White Chili With Roast Turkey or Chicken Recipe

Turkey or chicken is the perfect foundation for a rich white bean chili made with three types of peppers.

A bowl of white chili.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

Why This Recipe Works

  • White chili is the perfect way to use leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, but you can also use leftover chicken.
  • The flavor base is a combination of jalapeños, poblanos, and roasted Hatch chiles.

I have no idea where or when white chicken chili was invented. I couldn't even tell you the first time I tried it. It was probably at home as a kid, and the recipe probably came from the Betty Crocker cookbook, or perhaps the Joy of Cooking.

Things I do know: the combination of tender chicken, white beans, and green chiles is a flavorful force to be reckoned with, one that's made all the more delicious when you swap out that wimpy chicken for some leftover turkey.

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird? He might have gotten away with it if more of our forefathers had been eating Turkey White Chili instead of Bald Eagle Pot Pie.

White chili starts with a mix of onions and peppers. I used a combination of jalapeños, poblanos, and roasted Hatch chiles that I have saved in my fridge. You can always use fresh roasted green chiles, or even canned green chiles if brevity is of the essence. Cumin, coriander, and chicken broth get added, along with some canned beans and their liquid. Many recipes call for draining and rinsing beans. I like to leave the starchy liquid in this stew to give it a bit of body and texture.

If you've got the roast turkey meat on hand, the whole dish comes together in about 15 minutes of real work, and is ready for the table in under an hour. It'll taste like it simmered all day.

November 2012

Recipe Details

White Chili With Roast Turkey or Chicken Recipe

Active 15 mins
Total 45 mins
Serves 6 to 8 servings

Turkey or chicken is the perfect foundation for a rich white bean chili made with three types of peppers.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, minced (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 jalapeño peppers, minced (about 1/4 cup)

  • 2 poblano peppers, finely diced (about 1 cup)

  • 3 roasted Hatch chile peppers, or 3 cans whole green chiles, finely chopped by hand

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans small white or cannelini beans with their liquid

  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves

  • 2 pounds leftover turkey meat or chicken, torn into rough bite-sized pieces

  • 2 tablespoons fresh juice from about 2 limes

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Lime wedges and grated Pepper Jack or Jack cheese for serving


  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, jalapeño, and poblano peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until pale golden brown, about 12 minutes total. Add chopped Hatch or canned chiles, garlic, cumin, and coriander, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add stock, beans and their liquid, half of cilantro, and turkey. Stir to combine.

  2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and flavors have melded, about 30 minutes. Stir in lime juice and remaining cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheese and lime wedges.

Special Equipment

Dutch oven or saucepan


If you can't find Hatch chile peppers, you can substitute with canned green chiles.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
312 Calories
9g Fat
19g Carbs
39g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 312
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 115mg 38%
Sodium 671mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 39g
Vitamin C 24mg 122%
Calcium 85mg 7%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 714mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)