This white chicken chili is a hearty and creamy soup mixed with shredded chicken, beans, cream cheese, and the right amount of spice. It’s even quick to make, especially when you have leftover chicken!
If you need to feed a crowd or just crave a warm, comforting meal, this white chicken chili is a great choice! Everyone loves this recipe because it uses easy-to-find ingredients packed with flavor that fill you up, like cannellini beans, shredded chicken, and a variety of spices.
Typically, chili is made with beef, red sauce, and pinto or black beans. This white chicken chili swaps the red meat with lean chicken, uses a white sauce made from cheese and broth to make a lighter soup, and blends in some cannellini beans to add a richer texture.
Why Use Cannellini Beans?
Cannellini beans are also known as “white kidney beans,” with the term kidney simply referring to the shape of the beans. These beans have a mild and nutty flavor profile compared to black or pinto beans. In this recipe, we take some of the beans and blend them up to make them as smooth as possible, then add that mixture to our soup base. This process helps the soup have a creamier and thicker texture.
- Beans: You’ll need 2 cans of cannellini beans, but you can also use great northern beans if that’s all you have.
- Cream cheese: I like using cream cheese to make it extra creamy! Full-fat or reduced-fat both work.
- Chicken: You can use any chicken as long as it’s shredded. Feel free to make your own or you can shred a store-bought rotisserie chicken to save some time.
- Seasonings: Garlic, ground coriander, ground cumin, chili powder, salt, oregano, black pepper.
- Green chiles: You’ll need 2 cans of diced green chiles. You can use a mild or mild variety depending on how spicy you want it.
- Vegetables: I used onion for flavor and corn to make it more filling.
How to Make White Chicken Chili
Blend some of the cannellini beans with some chicken broth until completely smooth. This will help to naturally thicken the chili.
In a large pot, sauté some onions and garlic in a little bit of oil until softened and fragrant, then stir in the seasonings, corn, and diced green chiles.
Pour in the blended beans and remaining broth into the pot. Stir, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the remaining can of beans, the shredded chicken, and the cream cheese.
Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the cilantro and lime juice, and serve immediately.
While this soup is very hearty on its own, I love layering on a few extra toppings! Here are a few suggestions:
- Sour cream
- Tortilla strips
- Shredded cheese
- Diced avocado
Save some time by picking up a cooked rotisserie chicken from your grocery store and shredding it at home, or use any leftover chicken you have in the refrigerator.
- Blender: An all-purpose blender is useful for tackling all sorts of different cuisines.
- Dutch oven: I think this is one pot everyone needs in their kitchen, especially for soups and stews!
Storing and Reheating
One of my favorite things about chili is that it stores, freezes, and reheats beautifully!
To store: Transfer the chili to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
To freeze: Transfer cooled chili to a freezer-safe storage bag and freeze for up to 6 months!
To reheat: Place the chili in a pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat and reheat until fully warmed through. Alternatively, you can reheat it in the microwave until hot. The chili may get a little thicker as it sits in the fridge, so feel free to add in a little broth to thin it out.
Photography by Erin Jensen of The Wooden Skillet.