Simple Spicy White Bean Chicken Chili

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There are a few cold weather foods better than chili. It is hard to beat a cold night and a hot bowl of chili topped with some melted cheese. While the archetypal chili for me is a nice big pot of Texas red, today we’ll be looking at its lighter, much faster to cook cousin.

What is a White Bean Chili?

White bean chili is exactly what it sounds like, chili made with white beans (rather than kidney or pinto beans). The spices and meat used are also not of the red variety which results in a light-colored final product.

White bean chicken chili recipe served in a white bowl

My Approach to Spicy White Bean Chicken Chili

When it comes to chili, you need spice. I’m going to get my heat from a combination of New Mexico Hatch chiles and Pasilla peppers for my white bean chicken chili recipe. If you have never had a Hatch chile before, they are a cultivar similar to Anaheim chiles, but with much more heat.

Next I need to address the protein texture. I’ll be using chicken, though you could also substitute with turkey (especially for the holiday season). I’m going to braise my chicken, first by searing the outside with salt and spices and then cutting it into chunks to finish in the mix. 

Finally, for beans, I’m going to be using a combination of canned Great Northern and Cannellini beans. When it comes to cooking the beans, I want to minimize their time on the heat to prevent them from breaking down too much. 

Developing Flavors

To develop the flavors of my white bean chicken chili recipe I want to do a couple of important things. 

First, I need to season and sear the chicken. This will allow the chicken to brown and develop a flavorful crust from the maillard reaction. While this crust will mostly dissolve in the final cook, it will leave me with somewhat of a pan sauce flavor in my chili. 

White bean chili topped with melted cheese

Next, I want to saute my onions and peppers. This will allow the sugars to caramelize and develop a tiny bit of char on the peppers skin. 

Finally, I’ll be reducing the final liquid volume of my chili by about 1/4th. This will concentrate the flavors down by eliminating the dilution of water. 

Topping Ideas for White Bean Chicken Chili

Common toppings and for white bean chicken chili include, sour cream, pico de gallo, tortilla chips, and of course, classic cheese and onions. 

Tools Required

To make this white bean chicken chili recipe, you will need the following tools:

  1. Knife and cutting board 
  2. 1 pan for sauteing onions, peppers, and chicken 
  3. 1 pot for cooking the beans, broth and final mix
  4. Can opener for the beans
Close-up of spicy white bean chicken chili garnished with herbs served in a white bowl placed on a red table

Spicy White Bean Chicken Chili

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Calories: 107kcal


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 5 New Mexico Hatch or Anaheim Chiles (Substitute 2-3 Pasilla peppers if you cannot find these. If you can’t find Pasilla peppers substitute bell peppers and serranos or jalapenos.)
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans white beans of your choice strained
  • Salt pepper, chili powder



  • Wash and dice peppers 
  • Dice onion
  • Dice garlic and sage
  • Open cans and strain water out from beans 
  • Start your pan and pot cooks at the same time on the stove so that all ingredients can be ready to be combined at the same time

Cooking in the pan

  • Heat a pan on medium high with 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Season chicken with salt, pepper, and chili powder
  • Sear chicken on both sides for 2-3 minutes a side (chicken will still be raw on inside). Take chicken out of the pan and place to the side 
  • In the same pan you seared the chicken, in add the peppers and onions and saute for 5 minutes
  • Turn heat down to medium low and cook for another 10 minutes or until onions turn translucent 
  • Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes and put back into pan
  • Add 1 cup chicken broth to the pan and cook for 10 minutes

Cooking in the pot

  • Add beans, garlic, sage, and the rest of the chicken broth 
  • Cook on high for 20 minutes
  • Turn heat down to medium in the pot
  • Combine all ingredients into the pot and cook for 30-40 minutes 
  • Serve


Calories: 107kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 1139mg | Potassium: 182mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 14IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 0.4mg
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Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. He is a contributing chef at Mashed, and his recipes and contributions have been featured in Tasting Table, Edible Arrangements, Insanely Good Recipes, and The Daily Meal.

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