One-pot white chicken chili is thick, creamy, and rich in flavor for a hearty and satisfying dish the whole family will love. A few special steps along the way help make this chili extra good!
White chicken chili certainly isn't anything groundbreaking when it comes to online recipes, but over the years I've honed my version into the one you see here and enjoy it so much it feels wrong to keep it to myself.
What helps set this chili apart is its extra roasted flavor and a less common but impactful dried spice. It's also a white chicken chili without cream cheese, if that's in line with your preferences, too.
We really only make two chilis in my house: Instant Pot turkey chili for the more traditional route and this one here.
Why This Recipe Works
- It starts with roasted corn. This step is done in the same pot and adds so much depth of flavor.
- A less common dried spice, ancho chile pepper, adds a deliciously smoky, earthy element that makes this chili taste more complex.
- When compared to slow cooker versions, cooking white chicken chili on the stovetop allows for bolder flavors as the liquid has the ability to reduce.
- Immersion blending a portion of the beans and vegetables achieves a thicker texture in a healthy way.
- Tempering the sour cream before adding it to the pot of chili ensures it mixes in seamlessly for a smooth texture.
- Chicken: Either chicken breasts or boneless skinless thighs are great here.
- Corn: White or yellow sweet corn kernels, either canned and drained or frozen and thawed.
- Jalapeño: This can be omitted if you prefer a mild chili, but in this quantity (half of a pepper, seeds removed) it provides more flavor than spice. On the other hand, include the seeds and/or the whole pepper if you'd like it hotter.
- Green Chiles: These are mostly available in mild heat, but sometimes hot. Use your preferred.
- Beans: Either cannellini (white kidney beans) or great Northern beans are good choices. Draining and rinsing canned beans reduces a considerable amount of their sodium.
- Cheese: This is melted into the chili at the end to bump up the creaminess even more - pepper/colby/Monterey jack or sharp cheddar.
- Lime Juice: Freshly-squeezed lime juice is strongly recommended over the bottled kind. This is added right at the end so the flavor doesn't become lost and muddled.
- Sour Cream: Regular or light/reduced-fat is just fine to use, though I generally find fat-free dairy products to be lacking.
- Spices: I step away from traditional chili seasoning and use pantry staples, including salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin, as well as ancho chile powder. This is readily-available in regular grocery stores and provides a nice smoky, earthy flavor without much spice at all.
- Sauté and season. Sauté the corn, onion, and jalapeño, then stir in the dry seasonings.
- Simmer. Deglaze the pan with broth, then the chicken, beans, and chiles. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked.
- Shred chicken and blend. Remove the chicken and shred/chop it into small pieces. Blend a portion of the chili to thicken it.
- Finish. Temper the sour cream and whisk it into the chili, along with the shredded chicken, cheese, cilantro, and lime juice. Stir until well combined and serve with your favorite toppings.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Use a Splatter Screen - Pan-roasted corn will jump around the pot as it sautés. Have the lid nearby or use a splatter screen to prevent hot splatters.
- Melting Cheese with Ease - Shredding your own cheese is recommended, as purchased shredded cheese feature anti-caking agents that can inhibit a nice and smooth melt. Shredding it finely helps evenly disperse it in the chili and melt quicker.
- Blend More or Less - Make this chili as smooth or chunky as you like. I went a little heavy-handed in these photos and blended quite a lot!
- Toppings - Keep things easy by using more of what's in the chili: an extra dollop of sour cream, sprinkle of shredded cheese, and more lime juice. Crushed tortilla chips, baked tortilla strips, or cornbread croutons bring a nice crunch factor.
White Chicken Chili Variations & Testing
- Poblanos - I've used three oven roasted poblano peppers in place of the chiles and while tasty, the overall impact wasn't better/different enough from using canned green chiles to be worth the extra effort.
- Chicken - A slight edge was given to versions made with chicken thighs, but chicken breasts are more than fine.
- Slow Cooker - My husband and I both agreed that this exact recipe, prepared in the crock pot, was not as good as stovetop white chicken chili. Pan-roasting the vegetables takes away a big advantage of the slow cooker (less dishes to wash), it was thinner even after blending the beans, and had a less vibrant flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. You can freeze leftover portions in an air-tight container for at least 3 months, longer given the right conditions.
Not necessarily. Once the chicken is removed, you can use a potato masher to hand-mash the beans and vegetables. It won't become as smooth, but is a good option if you don't have an immersion blender and don't want to go through the steps of transferring it all to a stand mixer.
Use leftover or rotisserie chicken to eliminate that step. You can also complete step 1 of the instructions (sautéing the vegetables) a day ahead of time, refrigerating them until use.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
White Chicken Chili
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 15.25-ounce can sweet corn kernels drained
- 1 medium onion diced
- Half of a jalapeño pepper seeded and finely diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- 2 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans rinsed and drained
- 2 4-ounce cans mild diced green chiles
- ½ cup sour cream reduced-fat fine
- ½ cup finely-shredded pepper jack cheese or white cheddar
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Juice from half of a lime more for serving
- Crushed tortilla chips for serving
- Add olive oil to a large pot set over medium heat. Once heated, add the drained corn kernels to the pot and give everything a big stir. Place a splatter screen over the pot and/or a lid left open a crack as the kernels have a tendency to jump around the pan. Sauté the corn for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the onion and jalapeno. Sauté for 8-10 minutes or until the onion and corn are turning golden-brown. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, ancho chile powder, salt, and pepper, stir and sauté for 2 more minutes.
- Pour in a heavy drizzle of the chicken broth to deglaze, scraping up any browned, stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the rest of the broth, chicken, cannellini beans, and diced green chiles.
- Place the lid partway on the pot, leaving it open a crack so that steam can escape. Adjust the heat to bring everything to a boil, then reduce it so that it's at a heavy simmer and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked (165°F in the center of the thickest piece).
- Remove the chicken to a board to shred. While the chicken is out of the pot, use an immersion blender to blend roughly half of the chili, or as much as you like in order to thicken it up. Remove the pot from the heat.
- Add the sour cream to a bowl and pour in a ladle or two of the hot liquid. Whisk well until smooth, then whisk the sour cream/chili mixture into the pot. Add back the cooked shredded chicken, then sprinkle in the shredded cheese, cilantro, and lime juice. Stir well as the cheese melts.
- Serve white chicken chili topped with crushed tortilla chips, an extra dollop of sour cream, squeeze of fresh lime juice, etc.
- Spicier Variation: Include the seeds of the jalapeno and/or use the whole pepper, find "hot" canned green chiles", or add ground cayenne pepper to taste.
- Storage: Refrigerate leftover portions in an air-tight container for up to 4 days. Chili freezes great for 3 months, but likely longer if kept in the proper conditions.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer