This creamy White Bean Chicken Chili comes together on the stovetop in about 1 hour, but tastes like it's been simmering all day. Pile on your favorite toppings and serve it with a side of cornbread or tortilla chips for a simple and satisfying weeknight dinner!
White Bean Chicken Chili Recipe
Truly the best white bean chicken chili, this easy stovetop method gets a flavorful meal on the table quickly! White chicken chili is a really great alternative to more traditional beef-based recipes, and it's equally delicious. Tender chicken, plenty of hearty white beans, zesty spices and a bit of cream cheese make this a total dinner winner! Let everyone customize their own bowls with their own toppings and you'll have some very eager, very happy eaters at your family's table.
What beans for white chicken chili?
We're using canned beans in this recipe for a nice shortcut -- no soaking or cooking required! I used cannellini beans (or white kidney beans), but you can substitute with other white beans, including navy beans (also called Yankee beans) and Great Northern beans. In a pinch, you could even use other beans (like pinto beans or pink beans) -- it just wouldn't be a "white bean" chili anymore!
Which chicken to use?
I like to use a store-bought rotisserie chicken in this recipe for a few reasons:
- Time. It's a nice shortcut for an easy, quick-prep chili.
- Flavor. A rotisserie chicken is moist and seasoned, contributing even more delicious flavor to the chili.
- Moisture. Since the rotisserie chicken is fully cooked, you can wait to stir it into the chili at the very end...therefore avoiding dried-out, over-cooked chicken. It stays moist, tender and juicy!
If you prefer, you can also boil your own chicken breast (or thighs) for this recipe. You’ll need about 1 ½ lbs. of raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs to equal approximately 3 cups of cooked, shredded meat. Boil the chicken in broth or water for about 15 minutes, then shred or chop to use in the recipe. Alternatively, you can boil the raw chicken right in the chili itself, remove the meat from the pot to dice or shred it, and then stir it back in at the end.
How to Make White Chicken Chili
This stovetop White Chicken Chili comes together in about an hour, making it ideal for those busy evenings when you don't have time (or forethought) to simmer a Crock Pot all day. It's also a nice make-ahead meal, so feel free to whip up a batch on a quiet Sunday afternoon, stash it in the refrigerator, and reheat a pot later in the week. So convenient!
Ingredients for Creamy White Bean Chicken Chili
- Olive oil
- Diced green chiles
- Chicken broth
- Cannellini beans (or other white beans like Great Northern beans)
- Cumin, paprika, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper
- Cream cheese
- Lime juice
Step 1: Puree Beans
In a food processor (I use this mini food processor) or blender, puree 1 can of the drained, rinsed beans with ¼ cup of the broth. Set those aside -- you'll need them later.
Step 2: Sauté Vegetables
Cook the onion in olive oil until it's soft, then add the green chiles and garlic, stirring for 1 more minute.
Step 3: Add Broth and Other Ingredients
Stir in the chicken broth, pureed beans, additional beans, corn and spices. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer (uncovered) for about 30 minutes.
Step 4: Add Chicken and Cream Cheese
Stir in the chicken and cream cheese and continue simmering for about 5-10 more minutes. Then ladle into bowls and serve!
How to Thicken White Bean Chicken Chili
This chili gets its thick consistency two different ways:
- Pureed Beans. Like many bean soup recipes, this chili recipe uses a can of pureed white beans to create a thicker, creamier texture in the finished dish.
- Simmer Uncovered. Unlike slow cooker chili recipes that accumulate a lot of condensation from the lid of the Crock Pot, this chili simmers uncovered. This allows the steam to escape and evaporate, thickening the chili as it cooks. If you find that the chili is getting too thick, you can replace the lid towards the end of the cooking time. The stovetop method just gives you more control over the cooking process and helps you achieve the perfect pot of chili!
What to Serve with White Bean Chicken Chili
Set out plenty of fresh toppings for your easy chicken and white bean chili, including:
- Grated cheese
- Sour cream
- Diced avocado
- Fresh cilantro
- Sliced green onion or minced red onion
- Hot sauce
- Sliced jalapeño peppers
- Lime wedges
- Crushed tortilla chips or other corn chips (like Fritos)
Store leftover chicken and white bean chili in airtight containers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
How to Freeze Quick and Easy White Bean Chicken Chili
I do not recommend freezing the chili after you add the cream cheese. A dairy-based broth tends to "break" when thawed, giving the chili an undesirable texture when reheated. Instead, you can prepare the chili in advance through Step 3. Allow the chili to cool to room temperature, store in airtight containers, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw frozen chili in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat over low heat, stirring the cream cheese into the pot during the final 5-10 minutes.
- Instead of cannellini beans, use other white beans such as Great Northern beans or navy beans. You can also substitute with pinto beans or chickpeas.
- I use a store-bought rotisserie chicken for an easy shortcut, but you can also boil your own chicken breast (or thighs) to use in this recipe. You’ll need about 1 ½ lbs. of raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs to equal approximately 3 cups of cooked, shredded meat.
- Chili with Ground Chicken: If you prefer the texture of ground meat in your chili, substitute with 1 ½ lbs. of ground chicken. You'll need to cook the ground meat in a skillet and drain off the fat before using it in the recipe.
- Instead of canned corn, substitute with about 1 ¾ cups of frozen corn.
- If you don't have a food processor or if you just don't want to hassle with pureeing a can of beans, that's fine! The chili will have a slightly thinner consistency, but the recipe will still work. Skip the pureeing step and just add that extra can of beans right into the pot.
- Omit the cream cheese. The chicken chili will have a thinner consistency and will not be creamy, but it will still be delicious.
Tips for the Best Chicken Chili Recipe
- Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature and dice into cubes before stirring it into the pot. This will help the cheese melt smoothly into the chili.
- Stirring in cream cheese at the end gives the chili a really thick, creamy texture. If you prefer a tangy, slightly thinner consistency, you can stir in an 8-ounce container of room-temperature sour cream at the very end instead of the cream cheese.
- This white chicken chili is not spicy. If you prefer more kick in your bowl, increase the cayenne or serve with a side of hot sauce or jalapeños!
- Simmering the pot uncovered on the stovetop yields a thick, rich chili. It's my preference over the slow cooker method in this case.
- Garnish with plenty of bright, fresh herbs and lime juice for a nice contrast to the rich, creamy chili. Good options include fresh cilantro or parsley and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
More Chili Recipes to Try
- Texas Chili
- Chili Con Carne
- Instant Pot Turkey Chili
- Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
- "Good Luck" Southern Chili
White Bean Chicken Chili
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup finely diced onion
- ½ teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
- 4 cups chicken broth, divided
- 3 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, divided
- 1 (15.25 ounce) can corn, drained
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I use the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature and diced into cubes
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- Optional garnish: fresh limes, sour cream, avocado, grated cheese, fresh cilantro, sliced green onion, tortilla chips
- Place 1 can of the drained and rinsed beans in a food processor or blender. Add ¼ cup of the broth and puree until smooth; set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 7-10 minutes. Add garlic and green chilies; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute.
- Stir in the remaining chicken broth, pureed beans, remaining 2 cans of drained and rinsed beans, corn, cumin, paprika, oregano, thyme and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the chili boils, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. If the chili gets too thick, cover with a lid while it continues to simmer.
- After the chili has simmered for about 30 minutes, stir in the chicken and the cream cheese. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 more minutes (or until the cream cheese melts smoothly into the chili and the chicken is warmed through). Add a squeeze of lime juice just before serving and garnish individual bowls with desired toppings.
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