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White Chicken Chili

by Emily
A Bowl of White Chicken Chili

After living in Maryland for four years, then South Korea for a year, and finally Maryland again for another two, I can honestly and confidently say that I will never adapt to nor thrive in the winter. Coming from coastal Georgia, which MIGHT see one or two freezes a year, to a place where it actually snows has not helped with my winter survival skills. I really thought it would, but nope. Well, not true, at least I know how to scrape the ice off my car now…Try as I may, there is no getting around the fact that I am a complete baby when it comes to the cold and there is no remedying the fact. I have officially decided that anyone who lives further north is just crazy and I applaud you.

Then again, now that I think about it, my friends from up north constantly ask me how I survive the brutal summer heat and humidity down in Georgia. I am going to let you in on a little secret. Honestly people, we don’t. We suffer. Why do you think southerners drink so much sweet tea, lemonade, and beer during the summer? It is a cliche and honest to God refreshing.

The perfect bowl of White Chicken Chili topped with sour cream and cilantro.
The perfect bowl of White Chicken Chili topped with sour cream and cilantro.

Anyway, back to the main point. I am continuing my terrifying adventure into “surviving the winter 2018/2019.” Right now, my personal mental survival guide is repeating the same two words over and over: ‘Chicken soup….chicken soup…survival chicken soup’.  So yes, I have been eating a lot of chicken, and yes, I have been eating a lot of soup. For this particular blog post, I am sharing with you a recipe for white chicken chili.

Given to my mother from a friend, this white chicken chili recipe has helped my family survive the colder days of the year since I was a child. Since then, whenever it freezes, my cravings for this get out of control. This is probably why my survival siren shouting chicken soup has been blaring and the reason I am craving this chili practically every day: it is freezing here!!!

I love a good chili recipe, but sometimes I just get really sick of the tomato-based sauces during the winter. This white chicken chili, which has the meat, beans, and veggies, resembles more of a kinda-ish Mexican soup than chili. What makes it chili is the thicker consistency (way more meat than broth.) The flavors resemble those of Mexican food with the combination of chilies, beans, jalapeño pepper, and cilantro. Add a side of cornbread and you are set for the night!      

White Chicken Chili with Cilantro. A hearty mouthful.
White Chicken Chili with Cilantro. A hearty mouthful.

For the chicken, I used my favorite method of soaking the meat in buttermilk before cooking it in the oven. The buttermilk tenderizes the meat and makes it softer than you could ever imagine. When pulling the chicken out of the buttermilk, some people choose to rinse all of the remaining buttermilk off. I totally disagree with doing this. It is a personal preference, but I like that little bit of flavor cooked into my chicken. You can also roast a chicken the night before for dinner, and then use the leftovers for this recipe.

Side Note: If you do not want to bake your own chicken, feel free to buy a rotisserie chicken and pull it apart. I know that everyone’s day can be busy and that takes off an extra 5 to 10 minutes from the process. From time to time, have done this shortcut myself!

I personally enjoy this best snuggled up with thick socks, a glass of wine, my pajamas, and an awesome movie. It is my perfect winter defense! What is your go-to to beat the winter wonderland outdoors? 

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White Chicken Chili

Recipe by Emily
5.0 from 1 vote
Course: Entrées


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 cups buttermilk

  • 3 chicken breasts

  • 1 1/2 cups onions- diced

  • 2 cloves garlic-minced

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil

  • 1 jalapeño-minced

  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies

  • 1 tsp. cumin

  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 tsp. oregano

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • 1 can Great Northern Beans

  • 1 cup Shredded Monterey Pepper Jack Cheese

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is preheating, soak the chicken breasts in buttermilk for 20 to 30 minutes. Once finished soaking, remove the chicken from buttermilk and cook in oven for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Shred the chicken with forks.
  • In a large saucepan, sauté onions and garlic in oil for 5 minutes-until you can see through the onions.
  • Add jalapeño, green chilies, cumin, cayenne, oregano, and salt. Cook 1 minute.
  • Stir in chicken broth, beans, and chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
  • Stir in cilantro and serve immediately. Top with shredded cheese (2 Tbs. of cheese per bowl.)
  • Serve with cornbread, garlic bread, or rice.

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