White Chicken Chili

It’s nearing the end of September, and in our house that’s official soup season! In fact, I’m in denial of the actual weather (which returned to the 80’s after a quick fall preview last week) and every day I crank up my air conditioner and light my apple spice scented candles and stare at the pumpkin display on my mantle just breathing in the aura of fall. Okay, that’s a total lie. Most of my day is spent chasing after crazy toddlers, wiping snot, sweeping floors that never get clean and watching Thomas the Tank Engine on an endless, eternal cycle. But I do it all with a pumpkin display in the background and the candles generally seem to overpower the scent of the baby’s loaded diaper. What can I say? I lead a glamorous life.

The Best White Chicken Chili
 We’ve had a lot of requests for soups lately, and lucky for you both Kate and I are a little obsessed with them. I have a lot of favorites, but most people who know me know that this one is at the top of my list. Partly due to the fact that I made it from things my pantry very rarely runs out of, so I end up making it a lot when other meal plans get tossed out the window. It’s really fast, and really easy, and it’s major comfort food for me. I often make a pot at lunch time and just keep it warm until dinner, grabbing a bowl or two in between!
The Best White Chicken Chili
It’s not spicy, but you could easily add jalapenos or a shot of tabasco to heat it up. Kids love it because they can put chips and cheese on it. Heck, I love it because you put chips and cheese on it. You could make it even quicker if you wanted by using pre-cooked chicken.

To start, you’ll cook up some chicken. You can definitely make this with pre-cooked chicken, but I do like the deeper flavor you get from actually making the soup in the pot you saute the other flavors with.  I like to use our lime oil in there, too.
The Best White Chicken Chili
Chicken, onion, and garlic cook up really quickly.  You would do this in a large soup pot or Dutch Oven.  The only reason I’m using a large skillet here is because it’s easier to shoot the photos!
The Best White Chicken Chili
When that’s mostly done cooking, you’ll add in some white beans (great northern or canellini work)
The Best White Chicken Chili
and also some diced green chilis.  These are mild, so they don’t add firey heat, just tons of flavor.  Don’t drain them, you’ll want all those good juices, too.
The Best White Chicken Chili
add a handful of seasonings, and then let it simmer away.
The Best White Chicken Chili
After a quick simmer, add in some fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro.  Then serve it in bowls with allllll the toppings.  Seriously, guys.  Don’t forget the toppings.
Sour cream, green onions, avocado, cilantro, jack or pepperjack cheese, tortilla strips/chips.  I also LOVE this soup with a loaf of warm, crusty bread smothered with this Creamy Jalapeno-Lime Butter.  When you dip the bread into the hot soup, the butter melts and it is seriously the most amazing thing.
Also good to note- this soup freezes beautifully!  If you do that, cook it until the very end and cool and freeze before you add the lime juice and cilantro.
 Those are better added fresh.  I’ve frozen this lots of times in single-serving containers for lunches at home or work! Or, you can even freeze them in a silicon mold. When hardened, pop them all into a zip-top bag and throw them in your freezer. For a quick and easy lunch, take out 2 or 3 “pucks” and re-heat — easy peasy!  If you’ve never made this one- put it on your menu this week.  It’s a family-favorite around here!
*For some reason, our printable recipe card for this recipe is having a technical glitch. We will put the printable version in as soon as it’s available. Thanks for your patience!*
White Chicken Chili
Our Best Bites
1 tablespoon Extra virgin Olive Oil (or non-stick spray)
1 pound boneless chicken, cubed (about 3-4 boneless, skinless breasts)
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Great Northern Beans
1 3.5 oz can green chilies
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh cracked pepper
1 lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
32 ounces chicken broth
For the Condiments:
(in addition to measurements above)
Sour cream or non-fat Greek yogurt
Chopped cilantro
Pepperjack or Jack cheese, shredded
Tortilla Chips (or make your own tortilla strips!)
In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add chopped onion and cook for about 2 minutes- just until it starts to become translucent. While onions are cooking, drain beans and rinse with cold water and set aside.
Sprinkle chopped chicken with a little salt and pepper and add to pot. Add garlic as well. Cook until there’s no more visible pink on the chicken, probably 3-4 minutes. Then add green chills – along with all of the juices in the can.
Add beans, cumin, oregano, coriander, salt, and a few turns of fresh cracked pepper. Stir to combine and then add chicken broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the juice from one lime and the 1/2 C chopped cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and top with toppings.
Makes about 8 cups of soup.
I call this a chili, but it’s really a soup consistency. If you want it thicker, just reduce the amount of broth. Or, alternatively, take an additional can of beans (drained and rinsed) and place them in a blender. Ladle in a cup or 2 of the finished broth (avoid the chicken pieces, etc,) and puree until smooth. Add this mixture to the soup.
And in the spirit of history, I’ll leave one of my “old” photos here.  For posterity!
*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. 




  1. Ooh, I actually have all these ingredients on hand (my cupboards are a little bare). Thank you for your perfect timing! I love a good soup that’s hearty enough for my husband to eat. This looks perfect.

    By the way, Kate, my roommate from college found your site so your buttons must be working!

  2. Oh my goodness! I was just looking through a soup cookbook this afternoon deciding that we NEED a soup week! My family might revolt if all they get is soup this week but if I start with this one how can they complain? Yum!

  3. This looks great! Can’t wait to try it.

    P.S. What is the difference between pure olive oil, and extrta virgin olive oil? And which do you use?

  4. I’m one of those who has the “old” recipe so I’m definatly going to have to try it again. But we loved it the first time around! And no, fall has not hit in north central Utah! The mountains are beautiful red, but for Becka’s birthday on Saturday it was in the 80’s!! I’m decorating today so I at least feel like it’s fall!

  5. Yay! I finally have a google account so I can leave comments. I can’t wait to try this soup. And I am hosting a cooking class at my home this Thursday so I can demonstrate your BBQ grilled pizza.

    It is definately not fall here in California. I am getting so tired of summer clothes!

  6. Fall’s hitting the Seattle area with temperatures in the 60’s. I prefer white chili to the typical red chilis, so maybe I’ll try this sometime.

  7. Cami- good question. We actually need to do an entire post on oils because we get so many questions about it.

    I need to be better at always writing “Extra virgin olive oil” because that’s really the only kind you should use. I get lazy and just write olive oil assuming everyone can read my mind, lol.

    the “Extra” in the name means, premium, or the best. It’s the highest grade you can buy. I’ll go into the specifics in a later post, but that’s always what you should use.

    Plain olive oil is actually a blended product. It starts with a really low-grade virgin oil, but then it’s chemically altered and refined so they can sell it as olive oil. Yuck.

    There’s also “light” olive oil, but all that is, is the above chemically refined oil with *less* of the good stuff in it so it has a more mild flavor. It’s not light in calories or anything.

    Bottom line- always use extra virgin olive oil. You’ll find tons of different varieties and price tags, which can be kind of confusing. Olive oil is kind of like wine. Every brand will have a different look and taste depending on the olive harvest and flavor etc.

  8. Yum! My recipe calls for cayenne pepper which gives it QUITE a kick, so that’s something else to try if you want it spicier. In fact, I started cutting it in half (but my DH always adds a few extra shakes to his bowl).

  9. I find it so funny that you posted this NOW. I really wanted white chicken chili on Friday night so I was searching the house for the recipe. I almost called you to get it, but I was too hungry and I pretty much remembered the spices so I just threw some stuff together and luckily it turned out just as good as I remembered 🙂

    I was going to email you and suggest you put it on the blog so I could find it more easily next time!

    I think it should also be added that my favorite “condiment” is really a side- butter, garlic, lime juice and cilantro all whipped until fluffy and spread on chewy warm dipping bread- YUM!

  10. I love this time of year too. I find any excuse to make Chili. I generally break it out for the first NFL pre-season game. Your’s looks really good. I will have to give it a go sometime.

  11. I LOVE white chili! I make a quasi-salsa to go on top out of roma tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, fresh lime juice and kosher salt. Similar to what you did with just a bit more flavor and color. It is always a hit. I also like to sprinkle pepperjack cheese on top for a bit more kick.

  12. Haha, on Sunday I had to sign up to bring a dish to our next activity. I signed up for White Chicken Chili, and thought, “I’m going to have to go dig up the recipe because I can’t remember where I put it.” So thanks!!!

    Question: To save money, I was thinking about using a whole chicken and just shredding it (since I’m going to be making a really big portion). Do you think that will make a difference? Should I stick to chopped chicken breasts?

  13. Nat- you can totally just shred chicken in it. I think I mentioned that- did I? If not, I meant to. You can just toss in any pre-cooked chicken, rotisserie, or whatever. That would make it super quick too.

  14. This sounds way too tasty! I’ll be keeping this my mind for an upcoming meal when I decide to cook! haha I too am a huge soup fan and make a mean homemade chicken noodle soup.

  15. I made this chili tonight for dinner and my kids and husband LOVED it! Logan’s comment was “Phenomenal”. Steve ate and ate and raved about every bowlful/spoonful! Thanks Sara, a new family fav! (Oh, I didn’t have coriander and so I left it out, is that a big mistake?)

  16. Jeni- I’m so glad you guys liked it! Leaving out the coriander isn’t a big deal at all. Coriander is the dried seeds from the cilantro plant, so the taste is very similar. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s yummy. A very bright flavor. You will get some of that same flavor by stirring in the cilantro at the end, so no worries.

    Just for everyone’s reference- coriander is great in anything that cilantro is great in. I usually put it in my black beans as well.

  17. Honestly the BEST white chicken chili that I have ever had. Plus, I had the great honor of introducing my daughter and husband to the dish. What a hit!! Definitely a keeper. I thank you for re-igniting my craving for this yummy autumn dish, enough to prompt me to get up off of my lazy butt and make a big fat pot of it. Thank you, thank you… I am officially a fan from this point forward.

  18. We just tried this tonight and the whole fam loved it! I thought I had tons of chicken and didn’t have any so I substituted sausage (cut up brats) and it was killer. I loved the cilantro, I love the lime!

  19. We just tried this tonight and the whole fam loved it! I thought I had tons of chicken and didn’t have any so I substituted sausage (cut up brats) and it was killer. I loved the cilantro, I love the lime!

  20. Thank, thank you for this recipe. I needed a quick easy chicken recipe for dinner and this fit the bill. So yummy and quick and simple. You ladies are amazing! You are like cooking blogger angels.

  21. Hey just wondering, maybe this is a dumb ?? but what are great nothern beans?, are they pinto Beans?? i am from canada and maybe we dont have those here?/
    who knows??

  22. Just made this tonight for my family and everyone loved it! Thanks so much for inspiring me to try something new. I am new to your blog and am so excited to try some more of your great recipes!!

  23. This is my wife and I's favorite go-to dish. Anytime we're at the store and can't decide what to get for dinner, we head for the white beans and chicken stock.

    We use half a can of mild rotel diced tomatoes instead of the can of chilis though, to make it a little less spicy. It makes the color of the stew a little less appealing, but the flavor is still spot on.

    Thanks so much!

  24. I am trying this recipe tonight and wondered if you have the new WW points for this. I put the recipe in but it is showing it to be much higher in points thatn I imagined. I was hoping to compare with what you calculated. Thanks!

  25. I made this for dinner tonight! It was a huge success! I love how simple your directions are and they worked perfect for me, I'm not the greatest cook!(: Thanks so much!

  26. I cooked this for another apartment for Valentine's Day, and they were super impressed. This is definitely a keeper. So far, all recipes from this site have been keepers.

  27. I just made this today, and I loved it! The only thing different that I did was not put in green chiles because I forgot to buy them, but the soup was still fantastic, and probably better for kids who may not like things spicy. Thanks for a great recipe!

  28. I just made this for dinner tonight! It’s DELICIOUS! Thanks! 🙂 It’s definitely going to go in my rotation of foods! 🙂

  29. This recipe looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it!
    I have seen in other recipes a way to thicken soups, especially those with beans. After the soup is done cooking a bit, you can use the back of a wooden spoon to mash up some of the beans against the side of the pot. You can do it until you reach the consistency you desire. This really works. I also tried using a hand-held immersion blender once, but that tends to destroy the chicken!
    Thanks for all of your great recipes. I also have found every one a “keeper”!

  30. This is the first recipe of yours that I have tried and it was a hit in my family!! I just made it again tonight (second time) and my daughter’s friend came over to play and smelled the food. She thought it was absolutely fabulous so I invited her to dinner. She must have raved about it to her mom because she texted me asking for the recipe! 🙂 I told her where to find it. I also just made your Peanut Butter White Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cookies on Sunday and my family LOVED it! They didn’t flatten when I took it out of the oven either! My other cookies tend to do that so I stay away from making cookies. I’ll be making this more often! I can’t wait to try other recipes! Thanks ladies!! You’re cooking geniuses!

  31. This is soo yummy! I’ve never had white chicken chili before but I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while now and I’m so glad I finally did! My 2 year old even liked it, and at our house that’s kind of a big deal! Thank you thank you!

  32. I have your cookbook home from the library and needed a chicken recipe for dinner tonight. I saw the picture of this chili and new it would be perfect. Thank you so much for yet another fantastic recipe! I love a dinner that everyone from the one-year-old to the three-year-old to the husband will eat. Again, I’m so sorry I’m missing your book signings in Seattle. Next time….

  33. Oh. My. Goodness. That was delicious! And the kids were BEGGING for seconds and thirds! One tried to pick out the onions and peppers and I asked him to close his eyes and take one bite and see how it takes. Upon his seconds he said “OH YAY! More onions!”

    Ya…I’m a happy mommy.

  34. Made this last night and it was delish! I couldn’t find the white northern beans in our store so I used white kidney beans. I don’t know if that makes a huge difference in the soup but it was still great. Thanks for another great recipe! OBB is the only cookbook I’m using these days and its become my standard gift to friends.

    1. Yes Danielle, that works fine. You’ll just want to add the lime and cilantro before serving. I personally don’t like boneless skinless chicken in the crock pot because it gets kind of stringy, but a lot of people don’t mind 🙂 It doesn’t need very much cooking time, so do it for a shorter time if possible, and on low.

  35. Do you suppose we could add one more can of beans and purree it before adding to thicken it – not sure why I’m asking – because I’ll probably just try it either way 😉 Just want to tell you all AGAIN – I’m starting to think you save my marriage – my husband LOVES everything from the blog and cookbook and its so nice to not have to worry!!

  36. So I made this tonight and was all excited to try it… I chopped my cilantro and for some reason I thought it smelled a little funny; almost like cilantro but just a little off.. So what do I do? I add it in anyways.. I start eating the soup and I have to say, I wasn’t wow’ed by it at this point. I went back to my fridge to look at the label on the cilantro and come to find out, it was parsley.. Yeah, just in case anyone was thinking of trying out that flavor combo, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t work. When I eat the chili without a bit of parsley, its really good. Thanks for the recipe and next time I try this recipe, I’ll pay a little more attention. 🙂

  37. A friend of mine was eating this at work and it looked and smelled mouth watering. I want to make it for dinner sometime soon, but I am wondering if it works in the crockpot? Is there anything you would do to modify it? I work a lot of graveyards so I like to throw things in the crockpot when I get home so I can wake up and still have a good dinner ready for my family.


    1. You could put it in a crock pot, but it’s so quick and easy to make on the stove top that it’s probably better to just make it and pop the finished soup in a freezer container. If you put it in a crock pot, the chicken will be over-cooked and the onions won’t be sauteed, but it would probably still be good 🙂

  38. I made this for dinner tonight and it was a hit! Instead of chicken, I used ground turkey. I forgot to buy cilantro this morning, bummer. I love cilantro!:(
    It was delicious anyway! My 3 year old loved it because he could eat it with avocado and chips(his favorite foods of the moment). Hubby had seconds, he is also a tortilla chips lover. Another great healthy and nutritious dish for my family. Thanks Sarah!

  39. I love this recipe! A friend made this for me after I had my baby last October and it has become one of our family favorites! The only two changes that make are: 1-Omit the Coriander seeds and 2-Add a couple of tomatillos to the soup while it is simmering and then blend them and add them back after they are pureed. It gives it just a little bit more Mexican yumminess!

  40. Hi! Would I be able to throw this in the crock pot? Or do you suggest to cook the onion and chicken, etc beforehand?


  41. I know this recipe has been on here for 8 years at this point, but I have to say that this is one of my go-to recipes for an easy and delicious dinner. The whole family loves it!

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