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White Chicken Chili is zesty and delicious chili with a creamy broth loaded up with tender chunks of chicken, white cannellini beans, and vegetables.
Our fantastic White Chicken Chili is a crowd favorite – whether you are serving it for a weeknight meal or at a game day party.
It has tender chunks of cooked chicken in a light and creamy broth that is chock-full of vegetables and beans!
Three kinds of fresh peppers – poblano, jalapeno and bell – are combined with onions and celery root, as well as fire roasted canned corn, white cannellini beans, and green chiles to add fantastic flavors in every bite. Then we topped the chili with a splash of fresh lime juice, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream for a creamy, citrusy note that perfectly complements the spicy heat in the chili.
Why You’ll Love White Chili with Chicken
- It’s a hearty meal that everyone loves.
- This chili reheats beautifully, so you can make it ahead of time then warm through when you are ready to serve.
- You can vary the spiciness to suit your tastes. As written, this White Chicken Chili has a gentle – but noticeable – heat level – but you can add more or less jalapenos to adjust the heat.
Key ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken thighs – Thigh meat really makes a difference in this dish as it has more flavor than breast meat. But, if you don’t like dark meat and want to use boneless chicken breasts, that’s totally fine.
- Fresh vegetables – Fresh yellow onion, poblano pepper, orange bell pepper, jalapeno, celery root, fresh cilantro and fresh garlic make the bulk of this soup. If you can’t find celery root, make up the difference with more onions and peppers.
- Canned vegetables – Canned kernel corn, canned cannellini beans and canned diced green chilies are added at the end. We used fire roasted canned corn, but regular canned corn is fine.
- Spices and herbs – Ground coriander, cumin, and chili powder plus dried oregano, salt and pepper flavor the broth.
- Chicken stock – Use homemade, or chose a low-sodium boxed or canned chicken broth.
- Sour cream – Buy full-fat sour cream. This is used in the broth to give the finished chili a creamy consistency, plus more is used as a garnish on each serving.
- Toppings – Garnish the finished soup with any combination of fresh cilantro, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, lime juice, tortillas or corn chips and a dollop of sour cream.
Special supplies needed
- Large soup pot or dutch oven
How do I make White Chicken Chili?
- Sear seasoned chicken pieces in hot oil in your soup pot. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Sauté fresh vegetables in the same pot with seasoning.
- Add the stock and seared chicken, then simmer until the vegetables are tender.
- Add canned vegetables and heat through.
- Stir in sour cream before serving.
- Serve with toppings.
Chef’s Tip – Have all ingredients prepared before you start. (Read about mise en place here.) Once the process begins, the soup comes together quickly.
Frequently asked Questions
Can I make White Chicken Chili ahead of time? Yes – in fact, we think this soup improves in flavor as it sits so feel free to make a day in advance, refrigerate and heat to serving temperature when ready.
How do I store leftovers? Store refrigerated for up to three days.
How do I reheat leftovers? Heat a pot on the stove or in the microwave – just be careful not to overheat the soup as the sour cream in the broth can separate.
Can I freeze? If you plan to freeze this soup, wait to add the sour cream until after you thaw it. (The sour cream can separate after it is frozen and thawed.)
Can I make this chili with ground chicken? Sure!
You might enjoy these other soup recipes:
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Glenn’s Sweet & Spicy Slow Cooker Chili
- Chicken Mulligatawny Soup
- Chicken Enchilada Soup
- Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (start with 2 1/2 pounds and trim off fat and gristle – it should give you about 1 3/4 pounds of meat)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound trimmed celery root, diced into half-inch pieces, about 2 1/2 cups*
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced
1 orange bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
1 poblano pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium jalapeno, seeded and diced small
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dry ground coriander
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 quart chicken stock or broth (make homemade chicken stock if possible)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 14.5-ounce can cannellini beans with liquid
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted corn drained (use regular canned corn if you can’t find fire roasted)
1 4.25-ounce can mild diced green chilis
1 pint full fat sour cream
Additional sour cream
Shredded jack cheese
Additional cilantro leaves
Corn tortilla chips
Fresh lime wedges
Trim chicken thighs of all visible fat, gristle and connecting tissue. Then cut into bite sized pieces.
Salt and pepper all sides of the chicken pieces.
In a large Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium high heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil and once hot, sear half the chicken by cooking for a minute or so on both sides. Remove to a bowl, add two more tablespoons of oil and sear the remaining chicken, moving to the same bowl.
Add the remaining olive oil, reduce to medium heat and add the celery root and stir and cook for three minutes.
Add the onions and all three peppers and cook and stir for two more minutes.
Add the garlic, coriander, oregano, cumin and chili powder and cook one minute.
Add the stock, the cooked chicken and the cilantro and raise heat to high, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
Once the mixture starts to boil, lower to a simmer and cook 12-15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Add in the cannellini beans, canned corn and the green chilies and bring back to almost a boil.
Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream until it dissolves into the soup.
Serve with some or all of the toppings.
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*If celery root is not available, make up the difference with extra peppers and onions.