White Chicken Chili is a staple in our house and has been for years! This white chili has a creamy broth base instead of the traditional tomato base of regular chili. It’s loaded with juicy chicken and hearty white beans—and packed with tons of Tex-Mex flavor!
This chili is loved by everyone in our family, and now it’s made even easier and faster thanks to an Instant Pot (or another electric pressure cooker). This recipe is directly adapted from my family recipe, which has been passed down three generations! Since it’s been cooked by folks in my family thousands of times over the years, you can know it’ll turn out perfect in your own kitchen. Let’s get cooking.
What you’ll love about this White Chicken Chili recipe:
FAST– If you use canned beans, this chili recipe is on the dinner table in less than half an hour, thanks to the Instant Pot!
KITCHEN-TESTED – This is an adaptation of a family-favorite recipe that has been used for generations—you can trust it will turn out great!
PACKED WITH FLAVOR – No bland chili here! This white chicken chili is packed with Tex-Mex flavor that will have your family asking for seconds.
Chicken: We like a combo of boneless skinless chicken breasts and boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Canned diced mild green chiles
Great Nothern Beans: Either from canned or dried beans cooked in the pressure cooker (we’ll teach you how!)
Canned whole-fat coconut milk
Finely ground cornmeal
Salt and pepper
What kind of beans go in white chili?
We typically opt for Great Northern beans because they are large and hearty, but in a pinch, you could also sub in Navy beans. Just be aware that Navy Beans are smaller and have a more delicate texture—so they may break down more as the soup cooks.
How do I thicken up my white chicken chili?
Easy peasy! We use finely ground cornmeal (like you’d use to make cornbread) whisked into a slurry with chicken broth to not only thicken the chili but also give a slight corn flavor to the soup.
How do I make this chili dairy-free?
We have a dairy allergy in my house and usually make it dairy-free! The only swap you need to make is to use dairy-free/vegan cream cheese in place of the regular cream cheese—we typically use Kite Hill plain almond cream cheese.
Protip: Use the right coconut milk!
Make sure you are using the kind of coconut milk that is shelf-stable and comes in a can, not the refrigerated stuff that comes in a carton! The canned kind is thicker and creamier, giving you a much better final chili.
What toppings work best with white chicken chili?
This chili is honestly super flavorful and delicious on its own, but it also shines when piled high with your favorite chili toppings! We love piling on avocado, minced cilantro, and sour cream. You also have to have a big bowl of tortilla chips to dip.
Can I freeze the leftovers?
Yes—we love to keep some soup or chili in the freezer for sick days or last-minute dinners. Portion some chili into a freezer-safe container, leaving some space at the top (it may expand as it freezes!), and freeze without the lid on. Once the chili is frozen solid, label the lid and seal the container closed. The chili will be best eaten within 4-6 months.
Combine all ingredients in the basin of an Instant Pot.
Set to cook for 25 minutes on high pressure. When time is up, allow for a 10 minute natural pressure release, then manually release the pressure.
For the chili:
Combine 2 cups chicken broth with onion, garlic, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, diced chiles, jalapeno, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper in the basin of an Instant Pot. Close lid and set to seal. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, and then do manual pressure release.
Remove the chicken breasts and chicken thighs to a plate or small baking dish. Use two forks to shred the chicken. Add it back to the Instant Pot.
Set the Instant Pot to the medium-low sauté setting. Add in the coconut milk, cream cheese, and beans. Stir until the coconut milk and cream cheese are melted and well combined.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Pitch mixture into the soup. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add more salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve soup topped with your favorite toppings!
You can substitute Navy beans for Great Northern beans: just know that you might have a slight change in texture because Navy beans tend to be creamier.
If you aren’t a fan of coconut, 1 1/2 cups of whole milk can be substituted for the coconut milk.
We always serve our white chicken chili with cornbread for dipping!
At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.
Cassie is a holistic nutritionist, cookbook author, and all-around food lover. She grew up cooking dinner with her parents every evening, and her passion for home cooking has been strong ever since. Cassie is the author of two published cookbooks (Cooking with Greek Yogurt and Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My!) and dozens of recipes published in major magazines and newspapers. Cassie has been sharing her award-winning recipes on Wholefully since 2010. She loves dark chocolate, homegrown tomatoes, motorsports, and anything that sparkles. She lives in Indiana with her family on a small homestead.