Chili is one of those foods (kinda like chocolate chip cookies), for which everyone has their own definition of perfect. For me, this white chicken version is my absolute perfect chili. I mean, I love a good regular “red” chili, too, but I feel like regular chili requires lots of toppings to make it spectacular. I usually put taco chili on top of noodles, and then top it with avocado, chopped onion, sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, and a handful of crushed saltines. It’s delicious, but a lot of work! With white chicken chili, no toppings are necessary. It is creamy and flavorful all on its own. It’s absolutely wonderful. This is my perfect chili.
My favorite way to make white chili is 100% from scratch—I boil a whole chicken to make the broth and the meat for the chili, plus I cook the beans from dry. It means this dish takes a few hours to put together, but the flavor is out-of-this-world amazing if you go about it that way.
You could definitely sub-in premade ingredients (like canned chicken broth and beans), but if you’re looking for the most flavor bang for your buck (and, honestly, a much more budget-friendly meal), I highly recommend going about it the old-fashioned way. If you’re just putzing around the house on a Sunday afternoon, it really doesn’t take all that much hands-on time. Just a few stirs here and there while you go about your business. I promise, the flavor difference is worth it.
For some reason, we always serve white chicken chili with tortilla chips for dipping, which is a departure from the cornbread we usually serve alongside red beef chili. Either would work, but I love using crunchy tortilla chips to scoop up the creamy, delicious chicken chili. I add a little dusting of freshly minced cilantro to the top of the chili to add a little bit of color, scoop out a handful of tortilla chips, and dinner is served.Print
This hearty, stick-to-your-ribs white chicken chili is surprisingly light and healthy!
- 1 whole chicken
- 10 cups water
- 1 large onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans diced mild green chiles
- 1 jalapeño, diced, seeds and membranes removed
- 1 pound dried Great Northern or Navy beans
- 3 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1–14 ounce can whole fat coconut milk OR 2 cups whole cow’s milk
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Shredded cilantro and tortilla chips for serving
- Place the chicken in a large Dutch oven or soup pot, cover with water, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
- Remove chicken from the water, and let cool to touch. Once cool, remove meat from the bones and shred.
- Meanwhile, add the onion, garlic, chiles, jalapeño, dried beans, cumin, and chili powder to the chicken cooking water.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer for about 90 minutes, or until the beans are tender.
- With 20 minutes left in the bean cooking time, add in the shredded chicken, milk, salt, and pepper. Serve topped with cilantro and tortilla chips.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman