White Bean Chicken Chili

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white bean chicken chili in a white bowl

“This recipe for White Bean Chili is so easy and versatile. It can be made using dried or canned beans, fresh cubes of chicken, or rotisserie chicken, and of course, as much or as little heat as you desire”

White Bean Chicken Chili


  • 1 pound dry small white beans or 3 (15-ounce) cans white beans
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion (1 large)
  • 1 cup seeded and diced fresh poblano chili (about 2 medium), or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 (7-ounce) can diced fire-roasted chilis (such as ™Ortega brand)
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced fire-roasted jalapeno (such as ™Ortega brand)*
  • 1 quart homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons crushed dried oregano (preferably Mexican), or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 pound cubed chicken breast (I like a small dice)
  • Water, as needed
  • Optional Ingredients

    Sour Cream
  • Shredded Jack cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • *The jalapeno pepper add heat, if you don't want it too hot, add a small can of roasted mild peppers in their place


Step 1

Soak the beans, or don't. See the making of for more information of the benefits or lack thereof for soaking beans.

Step 2

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat; add the onions and raw poblano pepper; cook, stirring often, until softened - about 5 minutes. Add the cans of peppers, along with the drained beans, chicken stock and spices.

If using dried beans, cook, partially covered, for 2 - 3 hours, or until the beans are tender. If using canned beans, cook 30 minutes, to allow the beans to absorb some of the flavor.

Step 3

Once the beans are tender, either take half of them and blend them in your blender, or use an immersion blender to pulse part of the beans - but not all of them. Stir in the chicken pieces - cook, about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Adjust the liquid (it may be quite thick at this point) with water. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve in warmed bowls with optional ingredients, as desired.


{The making of – White Bean Chicken Chili}


white bean chicken chili served with cornbread


As the rains begin to fall, and the world turns dark and stormy, my thoughts turn to warm, comfort foods.



Slow-braised meats.

It’s one of my favorite times of the year. Along with every other time of the year.

I love that each season seems to have its own menu.

I have a lot of chilis on my site, including those that are all meat such as Chili Verde and Chili Colorado, or those that include beans and GASP tomatoes, like Beef Chipotle Chili with Beer and 3-Bean Chili con Carne, but those all are red sauced chili, and I wanted to make something different. So I did. White Bean Chicken Chili.

White Bean Chicken Chili is different from a “traditional” chili in many ways, but mostly, it’s made with chicken (DUH), white beans (another DUH) and green chili peppers. No chili powder present.

To start, you need to have beans.  White beans.


Beans – dried or canned? 

While you can certainly use canned white beans in this recipe, I recommend you start with dried beans.


Well, first of all, dried beans cook longer which allows them to soak up more of the lovely chili infused cooking liquid.

Second, dried beans are not previously processed, do not have added salt AND do not come in a can that is coated with BPA or Bisphenol – both linked to cancers.

When I attended the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, I remember sitting in a cooking demo put on by Mario Batali and at the time his point of view was, canned beans were as good as and easier than was cooking dry beans from scratch. And from a convenience standpoint, I can’t argue this. But really, dried beans are not that hard to make.


To Soak or Not to Soak, that is the question.

I think the main issue with making beans from dried beans is, almost all recipes tell you that you have to soak the beans overnight.

And that takes pre-planning. And I don’t always pre-plan.

So reach for the can.



beans soaking for White Bean Chicken Chili


Not so quick. There are a few “remedies” to this.

  1. The pre-soak method -Yes, pre-soak all night. If you were a good cook and knew your plan for the next day, go ahead and put those dried beans into a bowl and cover them with about 4 inches of water – set aside and let them soak up the liquid. Drain and ready to use.
  2. The quick-soak method – This will do the same as the above method but in about 1 hours time. Place the dried beans into a pot, cover with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and allow to sit for 1 hour. Once drained the beans are ready to use.
  3. The I don’t have time, I forgot, no-soak method – Yes, the beans will cook. It will just take them longer. So while pre-soaked beans may become tender in 2 – 3 hours, the no soaked beans might take 3 – 4 hours.

So really, soaking the beans is all about the amount of time you have and the amount of preplanning you do.

But, as I said, you could use canned white beans if you so choose. In this case, only cook them in the flavorful broth long enough to give them some flavor. Thirty minutes should do it. And be sure to rinse them well so they aren’t adding too much salt to the dish. AND you might need to decrease the amount of liquid, as the beans will not be absorbing any of it.

Other than that…


Chilies, Chilies, and Chilies


White Bean Chicken Chili ingredients


The backbone of a good chili, of course, comes from the chilies themselves. In this preparation, since I wasn’t using chili powder, I needed to have a good variety of different flavorful chilies.

For convenience, I used canned fire-roasted Anaheim chilies, Ortega™ brand is my choice, along with some fire-roasted jalapeno peppers. If you don’t want your chili too hot, you could not use the jalapeno peppers and just add another can of mild fire-roasted Anaheim chilies.

And of course, if you desire, you could roast your own fresh. Probably 3 whole Anaheim and 4-5 jalapeños would be a nice substitute for the canned ones.

To those I started with about a cup or cup and a half of diced poblano peppers, I just love the flavor of poblano, and of course, a good cup and a half, to two cups of diced onion.


the vegetables for White Bean Chicken Chili


What the chicken?

I chose fresh chicken breast that I cut into a 1/2 inch dice. To me, this was a perfect choice.

However – You could also use cooked chicken, either from a purchased rotisserie chicken, or left-over chicken. Just be sure to remove all the skin; shred or dice, as you prefer.


Cooking methods galore

You can make this recipe as stated.

You can make this recipe in your crock-pot or slow-cooker. Follow your cooker’s instructions for making beans and/or chili and adjust the ingredients.  If making it in the crock-pot, I wouldn’t bother sautéing the onions and peppers, unless you have a browning element in your cooker. Also, cook the beans and then add the chicken, if raw, during the last hour, adjusting the heat to high.


White Bean Chicken Chili in a pot


You can make this recipe in your pressure multi-cooking quick slow cooker, also known as an Instant Pot. Same as above, just quicker. Your beans, even if un-soaked will take about an hour to cook tender, then release the pressure and add the chicken. You won’t need to cook on pressure again, just bring to a simmer and go for the 15 additional minutes.


White Bean Chicken Chili in a white bowl with cilantro


As I said, you can make it with pre-soaked, or un-soaked beans.

You can make it with raw or cooked chicken.

It’s all just a matter of time.

And choice.


White Bean Chicken Chili in a bowl

White Bean Chicken Chili


This chili is perfect when served with some Scallion Corn Muffins.


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Nutritional Info

This information is per serving.
  • Calories
  • Fat
    4g (1g Sat, 3g Mono, 1g Poly)
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Nutritional information is provided for your good health but may not be 100% accurate

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