Addicting Creamy White Chicken Chili
A hearty, filling bowl of white chicken chili. This chicken chili recipe has beans, three different kinds of green chilies, and is bursting with flavor. Easy enough for weeknight dinner!
White chicken chili like you’ve never had it before.
Loaded with tender shredded chicken, perfectly seasoned lightly creamy, light tangy base, white beans, and a punch of freshness from cilantro. And is a bowl of chili anything without some ripe sliced avocados and a handful of crispy tortilla chips? I think not.
To tell you the truth, this recipe isn’t like the white chicken chili’s you’ve had before. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about that.
This one comes loaded with three different types of green chilies and a creamy green sauce. And while I’ll be the first one to point out a couple of unusual ingredients in this stove-top chili recipe (not weird unusual, unusual in the sense that you may not have seen them used in a chicken chili before.) I’ll promise you this much: it’s warm, it’s filling, and it’s perfect for a cold night topped with avocados, fresh cilantro, or a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.
How to make white chicken chili:
What do you need to make the most amazing white chicken chili?
- Butter: We’ll saute all the aromatics in the butter.
- Onions: We’ll saute the onions in the butter as the base of this chili recipe.
- Green chilies: I’m using three different kinds here. You can use fresh serrano or jalapeño to saute with the onions. Then, we’ll add a couple of cans of diced green chilies and ½ cup of pepperoncini peppers. If you’re feeling skeptical about this, I can understand. But ever since I’ve made pepperoncini chicken, I have loved how well they pair with chicken. And trust me, I wouldn’t lead you wrong; these taste great in this chili recipe.
- Garlic: minced garlic helps flavor the soup further. I just use my handy garlic press to press the cloves before adding them to the chili.
- Spices: I’m using ground cumin, ground coriander, and dried oregano to flavor this chili. Feel free to add a dash of chili powder or cayenne pepper if you want a little more heat.
- Beans: You’ll need white beans, navy beans, great northern beans, or cannellini beans for this recipe. I used canned beans that I drained and gently rinsed before adding them to the chili. You could even use pinto if that’s typically what you have in the pantry!
- Chicken broth: Is the base of this white chicken chili recipe. I typically have quarts in the freezer that I defrost and use as needed. Store-bought low-sodium broth or bone broth also works well!
- Green sauce: This and the pepperoncini are the unusual white chicken chili ingredients. The green sauce is called ‘guacamole salsa,’ and I’ve found it at most grocery stores very easily in the same aisle as you find your favorite sauces and salsas. It is also available online here if you aren’t able to find it in stores.
- Protein: A leftover chicken that’s shredded up works great for this recipe. Both boneless, skinless chicken thighs and chicken breasts would work here. I typically poach the chicken and then shred it with two forks. You could also cook it in your crockpot/slow cooker or instant pot. Thighs would undoubtedly give this soup much more flavor. If you happen to come upon this recipe around Thanksgiving, this would be a great way to use up leftover turkey and make turkey chili!
- Heavy cream: Just a drizzle at the end to help make this chili creamy!
- Lime zest + juice: the zest really amps up the lime flavor in this chili. I usually add 2 tablespoons of lime juice to my chili. However, I’ve provided a range in case you usually like a bit more zing! You’ll also want to serve with lime wedges!
- Fresh cilantro: fresh cilantro is optional. It does add tons of earthy flavor to the chili when we fold it right at the end.
Instructions for the best white chicken chili of all time:
- Saute. Heat the butter in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Once the butter is melted, add the onions and Serranos (or jalapeños) and saute until soft and translucent over medium heat. Once you’ve done that, season with minced garlic and ground cumin, allow the cumin to bloom in the melted butter, and the garlic to lose that raw flavor.
- Let it simmer. Then, add the chicken stock, guacamole salsa, ground coriander, dried oregano, diced green chiles, pepperoncini peppers, and beans. Bring the chili to a boil. You can also add a cup of defrosted corn from the freezer if you’d like. Once bubbles appear on the surface, lower the heat so that it just simmers and let it hang out for 10 minutes. This will allow all the flavors to blend and become harmonious. If you usually prefer your chili or the thicker side, use your potato masher and mash some of the beans once they’ve softened so that the chili is thicker and heartier.
- Finish it off. Add the shredded chicken, lime zest, and lime juice. Once combined, allow the soup to reach a simmer, and continue simmering for 10 minutes. Then, taste the soup and make sure you’re happy with the zing. If you feel it needs more, add it in now. Once we add the heavy cream, it will mellow out the lime flavor a bit more. Add the cream and cilantro and stir to combine. Taste and adjust with salt as need. Serve with chopped avocados, sour cream, shredded cheese, and lots of tortilla chips on the side.
FAQs about homemade white chicken chili:
They are more commonly used in Italian and Greek food. Sometimes the jar is labeled as “golden Greek peppers.” They are pickled and mild in flavor. They’re often used on Italian antipasto plates, or you have had them in your salad at the Olive Garden.
I usually buy the jar labeled ‘mild’ for this soup so that it isn’t spicy at all. I find the Serranos that I add in the beginning to be the spiciest thing. So if you’re worried, I’d remove the seeds and ribs before sautéing them in the butter with the onions.
The short answer: I got kind of tired of the regular old white chicken chili. I wanted something that packed a more flavorful punch. So one day, when I was cleaning the refrigerator, I tossed in the last cup of guacamole salsa in the chicken chili I was making for dinner that night. And it came out so good that I decided to ask on Instagram if people wanted to see this version of WCC!
Though this recipe does work best with guacamole salsa, you can use a cup of salsa verde instead if you absolutely cannot find it. Keep in mind that the salsa verde ingredients are a little different, and the chili won’t taste exactly the same.
Other chicken recipes you might enjoy:
- 5-Ingredient Pepperoncini Chicken
- Winter Lemon Chicken Barley Soup
- Creamy Balsamic Caramelized Onion Chicken
- Herb-loaded Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- Perfect One Hour Whole Roasted Chicken
- Greek Chicken Meatballs in Lemon Cream Sauce
- Roasted Garlic White Chicken Lasagna Soup
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 serrano (or jalapeno) pepper, minced (+more to taste)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup guacamole salsa (see below)
- ½ teaspoon EACH: dried oregano AND ground coriander
- 2 (4-ounce) cans diced green chiles
- ½ cup sliced pepperoncini peppers, drained
- 2 (15-ounce) cans navy or cannelloni beans, drained + rinsed
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 ½ cups cooked and shredded chicken
- 2-4 tablespoons lime juice + zest of 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- SAUTE: Heat a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter and saute the onions + serrano together until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the minced garlic, cumin, and continue to cook for 30 seconds.
- SIMMER: Then add the chicken stock, guacamole salsa, oregano, coriander, diced green chilies, pepperoncini peppers, beans, and bring the chili to a boil, reduce and let simmer for 10 minutes. At this point, if you prefer a thicker chili, use a potato masher to mash some of the beans.
- FINISH: Add the chicken, and lime zest + 2 tbsp juice to the chili and allow the soup to simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust with additional lime juice if you prefer it zingy! It will mellow out a bit once you add the cream. Stir in the heavy cream and cilantro. Taste and adjust with salt as desired. Serve in bowls topped with sliced avocados, and sour cream alongside tortilla chips.
- If you can’t find guacamole salsa in your local grocery store, you can substitute it with salsa verde (or another type of creamy jarred salsa.)