hours before you serve it and forget about it. To make this in the white chicken chili in a slow cooker, follow Steps 1 (if using dry beans) and 2, and then place the beans and sautéed, seasoned onions in a 6-quart slow cooker. Then add the chicken, stock and beans (if using canned beans). Cook on high for 2 to 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours.

How to Make Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

No adaptations needed — hop over to our recipe made just for your Instant Pot!

The Best Chicken to Use for White Chicken Chili

Any boneless, skinless chicken meat will work, but we prefer thigh meat. Thigh meat has more flavor, is less likely to dry out, and doesn't get a stringy texture.

How to Store and Reheat This Chili

Refrigerator the chili, tightly covered, for 3 to 5 days. Reheat it by bringing to a boil on the stovetop over medium-high heat on the stovetop.

Freeze this chili — it freezes very well — for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag. Defrost in the refrigerator and reheat over medium-high heat on the stovetop until it boils.

More Great Chili Recipes!

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

White Chicken Chili

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Dry bean cooking 2 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 5 mins
Servings 4 to 5 servings

If you are starting with dry beans and want even more flavor, cook them in about 7 cups of chicken stock, and then when done, use the stock that the beans haven't absorbed as a base for the chili. For more tips, see How to Cook Dried Beans.


  • 2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, drained OR 8 ounces dry white beans

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chilies

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, finely chopped, optional

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (can use breast meat, but thighs will work better), trimmed of excess fat and diced into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces

  • 3 cups chicken stock

  • 1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese, optional

If cooking dry beans:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 bay leaf


  1. If using dry beans, cook them first:

    Place the beans in a medium pot and cover with a couple inches of hot water, about 2 quarts. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 chopped garlic clove, and one bay leaf. Heat on high to bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to very low to maintain a low simmer.

    Cook for 2 to 3 hours or until the beans are cooked through and tender (note that cannelli beans will cook faster than navy beans, and older dry beans will take longer to cook than newer). Drain.

    Dutch oven with beans to make a white chicken chili.
    Cambrea Bakes
    Spooning white beans out of a dutch oven to make white chicken chili.
    Cambrea Bakes
  2. Sauté the onions with seasonings:

    In a large thick-bottomed pot, sauté onions in olive oil on medium high heat until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, cloves, and cayenne and cook a minute more. Add the green chiles and dried oregano. Add the minced jalapeño or serrano chile if using.

    White dutch oven with onions to make white chicken chili recipe.
    Cambrea Bakes
    A dutch oven with beans and onions cooking to make white chicken chili recipe.
    Cambrea Bakes
  3. Add the chicken and stock, simmer:

    Add the chicken and chicken stock. Increase the heat to high, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and maintain the simmer for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

    Spooning chicken out of a dutch oven to make a chicken chili.
    Cambrea Bakes
  4. Add the cooked beans:

    Add the drained cooked beans and cook for 15 minutes more. Taste for seasonings and add more salt to taste. Depending on how salty your chicken stock and beans are, you may need to add a teaspoon or more.

    Ladling beans in a pot of chicken chili.
    Cambrea Bakes
  5. Serve with toppings and tortillas or chips:

    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.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
442 Calories
19g Fat
20g Carbs
50g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 5
Amount per serving
Calories 442
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 25%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 226mg 75%
Sodium 1432mg 62%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 50g
Vitamin C 81mg 405%
Calcium 129mg 10%
Iron 6mg 34%
Potassium 983mg 21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.