White Chicken Chili

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There’s something about this White Chicken Chili that warms the soul. It’s not your typical chili; it’s better. This recipe takes the hearty elements of traditional chili and brightens them up for a creamy, comforting meal that’s both easy to make and a crowd-pleaser. Whether you’re looking for a new weeknight dinner or need a cozy dish for your next get-together, this recipe is a winner.

And yes, it’s easy to make, and you’ll just need one pot.

A hearty bowl of White Chicken Chili garnished with creamy avocado, shredded cheese, crisp green onions, and fresh cilantro, perfect for a cozy meal.

White Chicken Chili

Thick, delicious, and loaded with flavor. Once you've chopped the onion, the hard part is over.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Serving Size 6 people

Ingredients 

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon base
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 14 ½ ounce cans Great Northern White beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup salsa verde
  • 4 ounce can diced green chiles
  • 3 cups cooked chicken shredded
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped

Instructions 

  • Make base of veggies and flour. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add chopped onion and cook for 7-10 minutes until onions look more translucent and are tender, stirring occasionally and watching the heat to make sure the onion doesn’t burn. Add garlic and cook an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in flour and stir to break up any clumps. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
    A pot showing the initial stages of cooking White Chicken Chili with onions mixed with flour, forming the thickening base for the soup.
  • Add broth, base, beans, and seasoning. Slowly pour in and whisk chicken broth into onion mixture. Add the chicken bouillon base and whisk to combine. Stir in chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, coriander, garlic powder, and cayenne. Add the beans, green chilis, and salsa verde, and turn heat up to medium-high heat. Bring soup just to a boil.
    A pot of broth, beans, and veggies
  • Add corn, chicken, and lime. Lower heat to a simmer and add corn, chicken, and lime juice until the ingredients are warmed through, about 5-10 minutes.
    An overhead shot of a pot full of creamy White Chicken Chili on a kitchen surface, indicating a step in the preparation or serving process.
  • Add cream cheese. Put cream cheese in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Spoon some broth from the soup into the bowl and whisk cream cheese until smooth. Turn off heat for the soup. Stir in whisked cream cheese, cream, and chopped cilantro.
    A large pot filled with White Chicken Chili, showcasing the creamy texture and colorful ingredients like corn and green chiles just before serving.
  • Serve. Serve chili warm in individual bowls and top with desired toppings.
    A close-up of a bowl of White Chicken Chili, rich and creamy, topped with fresh avocado and green onions, inviting you to taste.

Notes

I love using already-cooked chicken with this soup. I usually use a rotisserie chicken from the store. 
Rotisserie chicken is easiest to shred with two forks when it is still warm. I suggest shredding it when you get home from the store.
For the salsa verde, I used the Herdez brand of mild salsa verde, the 7 oz. can.
I use Better than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base. It adds great flavor to the broth
To prepare this in a crockpot, Cook soup on high for 3-4 hours. You can use raw chicken and shred the chicken with two forks once cooked through. Add dairy ingredients when chicken is removed and cook an additional 15-30 minutes, returning chicken to the crockpot. Or, use precooked chicken and add with the dairy products at the end.

Every time I make this recipe it takes me back to the first chilly evening of fall last year. I remember searching for a recipe that could warm us up from the inside out, without being too heavy. That’s when I stumbled upon this gem. It’s become a bit of a tradition now. As soon as the leaves start to turn, my family knows this comforting chili will make its debut on our dinner table. It’s a complete meal on its own, but for bonus points try serving it with this spicy southwest salad.

A close-up of a bowl of White Chicken Chili, rich and creamy, topped with fresh avocado and green onions, inviting you to taste.

The kids, usually not big fans of anything too spicy, gobble it up, especially when I let them top their own bowls with heaps of cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

Chicken Chili Tips

  • Pre-Shred Your Chicken. If you’re using a rotisserie chicken, shred it as soon as you get home from the store while it’s still warm. It’s much easier to shred chicken that’s warm than when it has cooled down.
  • Adjust the Thickness. If you prefer a thicker chili, let it simmer uncovered for a few extra minutes to reduce slightly. For a thinner consistency, don’t hesitate to add a bit more chicken broth until you reach your desired thickness.
  • Taste As You Go. Spices like cumin, chili powder, and cayenne can vary in potency. Start with the lower end of the recommended measurements and adjust as needed. Always taste your chili before serving to see if it needs a bit more salt or heat.
  • Cream Cheese Consistency. For a smoother chili, ensure the cream cheese is at room temperature before adding it to the chili. If you forget to take it out ahead of time, a quick 20-second burst in the microwave can help soften it, but be careful not to melt it.

Key Ingredients and Tools

  • Salsa Verde. Found in the international aisle or with condiments, salsa verde adds a unique tangy and slightly spicy flavor to the chili.
    A good substitute could be a homemade blend of tomatillos, jalapeños, and cilantro if you’re up for a little extra prep.
  • Great Northern White Beans. These beans are located in the canned goods aisle and are key for adding a creamy texture and heartiness to the dish without overpowering other flavors.
    Cannellini beans make a great substitute if Great Northern White Beans aren’t available.
  • Rotisserie Chicken. You can pick this up in the deli section; it saves time and adds a rich, savory flavor to the chili.
    If you have extra time, cooking and shredding your own chicken breast is a great alternative.
  • Cream Cheese. Found in the dairy aisle, cream cheese gives the chili its creamy consistency and rich taste.
    If cream cheese isn’t your thing, sour cream can add a similar tang and creaminess.
Ingredients for White Chicken Chili neatly arranged on a countertop, including bowls of beans, corn, green chiles, seasonings, and shredded chicken, ready for cooking.

Each of these ingredients plays a crucial role in making the White Chicken Chili a comforting and satisfying meal. They’re usually easy to find, which makes whipping up this delicious chili a breeze any time you crave something warm and comforting.

  • Large Pot or Dutch Oven. This is essential for making the chili, as it provides enough space for all the ingredients to cook together evenly and develop deep flavors.
  • Cutting Board. A stable cutting board is crucial for safely chopping the onion and preparing the chicken if you’re shredding it yourself.
  • Sharp Knife. A good, sharp knife makes prepping your ingredients, like chopping onions and mincing garlic, quicker and safer.
  • Whisk. You’ll need a whisk to smoothly incorporate the flour and prevent lumps in your chili.

Having the right tools on hand makes cooking this straightforward and hassle-free.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with chips and salsa, cornbread, and sliced avocado.

Troubleshooting and Help

Can I make this vegetarian?

For a vegetarian version, you can skip the chicken and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. You might want to add an extra can of beans or some diced zucchini for more substance. It’ll still be deliciously creamy and satisfying.

What if I don’t have salsa verde? Can I use something else?

You could use a bit of green enchilada sauce as a substitute, or even blend up some tomatillos with green chilies and a handful of cilantro for a quick DIY version. The key is to get that tangy, green chili flavor in there.

Is this recipe spicy? I’m not a fan of too much heat.

This chili has a bit of warmth from the spices, but it’s not overly spicy. The great thing is, you can adjust the heat to your liking. Feel free to reduce the chili powder and cayenne pepper, or omit the cayenne altogether if you’re sensitive to spice. The green chiles and salsa verde provide flavor more than heat, especially if you choose mild versions.

Can I use fresh corn instead of frozen?

Sure thing! If you have fresh corn, it’s a fantastic substitute. Just cut the kernels off the cob and toss them in. Fresh corn will add a nice crunch and sweetness to the chili. It’s a great way to use up those summer corn leftovers.

Overall, Don’t stress too much about following the recipe to the letter. It’s all about getting a delicious meal on the table that you and your loved ones will enjoy.

Storing Leftovers

Your leftovers will be great and are one of the best parts of homemade chili.

In the Fridge:

  • Let the chili cool down to room temperature before you store it.
  • Transfer it into an airtight container and put it in the fridge.
  • It will keep well for 3-4 days.
  • When you’re ready to enjoy it again, you might find the chili has thickened. Simply add a little chicken broth when reheating to thin it out to your desired consistency.

Freezing:

  • This chili freezes beautifully.
  • Cool it completely and then ladle it into freezer-safe bags or containers.
  • Label them with the date, and you can freeze the chili for up to 3 months.
  • To thaw, leave it in the fridge overnight or reheat it from frozen over low heat on the stove, adding a splash of broth to help it loosen up.

We like to double the recipe and freeze half.

More to Easy Dinners to Love

All of these are perfect for a busy night or a time that you just don’t feel like making dinner a big production.

This chili is easy to make, perfect for any day of the week, and sure to satisfy your cravings for something warm and nourishing. The next time you’re looking for a meal that brings warmth and comfort to your table, remember this one. I hope you love it as much as we do.

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