This chicken and white bean chili is an easy, comforting, spicy dinner that’s perfect for a rainy day.
It’s been so dreary and rainy all day long. Admittedly, I kind of relished it. For some reason, I have been craving a dark and stormy day because it gives me an excuse to wear my coziest clothing and not move once all day. When the weather is like this, I really only want one thing, and that is a giant tureen filled with spicy, flavorful chicken chili.
I find that I love chicken chili as much–if not a tiny bit more–than beef chili. I just love the creamy white beans and tender, shredded chicken.
This recipe is pretty simple to make too, which makes it even better. I do like to make a quick homemade chicken broth using boneless, skinless chicken thighs. While bone-in, skin-on can yield more flavor, this recipe works just fine with boneless, skinless thighs. They’re easier to shred up after they finish cooking, too which is a win for me!
How to make chicken and white bean chili
You all should know that I am a serious devotee of Mrs. Renfro’s green salsa. I always keep a jar or three in my pantry for nights when I want something quick and easy with no effort.
This chicken chili is made with Mrs. Renfro’s green salsa as a core part of the flavor profile, so it’s a little zippy, tangy, and spicy. Feel free to use your favorite salsa–green or red–to spice this up to your personal preference. You can even use corn and tomato salsa if you like too! I would just try to pick a salsa that doesn’t seem too thin or watery.
What you need
- Chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs to keep it simple. Feel free to use bone-in, skin-on; just bump up to 2 pounds to accommodate the bones.
- Jalapeńos: I like to add a little kick to the broth, so I simmer the chicken with a few jalapeńos. If you don’t want the extra heat, skip them.
- Onion, bell peppers, and scallions: I use these aromatics for the chili base. You can throw in some diced poblano or even a diced sweet potato to give a little sweetness to the chili.
- Spices: I use my go-to spices for chili, including chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and paprika. I add just a pinch of extra cayenne powder.
- White beans: Cannellini beans are my go-to because I love how creamy they are in the chili. Try it with navy or Great Northern if you don’t have cannellini. You can, of course, opt for kidney or black beans if you prefer.
- Salsa verde: As I mentioned above, use your favorite here. I love Mrs. Renfro’s.
- Garnishes: The best thing about chili is the garnishes! I finished with scallion greens, cilantro, lime juice, and just a little sprinkle of cheese. Sour cream, avocado, red onion, or radishes would also be fantastic. Crumbled tortilla chips or tortilla strips would also be fantastic.
How to make it
- Step 1: Cook up the chicken! Cover it with water, add salt, jalapeños and simmer it uncovered for about 45 minutes. While the chicken simmers, prep all your ingredients and garnishes. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pot. Continue simmering the broth–if needed–until it reduces to about 4 cups. Strain it through a sieve and discard the peppers. Once that’s done, just shred up the chicken and wipe out the pot since you’ll be using it to make the chili.
- Step 2: Make the chili! The chili is really just a matter of layering ingredients in the pot. Start with the peppers and onion, layer in the spices, and finish with the beans and scallion whites. From there, add the broth, salsa verde, and cooked chicken. Bring it to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. You can mash some of the beans for an even creamier texture.
- Step 3: Serve it up! Ladle the chicken chili into bowls and pile on those toppings. You’re ready to eat!
I hope you love this chicken chili recipe as much as I did! If you make it, please drop a comment below to tell me what you think. I’d love to hear from you!
Chicken and White Bean Chili
- Large pot
- Fine mesh sieve
- 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1–2 jalapeños, halved; optional
- 8 cups water
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 bell peppers, trimmed, seeded, and diced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- Pinch of cayenne powder, optional
- 4 scallions, minced; white and green parts kept separate
- 14.5- ounce can of cannellini beans, drained
- 16- ounce jar salsa verde
- 4 cups broth, from above
- Minced cilantro, lime wedges, shredded cheese, sour cream, or tortilla chips
Make the chicken:
- Place the chicken thighs in a pot. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Cover with 8 cups of water. Add more if needed to submerge the chicken fully. Add the jalapeńos and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Skim any foam or scum from the top of the water as the chicken simmers.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it with two forks. Cover the chicken and set aside.
- Turn the heat on the broth to medium and continue simmering for 10–15 minutes until it reduces to about 4 cups.
- Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Discard the spent peppers. Wipe out the pot and return it to the stovetop. If you don’t quite have 4 cups of broth, just supplement what you need with water.
Make the chili:
- Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil in the pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and peppers and cook for 6–8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne powder if using. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add the white parts of the scallions and the beans to the pot and toss to coat. Add the prepared broth, salsa verde, and shredded chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. You can mash some of the beans to thicken the broth. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
- Ladle the chili into bowls and serve with the minced green parts of the scallions. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!