The Best White Chicken Chili

Published March 4, 2019. Updated October 12, 2023

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Flavorful White Chicken Chili made with hearty beans, tender chicken, and a rich and creamy broth. It’s a lighter alternative to traditional beef chili and makes for a super satisfying dinner! If you’re lucky to have any left it will make great leftovers for lunch the next day too. 

White Chicken Chili in white serving bowl set over a brown plate. Chili is garnished with avocado, cheese, tortilla chips, cilantro and lime.

My Favorite White Chicken Chili Recipe

We’ve all made the classic chili with beef, kidney beans, tomatoes, and the traditional chili spices but have you tried the white chicken chili version yet? This version is perfect for people who prefer chicken over beef, or anyone who wants a creamier soup that is packed with protein.

White chicken chili is one of my favorites because it’s so easy to make—especially for busy weeknights. It’s easy to keep the ingredients on hand (lots of cans or longer lasting fridge and pantry staples) so that you can make this crowd-pleaser at the drop of a hat. I love using a rotisserie chicken to make it even faster!

Want to see how to make this chili recipe? Watch the video!

This is a recipe you’ll want to be making year round, even as it starts to get warm outside. The chili itself is delicious, but each person can make it their own with toppings they love.

You’ll love the way the flavors of this chili blend together, those tender pieces of chicken and that creamy broth. It tastes far different from the classic chili but it’s a welcome change. Everyone loves this soup!

And it’s just that much better when you load on the toppings. Who wouldn’t love the addition of fresh avocado slices, crunchy tortilla chips, flavorful cheese and fresh cilantro? Bring on those toppings!

Navy blue pot full of white chicken chili. Chili includes pieces of chicken, pinto beans, corn, green chilies and a creamy broth, it is garnished with avocado and cilantro.

What Ingredients go into White Chicken Chili?

  • Chicken -I prefer rotisserie chicken but left-over cooked chicken will work great too.
  • Garlic and onion – these aromatics adds lots of flavor here. Use fresh minced garlic.
  • Chicken broth – for even more flavor try this soup with a homemade broth.
  • Green chilies – be sure to buy the mild kind unless you like heat.
  • Cumin, Paprika, Oregano & Coriander – these creates the perfect blend of spices here.
  • Cannellini Beans – great northern beans will work great too.
  • Frozen Corn – canned corn will work too, I just never have cared for the flavor.
  • Neufchatel cheese – cream cheese will work great too. I usually use Philadelphia but the store was out.
  • Lime – be sure to use fresh lime not the bottled stuff here.
  • Cilantro – feel free to add more to taste.
  • Desired toppings – I like to add avocado, tortilla chips, and cheese.

Ingredients needed to make white chicken chili shown here.

How do You Make the Best White Chicken Chili?

  • Heat olive oil in a 6 quart enameled Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion and saute 4 minutes.
  • Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.

Showing how to make white chicken chili. Sauteing onion in oil in a large cast iron pot.

  • Add chicken broth, green chilies, cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander, cayenne pepper and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring mixture just to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes.

Adding broth, spices and green chilis to white chicken chili mixture in pot.

  • Drain and rinse beans in a fine mesh strainer or colander then measure out 1 cup.
  • Set whole beans aside, transfer 1 cup beans to a food processor along with 1/4 cup broth from soup, puree until nearly smooth.

Pureeing cannellini beans in food processor for white chicken chili.

  • Add Neufchatel cheese to soup along with corn, whole beans and pureed beans and stir well. Simmer 5 – 10 minutes longer.
  • Stir in chicken, fresh lime juice and cilantro. Serve with Monterrey Jack cheese, more cilantro, avocado slices and tortilla chips if desired.

Adding cream cheese, corn and pureed bean mixture to white chicken chili mixture in pot.

The Trick For A Creamy White Bean Chicken Chili

You’ll notice there’s a step in the recipe that instructs you to process some of the Cannellini beans with some of the soup broth. I saw this once while I was watching Giada making a soup on Food Network.  She added some pureed Cannellini beans to give the soup a creamy texture without adding too much dairy or thickening with flour.

I thought that idea would be perfect to make this white bean chicken chili extra creamy so I decided to adapt that method and I loved it (if you don’t have a food processor or just don’t want to have to clean a food processor then yes, you could just add all the beans in whole).

When should I make White Chicken Chili?

This chili is a fast and easy option for busy fall and winter weeknights. The crock pot option makes it even easier. It’s a comforting soup that is perfect for Halloween, football Sundays, or any other cozy gathering.

Can I Make White Chicken Chili in a Crockpot?

Yes, this White Chicken Chili can also be made in a crockpot. To do so:

  • Use 1 lb. raw chicken breasts and add them at the beginning with broth, spices, chilies.
  • Finely mince the onions or saute first with garlic before adding to crockpot so they don’t end up crunchy.
  • Cook on high 3 hours or low 5 – 6 hours (or until chicken is cooked through) then remove chicken, add softened light cream cheese and cook until melted.
  • Stir in pureed bean mixture, beans, corn, shredded chicken, lime and cilantro. Heat through.

Overhead image of white chicken chili in a large white bowl sitting on a brown plate. Chili is garnished with cheese, chips, avocado, cilantro and lime.

My White Chicken Chili is a Top Rated Recipe!

I first shared this in May 2013 and since then it’s become a reader favorite! Please try it for yourself and rate the recipe below I love to hear your feedback!

White Chicken Chili Made with Rotisserie Chicken for an Easier Option

Note that when I first shared this I used chicken breasts, but after many years of perfecting the recipe I’ve realized rotisserie chicken or left-over chicken (either of which are added at the end) are a better option here. It’s easier, has more flavor, and you won’t end up with dry chicken breasts.

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Whi
4.96 from 1011 votes

White Chicken Chili

This White Chicken Chili is hearty, warming, creamy and perfectly comforting. It's a great alternative to traditional beef chili and makes a simple, yet completely delicious dinner! Makes about 8 cups.
Servings: 6 servings
Prep15 minutes
Cook35 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 4 minutes minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.
  • Add chicken broth, green chilies, cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander, cayenne pepper and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture just to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes.
  • Drain and rinse beans in a fine mesh strainer or colander then measure out 1 cup. Set whole beans aside, transfer 1 cup beans to a food processor along with 1/4 cup broth from soup, puree until nearly smooth**.
  • Add Neufchatel cheese to soup along with corn, whole beans and pureed beans and stir well. Simmer 5 - 10 minutes longer.
  • Stir in chicken, fresh lime juice and cilantro. Serve with Monterrey Jack cheese, more cilantro, avocado slices and tortilla chips if desired.

Notes

  • *Recipe updated to use pre-cooked shredded chicken (previously used 1 lb raw chicken in this recipe and cooked at the beginning). I like the flavor of rotisserie chicken better plus this way you don't end with over-cooked chicken breasts.
  • **If you don't own a food processor you can skip the pureeing step, soup just won't be quite as creamy.
Nutrition Facts
White Chicken Chili
Amount Per Serving
Calories 383 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 77mg26%
Sodium 525mg23%
Potassium 516mg15%
Carbohydrates 35g12%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 33g66%
Vitamin A 560IU11%
Vitamin C 8.4mg10%
Calcium 166mg17%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.
Recipe first shared May 2013, photos have been updated.

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1,834 Comments

  • Maggie Perrott

    Made this today. Sooo yummy. Shared some with my daughter and her hubby. They raved about it and asked for recipe. granddaughter had just a taste of her Mom’s and also asked for your recipe. Thank you for sharing.
    Maggie P.

  • Stacy E

    This was just excellent! At first it didn’t seem like the cream cheese was going to melt, but after I put the chicken in, it did. Definitely 5 stars. On our monthly menu.

  • Susan Louis

    This was delicious!! The first time I try a new recipe, I follow it exactly. But I read the recipe wrong, like I tend to do, and bought full fat cream cheese. I was worried it would be overkill but added the full amount anyway and it was amazing!! Everything else was as called for according to the recipe. I wouldn’t change a thing!! 😊

  • Mia

    I’m not sure what went wrong when I made this, but this chili was inedible. After I added the Neufchatel cheese and let it simmer, it didn’t break down enough. By the time it was “finished,” there were tiny chunks of Neufchatel cheese throughout the entire thing. We had to change our dinner plans and order takeout. I had high hopes for this recipe, because it seemed to work out well for everyone else in the comments who made it :(

  • Sharon Priest

    I’ve never had white chili before, but I consider myself to be a good judge of food. My son is a chef and both he and I loved this chili. I’m going to make a double batch next time!!

  • Esther

    I made this today. Didn’t have enough cannellini beans (only one can) so I substituted with some butter beans and speckled beans I had left.
    My picky husband approved. Says it’s delicious and gave it 5 stars.