White chicken chili with cream cheese. This mildly spicy, weeknight-friendly white bean chili is as hearty, bright and comforting as it sounds. Imagine tender beans, juicy chicken and crispy corn kernels in a rich, ultra-creamy broth, layered with spices, a hint of lime and green chilies. Don’t forget to sprinkle with plenty of punchy toppings and serve with some crusty bread.
Why You’ll Love This Creamy White Chicken Chili with Cream Cheese recipe
The best trick when making any soup that includes shredded chicken is to cook the chicken right in the broth, together with all the other ingredients. This way you’ll only need one pot, while the chicken gets infused with all the flavors.
The key for tender, moist and juicy chicken? Use whole breasts and cook them no longer then 15 minutes, otherwise they will turn dry and stringy.
To make this chili ultra creamy, rich and thick, we use full fat cream cheese and some big handfuls of grated cheddar. Stir it until completely melted into the broth. Bingo. So good.
Use a mix of mild and hot peppers, jalapeños for their heat and poblanos for their fresh flavor, they will provide a delicious kick while creamy white beans mellow it all out. To decrease the heat level, remove and discard the seeds from the jalapeños before chopping. And don’t forget to use toppings, they seal the deal.
Let me guide you through the recipe with this step-by-step VIDEO or follow along on YouTube.
- This white chili recipe works also well with ground chicken or turkey.
- To save some time, you can certainly make this chili with leftover rotisserie or shredded chicken.
- Use toppings like cilantro, scallions, avocado, corn chips, shredded cheddar, sliced jalapeños, sour cream or plain full fat yogurt
- Sneak in some zucchini for extra greens.
- This chili is mildly spicy, it has a delicious warm kick, if you want it spicier, just add more jalapeños or Anaheims, or add extra red pepper flakes.
- Instead of jalapeño and poblano peppers, use 3 (4-oz) cans chopped green chilies, (hot, mild or a combination). There are several heat levels for diced green chilis, so be sure you’re getting the one you really want. The hot versions can be pretty spicy
- If you can’t find poblano peppers, use serrano pepper, ancho chili, green chili, banana pepper or habanero pepper. Green bell peppers are also a great substitution for poblano peppers.
- Use Great Northern, cannellini or white kidney beans.
Can I Make this White Chicken Chili in an Instant Pot?
You can make this in the slow cooker, instant pot or on the stovetop.
- Slow Cooker: Use 4 cups chicken broth in the slow cooker instead of 5 cups as on the stovetop, since there is no evaporation.
- Instant Pot: Use 4 cups broth, cook on high for 15 minutes, then manually release the steam and shred the chicken. Then add the corn and shredded chicken, and warm it back up.
- Refrigerator: Store your white chicken chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be kept fresh for up to 3 days.
- Freezer Option: You can freeze white chicken chili with cream cheese. However, the texture of the cream cheese may not be as smooth and creamy when it thaws. Use an airtight container and freeze your white chicken chili for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw overnight in the fridge and then simmer on your stovetop until heated through.
- Make Ahead for Enhanced Flavor: This recipe actually gets better with time. Consider preparing it one day before serving, but without adding the cream cheese. When you’re ready to enjoy it, simply reheat it on your stovetop over medium-low until heated through, allowing the flavors to meld and intensify. At the end stir in cream cheese. Don’t forget to bring your cream cheese to room temperature.
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Cooking Video: How to Make White Chicken Chili Recipe
White Chicken Chili with Cream Cheese
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 yellow onions finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves minced
- 1-2 pickled jalapeños seeds removed and minced
- 2 poblano peppers or green chili, or green bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped
- 4 chicken breast fillets about 800 g/1.8 pounds
- 5 cups/1.2 L low sodium chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup/240 ml whole milk
- 200 g/7 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 150 g/5 oz grated sharp cheddar
- 2 cans =500 g/18 oz cannellini beans, drained
- 1 can 140 g/5 oz corn kernels
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp each: salt black pepper, crushed chili flakes, dried oregano, smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- chopped cilantro
- chopped scallions
- sour cream or plain full fat yogurt
- shredded cheddar
- corn chips
- Get all the prep done before you start cooking: finely chop the onions and mince the garlic. Remove seeds from the green peppers and mince.
- Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium low. Add garlic cloves, onions and peppers. Cook for 3 minutes until soft and fragrant. Stir in spices, cook for 2 minutes more. Add chicken breast fillets, pour in chicken broth and add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- When ready, remove the chicken fillets onto a clean plate. Add milk, cream cheese and grated cheddar, stir to dissolve. Stir in white beans and corn kernels, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir often.
- In the meantime, shred the chicken using two forks. Hold a fork in each hand, and use them to pull the meat apart. Prepare your favorite toppings, chop the cilantro and slice the scallions.
- Return shredded chicken back to the pot. Add lime juice and adjust salt and black pepper to your own taste. Top with some grated cheddar, chopped cilantro, scallions, corn chips and sour cream. Serve with some crusty bread. Enjoy!