White Bean Chicken Chili

A close friend, after eating a bowl of this chili, once remarked that it was not just an interesting twist on a traditional chili recipe, but that it was, in fact, the best thing she had ever eaten. I used to make this almost every weekend during my single days, and then eat it all week long. It is a nice twist on the traditional beef ‘n’ bean red chili, and I would imagine, is healthier, as well (though remember, you are still eating a big bowl of meat and beans). The trick to a successful white bean chili is in the dramatic reduction of the stock, which creates this chili’s “sauce.” Let’s get into it, shall we?

White Bean Chicken Chili


  • 2 cans of beans (white/navy beans)
  • The biggest can of unsalted chicken stock you can get your hands on (49 oz. or so)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 4-6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1 small can green chilies, chopped
  • 1-2 diced fresh jalapenos
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Sliced green onions, sour cream, jack cheese to garnish, all optional


Drain beans, leaving about 1/3 of a can of liquid in each. This will help the sauce thicken. Add beans and remaining liquid to a large pot. In a saucepan, heat butter, and add garlic, jalapenos, green pepper, onion, and chilies, and saute for 5 minutes. Add mixture to pot with beans. Brown chicken in saucepan, and add to pot. Add chicken stock, cumin, pepper, white pepper, red pepper flakes, and cilantro. Lower heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Cooking time is approximate; the goal is to keep the stock reducing and reducing, until you have a nice sauce, but before the mixture begins to burn. Optionally, serve with sliced green onions, sour cream, or shredded cheese.

Photo: My Cooking Quest


Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road." He currently owns and operates the Ancho Honey restaurant in Maine.


  1. So glad you posted this! I spent about an hour earlier today Googling recipes for this very dish and couldn’t find one I liked enough. Yours sounds just right! I’ll be making it for our pre-trick or treating party. Thanks.

  2. I made this last night. It was AWESOME!!!!! I made one change…only because I don’t like green bell peppers so I used red and yellow. Also, I had to double it because I have a big family and it turned out more soup like then what you would think for chili (even though I let it reduce for 1 1/2 – 2 hours), but it was fantastic! Had a good kick to it too! Will definitely make again!

    1. I’m so glad to hear it worked out! This is one of our favorite dishes. I wonder if I can work it in one more time before Spring comes?

  3. So, I’m up at 8 to make THIS chili (cause I love it), and you don’t say when to add the stock…. I put it in with the beans. I’m doing it in the crock pot, so we’ll see

  4. Thanks for the note, Lauren. I will fix up the recipe now. You were right to add it with the beans. I’m not sure how it will work in the crockpot, so be sure to let me know. Remember, the only “sauce” in this chili comes from the insane amount of stock reducing like crazy.

  5. I just happened to come across your website when I was looking for a white chili recipe. I made yours today, I have to say it was awesome! I cant wait to try other dishes from your website 🙂 Thanks again for a delicious dish..

  6. Wow–this was a really great dish. I loved the amount of aromatics for the relatively small quantity of chicken and beans. My only change was to use a bit of the stock and some vermouth to deglaze the pan that browned the chicken; when that reduced a bit, I added back to the chili for added richness.

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