When you need a cozy bowl of comfort food, this creamy white chicken chili always hits the spot! Loaded with tender shredded chicken, hearty white beans, green chiles and a medley of spices, this white chili features the creamiest, most decadent broth with just the right kick of heat. Perfect for game day or a casual gathering with your favorite people.
Why You Need to Make This Recipe
Serving a crowd but want to keep your hosting duties low key and simple? You can't go wrong with this chicken chili recipe.
With just one batch, you can easily whip up enough chili to serve about 10-12 people, and the cooking process requires no fancy skills or techniques. This is truly one easy white chicken chili recipe that makes entertaining a breeze.
And most importantly, everyone will fall in love with this recipe after just one taste. Thanks to the heavy cream and cream cheese, the broth is unbelievably silky and rich. A combination of fresh jalapeno and green chiles gives it just the right touch of spice while a touch of lime juice and cilantro livens up the dish. Put it all together and you're in for one delicious bowl of comfort food.
Let’s make sure we have all our white chicken chili ingredients on hand before cooking.
- Chicken thighs: For a richer flavor and more tender bite, I recommend dark meat over white meat.
- Roux: This is a mixture of flour and butter to give the broth some body.
- Chicken stock: While this is a creamy soup, chicken stock is the main base.
- Vegetables: This includes onion, jalapeno, green chiles and corn.
- Spices and seasonings: We use a blend of garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper.
- Cannellini beans: These white beans add a creamy, hearty bite.
- Heavy cream and cream cheese: For that signature decadent touch.
- Lime juice and cilantro: These add a brightness to counter that rich broth and bold spices.
- Desired toppings: Because it’s not chili without toppings. I love shredded cheese, fresh jalapenos, diced red onion, avocado slices, and additional lime and cilantro, but feel free to get creative.
Let's get cooking. To start, we brown our chicken thighs in oil to give them a nice texture and better flavor. About four minutes on both sides should do the trick.
Once browned, we move the chicken out of our stockpot and make our roux. We do this by melting butter, whisking in flour until smooth and then cooking for about three to four minutes. This ensures we don't have any leftover flour flavor.
Now we stir in chopped onion, jalapeno and green chiles and let the mixture cook for about five minutes to soften. At the very end, we add some garlic. I recommend taking care of this step last to keep the garlic from burning.
From here, we slowly whisk in our chicken stock to smooth out the roux. Once it's nice and smooth, we add our chicken back to the pot along with our spices and bring to a boil. Now we reduce to a simmer, put the lid on and let the soup work its magic until the chicken cooks through, about 45 minutes to an hour.
After our chicken cooks, we add the white beans and corn to the stockpot and remove the chicken. As the beans and corn begin to heat up, we shred our chicken and add it back to the pot with our heavy cream and cream cheese.
We allow the cream cheese to melt, turn off the heat and stir in our cilantro and lime juice. And now we dig in!
How to Thicken
Want an even thicker chili? White chili typically isn’t as thick as Texas chili, but if you’d like a thicker broth, you have a couple options.
One option is to stir a couple tablespoons of cornstarch with cold water in a small bowl until it makes a slurry. Pour that into the chili and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes or until it thickens to your liking.
Another route is to grab another can of beans and mash them. You then add the mashed beans to the broth and stir to mix. The cornstarch gives a silkier thickening action while the added beans add a heartiness. I actually love the broth as is without thickening, but just know these options are here to suit your taste.
Slow Cooker Instructions
Prefer to cook this creamy chili in the slow cooker? No problem.
For this method, we make everything on the stove-top as directed, but once we’re ready to add the chicken stock, we pour everything into the slow cooker and cook on low for six to eight hours. Like the stove-top method, we remove the chicken to shred and then add it back to the slow cooker with the beans, corn, heavy cream and cream cheese and cook on high until the cream cheese melts. Right before serving, we stir in the cilantro and lime juice, and the chili is ready to go.
Can You Make Ahead of Time?
Because of the cream base, I prefer to serve this white chili fresh, but you can prepare it ahead of time if need be. Just keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
When you take it out, you might get a little separation because of the cream, but that’s nothing we can’t fix. We gently reheat the chili on the stove and give it a good stir. It’s also helpful to add a little extra cream if it does separate. This also applies to freezing the chili. Keep in mind, even if it does separate, it will still be delicious.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- Simmering bone-in chicken adds a rich depth of flavor that you don’t get with boneless chicken, but you can substitute it in a pinch.
- To get proper browning, don't crowd the pan with too many chicken thighs. We'll likely need to brown the chicken in two batches.
- If you're sensitive to heat, make sure you use mild green chiles and remove the seeds from the jalapeno before chopping.
- When you remove the chicken from the pot to shred, it will be hot. You may want to give it a couple minutes to cool and then use two forks to shred.
- Make sure you don’t add the beans and corn until the end. If they go in early, they will turn mushy, and no one wants that.
- After adding the cream cheese, you may need to turn up the heat to help it melt.
Beer and chili are a natural match, but I especially love an American pale ale with this recipe. With an American pale ale, we get some nice toasted malt with caramel notes that accentuate our browned chicken, and the citrusy hops add a welcomed brightness while bringing out the spice.
For a wine, I like an off-dry riesling with this white bean-chicken chili. This wine comes with an acidic kick, which helps cut through that creamy broth, and the touch of sweetness nicely counters our spicy jalapeno, green chiles and spices.
For one cozy, comforting meal, I hope you make this creamy white chicken chili recipe.
Looking for More Chili Recipes?
- The best short rib chili
- Authentic Texas chili from a Texan's kitchen
- Colorado-style pork green chile
- Pumpkin and chorizo chili
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Creamy White Chicken Chili
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 5 pounds bone-in chicken thighs skin removed
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 (4-ounce) cans mild green chiles
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 1 jalapeno chopped (see note)
- 4 garlic cloves minced or grated
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained
- 2 cups frozen corn kernels
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened and cubed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ lime juiced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Desired toppings optional
- Heat canola oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cook half the chicken on both sides until browned, about four minutes per side. Remove from stockpot. Repeat with remaining chicken.
- Turn down heat to medium. Melt butter. Whisk in flour until smooth. Continue cooking for about three to four minutes, whisking nearly constantly.
- Stir in the green chiles, onion and jalapeno. Cook until softened, about five minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Slowly whisk in the chicken stock until the mixture smooths out. Add the chicken back to the stockpot along with the cumin, salt, chili powder, Mexican oregano, coriander, smoked paprika, white pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add the beans and corn and continue to simmer, this time uncovered. Meanwhile, remove the chicken. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken. Discard the bones and add the shredded chicken back to the stockpot along with the cream cheese and heavy cream. Stir until the cream cheese melts. You may need to increase the heat to help the cream cheese melt.
- Turn off heat. Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Spoon into bowls and add desired toppings. Enjoy!
- If you're sensitive to heat, seed the jalapeno before chopping. However, if you prefer some heat, include the seeds with the chopped jalapeno.
- For full tips, please see blog post.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.