Chili is probably one of my favorite meals to make (and to eat!). Especially a white chicken chili. When you need a little change-up in your meal routine, or you’re having guests for dinner but don’t want to stress over a labor-intensive meal, this recipe should be your go-to!
This is the BEST chili alternative to your traditional beef, kidney bean, and chili powder recipe. But it still tastes incredible AND it’s super easy to make. That’s a combination you really just can’t beat.
So, today, I’m sharing my all-time favorite White Chicken Chili recipe. I love it, Tommy loves it, and everyone I make it for LOVES it. During the winter season, I make this recipe a lot. It’s the perfect warm meal to eat after a busy week day or on a chill weekend.
White Chicken Chili
Not only is this recipe packed with protein, but it’s also super flavorful. The best part is that it can be easily altered to accommodate any food preferences or diet. And if you offer a variety of topping choices, guests can make their chili exactly how they like it. This White Chicken Chili is hearty, flavorful and a great alternative to the traditional beef chili, with a green chile and chicken twist.
Not only does this recipe make enough for a big family meal but it can also be perfect for a couple’s night with leftovers for lunch, and recipes that make enough for leftovers for a few days.
Once you gather all the ingredients from your local grocery store you can whip this chili up in no time.
What Ingredients Go into White Chicken Chili?
This may look long, but I promise, it’s deceivingly easy once you gather all the ingredients together. You might even have most of these ingredients in your pantry already. So don’t forget to look before you shop!
I prefer olive oil for the antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats, but you can also use any vegetable oil here.
These onions pack the most flavor, which is why they are always my go-to.
I recommend using fresh minced garlic since it really adds to the flavor, but pre-minced garlic from the store works too.
Green Salsa Verde
Subbing out the mild green salsa for Trader Joe’s Hatch Valley is a great option if you like your chili extra spicy!
Chopped Green Chilies
Remember, if you don’t like heat, be sure to buy the mild kind!
Cumin, Oregano & Cayenne Pepper
These three spices make up the perfect combination! If you prefer heat, feel free to give the Cayenne Pepper a few extra shakes.
Salt and Black Pepper
As always, add to taste. I personally love adding a little sprinkling of black pepper on top of the finished chili.
Any canned, boxed, or tablet version of broth will do! Vegetable broth is a great alternative, especially if you want to make this chili vegan.
I prefer using chicken breasts rather than thighs since I prefer white meat in this recipe . A quick and easy cooking option is to boil the chicken for 15 minutes and then shred it. Or just leave out the chicken for a vegan chili.
Great Northern and Cannellini are my favorite white beans to use for this chili. Cans are the easier option, but if I have more time, I prefer to cook dry beans in the instant pot.
Monterey Jack Cheese
Feel free to play around with cheeses if Monterey Jack isn’t your jam. Also, any vegan cheese works well for a vegan alternative – or opt for a cheese-free chili!
These are completely up to you, but we love adding sour cream, cheese and crushed tortilla chips on top once the chili is served. Cilantro, lime, or avocado are also great options that can add additional flavors to your chili. So I opt for dairy-free sour cream and vegan cheese and my husband goes for the regular kind.
Now that we have our ingredients, it’s time to start prepping and cooking! There is only a tiny bit of prep for this recipe – Steps 1 to 3 – which is great for a busy day!
Follow these super easy step by step instructions and WOW your family with a delicious meal that everyone will love.
Boil chicken breast for 15 minutes before shredding it and setting aside.
Dice onions and green chiles and set aside until needed.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until tender or see-through. Keep a continual stir going to prevent the onions from burning!
Add in minced garlic, green chilies, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Stir frequently for 5 minutes. Keep a continual stir to prevent garlic from burning!
Add green salsa verde and stir thoroughly.
Drain and rinse beans using a colander or mesh strainer.
Mix in chicken broth, chicken, and (drained) beans. Bring it to a boil and then let everything simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Remove chili mixture from heat and stir in cheese until melted.
Serve in soup bowls and add toppings of choice!
Cooking Tips For White Chicken Chili
Tip 1: Make it in Instant Pot or Crock Pot
When I am running around trying to do all the jobs, sometimes I just do not have a good chunk of time in the day to set aside for cooking a healthy meal. So that’s why I love having my Instant Pot handy. On busy evenings, I can throw most of the ingredients in the pot and then I can cook this chili in no time and with little attention.
I love using the Saute feature on my Instant Pot.
It’s perfect for drawing out the flavors of the spices, onions, and garlic to really make them prominent in the chili. It also infuses these flavors into the chicken so every bite is packed full of flavor. Once I’ve given everything a good saute, I switch it to the Soup/Broth setting and let it simmer for about 15-30 minutes. Now, 20 minutes it’s my sweet spot, but you may prefer a longer simmer for your chili.
Instant Pots are super forgiving, so if you have your chili simmering on the warm setting for a while – and maybe you forget in the mad rush of children’s demands, or work/life chaos – don’t worry. Your chili will still taste great when you do decide to eat it.
Another way you can utilize your Instant Pot is to throw your chicken breasts in and cook for 15 minutes rather than boiling them (Step 1). This method probably doesn’t save much by way of cooking time but it does save an extra pot or pan to clean up at the end of the meal!
The Instant Pot just makes it so much easier (and quicker) for me to cook an awesome meal in a rush!
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, pull out your crockpot! Using a crockpot is another great option for a busy day. Throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker first thing in the morning – let them slow cook all day – and by the time dinner comes around, you’ve got a super tasty white chicken chili waiting for you to gobble up!
Tip 2: Heat up your chili!
If you are like me then a little bit of spice in recipes makes everything nice! I am a sucker for spicy foods so I always amp up the heat level in my chilies when I can get away with it. My go-to methods for spicing up this white chicken chili include 1) adding a little extra cayenne pepper, 2) throwing in a hot green chile or two, or 3) putting a few fresh or pickled jalapeños on top before serving. So I’d love to hear any other spice alternatives if you have suggestions!
I recommend that you be in tune with the amount of spice you can personally handle and adjust the recipe accordingly! Nothing is worse than having a meal that’s too spicy to eat. And trust me, if you use the Hatch Valley salsa, it may be too spicy for some people so I’d recommend not going that route if you’re having guests!
Tip 3: Freeze and store your chili for leftovers
We almost always end up with too much to eat. But I specifically make too much food so that I can have leftovers for the week. Leftovers are so handy to have on hand for our busy lives – and I am sure they would be for yours, too! So sometimes I even double the recipe just to get more leftovers to store for my lunches the next week.
When I am getting ready to clean up dinner, I put all of our leftovers in a glass mason jar or airtight glass container before popping them into the freezer. This makes it so easy for busy lunchtimes. All I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer (or fridge if you remember to stick it in there the night before) and microwave right in the glass container. Or, you could soften it in the microwave and let it simmer until warm on the stove if you prefer. A delicious lunch in 10 minutes or less.
Tip 4: Try Variations!
Make it Vegetarian
I am sure that you, like me, have plenty of vegan or vegetarian friends out there. This white chili recipe is so easy to adjust for a vegan or vegetarian-friendly option and it will still taste delicious. There are just three quick adjustments to make to the recipe, and boom! You have a yummy vegan/vegetarian meal ready to go.
- Your first adjustment is swapping out the chicken broth for vegetable broth. You really won’t taste the difference enough for this swap to matter.
- Next, leave out the chicken! Honestly, I like this version just as much. Then you can sub in extra beans for the meat or just leave the chicken out and it’s perfectly fine. If you add extra beans, you can either go with an alternative bean (like black or pinto) or just keep with the same white bean you used in the original recipe. I know some people throw in some tempeh instead of meat which works just as well.
Make it Vegan
- Make the same adjustments as above but find substitute toppings that are dairy-free.
- Sub the Monterey Jack cheese for any vegan cheese. I like the Daiya vegan brand since it melts well. Or, if you aren’t a fan of vegan cheese, just opt out! This recipe is already delicious and leaving out the cheese won’t change that! I promise.
- Buy vegan sour cream
- Top with extra avocado
Make it high protein
- Double the amount of chicken and reduce the cans of beans from three to two.
Tip 5: Have fun with toppings!
My favorites are lime, cilantro, and avocado. Then my husband loves extra cheese, sour cream and crushed tortilla chips!
I hope you enjoy this white chicken chili recipe as much as I do! Please let me know which variations you chose and how it turned out. I would love to hear about it! And If you come up with a new twist to the recipe – please share! I am always on the lookout for fun ways to spice up my recipes when I need a change.Print
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 jar green salsa verde
- 2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chilies
- 2 teaspoons grout cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cans (14.5 ounce each) chicken broth
- 3 cooked chicken breasts
- 3 (15 ounce) cans white beans, drained
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, OR vegan cheese
- Heat oil in large pot and slowly cook the onion until tender.
- Add garlic, chilies, cumin, oregano and cayenne.
- Add salsa and stir.
- Mix in chicken broth, chicken, and beans. Cook about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove mixture from heat and stir in cheese until melted.
- Top with sour cream.
Notes: For the leftover chicken, you can buy pre-cooked chicken, a rotisserie chicken or just boil chicken breasts for 15 minutes and then shred.
Keywords: White Chicken Chili