White chicken chili is a warm and comforting dish that combines boneless chicken thighs, cannellini beans, poblano peppers and green chiles, cilantro, and lime juice. This chili is best served in bowls with lots of toppings including green onion, sour cream, jalapenos, and more cilantro. Perfect for when you're craving chili but want something a little lighter.
We've been enjoying white chicken chili in our home for years.
We call it white because we're using chicken and cannellini beans, and since there's no red chile powder used as you'd find in classic beef chili.
In addition to the white ingredients, there's quite a bit of green from the poblanos, lime, and cilantro, so some might consider this a green chicken chili with white beans.
However you want to classify this, we think it's delicious and a bit lighter than beef chili.
We serve our white chicken chili in bowls with loads of toppings, including fresh cilantro, sour cream, green onion, white cheddar cheese, and sliced jalapenos.
This chili is also incredible when served nacho-style with cheddar cheese over tortilla chips and an ice-cold cucumber jalapeno margarita!
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Preheat the oven to 450f. Dice one large onion, mince 5 cloves of garlic, and chop ¼ cup of fresh cilantro and set aside. If you're using the suggested toppings, prepare those now by chopping 5 large green onions, slice 2 jalapeno peppers, shred 1 cup of cheddar cheese, chop ½ cup of cilantro, and slice 2 large limes into wedges. Squeeze approximately 2 limes, or enough to yield 3 tablespoons of lime juice. Set these aside. Slice 6 large poblano peppers in half, discarding the seeds and stems. Place the peppers on the baking sheet skin side-up and drizzle or brush with olive oil.
- Roast the peppers for 15-18 minutes or until well charred, then remove from the oven.
- Place the peppers in a mixing bowl and cover them with plastic to allow them to steam for 5 minutes.
- Remove the peppers from the bowl, gently remove and discard the skins, and dice the roasted peppers. Note: The peppers will be hot (temperature-wise). You can use plastic gloves to help with the heat and clean up. Gloves are normally used for hot spicy chiles, but in this case poblanos have almost zero heat.
- Trim 1 ½ pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs of any excess fat and place in a stock pot with 3 cups of low-sodium chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook the chicken for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pot with tongs and chop it into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Turn the heat on the stockpot down to low.
- Heat a large heavy pot or Dutch oven to medium heat and add a ¼ cup of olive oil and the diced onion. Saute the onion for 5-7 minutes until soft, then add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add 4 teaspoons of ground cumin and 2 teaspoons of ground coriander and mix well. Cook for another minute to bloom the spices.
- Add the chicken and the poblano peppers to the pan along with 3 16-ounce cans of cannellini beans that have been drained. Also, add one 4-ounce can of hot green chiles, and 2 teaspoons of oregano. Strain and save the chicken stock through a fine mesh sieve or strainer and add to the pot.
- Bring the pot to a boil and once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Note: You can cook this white chicken chili with green chiles for longer than 30 minutes (another 20-30 minutes or so) since chicken thighs are used. Chicken thighs have plenty of connective tissue and fat which lends them to being juicer and more flavorful after a braise.
- After 30 minutes, taste test and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Once satisfied, add the ¼ cup of chopped cilantro and the lime juice and stir it all together. Serve in bowls with the suggested toppings and enjoy!
Top tips for white chicken chili with green chiles
- Poblano peppers. We strongly recommend taking the time to roast the poblano peppers yourself. After the poblanos have been roasted, be sure to not rinse them as that will remove much of their flavor. If you can't find fresh poblano peppers, you may be able to find jarred roasted green chiles that can be used. They often come labeled hot or mild and are sold in 4-ounce cans. 3 cans should equal the 6 fresh poblano peppers.
- Spice. To ensure maximum flavor, we strongly suggest adding the cumin and coriander to the pan with the onions and cooking for 1-2 minutes to help bloom the spice. The flavor will be more intense than if added after the liquid.
- Chicken. Since chicken thighs have more connective tissue than chicken breasts, we recommend using them for this green chili. Boneless skinless thighs don't run the risk of drying out or becoming overcooked.
- Vegetarian. To make this dish vegetarian, you can omit the chicken and replace it with more cannellini beans and green chiles/poblano peppers.
- Make ahead. As with any chili or soup recipe, making white chicken chili a day in advance will intensify the flavors and it will be even more enjoyable when you eat it.
More soup, stew, and chili recipes
Here are a few of our favorite recipes we think you'll love!
- Tuscan white bean soup - cannellini beans, roasted garlic, and herbs.
- Roasted poblano and squash chili - stewed butternut squash, chiles, and roasted poblano peppers.
- Spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup - potatoes, beans, sausage, and kale.
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- 6 large poblano peppers
- 3 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs trimmed of excess fat
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 3 16-ounce cans cannellini beans drained
- 1 4-ounce can hot green chiles
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped,
- 2 large limes cut into wedges
- ½ cup cilantro chopped
- 5 large green onions chopped
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 jalapenos sliced
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- Preheat oven to 450f. Slice peppers in half and discard seeds and stems. Place the peppers on a baking sheet skin side up and drizzle with olive oil. Roast peppers for 15-18 minutes or until well charred. Remove peppers from oven and place into a mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam. After 5 minutes remove and discard the pepper skins and dice.
- Place the chicken thighs and chicken stock into a stockpot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to simmer. Once the chicken is cooked through (about 12-15 minutes) remove with tongs and chop into bite-size pieces. Turn the heat down on the stockpot to low.
- Heat a heavy pot or Dutch oven to medium heat and add the olive oil and onions. Saute onions until soft (about 5-7 minutes) then add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1-2 more minutes). Add the cumin and coriander to the pot and cook for another 1 minute to bloom the spice.
- Strain and save the chicken stock through a fine mesh sieve or fine strainer.
- Add the chicken, poblano peppers, hot green chiles, cannellini beans, oregano, and chicken stock to the pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
- Taste test and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Once satisfied, add the lime juice and cilantro and stir it all together.
- Serve with all of the suggested toppings. Enjoy!
- After roasting, do not rinse the roasted poblano peppers since that will remove much of their flavor.
- Chicken thighs are dark meat with lots of connective tissue and therefore don't run the same risk of overcooking as white meat. If you prefer to use chicken breasts (white meat), add the cooked chopped chicken into the pot right before serving.
- This chile is excellent by itself but even better with the suggested toppings.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer and can be reheated on the stovetop or microwave.
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