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White Bean Chicken Chili

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Winning white bean chicken chili.

This white bean chicken chili recipe is so good it won a chili contest! Best of all? It’s easy to make. You’ll make this white chicken chili over and over. 

bowl of white bean chicken chili

Meet this prize-winning white bean chicken chili recipe

I have always loved chili. Who doesn’t? Chili’s the hearty meal in a bowl that makes a perfect meal year round, from weeknight dinners to football food.

This white chicken chili recipe came together in an attempt to differentiate myself from the other entrants at a family chili cook-off. Figuring that most people would do a red bean, tomato-based chili, I wanted something that was equally hearty, but with a different and fresh take.

With a little of this, a little of that, and just the right quantities of seasoning, I made a white bean chicken chili that not only tasted satisfying and hearty, but . . . won the contest! Now you can make this prize-winning chili, too.

poblano peppers onion and spices in pot for chili

Which white beans are best for chili?

The name of the game with this chicken chili recipe? Ease. So keep things no-stress and buy whatever plain, canned white beans you can find at the grocery store. That said, if you have options, I recommend these as the best white beans for chicken chili, in order:

  1. Navy beans (sometimes listed as small white beans),
  2. Great northern beans, and
  3. Cannellini beans.

pot of white bean chicken chili cooking in pot

How do you thicken white chicken chili?

This white chicken chili will naturally thicken. The beans’ starchiness, combined with the right amount of chicken broth (not too much), this chili will taste plenty thick with a creamy texture, especially the next day.

If you feel like this chili needs a little extra thickening, you can stir in up to a cup of cooked rice, add a tablespoon or two of cornmeal, or blend a small portion of the soup with a food processor or immersion blender, then simmer on the stove top until warmed through.

I do not recommend a cornstarch slurry with the chicken broth. While common as a thickener, I think that cornstarch gives chili a slightly off, and potentially chalky texture, especially after a day or two.

 white bean chicken chili recipe

White bean chicken chili: recipe steps and ingredients

If you like easy chili, this white bean chili recipe is the one for you. It is easy to make, with tons of flavor, plus simple substitutions for whatever you have available.


  • oil
  • poblano or green peppers
  • onion
  • garlic
  • a small can of diced green chiles
  • canned white beans
  • unsalted chicken stock or chicken broth
  • spices (coriander, chili, powder, cumin, oregano)
  • cooked chicken (I like skinless chicken breasts)
  • lime
  • toppings like cilantro, shredded jack or cheddar cheese, avocado, and tortilla chips

Recipe steps:

  1. Cook the peppers and onion in oil until softened.
  2. Add the garlic, diced green chiles, beans, chicken broth or stock, and spices.
  3. Simmer in a large pot for about 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Shred the chicken breast. Add the shredded chicken and fresh lime juice, taste for seasoning and flavor, and serve with the fixins.

Enjoy your white bean chicken chili on its own, or with toppings and perhaps a side of fresh cornbread.

white bean chicken chili in bowl

You’ll also enjoy these great, filling recipes:

white bean chicken chili recipe

White Bean Chicken Chili: Prize-Winning Recipe

This thick, hearty white bean chicken chili recipe is easy to make, tastes incredible, and is even better the next day. Here's the recipe that won me a family chili cook-off!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American, Mexican, southwest
Keywords:: beans, chicken, chicken chili, chili, dinner, easy, football, healthy, white bean soup
Servings: 6 to 8 people


  • 2 15-ounce cans Navy beans or similar, drained
  • 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil, such as avocado or canola
  • 2 medium poblano or green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chilis, mild or hot
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and to taste (I use Diamond Crystal; Morton's is much saltier, so you'd use less)
  • 1 quart (4 cups) unsalted chicken stock, such as Swanson
  • 1 rotisserie or 1 pound cooked chicken, meat pulled and cut into pieces
  • 1 fresh lime, juiced

Suggested Chicken Chili Toppings

  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Pickled jalapeños
  • Shredded Mexican blend cheese, jack cheese, or cheddar
  • Tortilla chips
  • Lime wedges


  • Roughly fork mash the white beans. You don't have to overdo it; at least half should remain whole.
  • Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic, beans, and can of green chilis. Add the spices, salt, and chicken stock. Stir. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.
  • Add the chicken and lime juice. Simmer until warmed through. Taste for seasoning. If the liquid doesn't seem like enough for all the chicken, add a little water until it's the right consistency. Serve hot with your toppings of choice.


Like all chili recipes, this white bean chicken chili tastes even better and thicker the next day. If you feel like the chili is too thick, add a little water. If it seems a little thin, add a little cooked rice or a tablespoon of corn flour. 


  • 4 stars
    This has become a staple in our home and we have made this multiple times. Thank you.

  • 5 stars
    this is so, so, so good! I love your website and can’t wait to cook more recipes.

  • 5 stars
    I wanted to leave a comment and say how much I loved this chili recipe. It was different from the “usual” chili, but was very hearty and flavorful. I brought it to a pot luck and it ALL WENT 🙂 Used canellini beans.

    • Unpeeled

      Awesome! I love a pot luck dinner so much. Thanks for the nice comment.

  • jkelleher67

    5 stars
    New go-to chili recipe!!!! This was better than I expected it to be. I am used to thick red chili with meat, but this was very filling and everyone loved it SO MUCH.

  • 5 stars
    Absolutely incredible. I’ve already made this twice. I added a couple of diced yukon gold potatoes and it thickened it a little; very good.

  • Ashley

    5 stars
    Made this last night with Rancho Gordo Alubia Blanca beans and it was so good!

    • Unpeeled

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the nice words. And Rancho Gordo beans are the BEST — good call 🙂

  • 5 stars
    Fantastic. Doubled recipe but kept it to one rotisserie chicken. Amazing. Didn’t have poblano chilis but it still was an incredible experience for the taste buds. Will be a constant addition to the family favourites! Thank you!

  • Thx for the recipe Lisa and I agree, it is delicious and easy to put together!
    Congratulations on your victory 🙂

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