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10 October 2018

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. Great for an easy weeknight meal or cool evening.

I’ve always loved a good spicy white bean chicken chili. 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 bean 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.

White Bean Chicken Chili - Ready to Eat

The Chili 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.

I’ve also made this recipe several times using fresh, not roasted, poblano peppers, and I love them both. So, if you’re looking to save some time, you can skip the roasting.

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.

How to Make White Bean Chicken Chili – The Recipe

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 minutes or so, until it begins to thicken.

Serve it up in bowls and enjoy the heck out of your white bean chicken chili! Save some for ME, please!

Scooping our White Bean Chicken Chili into a bowl.

Best Toppings for White Bean Chicken 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. Some other great options include shredded cheese (like cheddar or Monterrey jack or pepper jack), crushed tortilla chips, and sour cream or crema.

How To Roast Poblano Peppers

Roasting the peppers before cooking is not essential, but adds some great flavor to the finished recipe. You can learn how to roast chili peppers here, but here is a simple broiler method.

How to Roast Poblano Peppers

ONE: First, set your oven to broil. Slice the poblano peppers in half lengthwise and set them onto a lightly oiled baking sheet.

TWO: Broil them for about 10-15 minutes, or until the skins puff up and char and loosen from the pepper flesh. Flip them halfway through the process to get both sides.

Remove them from the oven and let them cool enough to handle.

THREE: Peel off the skins with your fingers. They should remove easily.

What are the Best Beans for White Bean 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. Also, 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 White Bean Chicken Chili?

I prefer using cornmeal to thicken my white bean 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.

Can I Freeze White Bean Chicken Chili?

Yes, white bean chicken chili can be frozen by transferring it to freezer safe containers. Seal them properly, then freeze it in serving portions for 3 months or longer.

Try Some of My Other Popular Chili and Related Recipes

White Bean Chicken Chili - Made with chunks of seasoned chicken, flavorful broth, loads of seasonings and plenty of white chili beans.

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.

5 from 1 vote
White Bean Chicken Chili - Recipe
White Bean Chicken Chili - Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins

A comforting one-pot white bean chicken chili recipe with plenty of seasoned chicken and loads of seasonings. Good old comfort food with just the right amount of spice. Great for an easy weeknight meal or cool evening.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, chili, one pot, spicy
Servings: 6
Calories: 340 kcal
Author: Mike Hultquist
  • 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 tablespoon cornmeal
  • Hot Sauce to taste
  • FOR SERVING: Crumbly white cheese, spicy chili flakes, fresh chopped parsley
  1. 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.

  2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant.

  3. Add in the beans, chicken stock (or beer), and seasonings. Bring to a boil.

  4. 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.

  5. Stir the cornmeal into the chili and simmer about 10 minutes to thicken.

  6. Serve!
Recipe Notes

Heat Level: Mild-Medium. You can easily spice this up with hotter chili peppers, though there is some heat here. Hot sauce is a nice addition.

Nutrition Facts
White Bean Chicken Chili - Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 340 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Cholesterol 87mg29%
Sodium 242mg10%
Potassium 504mg14%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin A 1300IU26%
Vitamin C 41.8mg51%
Calcium 51mg5%
Iron 2.8mg16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This recipe was updated on 8/18/2018 to include new photos. Originally published on 5/19/2014.

White Bean Chicken Chili - Recipe


  1. 5 stars
    Loved this chili!
    I did’t use the cornmeal in fact I had to add more water.
    The spice was perfect.

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