White Bean and Chicken Chili

There’s something really satisfying about cooking a nice pot of chili. As much as I love traditional red chili with tomatoes and chili powder, I also love a good white one with white beans and lots of cumin. Mine is full of vegetables and has a nice smoky flavor from the bacon. I love having my boys gather at the counter and help measure out all of the vegetables. Enjoy with skillet corn bread or cheesy garlic toast and a simple green salad.–Jenny Flake

LC Chili Fixin’s Note

A squeeze of lime. A flurry of diced avocado. A dollop of sour cream. A handful of tortilla chips. Whatever your usual chili fixin’s, they’re welcome here, too, though this is hardly a traditional chili. It’s quite a lot soupier, a little smokier, and, in some ways, subtler than most chilis. It’s sorta a soupy Mexican stew, actually though we daren’t call it such because we can’t recall ever seeing bacon in a recipe for Mexican soup. But you get the idea. If you crave a thicker, more chili-like chili, reduce the amount of broth to 3 cups and, if you desire, mash some of the beans with the back of a fork prior to adding them to the pot.

White Bean and Chicken Chili Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 6 ounces pearl onions, peeled, or 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup peeled, shredded carrots (optional)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (optional)
  • 1 Anaheim, poblano, or jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and finely diced, or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 15-ounce cans white beans (any kind), drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • 1. Fry the bacon in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, turning once or twice, until browned and crisp. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve 3 tablespoons drippings in the pot. When the bacon has cooled enough to handle, crumble it into pretty small pieces.
  • 2. Heat the reserved bacon drippings over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, if using, and chile pepper and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • 3. Add the crumbled bacon, stock or broth, chicken, beans, cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper to the pot and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes before serving.
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Larry Noak

Apr 16, 2013

I’m truly surprised at how good this chili is. Being your average, middle-aged, retired, blue-collar guy, I should be predisposed to not even consider white chili. Ignoring this recipe would’ve been a mistake. Something told me that with a half pound of bacon, this was a winner. It took about 20 or so minutes to prepare and another 30 minutes on the stove. I grated baby carrots and used pearl onions from a jar, which saved some time. Overall, this chili was VERY satisfying and I’m certain will be even better when I reheat it for lunch tomorrow…if I can wait that long.

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Adriana Pecunia

Apr 16, 2013

This was such a quick, satisfying dinner. I never think to make chili when I'm trying to repurpose what's left of a roasted chicken. However, 2 cups shredded chicken (which really isn't much) was stretched into another meal that was entirely unrecognizable from the day before. Since the chicken is already cooked, the whole dish comes together quickly yet tastes like something that has cooked for hours. I served this with corn bread (also a recipe from LC) and some sautéed kale and collard greens. This will definitely be served again.

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Natalie Reebel

Apr 16, 2013

This recipe produces a really good chili. The bacon is a great addition, adding smokiness, saltiness, and overall depth of flavor. Even though this chili recipe produces a dish resembling more of a soup, it’s perfect for a chilly evening. While putting this recipe together is simple, it does take some time, especially if using the vegetables. This isn’t a dish you want to cook after work or a long day running errands. With all the yummy flavors going on, this chili needs no toppings of any kind. However, some tortilla chips, cheese, and/or sour cream would probably send this chili over the top. Notes: Be sure to really crumble the bacon to a small minced size. If the bacon pieces are a larger chop, they can get chewy as they simmer.

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Joan Osborne

Apr 16, 2013

I loved everything about this chili. It’s quick and easy and a fantastic one-pot meal. Perfect for a worknight. I cooked my chicken ahead of time and made homemade broth at the same time. This chili has the perfect balance of seasonings and flavorings. I used peeled pearl onions from a jar since they were much cheaper than the ones you had to peel yourself. I used an Anaheim chile since that’s what my store had from the choices given. I used chicken thighs for the meat and cannellini beans for the white beans. This one was just as good reheated the next day. The bacon took a little longer to crisp up in the Dutch oven than it would have in the oven or a frying pan but I’m not complaining since I only had one pot to wash after I’d eaten. I loved the addition of shredded carrot and the cilantro gave the chili a nice brightness. I’ll definitely be making this one again. I ate mine with some crackers.

Testers Choice
Jo Ann Brown

Apr 16, 2013

There’s a nice big smoky flavor in this pot of chili and for me the recipe bridges the gap between winter comfort and spring’s lighter fare. Poblano peppers were exactly the right choice. They add just enough heat and go really well with the beans and bacon. Don’t be afraid to use a high-quality rotisserie chicken if making this recipe midweek, or better yet save this recipe for a Monday and use the weekend’s leftovers. Wear gloves when handling poblano peppers. They still contain essential oils that don’t wash off easily and are painful if you touch your eyes. Don’t exceed the cooking time; the beans are already cooked. The goal is to just get everything up to temperature. Do buy very good bacon smoked your favorite way.

Testers Choice
Marilee Johnson

Apr 16, 2013

This was a very hearty soup that’s great for cooler weather. It was also very eye-appealing. I cooked the bacon but it didn’t yield enough drippings so I added a little olive oil to sauté the veggies. I used 6 ounces of chopped onion and the suggested carrot, celery, and poblano pepper. It really didn’t have enough broth to support the veggies, cannellini beans, chicken, and bacon. I’d add more broth next time, at least 2 cups, maybe more. I loved the flavor of the chicken and bacon together. The poblano pepper was mild and I like a kick, so a hotter pepper would add a little needed heat. I liked the small size of the onion, carrot, celery, and poblano and the beans and chicken gave the soup a little chunkiness. The cumin added some “chili” flavor and the cilantro topped it off with its freshness. I’d add the bacon to the bowl of soup just before ladling it into bowls as otherwise it gets soft and soggy by the time you reach the bottom of the bowl—especially not good for leftovers, in my texture book. This would also be good with a thicker base. Spin 1/2 to 2/3 of the veggie and bean mixture in a blender, add it back to the broth, and add the chicken and cilantro. Add some cream if you want, but it probably wouldn’t be necessary. Top with bacon and more cilantro. This would give it a creamy texture but would still maintain some of the “bite and chunkiness” of it. This is a winner!

Testers Choice
Ayanna Fews

Apr 16, 2013

Such a wonderful take on chili. I liked the addition of the bacon to this otherwise traditional chicken chili. I opted to use the carrots and celery and thought that they added a nice flavor (and upped the veggie factor). One thing that I’ll probably do next time I make this is to add a little more cumin to up the “chili” flavor.

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Connie Lewis

Apr 16, 2013

This is a delicious and light chili, unlike any I’ve ever tasted (I’m accustomed to red chilis). The shredded carrots were a nice touch, though I think I’ll use more of them next time I make this. I used dried rather than canned beans and recommend this change. It took more than 15 minutes to get the vegetables tender, and I was using chopped onions, rather than pearl, which I imagine would’ve taken even longer (I didn’t even consider using pearl onions because I thought the size would throw off the balance of the dish and also be difficult to eat using just a spoon). I thought 1 teaspoon cumin was just a little too subtle, so I added about 1/2 teaspoon more..

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Deitra Walter

Apr 16, 2013

This is a well-balanced, smoky chicken chili that offers plenty of flavor. This will appeal to both young and old and can be made to the desired spiciness level simply by changing the chile pepper used.

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Colleen Bloxham

Apr 16, 2013

I’d a busy day ahead. Lots of driving, dropping off, picking up, etc. I also had guests for dinner. I thought this would be the perfect something that was quick, delicious, and hearty on a chilly winter’s eve. The ingredients were mostly all things I have on hand. It came together in a flash and tasted like it’d cooked all day. My guests thought I was a star! It was great with the little bits of crispy bacon, the big chunks of chicken, and the bowl full of white beans and broth. I did leave out the celery but found the broth to my liking with just the carrots, onions, and garlic for the base. I think I’d do it with more cilantro next time, as I found it kind of disappeared, plus salt and pepper to taste instead of measured. Other than that, the perfect meal.

Testers Choice
Ralph Knauth

Apr 16, 2013

This is a nice bowl of white chili. It’s easy to prepare (especially when using premade broth and cooked chicken). The recipe can easily be adjusted to your taste by adding more chile or cumin, which I did. I made some corn muffins to go with it, and that was a perfect fit. I used 2 poblano chiles, charred and peeled. Even so, the chili wasn’t spicy at all. Next time I’d use some extra jalapeños to add a bit more heat. I used homemade broth, but I don’t think there’d be a big difference in taste if store-bought chicken stock was used. One teaspoon of cumin isn’t enough. Adjusting the seasoning, I added 2 more teaspoons of cumin and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. I served some lime with the chili; it tasted better with the lime.

Testers Choice
Ellen K.

Apr 16, 2013

This chili boasts of well-rounded flavors that play off of each other. The cilantro, garlic, bacon, chile pepper, and cumin make a great combination that really arouses the senses. My entire family loved it and it was a meal in and of itself, which is what a mother loves! I used 1 small chopped onion, as I always keep a bunch on hand, added fresh grated carrots, and also chose to include the celery. I thought the cooking times noted were great because the celery added a bit of crunch but was still cooked through. Without these veggies I don’t think the chili would be quite as fulfilling. One suggestion I have is to include a note on the process of roasting and removing the membrane of the chile pepper in case someone doesn’t know how. This also adds time to the process, which is important to account for, and people don’t have to leave your Web site to find out how to do it. I’d also mention the importance of not letting your bare hands touch the pepper. I think this would be best with dark chicken meat.

Testers Choice
Sandy Hill

Apr 16, 2013

This chili had a delicious aroma and a wonderful smoky taste from the bacon. I agree, as a Texan by birth, it wasn’t the chili I knew in Texas. However, it had a delicious flavor. The chili was really chunky with all the vegetables. It was more of a Mexican soup than chili, but that may be my Texas heritage. I used 1 medium onion, chopped, instead of the pearl onions. Also, I didn’t use the shredded carrot. We enjoyed the chili with corn bread and will definitely make it again. The kitchen smelled so good!

Testers Choice
Sheri C.

Apr 16, 2013

This is a terrific version of a white chicken chili. The creamy white beans and the bacon made me go back for seconds. It’s also very quick to make, given a couple of substitutions (instead of pearl onions and shredded carrots, I cut up a yellow onion and two carrots cut into 1/4-inch dice). Rotisserie chicken would work fine here, too, if you don’t happen to have cooked chicken on hand.

Testers Choice
Sue Davis

Apr 16, 2013

Considering I recently made a triple batch of traditional chili for a ski trip to Lake Tahoe, I was pleasantly surprised that my family was so excited to taste this recipe. It must’ve been the wafting irresistible aroma of fresh cilantro, Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon, cumin, and sautéed mirepoix that was impossible to ignore. Interestingly, it reminded my two teens of the borracho bean soup at their favorite Mexican restaurant in Texas, Pappasitos. This recipe is a snap to make. One could use chicken made ahead of time, or from a large batch made at another time and frozen, or utilize a nicely roasted supermarket chicken. I typically make soups and stews the day prior to serving to allow the flavors to develop. However, I must say this recipe was tasty just after preparation and even better on day 2, today. I prepared the recipe as written and do think the recipe can be improved with more flavoring. Personally I’d add more poblano pepper, cumin, garlic, and have half the onion be a red onion for coloring. I’d also serve it with a garnish of fresh cilantro and a lemon or lime wedge.

Testers Choice
Trudy Ngo-Brown

Apr 16, 2013

I really loved this chili. The bacon added such a great flavor. I used about 3/4 cup onion and all the vegetables called for in the recipe. I was skeptical that it only needed 15 minutes of simmering time, but it was pretty flavorful at that point. We could’ve probably eaten then, but I let it go another 15 because I still had corn bread baking, and it tasted even better later. I used just under a pound of boneless chicken thighs for my shredded chicken, which I’d cooked in pan while cooking the vegetables. If I don’t have leftover chicken again in the future, I think I’d just add browned chicken (thighs or tenderloins) to the broth and extend the simmer time to further enhance the chili (and shred the meat after it was done cooking). Will definitely make it again!

Comments
Comments
  1. ruthie says:

    White chicken and bean chili! I knew there was a reason I made that huge pot of basic white beans. This chili will get bumped right to the top of the “bean list.” ;) Thanks for posting.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Sweet, er, savory serendipity, ruthie! Look forward to hearing what you think…!

  2. Jessica F says:

    Fabulous recipe! This was my first attempt at chicken chili and the family was practically licking the bottom of the pot. I did make a few little tweaks to use what I had on hand. First, I dumped everything in a crockpot and let it simmer on low for six hours. No bacon, but I do keep a jar of rendered peppered bacon grease in my fridge for emergencies. I kept all the veggies and beans true to the recipe; used store-bought rotissarie chicken breast meat and homemade broth. Instead of the seasoning in the recipe, I used about a tablespoon or two of Penzey’s Chili 3000 Seasoning Mix and a poblano pepper and a small gypsy pepper for spice. Delicious!! I think this will be a regular winter favorite.

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