Thick & Creamy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili

published Aug 10, 2022
Instant Pot White Chicken Chili Recipe

It's sublimely comforting and easy enough to make on a weeknight.

Serves4 to 6

Makesabout 8 cups

Prep15 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 32 minutes

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Credit: Kelli Foster

Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different types of chili recipesground beef chili, turkey chili, chicken chili, vegan chili, Whole30 chili — yet the one recipe I cannot stop coming back to is this white chicken chili. It is sublimely comforting and layered with rich, warm flavors. And even though it comes together in a flash (thanks, Instant Pot!), it tastes like it simmered on the back of the stove for much, much longer.

Maybe it’s the velvety, thick broth with smoky undertones and a subtle hint of heat. Or perhaps it’s the bite-size shreds of super-tender chicken or the creamy white beans or the sweet kernels of corn that burst in your mouth. More than likely, though, it’s getting a loaded spoonful with a little bit of everything. And it’s even better when a squeeze of lime juice is involved; it brightens the bowl and makes all the flavors stand out even more.

How to Thicken White Chicken Chili

A hallmark of a really good white chicken chili is the velvety, thick sauce. This recipe relies on cornstarch and cream cheese to make a sauce that’s thick and creamy.

  • Cornstarch. Whisk together cornstarch with an equal amount of water to create a slurry. Stir into the chili after pressure cooking, and simmer for a few minutes to thicken.
  • Cream cheese. Cut the cream cheese into small cubes and let it sit at room temperature to soften while the chili cooks. Add to the Instant Pot along with the slurry and stir until melted. In addition to thickening the chili, cream cheese adds a lush creaminess.
Credit: Kelli Foster

Why Is My White Chili Watery?

There are a few main culprits for watery Instant Pot white chicken chili: Adding too much broth, not adding enough thickener, or not using a thickener at all.

When making chili in the Instant Pot, you don’t need quite as much liquid (in this case, broth), as you would with stovetop or slow cooker chili. Here, a cup-and-a-half of broth is plenty. You’ll also want to use a thickener to ensure you don’t end up with a watery batch of chili. This recipes uses a slurry made with cornstarch and water, along with cream cheese, for a batch of chili with the most irresistible thick, creamy texture.

Instant Pot White Chicken Chili Recipe

It's sublimely comforting and easy enough to make on a weeknight.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 32 minutes

Makes about 8 cups

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 4 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 1 medium

    yellow onion

  • 2 medium

    stalks celery

  • 1 mediumn

    green bell pepper

  • 3 cloves


  • 2 (about 15-ounce) cans

    cannellini beans

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    boneless, skinless chicken thighs (5 to 6)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 1 (4-ounce) can

    diced green chiles

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    chili powder

  • 1 1/2 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 tablespoon


  • 1 tablespoon


  • 1 cup

    fresh or frozen corn kernels

Serving options:

  • 1/4 cup

    fresh cilantro leaves

  • 2 medium

    ripe avocados

  • 1 medium

    lime, cut into wedges

  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt


  1. Cut 4 ounces cream cheese into 8 pieces. Place in a single layer on a plate and let sit at room temperature to soften while you cook the chili.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the same large bowl as you complete it: Dice 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups) and 2 medium celery stalks (about 2/3 cup). Trim and and dice 1 medium green bell pepper (about 1 cup).

  3. Mince 3 garlic cloves. Drain and rinse 2 cans cannellini beans.

  4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 6-quart or larger electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot with the Sauté function until shimmering. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, season 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs with the 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  5. Add the garlic, 1 can diced green chiles (do not drain), 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt to the pressure cooker. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn the pressure cooker off.

  6. Add the beans to the Instant Pot in an even layer. Top with the chicken thighs in an even layer (some overlap is okay). Pour in 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, but do not stir.

  7. Lock on the lid and make sure the pressure valve is set to seal. Set to cook for 10 minutes under HIGH pressure. It will take about 15 minutes to come up to pressure. Meanwhile, whisk 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water together in a small bowl.

  8. When the cook time is up, quick release the pressure. Use tongs to transfer the chicken thighs to a clean cutting board and shred with 2 forks into bite-sized pieces.

  9. Turn the pressure cooker back on to Sauté and bring the chili to a simmer. Re-whisk the cornstarch mixture. Add the cornstarch mixture, cream cheese, and 1 cup corn kernels to the Instant Pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the cream cheese is completely melted and the chili is thickened, 1 to 3 minutes.

  10. Return the chicken to the pot and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

  11. Serve with optional toppings.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.