White Chicken Chili

I hope everyone’s Christmas preparations are going well. I’ve started decorating a little but still have a long way to go. The tree is up and the lights are on. And, uh…that’s it so far. I’ve also started shopping a little but still have a long way to go with that, too. The menu planning? Well, I haven’t even started on that yet, but it will be the easiest part!

Christmas is always a very stressful time of year for me. There’s just too much to get done in too short a space of time! One of the things I do to try to make things run more smoothly is to make recipes that are familiar and comforting. Things that don’t require a lot of time standing at the stove. And ones that make large batches that can stretch for several meals. This White Chicken Chili fits all of those descriptions. It starts out with a purchased rotisserie chicken which saves a huge amount of cooking time. The remaining prep time is minimal and it cooks at a low temperature while you’re free to do other things. And, it makes a large pot full of chili! Good for two, if not three, meals for me and BeeBop.

I’ve posted several chili recipes here in the past for various types of chili – Black Bean Chili, Vegetable Chili, a White Bean Turkey Chili, and even my shortcut Chili-My Way. All those chilies have one thing in common – they’re tomato based. But in this White Chicken Chili, there’s not a tomato in sight. It’s a creamy, buttery, smooth base full of delicious, tender chicken and white beans. And just may be our new favorite chili around here.

Shredded chicken for White Chicken Chili

Start with a purchased rotisserie chicken. Remove all the meat and shred or chop it and set it to the side. Those little rotisserie chickens really have a lot of meat once you disassemble them, don’t they? Discard the skin and bones. Or nibble on a little bit of the crunchy bits if you’re like me :-)

Then, in a large pot cook the chopped onion in butter until the onions are nice and softened. Remove them from the pot and set them aside for now. In the same pot, melt the remaining butter and whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly, for three minutes. Add the onions back to the pot. Gradually add the broth and the half and half, whisking all the while. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until thickened.

Thickened sauce for White Chicken Chili

The mixture will be nicely and obviously thickened. See how it clings to the spoon?

Final mixture for White Chicken Chili

Then stir in the Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add the drained beans, chilies, chicken, cheese and milk. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Stir in the sour cream.

This chili may be served immediately but it so much better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to combine. Serve with the usual chili garnishes – cilantro, cheese, jalapenos, etc.


White Chicken Chili
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A rich, creamy white chili packed with tender pieces of chicken and white beans.
Serves: 8-10 servings
  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken
  • 1 stick butter, divided
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 tsp Tabasco
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 16 oz can white beans (great northern or cannellini)
  • 2 four-oz cans chopped mild green chilies, drained
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Remove all the skin and bones from the rotisserie chicken and discard. Shred or chop the meat and set aside.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the onion in 2 tblsp of butter until softened. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  3. In the same pot, melt remaining 6 tblsp of butter over moderately low heat and whisk in the flour.
  4. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, for three minutes.
  5. Stir in the onion.
  6. Gradually add the broth then the half and half, whisking the whole time.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, or until thickened. (It will be nicely and obviously thick.)
  8. Stir in Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  9. Add beans, chilies, chicken, cheese and milk.
  10. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
  11. Add sour cream.
  12. May be served immediately but is best served the next day.
  13. Serve with the usual chili garnishes--cilantro, cheese, jalapenos, etc.
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  1. says

    Yes! I have been looking for a good white chicken chili recipe after a somewhat disastrous experience last winter with a watery white mess. This looks like a straightforward recipe that I could’t possibly mess up. Wish me luck, and thanks for sharing!

  2. says

    Dag-blast-it… Lana, I sometimes just don’t know… I just finished a post last night on White Chicken Chili and here you go beating me to it… another time I might add… my whole reasoning was to share a recipe of a truly white chili, unlike so many out there that say white but are loaded with tomatoes or lots of red chili powder… yours is truly white and mouth-watering I might add…

    • says

      So funny, Drick! How many times now is that where we’ve both planned to post the same thing? I swear, there’s some kind of psychic bond going on between here and there. Go ahead and post yours! I’d love to see it.

    • says

      Using the rotisserie chicken really does cut down on the prep time quite a lot. And I have no problem taking that bit of help from the grocery store :-)

  3. Steve says

    This was the bomb. I loved it and it was a hit last night when I made it for the fights. This is the recipe I have been looking for in the White Chili world. Per a previous recipe I caught one thing I added and I believe it gave this a wonderful earthy note (1/4 t ground clove).

    Really, this was great. I was a little scared of all the dairy and warming / rewarming but it responded well to low heat over a long period of time.

    Thanks. I will be back.

  4. Katie says

    i made this for my fiance, and he loved it! i was very happy with myself. i’m actually making it again tonight for dinner!

  5. says

    Hi Lana,
    I made the chili last night and it was delicious. It is a pleasant change from the traditional beef chili. I found that the flavors matured overnight making the chili even better on day two. Thank you for introducing me to a new meal and the detailed instructions.

    I look forward to trying your other recipes.


    • says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the chili, Christina. It’s one of our favorite recipes. Especially when the weather starts to turn cooler.

  6. Michelle says

    This is by far the best chili I have even eaten! My kids thought it was the best! Thank you so much for this recipe!

  7. Betsy says

    I’ve been looking all over for White Chili recipe’s that aren’t soupy but thick like real chili. I’m sort of new into this cooking business and have fallen in love with using a lot of fresh ingrediens and cooking meat with my own concotion of spices has been fun. I would like to make this recipe but use fresh chicken instead of already cooked meat so is there a spice rub or a something you would suggest for me to use for my meat before adding it to all this awesome you have going?

    • says

      Betsy – you can just roast a chicken, let it cool and start from there. You’re going to discard the skin anyway and that’s where most of the seasoning would be. I’d just do a simple roast chicken rubbed with butter and seasoned with salt and pepper.

  8. Cara says

    Lana, I made this today for our Super Bowl party tomorrow. It tasted absolutely AMAZING today, so I can’t even imagine how good it will taste tomorrow. Just a quick question about re-heating for tomorrow: how long do you recommend? As you can imagine, I am trying to time a lot of dishes, and any estimation would be a great help! :)

    Thank you again for the recipe! I’m sure it will be a huge hit tomorrow!

    • says

      I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it, Cara! It’s a favorite of ours, too. About re-heating it…it depends on how much of it you’re heating, but just do it over quite low heat. It will keep for quite a few hours over low heat or even in a crock-pot. Just be sure to stir it every once in a while and don’t put the heat up very high because it will scorch.

  9. BV says

    WOW! Do yourself a favor and make this. I’ve been searching for a true, rich white chicken chili for a while and this one hits the mark!!!!

  10. Gina says

    I just made this and it was absolutely delicious. I’m going to serve it tomorrow like you recommend. My husband is the head chef of a restaurant so I’m always looking to wow him with my cooking..I think this chili will impress him!

  11. Elizabeth says

    Have made this recipe a couple times and love it! It is by far my favorite Chili. Will be making more tonight! Thanks for sharing!!!

  12. Rainah Ness says

    Oh, Lana! This is wonderful. My men especially loved it! And it is so simple and easy! I’ll probably only make this version of what I think of as Chili Blanco for company, because it is soooo wonderfully rich, but this recipe is a keeper. And the leftover bones make for great ‘boiled bones’ as I call ’em – so that results in a whole new meal base for another day. — When I finally tried this a few weeks ago, I didn’t get around to adding this to my cookbook – – – Until now, that is. But I couldn’t forget to add this one! First things, first though: I had to make sure I wrote and said, “Thanks so much!” And now, since this is going into my cookbook belatedly, and since that usually means, as with most recipes that make it into my cookbook belatedly, that it’s time to make it again, I’m slipping the ingredients onto my shopping list again! Yum! Wish I could invite you over with our company and let them meet you and hear your stories, but they’ll hear about you anyway….., and maybe they’ll find their way to your lovely blog! Thanks again!

    • says

      Rainah, thanks for your sweet comment! This is one of our favorite recipes and you’ve reminded me that I haven’t made it in quite a while. Hope your company enjoys it!


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