Healthy & Delicious: White Chicken Chili Recipe

Healthy and Delicious

Healthy and delicious recipes from Serious Eats

Healthy & Delicious: White Chicken Chili Recipe

Editor's note: On Mondays, Kristen Swensson of Cheap, Healthy, Good swings by these parts to share healthy and delicious recipes with us.

Two years ago, on Valentine's Day 2007, I made a White Chicken Chili from Cook's Illustrated. It was delicious and fiery hot, flavored by not one, not two, but nine diced jalapeño, Anaheim, and poblano peppers. Sadly, I didn't get to enjoy it until February 16.

See, I wasn't aware I was supposed to wear gloves during the chopping part of the program, meaning my hands, from fingertips to wrists, got soaked in hot pepper juice. At first, it caused a slight tingling. An hour later, both hands started to swell. An hour after that, touching things (a fork, the fridge, my face) made me cry. It stayed that way for the next 18 hours. Good times.

Nothing made the pain go away, either. Butter, aloe, ice--I even dunked my fingers in vanilla yogurt for an hour. No dice. Valentine's Day was kaput, and I took off from work the next day, since typing would have been straight-up masochism. (Lamest. Sick day. Ever.)

Still, two days later, when I finally got the courage to try the chili, it was, well, it wasn't worth it, but it was very tasty nonetheless. This recipe is a little like that one, only A) It's prepared in a quarter of the time, and B) There's no traumatizing burning sensation.

A combination of Elise Bauer's version from Simply Recipes and a highly rated Recipezaar dish, this chili is very low in fat (lower if you subtract some cheese), and excellent for using up leftover chicken. It's pretty mild, too, relatively speaking. For added heat, feel free to add more jalapeños or include the seeds. Oh, and I doubt there'll be any, but the leftovers are stellar.

These days, I wear gloves when chopping anything hotter than a strawberry. But when dinner tastes this good, it's almost worth it.

  • Yield:2 to 3 servings


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2/3 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 seeded jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (4-ounce) chopped green chilies
  • 2/3 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 can large white beans, undrained
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup grated low-fat Monterey Jack or white cheddar cheese (optional)


  1. 1.

    Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook until tender, 4 to 7 minutes. Mix in the garlic, jalapeño, green chile peppers, cumin, oregano, cloves, and cayenne. Continue to cook and stir the mixture until tender, about 3 minutes. Mix in the chicken broth, chicken and white beans. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don't worry if it's a little soupy.

  2. 2.

    At the end of 20 minutes, mash chili lightly using a potato masher, until about half of the beans are broken up. This will give the chili a thicker consistency that will be thickened even more by the cheese. Speaking of...

  3. 3.

    Serve topped with grated cheese. Garnish with cilantro, chopped fresh tomato, salsa, chopped scallions, and/or guacamole if you like, or have fresh warmed flour tortillas or tortilla chips on the side.