This Creamy White Chicken Chili post is sponsored by Unilever. The opinions and text are all mine.
White Chicken Chili is the ultimate comfort food, on your table in just over 30 minutes!
This White Chicken Chili is creamy, comforting, hearty and deeply satisfying. It’s destined to become a new easy family favorite that everyone will beg you to make again and again. This white chicken chili recipe is made with juicy, shredded chicken, seasoned with Knorr® Granulated Chicken Bouillon, white beans and sweet corn in a lusciously creamy broth spiked with salsa verde then topped with refreshing sour cream, zesty cilantro, creamy avocados and salty, crunchy tortilla chips AKA the perfect spoonful. This quick and easy White Chicken Chili is ideal for weeknight dinners but also fabulous for crowds. It’s a make ahead friendly, pantry friendly meal-in-one that will be a repeat favorite for years to come.
We love chili around here in all its hearty, comforting deliciousness and have a chili recipe for every mood you’re in: from dump and run crockpot white chicken chili, easy turkey chili, hearty beef chili and sassy chipotle mango black bean chili, and of course this always satisfying white bean chicken chili. What mood will you be in this week?
White Chicken Chili Recipe Video
WHAT IS WHITE CHICKEN CHILI?
Before we dive into this recipe, what exactly is White Chicken Chili? White Chicken Chili is exactly what it sounds like. It is a chili made with white beans instead of kidney beans or black beans and chicken instead of beef. It often is made creamy by melting cream cheese in the chili or adding heavy cream although some White Chicken Chili recipes maintain a clear broth.
White bean chicken chili is heavy on green chilies (or in this recipe, salsa verde) and cumin to create a tangy, bright profile, instead of chili powder and paprika which create an earthy, rich flavor profile. Both chili variations are scrumptious, and both belong in your recipe binder.
WHITE CHICKEN chili RECIPE
Oh, warm and comforting Mexican soup recipes, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… chicken tortilla soup, chicken enchilada soup, chicken fajita and rice soup, caldo de pollo, albondigas soup, cheesy taco soup, pozole, verde chicken tortilla soup and now this creamy white chicken chili!
With all these tasty soup recipes, you might be wondering, do I need another soup recipe? The answer is a resounding YES! You need this White Chicken Chili recipe in your life. It is unlike any soup recipe I’ve posted before and one of my favorite soup recipes of all time. It combines a deeply complex flavor profile that’s absolutely mesmerizing with sensational creaminess that also happens to be lightened up (thanks to a few tricks) and on your table in 30 minutes!
Here’s why you’ll love this easy recipe:
- Delicious! This White Bean Chicken Chili is a tangy, zesty explosion of flavor thanks to Knorr® Granulated Chicken Bouillon, salsa verde, and seasonings that all meld together, seeping into the increasingly tender chicken and hearty white beans that will keep you come back for more and more…
- SO creamy: This recipe boasts an intoxicatingly rich and creamy broth that swaddles every spoonful but you don’t have to be laden with guilt when going back for seconds and thirds.
- Lightened up. This easy White Chicken Chili recipe is not “skinny” but it is lightened up by omitting the cream cheese (it’s so creamy, it doesn’t need it!) and swapping the heavy cream in favor of a roux + half and half and cornstarch, and my favorite light thickening ingredient – creamed corn.
- Quick and easy. No need to break out your blender like some recipes, just brown the chicken (or use shredded rotisserie chicken), sauté the onions with flour then dump in the rest of the ingredients to simmer. Done and done! You’ll love having this recipe in your back pocket for all those busy weeknights.
- One pot wonder. White Chicken Chili is a meal in one, with protein, veggies and carbs all made in one pot! You can skip the sides all together or serve it with a no-fuss green salad and fruit.
- Make ahead. This easy White Bean Chicken Chili recipe only tastes better the next day, so you can make it entirely ahead of time for stress free lunches or dinner throughout the week.
- Versatile. I’ve loaded this White Chicken Chili recipe with chicken, beans and corn, but it’s 100X flexible. Add rice, potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, spinach, etc. to make it your own because it’s all about the drool worthy broth.
Why this is the best white chicken chili recipe:
If you’ve been following me for long, you know I love flavor and my favorite way to add flavor to recipes, including this White Chicken Chili, is with Knorr® Granulated Chicken Bouillon. I use it in practically all of my recipes including soups, stews, sauces, pastas, casseroles, vegetables, etc. It is my secret ingredient that elevates every recipe to restaurant delicious made right in your own kitchen!
In fact, when I was contacted by Knorr®, I already had 32-ounce jars of Knorr® Granulated Chicken Bouillon, Knorr® Granulated Beef Bouillon and Knorr® Granulated Tomato with Chicken Bouillon which I purchased at Super King found in the international/Hispanic aisle. If a recipe is missing something, 9x out of 10, I add more bouillon. It’s fair to say I’m a fan, huge fan – and you will be too! If a recipe needs a little “oomph” add ½ teaspoon bouillon, taste, then add more until it’s fabulous.
Now, let’s have some fun! Check out my White Chicken Chili Instagram post for details about entering a chance to win a $250 Visa gift card! (This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Instagram. Open to United States residents only. Must be 18 years or older to enter.) Winner will be contacted by DM. Prizes must be claimed within 24 hours.
WHAT CHICKEN IS BEST FOR white chicken chili?
I highly recommend chicken thighs (boneless or bone-in) for the best White Chicken Chili recipe. I didn’t always use chicken thighs for my soup recipes, but once I started, there was NO going back. Chicken thighs are dark meat which means they are inherently juicier, richer tasting and produce far more tender chicken than chicken breasts. They are also harder to overcook and stay tender for days with a more palate pleasing texture, even when reheated for leftovers.
In addition, chicken thighs are browned first which adds an important layer of flavor to the overall soup, as all those golden, flavorful bits become part of the broth.
CAN I USE CHICKEN BREASTS?
Absolutely! You can still use chicken breasts in White Bean Chicken Chili, it’s just a matter of personal preference. Please note that because chicken breasts are leaner than chicken thighs, they will not be as juicy or as flavorful. If using chicken breasts, I suggest bone-in chicken breasts but boneless will also work.
CAN I USE ROTISSERIE CHICKEN?
Yes! Rotisserie chicken is my second choice to use in this white chicken chili recipe after chicken thighs. Rotisserie chicken comes lightly seasoned for an added depth of flavor and is a mix of both light and dark meat. It also comes perfectly tender and ready to slurp up. I always like to stock shredded rotisserie chicken portioned into 3 cup measurements in my freezer so they’re ready to add to any soup or casserole recipe.
I recommend shredding your rotisserie chicken as soon as you get home from the grocery store because the chicken is easier to shred while it’s still warm. It also allows you to see how much chicken you need for this recipe, and how much leftover you have for something else. And bonus, it saves a step at dinnertime and takes up less room in the fridge.
To use rotisserie chicken, shred the chicken, discarding the bones and add about 3 cups shredded chicken to the soup when the recipe calls for adding the shredded chicken back to the soup.
CAN I USE LEFTOVER CHICKEN?
Yes, just make sure your chicken isn’t overly seasoned or you may need to reduce the seasonings in the recipe. Add about 3 cups shredded or chopped leftover chicken to the soup when the recipe calls for adding the shredded chicken back to the soup.
creamy white chicken chili RECIPE INGREDIENTS & Substitutions
The majority of ingredients in this White Chicken Chili recipe are either pantry staple cans or spices you dump into the soup so you can make this meal-in-one any night of the week! In addition to chicken, you will need:
- Chicken broth: use low sodium broth so we can control the salt. The canned beans are fairly high in sodium, so using a low-sodium broth helps prevent the chili from being overly salty and it allows to amp up the flavor with chicken bouillon.
- Chicken bouillon: please do not skip! Knorr® Granulated Chicken Bouillon is a secret ingredient that adds tons of flavor. It is essentially dehydrated vegetables, chicken stock, a small portion of fat, salt, and seasonings AKA it is salt with flavor!
- Salsa verde: I use salsa verde instead of green chilies because it boasts TONS of flavor. It is mildly tart, citrusy, bright, and tangy. It is typically made of roasted tomatillos, serrano or jalapeno peppers, onion, garlic, lime juice and cilantro all blended together for you. You can use my spectacular homemade salsa verde recipe or salsa verde can be found in jars next to the other salsas at your grocery store. Make sure you use MILD salsa verde so there is wiggle room with the spice level.
- White beans: you can use either cannellini beans (white kidney beans) or Great Northern Beans. Cannellini bean are a little larger but they are both creamy, tender, and nutty
- Corn: I use canned corn but you may also use frozen corn but add it towards the end of cooking, just so it has time to warm through, otherwise it can breakdown. If you happen to be making this recipe when fresh corn is in season, then you can use corn from 2 ears of corn.
- Cream-style corn: makes the soup extra creamy with the added bonus of subtle sweet cream flavor to balance the salsa verde.
- Onion: half a large yellow onion or you may substitute the onion with 1 teaspoon onion powder for an easy, no chopping soup. The salsa verde already has some onion in it, but we want more 😉, same with the garlic.
- Garlic cloves: you can substitute the garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Jalapeno: remove the seeds and the veins of the jalapeno because they are super spicy. You’ll only want to add a jalapeno if you want a spicy soup because the salsa verde already has a kick.
- Half and half: I often don’t keep half and half on hand, but I do keep heavy cream on hand. If you’re like me, you can substitute the half and half with half cream and half milk. For a lighter alternative, you may substitute the half and half with evaporated milk mixed with 1 additional tablespoon cornstarch.
- Flour: helps thicken the soup by creating a roux. You may substitute with gluten free all-purpose flour.
- Seasonings: ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, dried oregano and salt round out the flavor profile.
IS THIS white chicken CHILI SPICY?
This White Bean Chicken Chili is “medium” spicy if you add the jalapeno. To make the chili less spicy, omit the jalapeno or if you’re not sure, omit the jalapeno. You can always add cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste if you would like more heat. Also take care you use mild salsa verde even if you want a spicy soup. There is a lot of salsa verde in the recipe so if you use medium salsa verde, your chili will be hot!
HOW DO I SPICE UP MY SOUP?
Hot sauce is my preferred method to spice up this white chicken chili because everyone can personalize their own spice level. If you know everyone likes a spicier soup, then you can also add cayenne pepper directly to the soup – but taste first!
CAN I MAKE THE SOUP GLUTEN FREE?
Yes! If you want to make gluten free White Chicken Chili, use gluten-free flour – the rest of the ingredients should be gluten free.
CAN I MAKE THE SOUP VEGETARIAN?
To make vegetarian White Chicken Chili, omit the chicken and add extra beans in its place.
CAN I ADD OTHER VEGETABLES TO CORN CHOWDER?
Absolutely! I’ve stuck with the basics, but you can add chayote, bell peppers, spinach etc. I’ve included all sorts of variations below.
HOW TO MAKE the best white CHICKEN chili recipe
This White Chicken Chili is wonderfully easy to make! Here’s how:
Step 1: Sear chicken
- Pat chicken dry with paper towels; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drying the chicken allows the seasonings to stick.
- Sear chicken in a large Dutch oven/soup pot until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate but leave drippings.
- Searing the chicken results in the Maillard reaction, in which amino acids and reducing sugars produce browning, and as we know, color= flavor! The delicious brown bits left in the bottom of the pan will season the entire White Chicken Chili as they permeate the broth.
Step 2: Sauté aromatics
- Sauté the onions and jalapenos for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
- Sprinkle in flour and cook an additional 1 minute while stirring (it will be thick).
- The flour creates a roux which thickens the soup and then we’ll add half and half later to make the soup thick and creamy.
Step 3: Add soup ingredients
- Add chicken back to the pot followed by white beans, creamed corn, corn, salsa verde, chicken bouillon and all seasonings. Whisk cornstarch with 1 cup of chicken broth and stir in. Add remaining chicken broth.
- The cornstarch will further thicken the soup without having to add more flour which would mean adding more butter.
Step 4: Simmer soup
- Next, we simmer the White Bean Chicken Chili for 12-15 minutes in order to develop and meld the flavors and for the chicken to cook until juicy and tender in the bubbly broth.
- The technique of cooking chicken covered and gently simmered until cooked through is known as poaching. I LOVE this fool proof method for cooking chicken as the moist heat gently cooks the chicken and prevents it from overcooking too quickly so you get succulent, tender chicken every time – as long as you don’t overcook your chicken which is pretty hard to do. That being said, I recommend checking your chicken right at 12 minutes or even earlier if you have extra thin chicken thighs. You will know they are ready when they easily shred with a fork.
Step 5: Make it Creamy!
- At this point the chili will be very thick. Now it’s our chance to make it thick and creamy by adding half and half.
Step 6: Adjust to taste
- As with every recipe, it is important to adjust to taste. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and/or lime juice to taste. Serve with sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, chopped avocados and cilantro.
HOW DO YOU THICKEN white bean chicken chili?
This White Chicken Chili recipe should already be luxuriously thick and creamy due to the flour, half and half and cornstarch, but if you would still like a thicker soup, you can use any of these methods:
- Cream cheese: soften 4 oz. cubed cream cheese and stir it into the chili over low heat until fully melted.
- Cheese: stir in freshly shredded Monterrey Jack cheese until melted.
- Cornstarch: remove about 1/4 cup chili and whisk in 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch with a fork until smooth then whisk it back into the soup. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Repeat if needed.
- Flour: remove about 1/2 cup chili and whisk in 2-4 tablespoons flour with a fork until smooth then whisk it back into the soup. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Repeat if needed.
- Creamed corn: add an additional can of creamed corn.
- Puree beans: add cannellini beans to a blender along with some of the soup. Puree until smooth to create a paste. Stir back into the soup and warm through.
WHAT TOPPINGS FOR EASY white chicken Chili?
The toppings for White Bean Chicken Chili are half the fun of the soup and an important role in the flavor and texture. You can create a toppings bar and let everyone pile on their favorites of:
- Sour cream: a must in my book! It adds a wonderful creaminess but most importantly, cuts through the richness and tanginess of the soup. You can also use fat free sour cream or Greek yogurt.
- Cheese: Monterrey Jack, sharp cheddar or Pepper Jack for added heat. Use freshly grated cheese for superior taste and melting ability.
- Crushed tortilla chips: you can’t beat the CRUNCH of salty, chips or strips!
- Cilantro: chopped cilantro adds a fresh, zesty flair.
- Lime juice: the salsa verde is pretty tangy so you probably won’t need it, but you can always add more for a zippier soup.
- Avocado: chopped or sliced avocados add a wonderful creaminess.
- Hot Sauce: pass around the hot sauce so individuals can customize the heat.
- Sliced jalapenos: also a fabulous topping for those who want more heat.
TIPS FOR BEST white chicken chili recipe
- Prep Ahead. You can trim your chicken, chop your onions, jalapenos and garlic and prep all your topping ahead of time.
- Use chicken thighs. This White Chicken Chili recipe will work with chicken breasts or chicken thighs, but for best flavor use chicken thighs or shredded rotisserie chicken.
- Rotisserie chicken. Stock shredded chicken or rotisserie chicken portioned into 3 cup freezer bags so you always have chicken ready to add to any soup, casserole or pasta.
- Stir often. The soup can stick to the bottom and burn while it’s simmering because it’s quite thick, so you’ll want to stir often so the bottom doesn’t burn.
- Make it less thick. I love my soup thick and creamy BUT the consistency is totally up to you! For a thinner soup, simply add additional chicken broth.
- Season to taste. Spice it up with hot sauce or cayenne pepper, add lime juice for more tanginess, add Knorr® Granulated Chicken Bouillon to enhance the flavors.
WHAT CAN I PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME?
The prep work for this creamy White Chicken Chili can be done ahead of time so that it’s just a quick sauté and simmer to dinner. To save time:
- Trim chicken. Trim off excess fat from chicken then store chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Pep aromatics. Dice onions and jalapenos and mince garlic then store in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Measure Spices. It doesn’t take long to measure out the spices, but you can certainly do it beforehand and store the mix in an airtight bag or container.
- Prep Toppings. Chop cilantro, jalapenos etc. and/or make tortilla strips.
HOW LONG DOES creamy white chicken chili LAST?
White Bean Chicken Chili tastes even better the next day! It will last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
HOW DO I REHEAT CREAMY white chicken chili?
You can reheat creamy White Chicken Chili on the stove, in the microwave or crockpot:
- Stove: reheat large batches on the stove over medium low heat, stirring occasionally – about 10 minutes.
- Microwave: transfer individual servings to a microwave-safe dish and cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir, then continue to microwave at 30-second intervals, if needed.
- Crockpot: transfer soup to a crockpot and heat on low for 1-2 hours. The time will depend on how much soup you have remaining.
white CHICKEN chili recipe VARIATIONS
This White Chicken Chili recipe is fabulous as written, but feel free to make it your own with different veggies, adding rice, etc.
- Add rice. Add 1 cup of long grain white rice after the chicken has been cooking for 5 minutes and simmer for 8-12 minutes. You will need to add additional chicken broth to accommodate the rice.
- Use rotisserie chicken. To make this recipe even easier, skip searing the chicken thighs and sub in shredded rotisserie chicken instead.
- Swap protein. Substitute the chicken with ground beef or ground turkey and brown with the onions.
- Make it vegetarian. Omit the chicken and add an extra can of beans.
- Add vegetables. Add any of your favorite veggies such as bell peppers, zucchini, chayote, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, etc.
- Add cream cheese. Omit the cornstarch and add 4 oz. softened cream cheese to the chili at the end of cooking.
- Add sour cream. Stir sour cream directly into the chili instead of individual servings.
- Make non-creamy chili. Omit the flour and cornstarch and replace the half and half with chicken broth.
- Make it cheesy. Stir Monterrey Jack cheese directly into the soup.
- Make it spicy. Stir in hot sauce or cayenne pepper to amp up the heat.
- Swap in canned mild diced green chilies. Substitute the salsa verde for 2 cans of mild diced green chilies and add 2 cups chicken broth. The chili won’t be quite the same because salsa verde is tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, jalapenos, etc. all in one, but if diced green chilies are all you have on hand, it will still be tasty.
- Beans. You can try pinto beans, garbanzo, beans, etc.
Can I make Crockpot white chicken chili?
If you would like to make crockpot White Chicken Chili, the recipe will need to be adapted to eliminate the roux. I suggest using my fabulous crockpot White Chicken Chili recipe. Otherwise you can modify this recipe to make it work in the crockpot, specifically by making a blender thickener with cream cheese and beans:
- Omit the flour from the recipe and replace the half and half with evaporated milk.
- Lightly spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add chicken in an even layer followed by all remaining ingredients. Give the top ingredients a stir to combine. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours or until chicken is tender enough to shred.
- Remove chicken to a cutting board, shred chicken and return it to the slow cooker.
- Blend 1 can of beans (this is a 3rd can in addition to the beans already in the recipe) along with 4 oz. softened cream cheese and ½ cup broth from the soup (try to just scoop out broth). Cook on HIGH for 30 minutes.
CAN I FREEZE white chicken chili?
As a general rule of thumb, creamy soups do not freeze well as the texture can become unpleasantly grainy as the dairy and fat separate. You can still freeze White Bean Chicken Chili with these expectations, or omit the half and half when freezing, then add the half and half to the soup after thawing – then you will have no problem. Alternatively, you can swap the half and half for evaporated milk (see tips below).
HOW TO FREEZE creamy white chicken chili:
- Omit dairy. Prepare chili according to directions but omit the half and half. The soup will be very thick which is okay. It will thin into luxuriously creamy when you add the half and half after thawing.
- Cool. Cool White Bean Chicken Chili completely before freezing.
- Package. Put soup in a freezer safe container. If using a freezer bag, make sure to squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn.
- Freeze. Label and freeze for up to 3 months. Once the bag is solid you can lay it flat in a single layer so it’s stackable to save space.
- Thaw/Reheat. The easiest way to thaw your soup is in your refrigerator overnight then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
- Add dairy. Once the soup is warm, stir in half and half and warm through.
TIPS FOR FREEZING creamy soups:
- Omit the half and half if you plan to freeze the soup, then it will successfully freeze and thaw without becoming grainy. Once thawed, add the half and half and simmer until thickened.
- Regular (not low fat) evaporated milk, or heavy cream freeze much better than half and half – the higher the fat content, the better it freezes. If you think you might freeze this White Chicken Chili, then plan on using either of these alternatives.
- If freezing with half and half, reheat the thawed soup very gently over low heat to help incorporate the cream back into the soup.
- If freezing with half and half, add some fresh cream or softened cream cheese to improve the grainy texture.
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