A comforting one-pot white bean chicken chili recipe with plenty of chicken and loads of seasonings. Good old comfort food with just the right amount of spice. So easy to make any night of the week!
White Chicken Chili Recipe with Beans - the Best!
I've always loved a good spicy white bean chicken chili recipe. As much as I enjoy more traditional tomato-based chili recipes, I find myself continually drawn to the rich, comforting flavors of this particular recipe.
I've enjoyed other white chicken chili recipes, though this is my favorite. I've perfected, for me, the right amount of seasonings and spice, and a good ratio of chicken to beans. I've also got a nice combination of chili peppers that gives it the edge I've come to expect.
Let's talk about how to make white bean chicken chili, shall we?
White Chicken Chili Ingredients
- Chicken. I use a combination of chicken breast and thighs - 1.5 pounds. You can use only breast or thigh, or your favorite cut.
- Peppers. I use 2 jalapenos and 2 roasted poblano peppers. Great combo! See the recipes notes on pepper options. If you can't find fresh peppers, a can or 2 of green chilis is fine.
- Onion and Garlic. Use 1 small onion, diced and 2 tablespoons minced garlic.
- White Beans. Use 2 cans white beans (drained - 16 ounce cans).
- Stock or Beer. Use 2 cups chicken stock or use a good flavored amber colored beer. Beer will give you a great flavor boost. Vegetable broth is good, too. Feel free to use your favorite.
- Oil. 1 tablespoon olive oil for cooking.
- Seasonings. I use 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon ancho powder, 1 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Corn Meal. I use 2 tablespoons cornmeal as a thickener, but also for a touch of corn flavor.
- Hot Sauce. Use Hot Sauce to your own personal tastes. I love it!
- For Serving. Crumbly white cheese, spicy chili flakes, fresh chopped parsley.
How to Make White Chicken Chili with Beans - The Recipe Method
Heat your olive oil in a large pot and add in the chopped chicken with the jalapenos and onion. If you're not roasting your poblano peppers, chop them and add them in now. Cook them down about 5 minutes or so, until the veggies become tender and the chicken starts to cook through.
Add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring.
Add in the following ingredients - 2 cans drained white beans, 2 cups chicken stock or chicken broth (or use a good flavored amber colored beer), 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon ancho powder, 1 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir.
Bring it to a quick boil, then reduce the heat and let it all simmer for at least 20 minutes. You can easily let it simmer longer, up to an hour. The longer you simmer, the more the flavor will develop. Try my Homemade Spicy Chili Powder for this recipe.
Thicken it up by stirring in the cornmeal. Simmer another 10 to 15 minutes or so, until it begins to thicken.
Serve it up in bowls and enjoy the heck out of your white chicken chili! Save some for ME, please!
Boom! Done! Such a great recipe, isn't it? I love me a good white chili recipe. The best!
Recipe Tips & Notes
- The Peppers. For this recipe, I'm using 2 jalapeno peppers and 2 poblano peppers. The poblanos are roasted first, then peeled and chopped. The roasting brings a slight bit of smokiness to the final bowl, as well as a boost of flavor, though you won't get much heat from them. The jalapeno peppers bring that extra bit of heat that I crave. You can easily include spicier peppers if you're looking for a hotter chili, but most times I'm not the only one eating it, so I keep it fairly mild compared to some of my other 5-alarm chilis.
- One Pot or Crock Pot. I usually make this recipe in a single pot, normally with my Dutch oven, but you can very easily just toss everything into a slow cooker/crock pot and let the mix simmer for a few hours until the flavor properly develops. The choice is yours. It works either way.
- Make creamy white chicken chili by swirling in 8 ounces of cream cheese into the finished chili until it melts through. It adds a wonderful rich flavor, so nice and creamy.
- Other Ingredients. You can include other vegetables in this recipe, such as frozen corn or peas, as well as other beans.
Best Toppings for White Chili
I love to serve my chili with roasted and sliced jalapeno peppers, a bit of crumbly white cheese, spicy red chili flakes, and freshly chopped cilantro or parsley, or fresh lime juice for a pop of citrus.
Some other great options include shredded cheese (like cheddar or Monterrey jack or pepper jack), crushed tortilla chips, and sour cream or crema.
Best Beans for White Chicken Chili
I used great northern beans for this chili recipe, though Cannellini beans are an excellent alternative. They are slightly larger than great northern beans and have wonderful nutty flavor.
Also try it with navy beans. You can make this recipe with other beans, such as kidney beans or black beans, or use a mixture of your favorite beans for your own preferred version.
How do you Thicken Chili?
I prefer using cornmeal to thicken my white chicken chili. Corn meal is a good thickener, and the flavor compliments the overall mixture of ingredients.
However, you can also stir a couple tablespoons of flour into 1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk, then stir it into the chili. Then, simmer the chili, stirring a bit, until it thickens up.
Another way to thicken chili is to stir crackers into your bowl of chili. The crackers will help to soak up some of the excess liquid.
Storage & Leftovers
You can store white bean chili in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To enjoy it again, simply reheat it over medium heat in a pot on the stovetop.
You can also freeze white chili in freezer proof containers for 3 months or longer. I freeze batches all the time. It reheats perfectly after thawing.
Try Some of My Other Popular Chili and Related Recipes
- The Best Chili Recipe (Classic Chili)
- Pork Chili with Roasted Red Hatch Peppers
- Southwest Style Slow Cooker Chili
- Chili Verde
- Chili Colorado
- Chili con Carne
- "Real Deal" Turkey Chili
- Chipotle Chili
- Crockpot Chili
- Southwest Style Chicken Gumbo
- Cajun Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- Zesty Chicken Tortellini Soup
If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you'll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don't forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I'll be sure to share! Thanks! -- Mike H.
White Bean Chicken Chili Recipe
- 1.5 pounds chicken (I use a combination of chicken breast and thighs)
- 2 jalapeno peppers diced
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 poblano peppers (roasted, or fresh)
- 2 cans white beans (drained - 16 ounce cans)
- 2 cups chicken stock (or use a good flavored amber colored beer)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ancho powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- Hot Sauce to taste
- FOR SERVING: Crumbly white cheese, spicy chili flakes, fresh chopped parsley
- To a large pot, add the oil with the chicken, onion and peppers. Saute about 5 minutes, or until they become tender and the chicken is mostly cooked through.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add in the beans, chicken stock (or beer), and seasonings. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes. You can easily let it simmer for an hour to let the flavors develop even further.
- Stir the cornmeal into the chili and simmer about 10 minutes to thicken.
This recipe was updated on 11/5/2020 to include new photos. Originally published on 5/19/2014.