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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?)

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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