This one-pot white chicken chili recipe is made with a satisfying mix of Southwestern ingredients, making it irresistible and creamy without any dairy! It’s perfect for a quick, easy, and hearty dinner.
Chili is a common winter staple in our kitchens but to change things up, I love to make my mom’s famous white chicken chili recipe.
For such a cozy and comforting dish, I love how it’s super fast to make, and just like any good stew or curry, it tastes better the longer it sits. Not that we ever have any leftovers because the kids gobble them all up!
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
- Incredible taste. The magical blend of shredded chicken, chicken broth, spicy chili peppers, smoky spices, and white beans makes this chicken chili the best cold-weather meal.
- An easy one-pot meal. Just throw all of the ingredients in a pot, let them simmer, then enjoy!
- The best make-ahead freezer meal. Because this chili can freeze well for up to 6 months, I sometimes whip up a double batch and chuck one in the freezer to enjoy when I’m short on time.
- Naturally dairy-free. Despite its incredible creamy consistency, this easy chili is naturally dairy-free.
The best part of this recipe? The toppings! My family loves piling it high with tortilla chips, sliced avocado, and a hefty swirl of sour cream, but anything works!
A lot of the ingredients in this recipe are similar to a classic red chili recipe, like meat, smoky spices, and beans. The only difference is that everything is light in color, hence the name, white chicken chili! These are the ingredients you need:
- Shredded chicken. You can cook and shred chicken breasts ahead of time or save some extra time by shredding a store-bought rotisserie chicken. If I’ve recently made a spatchcock chicken, I love to add any leftovers to this. Easy peasy!
- Onion and garlic. The savory, aromatic duo that’s a must in white chili recipes.
- Ground spices. The chili gets its incredibly warm, smoky, and comforting flavors from a blend of cumin, garam masala, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper.
- Green chiles. Don’t skip these! They’re a little spicy but are essential in a chicken chili recipe. If you are worried about the heat, just skip the jalapenos.
- Jalapeño peppers. Only if you can handle the heat. As mentioned above, this is completely optional!
- Corn kernels. Whatever you have at home goes – fresh, frozen, or canned corn kernels are all great choices.
- Cannellini beans. I like how white beans add extra protein to the chili, but their true gift is their ability to make the consistency creamy and luxurious.
- Chicken broth. Or use vegetable broth.
- Lime juice. To brighten up and balance the flavors.
How to make white chicken chili
This is the best white chicken chili not only because of its crave-worthy blend of bold flavors but also because it comes together in one pot! Here’s how it’s done:
Cook the aromatics. Start by sauteing the onion in a large oiled pot until soft. Then add the garlic, jalapeños, cumin, garam masala, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper. Stir well.
Let it simmer. Fold the beans, green chilies, and corn into the mix, then pour in the chicken broth. Let the chili simmer.
Add the chicken. Stir the shredded chicken into the chili after a few minutes. Add the lime juice, then let the chili simmer for a few minutes longer.
Serve. Spoon the chili into bowls and garnish with cilantro and the toppings of your choice. Enjoy!
Can I make this in a slow cooker?
Yes, you can! I love making slow cooker white chicken chili when I’m having friends over because it makes so much. The crockpot is more hands-off, and you can even use fresh chicken in it!
To make: Saute the aromatics, jalapeños, and seasonings in a skillet as normal. Dump them into a slow cooker with the beans, green chilies, corn, and chicken broth. Cook on High for 1 to 2 hours or on Low for 4 to 5 hours. Stir the shredded chicken and lime juice into the slow cooker during the last 15 minutes, then serve.
To make it with whole chicken breasts: Add them to the pot with the beans, veggies, and broth. Cook on High for 2 to 3 hours or on Low for 5 to 6 hours, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Shred the chicken on a cutting board, then stir the shreds back into the pot with the lime juice.
Recipe tips and variations
- Thicken it up: For a thick and creamy chili, use a potato masher to crush some of the beans against the side of the pot. I sometimes even blend them using a hand mixer into the broth.
- Use leftover chicken: For a time-saving hack, use any leftover boneless skinless chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs. I sometimes use a store-bought rotisserie chicken. If you use the latter, I love to add the skin to it as it just adds an extra depth of flavor.
- Make turkey chili: I often make this chili the day after Thanksgiving because I can swap out the chicken for leftover turkey. I also do this whenever I cook up a turkey tenderloin.
- Change up the veggies: Make this with diced celery, yellow bell peppers, and extra white beans, like chickpeas and/or Great Northern beans.
- Make it vegetarian: Omit the chicken or replace it with your favorite plant-based chicken. Also, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
- Add a creamy element: If you want the texture of the beans evident but still want a creamy texture, stir through some softened cream cheese.
- Add some heat: I am a spice fiend and love adding cayenne pepper, chili powder, and even some hot sauce. Know your audience, though- I only really add this to my bowl!
To store: Store the cooked and cooled leftover chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. I like to keep the leftovers in individual portions for easy grab-and-go lunches.
To freeze: The chili also freezes well for up to 6 months. Let the leftovers thaw in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat: Reheat the chili in a saucepan over medium heat or for 1 to 2 minutes in the microwave.
More hearty stews and soups
- Stuffed pepper soup
- Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Ground Turkey Soup
- Turkey noodle soup
- Vegan chili
- Cauliflower soup
Frequently asked questions
Cornbread is a must-have side dish for white chicken chili. And while a bowl of chili is pretty filling on its own, you can make it part of a well-balanced meal with a few more side dishes. Nothing beats some crusty sourdough bread or all your favorite corn chips!
The chili won’t set your mouth on fire, but there is a noticeable fiery flavor thanks to the fresh jalapeños and canned green chilies. Feel free to leave the jalapeños out of the recipe if you’re serving it to kids or those with sensitive pallets.
It’s really easy. Just simmer two chicken breasts in a pot of water or chicken broth until they’re tender, then shred them on a cutting board. Do this 3 or 4 days in advance to save time!
White Chicken Chili
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast shredded
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 jalapeno peppers finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garam marsala
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 4 ounces diced green chiles canned
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 30 ounces cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 lime juiced
- Add olive oil to a large pot and place over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it begins to soften, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic, chopped jalapeños, ground cumin, garam masala, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper. Stir well to combine. Mix in the corn and green chilies. Gently fold in the drained and rinsed cannellini beans, then pour in the chicken broth.
- Allow the chili to gently simmer, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes. For a thicker texture, mash some of the beans to the side of the pot.
- Stir through the shredded chicken, add the juice of the lime, and continue simmering for an additional 5 minutes to ensure the chicken is heated through.
- Remove the pot from the heat, add toppings, and serve immediately.
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