Tasty Tuesday: White Chicken Chili

I think that this week will finally be cool enough for one of our absolutely all-time favorite winter-time meals: white chicken chili. Years ago my mom got the recipe from one of my aunties who doesn’t remember giving it to her. For a long while, every time any of Mom’s grown kids showed up for dinner, she made white chicken chili. She often apologized for this, but we never minded because we all LOVE white chicken chili.

White Chicken Chili

  • 1 1/2 – 2 pounds cooked chicken, cubed (or if you’re using leftovers, cut up)
  • 8-12 ounces Jack cheese (cubed or shredded)
  • 4 ounces pepper Jack cheese (cubed or shredded)
  • 16 ounces salsa (we use Pace Picante, medium)
  • 3 cans Great Northern white beans
  • 1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes (we use the Ro-tel tomatoes with diced chilis in them)
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped

Crock pot directions: Combine all the ingredients except for the chicken and the cilantro in the crock pot and simmer 6-9 hours. Add the chicken about an hour before serving. Add 2/3 of the bunch of cilantro right before serving.

Stove top directions: Use shredded cheese. Combine all ingredients in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Cook until the ingredients are heated through and the cheese is melted–about 1 hour. Stir frequently.

Serve with tortilla chips, fresh cilantro, sour cream, guacamole.

Resourceful note: If I don’t have Jack cheese, I use cheddar. It changes the taste a little and the appearance a little, but it works just fine. I also feel free to increase or decrease the amount of cheese I put in, depending on what I have on hand. I do think it’s critical to the overall taste of the chili to use at least 4 ounces of pepperjack cheese.

I frequently expand this recipe by adding an extra can or two or three of beans. When I do that, I also increase all the other ingredients in roughly the same proportions. There is a wide margin for variation on this recipe before it’s no longer fabulously good.

We LOVE leftovers of white chicken chili although these days, it’s rare to find them in my house. If you have enough left over, you can use the chili on tortillas and make white chicken chili burritos the next night. The chili is also excellent in eggs or on omelets. If you have just a little bit left over, you can smear it on quesadillas. Most of the time, someone stands in front of the fridge with a fork, eating the cold chili out of the plastic container it’s in. This is definitely a staple food for us during the winter months.

My mother-in-law has made this chili and served it as a dip with a big bowl of tortilla chips, so that could also be another use for leftovers.

One caution…before serving this to guests, make sure they like beans. We’ve had a couple of disastrous company dinners with families that loathed beans and couldn’t bring themselves to eat this delicious chili. We all felt bad.

Check out another bean recipe at My Sister’s Kitchenhomemade refried beans!

Barb Kelley.


  1. Barb, I LOVE white chili! Thanks so much for this recipe! Sometimes I add a jalepeno (no seeds) to a large pot of it. Not enough to make it spicy, but just a little bite, every now and then.