White Bean Chicken Chili

The past two weeks I’ve shared recipes using black beans: Black Bean Dip and Black Bean Hummus. I’m switching over to the great northern bean, for use in this White Bean Chicken Chili recipe. You could certainly substitute cannellini or navy beans.This chili has become a family favorite over the past year. Hearty and full of flavor, it’s a nice change from the regular tomato based chilis. It was inspired by Paula Dean’s White Bean Chili recipe but since first making it, I’ve deviated a bit and have come up with my own plan of attack.

white bean chicken chili recipe

That’s the beauty with chilis, soups or stews – you can use what you have, add to or take away, to make it your own. So don’t get hung up on exacts. If you only have 3 cans of beans, go for it. Is a half a pound of chicken the only thing you can scrounge up? Make it work! It’s not like baking. As I see it, it’s similar to that old saying “as long as you have gas in the tank you’re not lost.” So as far as cooking goes, as long as the pot’s hot, keep going until you get what you like. You can always find a way to rescue it or head in another direction if it’s not to your liking. Who knows, you may invent a new favorite recipe along the way.

Ahem. Excuse me for my little soap box… back to this recipe.

A few notes… other than starting with the chicken stock and beans, all other ingredients can be added in whatever order. If your chicken isn’t thawed, proceed with the onion, garlic and so on. Also, I’ve

made this chili with and without the cilantro. My daughter isn’t a big cilantro fan… yet! It’s yummy both ways. To me the cilantro gives it more umph but I do like cilantro.


White Bean Chicken Chili
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 4 – 15.8 ounce cans of Bush's Beans reat northern beans (cannellini or navy beans could be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (optional, I don’t always use paprika – just when I’m in a paprika-y mood)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (or ground cayenne pepper)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1¼ pound chicken breast, cubed ~ 1?
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno, chopped (about one jalapeno)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, packed
  1. In a large stock pot bring chicken broth and beans to a boil.
  2. Add all seasonings (parsley, cumin, oregano, paprika, red pepper, black pepper, salt). Reduce heat to medium and let simmer.
  3. In a saute pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and saute about 3-5 minutes then add to pot.
  4. In saute pan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and jalapeno and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Rough chop ½ cup of cilantro and add to onion, garlic and jalapeno mixture. Saute for a few seconds then add all to pot.
  6. Let chili simmer at least another 30 minutes, but the longer, the better. To thicken up chili a little use a potato masher to mash some of the beans up. A few mashes should do the trick. You could do this before adding the chicken if the beans are nice and soft.
  7. Before serving, add the rest of cilantro.
  8. (Don’t forget the cornbread!)
Adapted from Paula Dean’s White Bean Chili.

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  1. 3

    Dana Zia says

    Ooh my….. this looks simply perfect. I have book marked it and will make when the rains return.

  2. 4

    Sarah says

    Oh, I love white chicken chili! My mom makes it every winter when I come around for Christmas, but I need to learn to make it on my own. Perfect for rainy afternoons!

  3. 6


    I think I like chicken chilli better than the traditional beef style chilli. Yours sounds delicious! It’s about that time of year when chilli really hits the spot!

  4. 7

    Kimberly Beth says

    I am going to run out to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients so that I can make this white chili this weekend! It looks wonderful!

  5. 10

    Jo says

    Sure would like to print the recipe without all the rest of the page.
    I’ve been searching for chili like one I had a little restaurant that went out of business (it wasn’t because of the chili!)

  6. 12

    Megan says

    My mom sent me this link and I’m in the process of making it right now. I decided to use a bag of dry beans and let them soak before mixing ingredients (less salt than the cans and one bag equals the same number of ounces). Being a college student, it is nice to have a nice meal to cook for friends. Thanks for the recipe!

    • 13


      Hey Megan!

      When you have the time, starting with dry beans definitely imparts a flavor that no canned variety can duplicate. Have fun cooking for your friends. I remember being in college and any time home cooked food was available we felt priveleged to say the least. Take care and hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we have.

      ~ Amy J.

  7. 14


    I would love a bowl of this to warm me up right now!
    I use a recipe for white bean chicken chili from Southern Living magazine. This looks similar! Yum!

  8. 15


    Hi Amy! I was referred to your blog from a mutual friend. Love the site! I’m simmering the chili right now:) It smells delicious!

  9. 17

    Sarah says

    Made your soup this past week and it was delicious! My husband and I devoured it and I will definitely be making this again.

    • 19


      Hey Bev!

      I’ve read a lot about freezing different kinds of pesto. Some say freeze without the cheese and you’re good to go, while others say freeze it, cheese and all. I’ve yet to freeze or can any myself but am hoping to this summer. I’d do a google search and see what the pros say.

      ~ Amy

  10. 21

    Kate says

    I’ve got your chili on the stove right now – I can’t wait to try it! In case you hadn’t noticed, neither the parsley or the green pepper are on the list of ingredients, but they’re in the steps of the recipe. It would be helpful if that was fixed for those of us who base our grocery shopping on the ingredient list.

  11. 23

    Bev says

    I doubled the recipe (except for the cilantro which I stretched by processing until fine), used dried northern beans (which I soaked overnight), skipped the jalapeno because the fire was just right without it, put it in two crockpots for 4 hours on high, and froze what we didn’t eat immediately in the freezer. Delish today and delish another day, too!

  12. 25

    Andrew Keener says

    Is that one quarter pound chicken breast? Or one & a quarter pound of chicken breast? I would assume its one & a quarter but im just making sure.

  13. 26

    Tina says

    Hmmm… I’m having a hard time with this one. Officially, white chicken chili is not chili. Chili has beef. It looks more like chicken stew. If you called it that I might try it, but when I hear white chili I run the other way. Sorry.

  14. 28

    Dottie says

    Thanks for the awesome recipe! I was wondering what to do with my dry navy beans, and tonight will be southwest soup night! And thanks for the cornbread tip! Dinner is gonna be awesome!


  15. 29

    Sandie says

    I just made this substituting ground turkey, cannelini beans, a serano pepper and vegetable broth because that’s what I had without going to the store and it is absolutely delicious!

  16. 32

    Emily H says

    I just randomly came across your blog (love it) and this recipe (had to try it). Made it last night and both my husband (who is usually not a fan of poultry) and I loved it!! I added a diced red pepper with the onions for some color/sweetness, and had to sub serrano peppers for jalapenos because for some weird reason WF was out. It turned out great. Thanks for posting, I’m making the sausage/chickpea stew tonight :)

  17. 33

    Kathy says

    I do this same exact recipe,,BUT, at the very end,,,i put in heavy whipping cream & sour cream,,,OMG,,,it is to die for,,,makes it so creamy,,,shut the heat off first them stir it right in,,,MMMMM,,,I also brown my chicken first then dice up,,,the Jalapeno’s make it just right

  18. 34

    Michelle says

    I made this tonight and loved it. More of a soup than chili but had great flavor!

  19. 41

    Stacy says

    This is my 2nd time making this chili. While I love cooking with the slow cooker, sometimes I’m just not organized enough to plan ahead. This chili comes together quickly, with that long slow cooked taste. It’s a keeper.

    • 42


      Hello Stacy,

      I’m so glad you like it. It’s one of our favorites and I make it year-round. So easy, and like you said, quick, without tasting like it was quick.

  20. 43

    Nicole T. says

    I made this tonight instead of “normal” chili, and it was TASTY! I like aggressive flavors, so I ended up doubling the seasoning and adding some butter, but that is what I love about finding new recipes – making them my own!

  21. 46


    Hi Amy, I was searching your recipes looking for a slow cooker recipe using chicken thighs. Do you think I could make this soup in my slow cooker using chicken thighs? What are your thoughts? Thanks I love your blog!

  22. 48


    this recipe looks great for the nasty weather we’re about to have. I was wondering could I exchange some of the broth for a can of cream of chicken soup? or would that mess with the flavor too much. I thought it might make it a little creamier. :)

    • 49


      I’m sure you could. My mother likes to do that too. If you do add that, I’d probably hold off on the 1/4 teaspoon of salt and season to taste after adding the canned soup. Another option if you’d like it more creamy would be to mash or puree more white beans, mix it together with a tad of broth, milk or cream and whisk that in until smooth.

  23. 50

    Rick S says

    This recipe is fantastic! The stock I used was homemade from a chicken I smoked. The smokiness of the stock was the perfect fit. It was the best white bean chicken chili I’ve ever had.
    Your earlier comment said it should feed 8. Yeah, not so much. I kinda made a pig of myself it was so good.
    Thank you for sharing your recipies. Keep up the good work.

  24. 51

    Ashley Pearson says

    This receipe is absolutely delicious! I made it last night and was so excited to have my leftovers for lunch. The seasonings were perfect. I’ve already shared the recipe with a few co-workers and my boyfriend said this recipe is a definite keeper. Thank you so much for sharing! 😉

  25. 53

    Cynthia says

    I found this recipe about 2 months ago, I have made it 5 times since. My family loves it, and I love it because it is so easy to make and it tastes so extravagant. Definitley my favorite recipe.

  26. 55

    Ali says

    I rarely ‘review’ but I feel compelled to say, this is AMAZING! I made a huge batch for a party while a friend made tomato-based chili. Mine was completely gone while she had leftovers! I used navy beans from a bag and boiled them with the chicken broth for about an hour. Then I added them to the crock pot with the other ingredients and simmered for another 5 hours. I left out the cilantro but stuck to the rest of the ingredients. Thanks for the recipe and the beautiful presentation!

  27. 57

    pksmart says

    This looked so good and easy. I made it but used what I had in the pantry. I also scaled it down for just me. I used 1 can of low-sodium Bushes great northern beans (liquid and all) and boxed chicken stock. I added enough chicken stock to make it brothy. I also used dehydrated onion, garlic, and jalapeno since that was all I had. I didn’t have ground red pepper so I used red pepper flakes. I also had some purdue short cuts chicken in the freezer and used that. I am in the ‘I hate cilantro’ camp, so I left that out. Everything else was exactly as written – including the paprika. I simply put everything into a pot and brought it to simmer. It must have taken about 5 minutes to put it all together and another 15 minutes on simmer. It was wonderful! I enjoyed this for dinner with garlic bread and again for lunch the next day. Believe me, I will be making this many times! Thank you.

  28. 59

    Cheryl says

    I made this chili last night and it is delicious! It was a little too soupy so I had some left over mashed potatoes and I added those to thicken it up. so good. I’ll be making this again real soon.

    • 60


      Glad you enjoyed it, Cheryl! You could also add more white beans, then mash them up in the bottom of the pot using a potato masher or flat bottom heavy glass.

  29. 61

    Tina says

    I found this recipe today and I made this recipe today. It is delicious and has a flavor unlike anything I have ever tasted. I love the warmth of the chili. I made mine a little “soupier” because I like alot of broth. Best new dish I have made in awhile. Thank you!

  30. 62

    Jess says

    Just wanted to say thank you for this recipe! It has become my go-to cold weather weekend meal! Especially love it using some leftover smoked chicken. We’ve even made it in a dutch oven over a campfire as a great warm-the-soul meal to feed our family, friends, and occasional neighbor-camper. Love it…making some now!!!

  31. 64

    Angela says

    I made this, this evening, after eating something similar from EarthFare last week. I added a bit more chicken to it, and used my homemade broth; I also used a mixture of coconut and olive oil. I’ve just realized that I forgot to add the cilantro, though. Oops. It’s still really nice. I’ve had two cups so far.

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