Quick & Easy White Chicken Chili

By Ann Fulton

White chicken chili is creamy (but dairy-free), flavor-packed, and easy enough to pull off on a busy weeknight – yet absolutely worthy of company! 
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White chicken chili is creamy (but dairy-free), flavor-packed, and easy enough to pull off on a busy weeknight – yet absolutely worthy of company! 


I’m a big fan of traditional red chili – Aunt Peggy’s Turkey Chili is a quick-and-easy family favorite for sure – but there’s something special about a good white chili.

There’s also an art to creating a white chili recipe that delivers exceptional flavor and a rich, velvety broth without relying on cream, cream cheese, and/or sour cream.

I’ve long believed that delicious and wholesome can go hand in hand. And while I firmly believe that, allergies aside, no ingredient is off limits, I also try not to rely on heavy doses of ingredients like butter and cream as an easy way to deliver flavor. 

In the case of this white chicken chili, just the right amount of herbs and spices and green salsa (or canned chilies) provide memorable flavor, while a can of beans mashed in their liquid creates a luxurious sauce that tastes creamy and decadent – but with no cream.

So, whether you’re looking for something quick and healthy or you require a dairy-free recipe – or you simply crave a delicious white chili – this is your recipe.

This quick and easy chicken chili relies on a short list of basic ingredients to deliver maximum flavor and a luxurious texture without the use of cream, cream cheese, or sour cream. (Although you could certainly use the latter as a topping!)

The utter ease of this chill, which belies its flavor and wholesome appeal, make it a weeknight go-to. At the same time, it’s perfect for lazy weekends and casual entertaining. The recipe also freezes well and offers a great choice when needing a meal to bring a friend. 

Dairy-free and loaded with wholesome appeal, this quick and easy recipe is truly the perfect white chicken chili!  

Baked White Rice is a hands-off, virtually foolproof way to prepare light and fluffy rice and is perfect for those who enjoy their chili served with a scoop of rice. 

Chili is meant to be customized to taste, of course, and this recipe offers multiple ways to do that, both in the base recipe and through the toppings. For example, you can use salsa verde or diced green chilies, and mild, medium, or hot options allow you to hone in on your preferred level of heat. Like extra kick? Add the cayenne pepper. 

As for the toppings, we enjoy the chili scooped into bowls and topped with shredded cheddar cheese and a few crumbed tortilla or corn chips. If I have them on hand, diced avocado and scallions are next on the list.

A dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, a squeeze of lime, and chopped cilantro are other worthy options. For added fun, make a toppings bar!

You could also serve the chili over white or brown rice – or add a scoop on top. A side of cornbread is a lovely option, and Southern (with a Twist) Cornbread has been a long time favorite with my family and friends. (I often make the cornbread just for the leftovers, which I love for breakfast with strawberry jam.)

White chicken chili is creamy (but dairy-free), flavor-packed, and easy enough to pull off on a busy weeknight – yet absolutely worthy of company! 

The most basic of ingredients – most of them pantry staples – come together quickly and easily, yet deliver exceptional flavor, in this quick-cooking chili. 

White chicken chili is creamy (but dairy-free), flavor-packed, and easy enough to pull off on a busy weeknight – yet absolutely worthy of company! 

To create a creamy, thick broth, you mash the can of undrained beans until mostly smooth. A potato masher works well, but even a fork will do. (Here, I’m using my grandmother’s old wooden masher, which must be over 60 years old!) Note that it’s fine if some visible pieces of bean remain.

This zero-cleanup technique delivers tender, juicy chicken and is perfect on its own yet especially helpful for all those recipes calling for cooked chicken. Works with one chicken breast or many and offers endless flexibility with flavors.

My favorite way to prepare chicken for recipes that call for pre-cooked chicken? Parchment Packet Chicken! It’s quick and easy, virtually cleanup-free, and delivers tender, juicy chicken that you can chop or shred. For added flavor, I like to season the chicken with Sazón seasoning, but salt, pepper, and a dusting of dried oregano provide excellent flavor too. Also, there will be flavorful juices in the packet. Add them to the chili too!

White chicken chili is creamy (but dairy-free), flavor-packed, and easy enough to pull off on a busy weeknight – yet absolutely worthy of company! 

Toppings are a fun way to allow diners to customize their bowl to taste. My personal favorite toppings include a sprinkle of cheese and crumbled tortilla chips. If I have them on hand, I will add chopped avocado, scallions, and/or fresh cilantro as well. Other options are included in the recipe card.

If you try this recipe, don’t forget to rate it and tag a photo @fountainavenuekitchen on Instagram and Facebook. Your feedback is always appreciated.

Quick & Easy White Chicken Chili
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings (~64 ounces/8 cups)
A creamy, luxurious chili (but with no cream) is possible with this quick and easy recipe. Dairy-free and loaded with wholesome appeal, this is truly the perfect white chicken chili!  
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans cannellini beans (Rinse and drain just one of the cans)
  • 1½ tablespoons (22ml) olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon each ground cumin, dried oregano, and kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh black pepper or ⅛ teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
  • ½ cup (120g) salsa verde or 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies (mild, medium, or hot, as preferred)*
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or one 14.5-ounce can plus a drizzle of water)
  • 12-14 ounces cooked chicken, coarsely shredded (from 3 medium or 2 large breasts, or about 3 cups)**
  • 1 cup (4½ ounces) frozen corn (no need to thaw)

Optional for serving: shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese***, crumbled tortilla or corn chips, chopped avocado, lime wedges for squeezing, chopped fresh cilantro, sliced scallions, sour cream***, cooked rice

  1. Add the can of undrained beans to a bowl and mash until mostly smooth – a potato masher works well, and it’s fine if a few visible pieces of bean remain. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and then add the onion. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper, and sauté for another minute or until fragrant.
  3. Add the salsa verde or green chilies and the drained can of cannellini beans. Cook to let the flavors marry, about 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
  4. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Then add the reserved mashed beans, chicken, and corn. Adjust the heat to maintain a light simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes more. Taste and add an extra pinch or two of seasoning as desired. Ladle into bowls and serve with toppings of choice.
  5. Storage: Leftovers will keep, covered, and refrigerated, for 5-7 days and freeze well.

*I slightly prefer salsa verde over the can of chopped green chilies, and the leftover salsa can be enjoyed with tortilla chips for a pre-dinner nibble. However, if you’d prefer not to have the leftover, absolutely use the green chilies.

**Leftover or rotisserie chicken work well in this chili. Alternatively, Parchment Packet Chicken is an easy way to make tender, flavorful chicken whenever needed—and no cleanup! For extra flavor, I often use Sazón Seasoning on the chicken. Leftover Slow Roasted Whole Chicken or Sazón Grilled Chicken work well too.

***The chili recipe is dairy-free. If needed, omit the cheese toppings or use a dairy-free substitute.

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    1. Ann Post author

      Gina, I’m delighted you made the chili and enjoyed – parchment packet chicken and Sazón seasoning included. Thank you for the terrific feedback!