THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY
Staub, who I am thrilled to partner & share with you this year! Staub’s high-quality enamel cast iron is made in France & it’s my absolute favorite cookware. Staub’s 5.5-quart Cocotte is my go-to during the winter months. It’s perfect for simmering hearty soups, stews, & chilis – like this longtime favorite Creamy White Chili recipe. All thoughts & opinions are my own.
Cozy, Creamy Cold Weather Goodness!
During our cold winter months here in Minnesota, I almost always make a point to prep a pot of soup or chili at the beginning of each week. Not only does it make for an awesomely soul-warming dinner on a chilly night, I can typically count on there being enough leftovers to reheat into the coziest lunches throughout the week. (Trust me, we need all the cozy we can get this time of year! As I type this post, it’s -18° outside!)
This creamy white chili recipe is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve made it for years & years – in fact, it was one of the first recipes ever published here on PWWB way back in 2016! We’re revisiting it today, updating it with clearer instructions & improved photography (scroll to the bottom of this post for a throwback!), because it’s one of the recipes we can’t get enough of – it’s seriously the best.
While you can’t really go wrong with a bowl of seriously hearty, seriously creamy white bean chicken chili, there are a couple of things that take this particular white chili over the top:
- Beer. Chili isn’t complete without beer! It creates an amazingly aromatic & rich earthy base of flavor, cutting through the creaminess of this white chicken chili. Even if you’re not a beer drinker (I’m not really, either!), this is a total chili game-changer!
- Masa harina. While many get their creaminess from sour cream or cream cheese, I like my white chili a little bit lighter. This white chili is thickened with a masa harina (the finely ground corn flour used to make tortillas), a trick I picked up from Pioneer Woman back in the day. In addition to creating a beautiful creamy texture, the masa harina adds another layer of toasty, nutty flavor to the white chili – it is so good!
Whether I’m prepping this white bean chicken chili recipe or any of my other favorite winter soups, stews, & sauces, I always reach for one of my trusty Staub cocottes. It’s no secret that I’m a longtime superfan of all things Staub, but Staub’s cocottes are my absolute favorite pieces of cookware! Not only are they beautiful pieces built to last a lifetime, their enamel cast iron is perfect for simmering soups & sauces and it’s super easy to care for (no seasoning necessary!). I use most often use a 5.5-quart cocotte for soups & stews, but a 4-quart cocotte is great too – especially if you most often cook for a cozy crowd of 2-4.
Creamy White Chicken Chili Recipe Highlights
You will love this white bean chicken chili recipe because it’s…
- SERIOUSLY CREAMY. Thickened with a simple slurry made of masa harina (finely ground corn flour), this creamy white chicken chili recipe delivers major creaminess without tons of added dairy.
- HEARTY & FEEL-GOOD. Each bite is filled with pulled chicken breast, white beans, & flavorful aromatics, this white bean chicken chili is seriously hearty without feeling heavy – total feel-good winter comfort food.
- AN EASY ONE-POT WONDER. This white chili comes together in a single pot on the stovetop. It takes just 60 minutes or less, plus leftovers make the perfect easy cozy lunch to enjoy throughout the week.
Cozy winter food at its finest! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Creamy White Chicken Chili, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
What is White Chili made of? Key Ingredients for the Best Creamy White Chili
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
This creamy white chili recipe is made with a relatively straightforward set of ingredients, many of which you probably keep on hand during the winter months. The key ingredients include…
- Chicken – Boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs both work great here – use whatever you love most. The chicken simmers alongside the beans & vegetables, resulting in an especially full-flavored white chicken chili, but if you have any leftover shredded chicken (like from a rotisserie chicken), you can also use that instead.
- Aromatics – Namely a generous amount of onions, garlic, poblano peppers, & canned diced green chiles. While this white chicken chili recipe is made with plenty of peppers, you can easily control the heat by deseeding the poblanos for a mild chili or tossing in some jalapeno or crushed red pepper flakes for more heat.
- Beans – My favorite white chili beans are creamy & mild cannellini beans (also called white kidney beans). You can use any white bean of choice, though – navy beans & great northern beans work great, too.
- Spices – My white chili seasoning is a simple yet trusty combination of ground coriander & ground cumin. Whenever I make sauces & soups, I also like to toss in a couple of bay leaves for an extra dimension of flavor.
- Liquids – The base of this white bean chicken chili is standard chicken stock or broth – use whatever you love most. My super secret chili ingredient, though, is always beer. To me, good chili needs the flavor & earthy richness that a little bit of beer offers. You don’t need anything fancy; a light, lager-style beer will work just fine here!
- Masa harina slurry – A simple combination of masa harina & milk is the other secret ingredient at play here – it gives this creamy white chili its creaminess. Learn more below!
You can thicken chili a number of different ways – most creamy white chicken chili recipes do so using cream cheese or sour cream (& sometimes a combination of both!). While the added dairy is always delicious & guaranteed to yield super thick & creamy results, I prefer my white chili a little lighter. I thicken this chili using masa harina. In addition to creating a beautiful creamy texture, the masa harina adds another layer of toasty, nutty flavor to the white chili. So good!
Masa harina is essentially finely ground corn flour. It’s is the primary ingredient in both corn tortillas & Mexican tamales, so even if you’ve never heard of masa harina, chances are it’s probably not a new-to-you ingredient! You can easily find masa harina at your local Mexican market or in the ‘international’ aisle at most conventional grocery stores. (Note: masa harina cannot be used interchangeably with cornmeal in this instance, as cornmeal is much coarser & will create a gritty consistency in the chili – no good!)
How to Make White Chicken Chili on the Stovetop
One of the main reasons it’s on constant rotation here at the PWWB House, is the fact that this white chicken chili recipe is a one-pot wonder. Not to mention, it takes less than 60 minutes to throw together (much of which is inactive simmering time!). Perfect for cozy Sunday suppers, weeknight cooking, meal prep – all of it! If you’ve never learned how to make white chili, here’s what you need to know.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Sear the chicken. Heat some oil in your cocotte or soup pot, then add in the chicken & cook a few minutes per side to brown it off with a hard sear. Why? ⇢ Searing the chicken in the same pot the chili simmers in is both convenient & it intentionally helps add a ton of flavor to the base of the creamy white chicken chili. The chicken won’t be cooked through at this point, which is totally fine.
Cook the aromatics & deglaze with beer. In the same pot used to sear the chicken, soften onions & poblano peppers. Once softened, add in the aromatics: garlic, diced green chiles, & the white chicken chili seasonings. Cook a few minutes more until everything is super fragrant, then deglaze the pot with beer. Why? ⇢ The beer creates steam as it hits the hot pot, releasing the browned bits (i.e. fond) on the bottom of the pot. This is where the flavor is – scraping it up off of the bottom of the pot helps create an even more flavorful white chicken chili!
Build the white bean chicken chili & simmer. Add the chicken back into the pot, along with white beans & chicken stock. Bring everything to a simmer, then cover & cook for 15 minutes. Simple!
Shred the chicken. Once it’s cooked through, remove the chicken from the pot & shred it into bite-sized pieces. Quick & easy shortcut for shredding chicken! ⇢ My favorite kitchen hack is using a trusty stand mixer to shred chicken. The paddle attachment does all the work, creating the perfectly pulled chicken for the creamy white chicken chili.
Thicken the creamy white chicken chili. Whisk together equal amounts of masa harina & milk, then slowly stir the masa harina slurry into the simmering white chili. Add the shredded chicken back into the pot & let everything simmer together for 5 minutes longer. Why? ⇢ Masa harina slurry does double duty here: it helps create the most beautiful thick & creamy texture in the white chili (which would otherwise be more soup-like since the only liquid in the recipe is chicken stock), & adds a beautiful light flavor of corn to the chili – so good!
Meal Prep Tips
Nearly all of the active prep work for this creamy white chili comes from prepping the veggies! Dice the onions & poblanos ahead of time – they’ll keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days – & at dinnertime you can jump right into cooking your white chicken chili. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more guidance!
Storage & Reheating
One of the reasons I love this creamy white chicken chili recipe so much is the fact that it’s incredibly make-ahead friendly! Leftovers store beautifully for up to 5 days in the refrigerator & are easy to reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. Since the white chili gets even better as its flavors meld together, I love to make a batch at the beginning of the week & enjoy leftovers for lunch throughout the week. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more guidance!
White Chicken Chili Serving Suggestions
Once your creamy white chicken chili simmers & thickens to the perfect level of creaminess, it’s ready to serve! Portion it into your favorite cozy soup bowls & pile on the toppings – after all, the best part of any sort of chili feast is chili toppings!
Some of my favorite toppings for creamy white bean chicken chili:
- Avocado – Simply dice it up or smash it with a little lime juice & salt for a lazy guacamole. Or, go all out & make yourself a batch of guacamole. (Any food that acts as a vessel for guacamole is pretty alright in my book!)
- Cheese – Double down on the creaminess with a little shredded cheese! Pepper jack is my go-to for this chili, though any melty cheese you happen to have on hand will be great (e.g. white cheddar, havarti, colby jack, etc.).
- Tortilla chips – Crush them up & pile them right on top or leave them whole for scooping up bites of creamy white chicken chili.
- Jalapenos – For an extra kick of heat – feel free to deseed them if you like things more mild.
- Cilantro & lime juice – Finish your bowl with tons of finely chopped cilantro & a good squeeze of lime juice for extra freshness to brighten up the flavors in the creamy white bean chili. The perfect finishing touches!
Other Creamy White Chicken Chili Recipe Tips & FAQs
Easy White Chili Variations
Can I make this creamy white chicken chili recipe…
- Mild? ⇢ Yes! As written, this creamy white chicken chili recipe is not especially spicy. Be sure to remove the seeds from the poblano peppers & use mild diced green chiles. If you’d like, you can also swap the poblano peppers with bell peppers for an even milder chili.
- Spicy? ⇢ Easily! Leave the seeds in the poblanos &/or use hot diced green chiles. For extra heat, you can also toss in some diced fresh jalapeño or amp up the white chili seasoning with crushed red pepper flakes or a little cayenne.
- Alcohol-free? ⇢ Yes! While the alcohol from the beer cooks off as the chili simmers, you can easily swap it out for an equal amount of chicken broth or stock for an alcohol-free chili.
- Gluten-free? ⇢ Aside from the beer, this white bean chicken chili recipe is naturally gluten-free. Swap it out with your favorite gluten-free beer or an equal amount of chicken broth or stock for a gluten-free chili.
- Dairy-free? ⇢ Yes! Swap out dairy milk in your masa harina slurry with more chicken stock or use your neutral plant-based milk of choice.
- Even thicker & creamier? ⇢ Sure thing! Swap out the milk in your masa harina slurry with half & half or heavy cream, or stir in some sour cream to thicken to your desired level of creaminess.
- Plant-based? ⇢ For a completely vegan white chili, check out this recipe.
Crockpot or Slow Cooker Creamy White Chicken Chili
For maximum flavor & richness, sear the chicken, soften the aromatics, & deglaze with beer on the stovetop, then transfer everything to your slow cooker to slowly simmer throughout the day. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for step-by-step guidance.
Instant Pot Creamy White Chicken Chili
Of all the methods detailed here, an electric pressure cooker is admittedly my least favorite, as I find the quickness of a pressure cook to compromise flavor development & richness. Nonetheless, if that’s what works best for your schedule, you can prepare this creamy white chili recipe using your Instant Pot. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for step-by-step guidance.
Can you freeze white chicken chili?
Definitely, this creamy white chili is incredibly freezer-friendly. Leftovers keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more guidance!
I can’t wait for you to try this Best-Ever Creamy White Chicken Chili! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!
Need more hearty cold weather meals? Be sure to try Grandpa Clarence’s Hawaiian Beef Stew, this Hearty Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili, or this Chipotle Chicken Chili next. ♡ Happy cooking!Print
Best-Ever Creamy White Chicken Chili
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 60 minutes
- Yield: serves 8–10 1x
- Category: Main Dishes, Soup, Stew, & Chili Recipes
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American, Tex-Mex
- Diet: Gluten Free
This Best-Ever Creamy White Chicken Chili is a cold weather staple! Chicken breast, white beans, & peppers braise in a fragrant stock laced with warm spices & beer for extra richness. Once simmered to perfection, the white bean chicken chili is thickened with masa harina, creating the best thick & creamy texture (without use of cream cheese or sour cream!).
Slow cooker & Instant Pot directions provided in the Recipe Notes, below.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs (see Recipe Notes)
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 2 medium poblano peppers, deseeded as desired & diced (can sub 4 jalapeños)
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 heaping tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 heaping tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 (two) 5-ounce cans diced green chiles
- 12 ounces light beer of choice
- 2–3 (two-three) 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
- 32 ounces chicken stock or broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup masa harina
- 1 lime, juiced
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- for serving, as desired: shredded cheese of choice, smashed avocado or guacamole, sliced jalapeño, chopped cilantro, tortilla chips, etc.
- Brown the chicken: Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a 5.5-quart cocotte or heavy bottomed pot with tight fitting lid over medium-high heat. Season the chicken generously with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Once the oil is hot & simmering, add the chicken to the pot. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside. The chicken will not be cooked through at this point – that’s fine!
- Cook the veggies: If needed, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same pot used to brown the chicken. Once the oil is hot & shimmering, add in the yellow onions & poblano peppers, seasoning with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened & fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Add the aromatics & deglaze the pot: Stir in the garlic, ground coriander & cumin, & diced green chiles. Cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly pour in the beer, stirring constantly to scrape up any browned bits that may have formed on the bottom of the pot. Increase heat to high, bringing the beer to a simmer. Cook, allowing the beer to simmer & reduce by half.
- Build & simmer the white chili: Nestle the browned chicken breasts from Step 1 into the vegetables, then add the cannellini beans, chicken stock or broth, & bay leaves to the pot. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cover & simmer 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Shred the chicken: Remove the chicken breasts from the pot & carefully shred into bite-sized pieces. You can do so using 2 forks, or my favorite trick: pop them in a stand mixer & let the paddle attachment do the work for you (I swear this works!). Add the shredded chicken back into the pot, stirring to combine.
- Thicken the white chili: Prepare the masa slurry by whisking together the milk & masa harina in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. While stirring the chili constantly, slowly pour the masa harina slurry into the chili. Let the chili continue to simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, 10-15 minutes. Once thickened, remove the bay leaves & stir in the fresh lime juice. Taste & season with additional salt or ground black pepper, as needed.
- Serve: Portion the creamy white chili into bowls, serving with your favorite chili toppings: shredded pepper jack or cheese of choice, smashed avocado or guacamole, chopped cilantro, thinly sliced jalapeño, crushed tortilla chips, etc. Enjoy!
- Can I make this creamy white chili with shredded rotisserie chicken? While browning & simmering the chicken right in the chili adds a lot of flavor to the base of this white chili, creamy white chili is a great recipe to use up any leftover chicken that may be hanging out in your refrigerator. Rotisserie chicken is also a great store-bought shortcut. If you’re using already cooked chicken, skip Step 1 of Recipe Directions, above.
- Storage & Freezing:
- Storage & Reheating: This creamy white chili is incredibly meal prep & make-ahead friendly – it stores so well & it’s one of those things that gets even better as it sits & its flavors meld together. Transfer cooled creamy white chili to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator. Leftover white chili will keep for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
- Freezer Instructions: This creamy white chili is also incredibly freezer-friendly. Transfer the cooled chili to a freezer container or divide between multiple freezer containers for smaller portions. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen white chili in the refrigerator overnight or submerge the freezer container in room temperature water for a quicker thaw. Easily reheat on the stovetop.
- Alternate cooking methods:
- Slow Cooker or Crock Pot White Chicken Chili: Prep the recipe according to Steps 1-3 above. Transfer the aromatics & chicken to your slow cooker, building the chili in the slow cooker according to Step 4, above. Slow cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Shred, thicken & serve according to Steps 5-7 of Recipe Directions, above.
- Instant Pot White Chicken Chili: Use the Instant Pot’s browning/searing feature to prepare the recipe according to Steps 1-3 above. Build the white chili according to Step 4. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot, ensuring the sure valve is in its sealed position! Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes, then carefully quick release any remaining pressure in the pot by flicking the valve to its venting position. Remove the lid. Shred & serve according to Steps 5-7 of Recipe Directions, above.
- 10-Minute Meal Prep: Nearly all of the active prep work for this creamy white chili comes from prepping the veggies. Take care of this in advance – it takes 10 minutes, tops – & you can jump straight in to cooking during the week. Here’s what you’ll do:
- Dice 2 medium yellow onions & 2 medium poblano peppers. Transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (10 minutes active)
- Note: This recipe has been updated since its original publish in October 2016. If you are looking for the original recipe, which included rotisserie chicken & lime tortilla strips, click here to download a printable version!
Keywords: creamy white chicken chili, white bean chicken chili, white chili recipe, thick, easy, best, stovetop, crockpot & slow cooker-friendly, instant pot-friendly, spicy, winter, comfort food, weeknight recipe, healthy
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.
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Wow! This chili is delicious! It’s not too spicy and the masa makes it so creamy. My masa was more of a paste than a slurry when i mixed it with the milk so took some extra work to break it up in the pot, but it thickened perfectly. This recipe will be on repeat all winter!
Thanks Carly! So glad to hear that this chili is a new winter fave – yours sounds like it turned out perfectly!!
This sounds perfect for a fall day! My bf would love this and I def want to make it soon! Also, your photos are gorgeous!! Killing it lady!
thank you, kelly! i hope you & the bf enjoy this white chili 🙂 it’s a good one. let me know what you think! xoxo
Wow, you literally described this like the beautiful work of art that it is; this reminds me of just how wondrous our Creator and God is; the flavors He’s made in His creation are just awesome; including beer, avocados, and such… 🙂 And this looks like the absolute perfect bowl of yumminess to bring in the wonder of fall.
thank you, emily! it really is the perfect bowl for fall. comforting & delicious! thanks for stopping by 🙂 xoxo
This looks DELISH. I am a total chili fiend. I actually just made it yesterday haha. I’ve never tried white chilli though and your recipe looks amazing so I’m trying this one for sure! Thank you so much for the chili inspiration! Gorgeous photos too (as always!).
thank you aya! i am obsessed with chili too (as you can tell ;)) cheers to soup season! xoxo
You had me at Spotted Cow, chicken and guac! For sure gonna try this out soon!
you’re gonna love it emma! & you can actually use spotted cow (jealous!!). let me know what you think!! xoxo
Holy crap this is so freaking GOOD!! My first PWWB recipe. Will be making more! Does it freeze well? And another use for my kitchen aid!
Thank you so much Hillary! We’re SO glad you enjoyed – this chili is one of our favorites! This freezes beautifully – just be sure to follow the freezing directions laid out in the recipe notes for best results. Thanks again!