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
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!
- Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Chili
- Easy Green Chicken Chili
- Chili Con Carne
- Best Beef Chili
- Easy Vegetarian Chili with Mushrooms
White Chicken Chili
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)|
|Servings: 4 to 5|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 19g||25%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||27%|
|Total Carbohydrate 20g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||17%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 81mg||405%|
|*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.|