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Creamy White Chicken Chili

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4.77 from 13 votes
A rich, creamy white chili packed with tender pieces of chicken and white beans.
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
A bowl of creamy white chicken chili on a napkin with a spoon alongside.

With so many red chili recipes out there, this Creamy White Chicken Chili stands out in a class of its own! In fact, it has won more than one community chili cook-off and remains one of our favorite cold weather recipes of all time. This is comfort food personified!

A bowl of creamy white chicken chili on a napkin with a spoon alongside.

One of the things I do to cope with the hustle and bustle of the holidays 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 Creamy White Chicken Chili fits all of those descriptions. It starts out with a purchased rotisserie chicken which saves a huge amount of cooking time and the remaining prep work is minimal. Then you just let it simmer away at a low temperature while you’re free to do other things.

And, it makes a large pot full of chili! Plenty for two or three meals for the two of us.

I’ve posted so many chili recipes 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.

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But in this Creamy White Chicken Chili, there’s not a tomato in sight. It has a creamy, buttery, smooth base full of delicious, tender chicken and white beans. And it just may be our all-time favorite chili around here.

How to Make White Chicken Chili

Shredded chicken on a large square of aluminum foil

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 some 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 soft. 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 about 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.

Showing how the thickened mixture should look and cling to a spoon.

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

All ingredients in a large pot ready to simmer.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make This Ahead?

Yes! As a matter of fact it’s even better when made ahead. The flavors have a chance to blend when refrigerated overnight and you won’t believe how much better it is the second day!

What Do I Serve With This?

I always offer a choice of toppings such as sliced avocado, chopped green onion, fresh cilantro, extra cheese, and jalapenos. And either crackers, tortillas, or cornbread are great accompaniments.

Any Recommended Add-ins?

Make the recipe your own by adding in a little something extra like a can of drained, whole kernel corn, or a few chopped fresh jalapeno peppers. You could also tweak it with a bit of smoked paprika or cayenne.

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A bowl of creamy white chicken chili on a napkin with a spoon alongside. Text overlay for pinning

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A bowl of creamy white chicken chili on a napkin with a spoon alongside.

White Chicken Chili

A rich, creamy white chili packed with tender pieces of chicken and white beans.
4.77 from 13 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Soups and Stews
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 363kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 rotisserie chicken skin and bones removed
  • ½ cup butter divided
  • 2 large onions chopped
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 16 ounces canned white beans great northern or cannellini, drained
  • 8 ounces canned chopped mild green chilies drained
  • 1 ½ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream

Instructions

  • Remove all the skin and bones from the rotisserie chicken and discard. Shred or chop the meat and set aside.
  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the onion in 2 tblsp of butter until softened. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  • In the same pot, melt remaining 6 tblsp of butter over moderately low heat and whisk in the flour.
  • Cook, whisking constantly, for about three minutes.
  • Stir in the onion.
  • Gradually add the broth then the half and half, whisking the whole time.
  • 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.)
  • Stir in Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Add beans, chilies, chicken, cheese and milk.
  • Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
  • Add sour cream.
  • May be served immediately but is best served the next day.
  • Serve with the usual chili garnishes–cilantro, cheese, jalapenos, etc.

Notes

To Make Ahead: Allow the chili to cool and store it covered in the refrigerator overnight. It’s really even better the second day!
To Serve With This Recipe: Offer a choice of toppings such as sliced avocado, chopped green onion, fresh cilantro, extra cheese, and jalapenos. And either crackers, tortillas, or cornbread are great accompaniments.
Make it Your Own: Add a little something extra like a can of drained, whole kernel corn, or a few chopped fresh jalapeno peppers. You could also tweak it with a bit of smoked paprika or cayenne.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 363kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 873mg | Potassium: 324mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 680IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 219mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on December 6, 2011

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58 Comments

  1. 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!!!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!!!!

    1. Thank you so much, Betsy! This is one of our favorite recipes and I’ve never served it anyone who didn’t rave about it.

  4. 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!

    1. 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.

  5. 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?

    1. 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.

    1. I would think that it could, Angie, although I’ve never tried that. Give it a try and let me know how it turns out.

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

  8. 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!

  9. 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.