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Bowl of White Chicken Chili

Southwestern White Chicken Chili That Will Warm Your Soul

This sensational Southwestern White Bean Chicken Chili is a bowl of homey comfort! With a tantalizing hint of spiciness and a velvety smoothness, this chili will embrace you like a bear hug from a beloved aunt!

Overhead shot of chili with chicken and toppings

It’s getting to that time of the year again! Soon, we’re all going to burrow in our homes, turn up the heat, and get cozy. You might as well do it with a wonderfully satisfying bowl of White Chicken Chili! Generally, I think of chili as a winter or fall dish; with its kidney beans, beef, spiciness, and overall heartiness like no other. This white chicken chili is most suitable for the fall and winter months, but being a little less “dense” than its beefy cousin makes it a wonderful cuisine year-round!

Let me start this off on a controversial note… My stance is that beans belong in chili unless it’s specified as “Texas Chili.” I know, a few of you may have closed this window after reading that last statement, but hear me out. Chili is all about the heartiness. I’ve yet to meet someone who eats chili solely to taste the different types of chilis added. Some argue that beans overpower the flavors of chilis and other aromatics, but in general, I don’t find this to be the case. A nice flavorful bean isn’t an unscrupulous filler; it’s a complementary ingredient.

The First Rule of Chili Club

You can use any meat you prefer. I believe this is one of the most crucial aspects of making chili. Often, people associate chili with a combination of chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and ground beef. However, that’s not always the case, as demonstrated by this white chicken chili! Just recently, I had the pleasure of trying an outstanding chili made by my neighbor, who used venison and incorporated Italian flavors. It was truly exceptional.

Close up of white bean chicken chili

The Second Rule of Chili Club

You must use a minimum of two different types of chilis, and I wholeheartedly agree with this rule. Each variety of chili pepper offers unique levels of spice, sweetness, bitterness, and flavors. Some peppers even have fruity notes, while others provide a fresh and crisp taste. By combining different types of peppers in your chili, you can achieve a wonderfully complex flavor profile.

In this Southwestern White Chicken Chili, I incorporate fresh Poblano Peppers, fresh Anaheim Peppers, canned Hatch Chilis, and canned Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. Each chili contributes to a beautiful mosaic of flavors and colors. However, it’s important to be cautious with the amount of Chipotle peppers used. The smokiness and spice can easily overpower the chili’s flavor. I found that one approximately 3oz can was perfect for achieving the right balance.

The Third Rule of Chili Club

Curb Appeal… When it comes to neighborhood chili cook-offs, there are always a few chilis you instinctively avoid. You want your crockpot or Instant Pot to steal the show! And no, I’m not just talking about keeping the container clean (although hygiene is important too). I’m talking about making your chili visually appealing!

While cooking this chili, I’ll admit that the colors aren’t initially all that impressive. There’s a hint of red from the chipotle and a touch of green here and there, but it can be a little monotone. That’s why I’ve discovered a finishing touch that works wonders. I add about a half cup of diced Poblano and a half cup of chopped cilantro. These vibrant green ingredients create a burst of pizzazz that offsets the abundance of beige. Not only do they add visual appeal, but the fresh herbiness and crispness of the poblano enhance both flavor and texture.

With this little trick, your chili will turn heads at any gathering. It’s all about creating that enticing curb appeal for your dish!

The Creaminess of this White Chicken Chili

Do you want to know the secret ingredient? It’s none other than a block of cream cheese! Unlike adding straight cream or milk, the beauty of using cream cheese is that it won’t curdle. But that’s not all – the slightly salty and tangy nature of the cream cheese adds an incredible flavor boost to the chili. It’s a delightful surprise that takes this Southwestern White Bean Chicken Chili to a whole new level of creaminess and taste!

Full Chili Spread

Accoutrements of White Chicken Chili

Honestly, this is my favorite part of eating chili… Decorating my bowl full of deliciousness is the ultimate game. And like any chili, you can essentially load it up with near everything… Let go through the list:

Cheese- Additional cheese is always key… What type of cheese should you use for chili?

I recommend any of the following shredded cheeses: Colby Jack, Sharp Cheddar, Chihuahua, or Mozzarella. My favorite is the Chihuahua, it has a low melting point, it’s almost creamy, and it is slightly salty.

Carbs- Yes, you’re eating a bowl full of beans, but some additional carbs hit the spot!

I highly recommend my gluten free cornbread, which will be following up this recipe. Secondarily, some corn tortilla chips. Remember, these don’t have to be mutually exclusive! I like using my tortilla chip as an eating utensil and cleansing my palate with a bit of sweet goodness from the cornbread!

Greens- You need a little chlorophyll in your life! So enhance your chili with it!

My toppings are pretty straight forward when it comes to chili. Cilantro, green onions, and more fresh poblano peppers! Having a bit of freshness with every bite helps cut down on the richness and gives each flavor a subtly different bite depending upon your mix.

The Hot Sauce- This is totally optional, but some people are never satisfied unless they’re mouth is on fire.

If you’re going for a hot sauce, I would stick with something green and not too acid forward. For example, a great one with a bit of extra heat is El Yucateco Green Habanero Hot Sauce. This hot sauce can generally be found in your local grocery stores along side your Tabasco, Louisiana, Texas Pete’s, etc… But really, there is already a slight hint of heat in this White Bean Chicken Chili, so take a bite before loading on the sauce!

And that’s all she wrote!

Dutch oven with White Chicken Chili

Tips and Tricks to this White Bean Chicken Chili

  • Make it in advance! This Southwestern White Bean Chicken Chili can easily be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Keep in mind that you may notice some loss of liquid due to bean absorption and evaporation. When reheating, I recommend adding a cup of extra chicken broth to maintain the desired consistency. Adjust accordingly by adding more if needed.
  • If you don’t have a Dutch Oven to cook it in, I highly recommend getting the Amazon Basics Cast Iron Enamel Dutch Oven. It’s does just as good of a job as a Le Creuset, but at 1/6th the price! I purchased the Amazon Basic Dutch Oven four years ago and it’s going strong!
  • Yes, this recipe is also Instant Pot friendly. If you’re using an Instant Pot, start by sautéing the chicken to get a little browning. Add the onions as the chicken starts to brown, deglaze it with your white wine vinegar, then add in the rest of the ingredients and pressure cook for approximately 29 minutes. Also, reduce your broth so its about 1 inch above the rest of the ingredients. You can always add more once its finished. Once the timer is up, add the cream cheese, additional cilantro, and diced poblanos (to make it look pretty).
  • Mash some beans… If your broth is looking a little thin, using a wooden spatula, mash some of the beans against the side, scrape them into the rest of your chili, and cook for a few more minutes. The starch from the bean will act as a natural thickening agent.

If You Like This Recipe, Check Out:

Southwestern White Bean Chicken Chili for the Soul

4.7 from 3 votes
Course: DinnerCuisine: Southern, American, Southwestern


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  • White Bean Chicken Chili
  • 2 lb White Navy Beans (Rinsed and Soaked overnight)

  • 2 Cups Vidalia Onion- Diced

  • 3 Cups Corn (I prefer fresh cut)

  • 1/3 Cup Avocado Oil (or Canola Oil)

  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Garlic- Chopped

  • 4 Bay Leaves

  • 5 lbs Chicken Breast

  • 1/4 Cup White Wine Vinegar

  • 1 Cup Diced Chilies

  • 2 Cups Anaheim Chilies- Chopped

  • 3.5 oz Can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

  • 1 Qt. Chicken Broth

  • 2 Cups Water

  • 2 Tbsp Ground Coriander

  • 1-1/2 tsp Fine Black Pepper

  • 2 tsp Ancho Chili Powder

  • 4 tsp Sea Salt (more to taste/I didn’t use Himalayan Pink Salt here, if you are boost it to 5 tsp and taste)

  • 1 Cup Fresh Cilantro- Rinsed and Chopped Stems On (Divided 1/2 Cup)

  • 1/2 Cup Poblano Pepper- Diced

  • 8 oz Cream Cheese

  • 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar

  • Accompaniments
  • Diced Green Onion

  • Cilantro

  • Poblano

  • Hot Sauce

  • Sour Cream

  • Corn Tortilla Chips

  • Shredded Cheese


  • White Bean Chicken Chili
  • On medium heat in a large stock pot or a Dutch Oven, add your Avocado Oil, Onion, and Chicken Breast. Cook for approximately 7-8 minutes until the chicken starts to slightly brown.
  • Turn the heat to high for a second and add the Garlic and White Wine Vinegar. Deglaze the pan by scraping around it with a wooden spoon.
  • Add your Beans, Corn, Chilis, Coriander, Pepper, Salt, Bay Leaves, Chili Powder, and ½ of the Cilantro.
  • Bring your pot to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once at a boil, reduce to a low simmer and cover. Cook for approximately 2.5 hours or until the beans are tender.
  • Once the beans are cooked, you can mash some of them to help thicken your broth. Add the Cream Cheese, Diced Poblano, and second ½ of the Cilantro. Cook for an additional minute then remove from the heat.
  • Serve it with accompaniments such as cilantro, poblanos, green onion, tortilla chips, hot sauce, and cornbread!
  • Oh yeah… Enjoy!

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