This flavorful white chicken chili recipe is a creamy, hearty, and cozy family dinner that's ready in just 35 minutes! Add some fresh toppings, and you've got an irresistible chili that will be on repeat for busy weeknights.
Want to make it in the Instant Pot? Try this Instant Pot White Chicken Chili.
Why you'll love it
In a surprise to no one, this one pot chili is my all-time favorite since it's easy and quick, so creamy, and has chicken, all things right out of the S&L playbook. It's a wonderful alternative to a tomato-based one like this beef chili when you're craving something a little richer and even more comforting.
This white chicken chili is not what I'd describe as spicy, but it does have a personality to it with its warm and fragrant spice mix. I have a feeling that the kids will enjoy it too. With the luxurious creamy broth, this eats more like a soup, and it's honestly hard not to lick the bowl!
What you'll need
- Onion and garlic - our aromatic base. I usually choose Vidalia onions, but yellow is great too. I mince the garlic with this garlic press.
- Olive oil - for sautéing
- Chicken - we're using chicken breasts for this recipe. Thighs would also work. I've even seen it with ground chicken or turkey.
- Broth - chicken broth enhances the savory flavor
- Green chilies - these come chopped in small cans in the Mexican or international aisle of the grocery store. I picked mild for this recipe.
- Dried oregano, ground cumin, and chili powder - my signature seasoning mix. Keep in mind that most varieties of standard chili powder aren't actually spicy.
- White beans - I picked your standard cannellini beans, but I've also seen great northern beans used or even navy beans
- Cream cheese - what makes it so rich! I always go for Philly brand.
Can I use cooked chicken instead?
- Sure! It'll make it even faster. You can use rotisserie or shredded chicken instead, but make sure to reduce the cooking time by at least 5 minutes so that the chicken doesn't overcook and dry out.
How to make white chicken chili
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Sauté the onion until lightly browned in a large pot or Dutch oven, and then add in the chicken pieces and cook for a few minutes.
Stir in the garlic, followed by the chicken broth, chopped green chilis, oregano, cumin, chili powder, and white beans.
Simmer for 10 minutes, then stir in the cream cheese and continue to cook for another few minutes until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper, add your toppings, and enjoy.
Substitutions and variations
- If you do want to kick up the heat a notch, I recommend using spicy green chilies and/or adding some cayenne pepper or chopped jalapeno peppers.
- While the tang of cream cheese is really nice, you could use heavy cream instead. I'd start with 1/2 cup and add some lime juice to compensate for the tanginess. Sour cream would also work.
- A handful of spinach thrown in at the end is a fantastic way to get more greens.
- This chili makes four pretty generous portions (six if you really top 'em and eat smaller portions), so I suggest doubling the recipe if you have more hungry mouths to feed.
Our favorite chili toppings
- We highly recommend squeezing in fresh lime juice and serving each bowl with lime wedges for a little acidity to contrast the creaminess!
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt adds a little extra tang.
- Chopped avocado or guac would be great.
- Tortilla strips or tortilla chips add an extra crunch.
- Fresh chopped cilantro, scallions, and sliced jalapenos amp up the flavor!
- Try some shredded cheese like a Tex-Mex blend or Monterey Jack.
Leftovers and storage
- This white chicken chili recipe makes excellent leftovers! They will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge.
- Reheat in a small saucepan over a low heat, or microwave until warmed through.
- You could freeze leftovers. The texture may change because of the dairy factor, but it'll still taste great.
Will you give this comfort food favorite a try? Any questions? Let me know in the comments below!
Creamy White Chicken Chili
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large chicken breasts cut into small bite-size pieces
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 (4 fluid ounce) cans mild green chilies with juices
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 (14 fluid ounce) cans white beans drained
- 4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 block of Philly) softened
- Salt & pepper to taste
Toppings (optional, to taste):
- Lime juice, avocado, cilantro, Tex-Mex cheese, tortilla strips, etc.
- Sauté the onion in a large pot for 5-7 minutes over medium-high heat (I like to let it brown a little for extra flavor).
- Add the chicken pieces and cook for a few minutes until they're no longer pink on the outside.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the remaining ingredients except for the cream cheese. Increase the heat and bring the chili to a boil. Reduce the heat so it's simmering, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Cut the cream cheese into cubes, then microwave it for 30 seconds to help soften it up. Stir it in, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so until the cream cheese has nicely incorporated into the sauce and it's warmed through.
- Season chili with salt & pepper as needed. Serve it up and and top as desired.
- I used about 1 pound of chicken breasts in this recipe. You can use cooked chicken in this recipe if you have some, but I would reduce cooking time so as not to overcook the chicken.
- I like the tanginess the cream cheese gives this recipe, but you could also use heavy cream if you wish (I'd start with 1/2 cup). I'd add some lime juice to compensate for the tanginess if you do this. Sour cream would also work if you don't have cream cheese.
- Serves 4-6.
- Want to make this recipe in your electric pressure cooker? Try my Instant Pot white chicken chili recipe.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
This recipe was originally published on February 11, 2019. It's been tweaked to be even easier, tastier, and has new photos!