White Bean Chicken Chili is a comforting crockpot recipe that’s loaded with tender chicken, dried beans, and tangy green chiles, slow cooked all day and topped with your favorite garnishes!
Temps are finally cooling down around these parts. So how to celebrate cool/cold weather after a summer spent topping 100°? Make soup, of course! But not just any soup...a flavorful, hearty White Bean Chicken Chili, chock full of juicy chicken, tender white beans, and green chiles...and garnished with generous amounts of fresh cilantro, crushed tortilla chips, and creamy Monterrey Jack. It's a fiesta for your taste buds, I tell you!
You're just a few ingredients and spices away from a slow cooker full of White Bean Chicken Chili!
- Dried white beans. Either Navy or Great Northern Beans work great in this recipe. And while it's not necessary to soak your dried beans before slow cooking them, you may do so if you wish. Scroll down a few headings for more information..
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. Or you can use a combination of the above. Or, in lieu of boneless, skinless chicken breasts/thighs, you may use an equivalent amount of your favorite bone-in chicken pieces. Just discard any skin or bones when you shred the cooked chicken.
- Minced garlic. You may certainly mince up some fresh garlic, but I find that using jarred minced garlic in crockpot recipes both saves time and ends up tasting the same after hours of slow cooking.
- Canned diced green chiles. You can typically find these in mild, medium, or hot.
- Minced fresh jalapeño. Optional but recommended. Remove and discard the seeds and membranes if you prefer flavor without heat, or leave the seeds and membranes intact (or even increase how many peppers you use) for extra spice.
- Chicken broth. Or stock. I prefer using low-sodium so that I can control the ultimate saltiness of the my white chicken chili.
- Spices. Specifically, cumin, paprika, cayenne (optional), and freshly ground black pepper. You'll also probably need to add a bit of salt (to taste) at the end of the cooking time to help all of the flavors pop.
- Masa + milk. This mixture gets stirred in at the end for creaminess and a fabulously flavorful undertone.
How to Make White Chicken Chili
Just as enticing as this warm, delicious meal is the fact that it takes mere minutes to throw together and then cooks all day in the crockpot. I mean, who wouldn't love coming home from a cold, blustery day to the smell of White Bean Chicken Chili bubbling away in the slow cooker?
- Rinse and drain beans and transfer to a large slow cooker.
- Lay chicken breasts on top of beans. Add garlic, green chiles, and jalapeño.
- Carefully pour chicken broth over ingredients and season with the spices.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until the beans are completely tender.
- About an hour before serving, remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred.
- Whisk the masa into some warm milk.
- Stir the masa mixture into the crockpot as well as the shredded chicken, adjust the seasonings, and then replace the lid of the slower cooker and cook for one more hour.
- Serve, garnish, and enjoy!
Now a quick word about the suggested garnishes for this dish...don't leave them out! I think that they are crucially important to the final flavors and textures in this Crockpot White Bean Chicken Chili.
At the very least, I highly recommend fresh cilantro, tortilla chips, and grated cheese. These three garnishes take this meal from good to great, and I have sorely missed them the few times I've eaten a bowl of this chili without them...whether it was because I ran out of something or I was just in too much of a hurry to get the extra ingredients out and thought they wouldn't ultimately make that much of a difference. Well, I'm here to tell you that they do.
As for the other garnish ideas I've suggested, such as avocado chunks, salsa, pico de gallo, pickled jalapeños, and/or sour cream? Well, they'll take this bowl of comforting goodness from great to over-the-top!
Think of this white chicken chili as a delicious blank canvas and add whatever Mexican/Tex-Mex/southwestern garnishes that make your mouth sing. Just be sure to start with an extra-large bowl. Take my word for it. 😉
(Oh, and instead of crushed tortilla chips, this white chili recipe is also scrumptious with a side of cornbread or corn tortillas!)
Soaking Your Dried Beans
It's not necessary to pre-soak your beans when making this white chicken chili and I honestly never do. However, you may certainly soak your beans if you wish to!
Soaking your beans can reduce their cooking time by a bit (in case you're in a hurry), and it can also make beans easier to digest for some people (think: the less-musical fruit). 😉
If you opt to go the soaking dried beans route, rest assured that it's easy...it just takes a little forethought.
First, rinse the beans and place them in a large bowl. Discard any that are discolored or shriveled. Cover the rinsed beans with a couple inches of cold water, cover the bowl, and allow to sit for 6 hours to overnight. Then simply drain the beans and proceed with the recipe.
Subbing Canned Beans
For a white chicken chili that cooks in about half the time, substitute three (15-ounce) cans of canned white beans (rinsed and drained) for the pound of dried white beans.
However, remember that since canned beans are already cooked, they won't be soaking up a bunch of liquid like dried beans would. So if you make this White Bean Chicken Chili using canned beans, you'll need to simultaneously reduce the chicken broth by a good amount.
I would start with 4 cups of broth and then add more from there as you deem necessary.
To Thicken Your White Chili
If you prefer a thicker White Bean Chicken Chili, use an immersion blender to puree some (but not all) of the beans, after the chili is cooked and before the shredded chicken is stirred back in.
Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free
This white chili recipe is naturally gluten-free, as long as you ensure that your masa and spices are GF.
And to easily make it dairy-free, simply swap the whole milk for your favorite unsweetened, dairy-free milk, and leave off any dairy toppings (such as cheese and sour cream).
So whether your definition of cold weather is 60° (*raising hand*) or -10°, this Crockpot White Bean Chicken Chili is the definition of a meal that will warm your heart (and your toes)! It's a family favorite around our house, and I hope it becomes one at your house, too. 🙂
More Comforting Bean Soups
- Slow Cooker Ham & Bean Soup
- Easy White Bean, Kale, & Sausage Soup
- Slow Cooker Chicken Black Bean Soup
- Slow Cooker White Bean Cajun Soup
Crockpot White Bean Chicken Chili
- 1 pound dried white beans, Navy or Great Northern
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic, fresh or (refrigerated) jarred
- 2 (4-ounce) cans mild diced green chiles
- 1 jalapeño, diced (OPTIONAL)
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons masa, OR fine corn meal
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Crushed tortilla chips
- Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Chunks of avocado
- Sour cream
- Pico de gallo
- Pickled jalapeños
- Rinse and drain beans and place in the bottom of a large (7- to 8-quart) slow cooker. Lay chicken breasts on top, and add garlic, green chiles, and jalapeño (if using) to the slow cooker. Carefully pour chicken broth over ingredients, and season with cumin, paprika, cayenne (if using), and black pepper. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until beans are tender.
- An hour before serving, remove chicken to a plate or cutting board. Mix masa into warm milk, stir mixture into white chili, and replace lid of slower cooker. In the meantime, cut chicken into large chunks and shred it with two forks. Add chicken back to the white chili and taste for seasoning, adding salt and adjusting spices as necessary. Cover and continue to cook for one more hour.
- Before serving, garnish with a generous amount of cilantro, crushed tortilla chips, and shredded cheese, plus whatever other toppings appeal to you. Leftovers may be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen (in a freezer-safe bag or container) for up to 3 months.
- The weight of chicken pieces varies, but when I make this recipe with chicken breasts, I typically use 3 large chicken breasts or 4 smaller ones. If they're super jumbo chicken breasts, I may only use 2. It also somewhat depends on how much chicken you prefer in your chili.
- In lieu of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs, you may use an equivalent amount of your favorite bone-in chicken pieces, which can better retain moisture when slow cooked for a long period of time. Just discard any skin or bones when you remove the chicken to shred it.
- Make this white chili as spicy or as mild as you wish by increasing or omitting the jalapeño and/or cayenne pepper. If you just want the flavor of a fresh jalapeño without the heat, remove the seeds and membranes before finely dicing it and adding it to the crock pot.
- For a thicker texture, you may use an immersion blender to puree a portion of the cooked beans, after the chicken has been removed for shredding and before it's stirred back in.
- If you don't have any masa on hand, you may sub finely ground cornmeal instead. I do not recommend skipping this ingredient as it adds noticeable depth of flavor to the recipe.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Post originally published on October 18, 2013, and updated on March 17, 2020, and November 11, 2022.