White Chicken Chili

updated Jan 29, 2020
Weeknight White Chicken Chili

This weeknight chicken chili is loaded with chunky textures and a rich, ultra-creamy broth with warm, smoky cumin and chili-tinged undertones.


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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

While this recipe reminds me of a chowder — with its rich, ultra-creamy broth and chunky textures — the warm, smoky cumin and trio of fresh, punchy toppings leave it firmly planted in chili territory. It’s quick enough to slot into your midweek meal plan, and it yields excellent leftovers.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Poach the Chicken in the Chili

My favorite trick when making any chili or soup that includes shredded chicken is to poached the chicken right in the pot, alongside all the other ingredients. It’s hugely efficient, making one less pot to wash and, best of all, the lean meat picks up a lot of extra flavor — a total boon to quick-simmered weeknight chili. Here, as the chicken poaches, it picks up the smoky scent of cumin, warm heat from the chiles, and a subtle sweetness from the onion.

While you can certainly make this chili starting with leftover rotisserie or shredded chicken, which will save some time, it does mean sacrificing some flavor. Using pre-cooked chicken means missing out on the warm, smoky, chili-tinged aromas that get infused into the meat when starting with uncooked chicken breast.

Weeknight White Chicken Chili

This weeknight chicken chili is loaded with chunky textures and a rich, ultra-creamy broth with warm, smoky cumin and chili-tinged undertones.

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1 large

    yellow onion, diced

  • 2 stalks

    celery, diced

  • 1 medium

    green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

  • 1 (4-ounce) can

    fire-roasted green chiles (do not drain)

  • 3 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon

    ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon

    chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 cups

    (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 pound

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans

    white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini, drained and rinsed

  • 2 cups

    fresh or frozen yellow corn kernels

  • 6 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 6 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 cups

    cups whole or 2% milk

For serving (optional):

  • Sour cream

  • 1/2 cup

    shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1 medium

    jalapeño, seeds removed and thinly sliced


  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy stock pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper, and cook until very soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the green chiles, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper, and cook for 1 minute more.

  2. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through about, 10 to 12 minutes.

  3. Transfer the chicken breasts to a cutting board. Shred the meat with two forks, then return the chicken to the pot. Stir in the beans and corn, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until completely combined. The mixture will look like wet sand. Cook until the mixture begins to dry out and turn golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in a little bit of the milk until smooth, then whisk in the remainder until smooth. Pour into the chili, and stir until completely incorporated and smooth. Bring to a boil, then cook, stirring frequently until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream, scallions, and cheese, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers will keep for up to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.