Craving a creamy, rich White Chicken Chili that stands out from the rest? Your search ends here. This easy White Chicken Chili recipe is SO tasty. My secret tricks layer in rich flavor in less time for a perfect weeknight dinner.
Why You’ll Love This White Chicken Chili Recipe
White Chicken Chili is a tasty stew with chunks of tender chicken breast, white beans, and a rich, creamy base.
Instead of tomatoes and beef broth, this recipe uses canned green chillies for a tangy punch, and cream for an indulgent finish
It’s a delicious take on regular chili with beef or pork. The mix of spicy, tangy, and rich flavors is a sure hit with the whole family.
What Makes This Recipe Easy and Foolproof?
- Secret chili thickener: The addition of a heavy cream and cornstarch slurry adds a luxurious texture you won’t find in average chili recipes. Cornstarch slurry thickens the chili to the perfect consistency, so you won’t end up with a watery mess.
- Shortcut to flavor town: Canned chopped green chillies effortlessly infuse the chili with a rich, tangy flavor, elevating it from good to great.
- One pot: The entire dish comes together in one pot, making clean-up almost as effortless as eating it.
- Canned beans: Using canned beans cuts down on cooking time without sacrificing flavor.
- Soft, tender chicken breast: Cooking the chicken breasts whole and then shredding them later ensures they don’t dry out (like smaller pieces with more surface area would) in the simmering chili.
Put these tips to work, and you’ll have a foolproof meal that’s sure to impress.
Here’s What You Need
Before diving in, make sure you’ve gathered all the ingredients and tools you’ll need for this easy White Chicken Chili recipe.
White Chicken Chili Ingredients
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: The protein base of the chili. You can also use skinless chicken thighs.
- Kosher salt and black pepper: For seasoning the chicken and overall flavor.
- Olive oil: To sauté the vegetables.
- Onion: Adds a subtle sweetness and depth.
- Garlic: For a robust and aromatic touch.
- Ground cumin and coriander: Spices that add a warm, earthy flavor.
- Chili powder: This spice blend includes ground chilli peppers, onion powder, garlic powder, spices and oregano. It gives the dish a little signature kick. Not to be confused with cayenne pepper (See: Cayenne Pepper Vs. Chili Powder).
- Chicken broth: The liquid base that brings all the flavors together.
- Diced green chiles: For added heat and flavor. It can be found next to the red salsa in almost any grocery store. Adds zing and a touch of spiciness, enhancing the overall flavor profile. Don’t mistake them for pickled jalapenos (those are much hotter and more acidic).
- White beans: Like great northern beans, white kidney beans, or cannellini beans. Adds texture and makes the chili super hearty.
- Heavy cream: For creaminess.
- Cornstarch: To thicken the chili.
- Corn kernels: Adds a sweet crunch.
- Lime: For a citrusy finish.
Variations and Substitutions
This recipe is flexible, so feel free to make it your own:
- Different protein: Use turkey or tofu for a different protein base.
- Dairy-free: Swap the heavy cream for coconut milk or almond milk.
- Gluten-free: Ensure the chicken broth is gluten-free.
- Spice level: For a spicier curry, add a little ground cayenne pepper with the chili powder.
- No beans: If you’re not a fan of beans, add extra veggies like bell peppers.
Grab These Tools
To make your White Chicken Chili without any issues, make sure you have these tools on hand:
- Large pot: To cook all your ingredients together.
- Cutting board and knife: For chopping vegetables.
- Measuring cups and spoons: For accurate ingredient portions.
- Whisk: Useful for making the cornstarch slurry.
- Two forks: For shredding the cooked chicken.
And that’s it! With everything in place, you’re ready to make a fantastic pot of White Chicken Chili.
How To Make White Chicken Chili: An Easy Guide
Follow these straightforward steps to whip up a pot of hearty and delicious White Chicken Chili.
How to Prepare the Chicken:
- First, season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Just a simple seasoning works here because the chicken will absorb other flavors as it cooks.
How to Sauté the Vegetables:
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are soft and clear. This is the flavor base for your chili.
How to Add Garlic, Spices, and Chiles:
- Stir in the minced garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, and chili powder. Give it a quick mix to let the spices bloom, making everything more flavorful.
How to Cook the Chicken:
- Pour in the chicken broth and add the diced green chiles and white beans. Now, add your seasoned chicken breasts. Cover the pot and let it cook for about 20 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through but still juicy.
How to Shred the Chicken:
- Take the cooked chicken breasts out of the pot. Using two forks, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. This makes the chicken easier to eat and helps it blend into the chili.
How to Complete the Chili:
- Return the shredded chicken to the pot. Add corn kernels for a sweet, crunchy contrast. For the final touch, make a cornstarch slurry by whisking cornstarch into the heavy cream. Add this slurry to the chili to make it thick and creamy.
- Let it simmer for an additional 5 minutes to let all the flavors meld together. Adjust the salt to your taste and you’re done!
A Few Notes:
- If you’re using unsalted chicken broth, you’ll need to add an extra 2 teaspoons of kosher salt.
- Serve the chili with lime wedges. The lime juice adds a fresh, citrusy pop that really makes the flavors sing.
And that’s all there is to it. You now have a pot of warm, hearty White Chicken Chili that’s sure to please.
3 Common Mistakes When Making White Chicken Chili
Here are the most frequent mix-ups to avoid when making White Chicken Chili:
- Overcooking the Chicken: This can lead to dry and tough meat. Stick to the suggested cooking time of 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Skipping the Cornstarch Slurry: This is crucial for thickening the chili. Missing this step will give you a runny soup-like consistency rather than a hearty chili.
- Ignoring the Garnish: The lime, cilantro, and other toppings aren’t just for show. They add extra layers of flavor, so don’t skip them.
Make Ahead and Storage Instructions
Getting a head start on dinner or saving leftovers is easy with this White Chicken Chili.
- Make Ahead: You can prepare this chili up to 2 days in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat on the stovetop.
- Freezing: For longer storage, you can store the chili in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating.
- Reheating: When ready to serve, reheat the chili on the stovetop over low heat. Stir occasionally to ensure even heating. Alternatively, reheat it in the microwave.
- Leftovers: Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. They will stay good for up to 4 days.
How to Serve this White Chicken Chili Recipe
Serving this chili is more than just ladling it into bowls; it’s about making it a meal to remember.
- Lime Wedges: Offer lime wedges for guests to squeeze over their chili. The zesty lime juice elevates the flavor.
- Sides: Serve the chili with a side of Mexican Rice, Cornbread Casserole, or one of the many, many ideas in my ultimate guide to What to Eat With Chili.
- Beverages: Cold beer or a glass of white wine pairs really well with this chili. For a non-alcoholic option, iced tea or lemonade work great.
White Chicken Chili Toppings
Don’t forget to top the bowl off with lots of yummy flavors and textures. Here are some ideas:
- Salsa Verde or Hot Sauce: This is a mild chili (which the kids love!). I like to add a spoonful of Salsa Verde (green salsa) for extra kick.
- Avocado: Slices or guacamole work equally well.
- Sour Cream: Adds a creamy tanginess.
- Shredded Cheese: Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican blend are popular choices.
- Chopped Cilantro: For a burst of freshness.
- Diced Red Onion: Adds crunch and flavor.
- Pickled Onion: I love the vibrant color and tangy flavor.
- Jalapeños: For those who like it extra spicy.
So grab a bowl, make it your own with toppings, and enjoy your delicious White Chicken Chili.
FAQs About White Chicken Chili
Just skimming through? Here are some quick answers to the commonly asked questions.
Yes, you can use chicken thighs. They are juicier but might add a bit more fat to the chili.
To make it vegetarian, skip the chicken and use vegetable broth.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. They will stay good for up to 4 days.
Yes, you can freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating.
No, you can substitute the heavy cream with half-and-half or a non-dairy alternative. Because you’ve whisked in cornstarch, it helps stabilize lower-fat dairy so that it is not as likely to curdle.
The level of spice can be adjusted. The recipe as written is not very spicy, but you can add more or fewer jalapeños to your taste.
The consistency of white chicken chili can vary based on the recipe. If you find it too runny, you can thicken it using cornstarch, flour, or by reducing it over heat.
Cornstarch or flour can be used as thickening agents. Create a slurry by mixing cornstarch with the cream. . Slowly add this to the simmering chili while stirring constantly until it reaches the desired thickness. Additionally, pureeing a portion of the beans and adding them back to the chili can provide thickness.
Final Notes, Pro Tips + Science-Based Secrets
Unlock the full potential of your White Chicken Chili with these key takeaways:
- Salt Layering: Adding salt at different stages (chicken, onions, and end) enhances flavors better than adding it all at once.
- Fresh Lime Juice: Squeezing fresh lime into your chili balances the rich cream and spices.
- Cornstarch Chemistry: The cornstarch slurry works to thicken the chili by forming a gel-like network with the liquid, giving you that perfect creamy, rich texture.
Other Chili Recipes You’ll LOVE
- Cream Cheese Chicken Chili – This one is kind of a hybrid between regular chili and white chili. It’s got tomatoes and lots of chili powder, with the creaminess and tang of cream cheese. Super yummy.
- Chili Con Carne – This thick, rich, hearty chili recipe is a long-standing fan favorite on the blog.
White Chicken Chili
- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 ½ tsp kosher salt (divided use, or to taste)
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 ½ cups finely chopped onion
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cans 4 oz each diced green chiles
- 3 cans 15 oz each white beans (Great Northern, White Kidney or Cannellini) drained and rinsed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 cup whole corn kernels fresh or frozen
- 1 lime cut in wedges
Garnish for White Chicken Chili:
- Sliced limes
- Salsa verde, green salsa or hot sauce
- Chopped cilantro
- Sliced jalapeños
- Sour cream
- Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Prepare the Chicken
- Season the chicken breasts with 1 tsp of the kosher salt and the pepper.
Sauté the Vegetables
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the diced onions with ½ tsp kosher salt and cook until translucent.
Add Garlic and Spices and Chiles
- Stir in the minced garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, and chili powder. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
Cook the Chicken
- Add the chicken broth, diced green chiles and beans to the pot.
- Add the seasoned chicken breasts and stir. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Shred the Chicken
- Remove the chicken breasts from the pot and shred them using two forks.
Final Cooking Steps
- Return the shredded chicken to the pot along with the corn.
Make a Cornstarch Slurry
- Place the cornstarch into a measuring cup and slowly pour in the cream, whisking constantly, to make a smooth mixture (called a slurry) without any lumps. Stir this slurry into the chili.
- Stir well and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes uncovered (it’ll thicken up). Taste and add remaining salt, plus more if needed.
- Serve with lime wedges to let everyone squeeze on their own chili.
Last Updated on November 14, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD