White Chicken Chili

by Amy on 11 October 2011

This past weekend had some wonderful moments. I attended my first food bloggers conference, Food Blog Forum, which was amazing. I got to meet some of my favorite food bloggers from around the country, hang out with the always-fantastic Nashville food blogger crew, + learn tons of great information. What else went well? I ate lots of delicious food, from local restaurants + food trucks, which always makes me happy. And? I made this divine white chicken chili, which blew my mind with its awesomeness!

As much as I love the white chicken chili I’ve had at restaurants and at friends’ houses, I had never made it myself until this past sunday. While i’m bummed that this hasn’t been on regular rotation in our kitchen for the last few years, I’m thrilled that it will be now. It is rich, creamy, + hearty, with a lovely tanginess from the monterey jack, sour cream, + chiles. It was perfect for our fall football-watching food on Sunday, + the leftovers will make a wonderful comfort food dinner on the upcoming chilly fall nights. Everyone who sampled it gave two enthusiastic thumbs up, as did I, so I’m definitely labeling this recipe a huge success!

Note: This chili is mild, with just a hint of spicyness. If you want it spicier, I’ve included an option below for adding cayenne pepper to spice it up. I’ve tried it both ways – mild + spicy – and both are great!

White Chicken Chili

serves 4-6, adapted from gourmet


2 cans cannellini beans
2 cans navy beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional: if you want to make the chili a bit spicy)
two 4-ounce cans whole mild green chiles, drained + chopped
4-5 chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
1 1/2 cups grated monterey jack (about 6 ounces)
1/2 cup sour cream


In a large 6-8 quart pot, cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until softened. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add remaining 6 tablespoons butter, and melt. Whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes. Gradually stir in the broth and half-and-half, whisking constantly. Bring mixture to a boil and summer, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until thickened.

Stir in hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper + cayenne (if using). Stir well. Add in the beans, green chiles, shredded chicken, + monterey jack cheese, + cook mixture over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Stir sour cream into chili immediately before serving.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama October 11, 2011 at 8:21 am

Oh this looks soooo yummy. I love chicken chili but I don’t make it that often, I think I’ll add it into next weeks menu!

2 amy October 11, 2011 at 8:26 am

wonderful — i can’t wait to hear how it turns out for you!

3 Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl October 11, 2011 at 8:27 am

This looks great – love the addition of the cayenne. We like it spicy around here! :-)

4 amy October 11, 2011 at 8:35 am

thanks for the inspiration to make this, ashley! it was your chicken chili that inspired me. also, you could probably add way more cayenne than i suggested since you love spicy – just a heads-up in case you try this recipe. =)

5 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. October 11, 2011 at 11:15 am

I’m always looking for a good white chili recipes. Thanks for this one! Hope you’re doing well! loved meeting you!!

6 amy October 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

you’re so welcome – and it was fantastic to meet you, too!

7 amy's hungry husband October 11, 2011 at 11:51 am

listen, readers — this chili was extra-delicious and required multiple bowls to really evaluate. the creamy texture was accented really well with a handfull of tortilla chips (imagine me saying it with a very exaggerated accent for fun, like “torrrrrr-TEEEE-yaaa yhips”) to add a satisfying crunch. i also think it could be spiced up by adding jalapeno peppers (imagine the accent again) instead of mild chilis — or for the really brave, habaneros (you know the drill).

8 amy October 11, 2011 at 11:59 am

ha! i’m so happy that you (+ vivek) loved the chili + that i loved it, too. i do agree that crushing up a few tortilla chips + stirring them in added an awesome crunch. i may add a little corn in next time, too, for some added crunch. good tips on the different types of chiles, by the way – i’ve taught you well!

9 Rachel @ The Avid Appetite October 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm

this is lovely. i adore finding good chili and soup recipes for the cold weather. it’s still warm here in NJ, but i’m craving some cool weather so i can try this dish out!

10 amy October 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm

i can’t believe it’s still warm up in NJ! hopefully you get some slightly cooler weather soon so you can dig in to some awesome soups, stews, + chilis. =)

11 Renee October 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm

With thanksgiving coming up I wonder if this would be a good recipe to use leftover turkey instead of chicken. I’m always looking for turkey recipes.
Oh, and I agree with your hungry husband on adding the jalapenos to give an extra kick.

12 amy October 11, 2011 at 3:12 pm

that’s an excellent idea for leftover thanksgiving turkey – my guess is that it would work well with turkey – you might want to kick up the spice amounts a bit to compensate for the slightly stronger flavor of turkey vs. chicken. i’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it! + i agree that his jalapeno idea is an excellent one. =)

13 Ally Garner October 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm

There’s this place in my hometown that serves the best white chicken chili. Even in the South Carolina humid summers I would order it. Stick to your ribs comfort food at it’s finest. Coincidentally my Mom mentioned last week that the place had finally closed, after 60 years in business. Sigh. I’ve loved every single recipe of yours that I’ve made, and have no doubt this will fill my chicken chili void :)

14 amy October 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm

sorry to hear that your favorite chicken chili place closed. it’s always so sad when a favorite place closes. =/ however, i have no doubt that, with your cooking + creativity skills, you’ll be able to make one that’s just as good, if not better!

15 Mommyof2Girlz/StephD October 11, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Oh yumm! I love chicken chili but never thought of adding green chili’s. Thanks for the recipe!

16 amy October 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm

they add a great flavor, but without the spice/heat of some other chiles, so it’s an especially good dish for a big group, or a group with kids. the non-spicy people can eat it as is, while the spicy lovers can jazz theirs up with a little hot sauce or cayenne. gotta love a versatile dish!

17 Wendy (The Weekend Gourmet) October 11, 2011 at 6:58 pm

This chicken chili sounds great! Love having chili, stew, and soup recipes now that the weather is cooling off just a smidge down here…still not really cool, but at least the oppressive heat has finally cleared out!!

18 amy October 11, 2011 at 7:12 pm

i so agree – i’m loving see all the soup + stew recipes coming across the food blogs. it’s really getting me in the mood for fall eatin’, which is perfect, because our evenings + mornings are really starting to feel fall-like.

19 LeAndra October 11, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Have I mentioned the upcoming chili cook off at work? I feel like I’ve been looking for just the right twist on a recipe, and now I think I found it. Thanks for sharing!

20 amy October 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm

between the chili cookoffs + the cupcake battles, your workplace sounds way too fun! you might want to make this once beforehand to see if you want to put any additional twists on it for the competition, but it’s pretty darn amazing just the way it is, too. i did think adding a little texture, maybe through some corn or another veggie worked in there, could add a nice touch. let me know how it goes!

21 BreAna {Sugar and Spice and All Things Iced} October 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm

I definitely need to try making some white chicken chili!! Thanks for the recipe and inspiration!!

22 amy October 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm

it’s delicious + a nice change from traditional chili – you’ll have to let me know if you make a white chicken chili + how it turns out. =)

23 The Waspy Redhead October 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm

This looks heavenly, Amy! I will definitely be giving this a shot with some of my remaining frozen roasted hatch chilis!

I’m so glad you enjoyed Food Blog Forum. I went last year with my friend Molly from duchessoffork.com.

24 amy October 11, 2011 at 10:32 pm

this would be *amazing* with hatch chiles – you’ll definitely have to report back on how it is. food blog forum was such a wonderful time – i hope to get to meet you at the next one (or if you’re ever just visiting nashville). =)

25 Shannon October 11, 2011 at 11:26 pm

This white chicken chili looks amazing and I totally agree with adding some crushed up tortilla chips for some extra crunch. I’m thinking I would like some right now and it’s 11:30PM!!!! Awesome job!

26 amy October 12, 2011 at 8:30 am

yes! i’m a huge texture person so i loved the tortilla chips for crunch. i’m thinking about adding corn or another veggie next time for even more texture. + just so you know, i think white chicken chili makes a perfect midnight snack. =)

27 Vivek October 12, 2011 at 9:26 am

I was at Amy’s house on Sunday for this chili and it was REALLY good – I had two huge bowls, with the aforementioned tor-teeeaaa-yah chips!

28 amy October 12, 2011 at 9:52 am

bahaha! so glad you came over to sample + entertain the hungry husband with loads of football talk. these football sundays are turning out to be an awesome addition to our week!

29 kristen @ notsodomesticated October 13, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I can’t believe that I’m just now seeing this recipe! This looks sooo good! I need to mark this one for sure!!

30 amy October 13, 2011 at 9:11 pm

i think you’ll love it, kristen! it’s easy to make, but still really hearty + delicious. you’ll have to let me know how it is if you try it. =)

31 Elizabeth October 27, 2011 at 11:01 am

I made this last week and it is DIVINE! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

32 amy October 27, 2011 at 11:09 am

awesome, elizabeth! i love it, too – sooo delicious. glad you made it + enjoyed it!

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