This Easy Crock Pot White Chicken Chili recipe only needs 5 ingredients and 10 minutes of preparation to make the best chili for dinner, potlucks, or game-day parties—creamy, cheesy, and delicious.
Pepper Jack cheese
Optional—chicken broth to adjust the thickness
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Featured comment from Kaitlyn:
"I have used this recipe numerous times now, and I love it! I have entered multiple chili cook-offs with this recipe, and I have won 3rd place and 1st two different years! Hoping to get 1st again this year!"
For over 40 years, we have made this white bean chicken chili recipe hundreds of times. Use only shredded chicken, salsa, white beans, pepper jack cheese, and cumin for flavor. You will never make a better chili.
You can make this chili in any size crock pot or on the stovetop—perfect for a smaller household or adjust the amount to your needs. I have included options for changing the size, spiciness, using raw chicken, and more.
👨🍳How to Make White Chicken Chili
A few simple ingredients. Get your chicken any way you want. You will need about 3 cups. I have included several raw chicken options in the recipe card notes.
Cube 8 oz of pepper jack cheese.
In a small (3.5 qt minimum) crock pot, pour one 48 oz jar of great northern beans (undrained), 8 oz of salsa, about 3 cups of shredded chicken, 2 teaspoons of cumin, and 8 oz of pepper jack cheese (cubed).
Cook on low for 4 hours or 2 hours on high. Try to stir once or twice in the middle of cooking to distribute the cheese, but it can wait until the end if needed.
Add a 14 oz can of chicken broth if you want a standard thick chili. Leave it out for extra thick. Stir very well.
Ready to serve, refrigerate, or freeze.
For more details, keep reading. See the Recipe Card below for complete instructions and to print.
- Chicken—Shredded precooked chicken, like rotisserie chicken, is used, but raw chicken may be used with adaptions in the recipe card.
- Beans—Use precooked white beans like Great Northern or Navy beans. Black beans may be used if you wish.
- Cheese—Use Pepper Jack cheese unless you need to adjust the heat of the chili some by using Monterey Jack cheese instead.
- Salsa—use one you like to eat. Mild, medium, or hot, depending on the spiciness you want.
- Seasoning—only cumin to add more flavor, but you may want some cayenne pepper to adjust the heat more.
- Optional—Chicken broth to thin, if you want.
Tips to get it right every time
- I often bake skinless chicken breasts in a 350° oven for about 35-40 minutes. Then shred with forks while still warm. One good size breast will make about 1 ½ cups of shredded chicken. Chicken thighs will work well, also.
- This is not a recipe for uncooked beans. But other precooked beans like cannellini or white kidney beans may be used. Also, some people like some black beans added.
- Use a good quality salsa you like and would use for dipping. I like chunky salsa.
- To decrease the sodium, you can drain and rinse the beans. You will need to replace that fluid with low-sodium chicken broth.
🔥Adjusting the heat and taste
The spiciness of this chili is a 4/10. You can adjust that up and down with your choice of the spiciness of the salsa. You can also use Monterey Jack cheese instead of Pepper Jack cheese to adjust the heat. If you want even more spiciness, add a bit of cayenne pepper.
Adjusting the cumin will change the spiciness, but only a small increase or decrease in the heat. I suggest depending on the salsa and cheese as the primary adjustments.
Other taste adjustments can be made by adding onion, garlic, green chiles, or other spices. But if you need to do much of this, you have the wrong salsa.
↕️How to make this a "for two" or "family size" recipe
This is a very easy recipe to cut in half or double.
The full recipe makes about 11-12 cups for 8 servings. We do love leftovers. For both half and double recipes, we are pushing the size limit of the crock pot. The solution is to hold the broth until everything is done cooking, then add any desired broth for thinning.
- Use the recipe card and adjust the number of servings to half or double.
- Use the amount of ingredients in the ingredient list, not the instructions—those do not adjust.
- The half recipe will fit in a 2-quart mini crock pot.
- A double recipe fits in a 6 ½ quart or larger crock pot.
- Cook for the same amount of time.
♨️Making Chicken Chili on the Stovetop
Cooking on the stovetop will take only about 30 minutes since everything used in this dish is safe to consume before cooking. You only need to heat everything to come together. But some simmering to help the tastes combine is a good idea.
Use a large pan like a full-size Dutch oven. Add everything, mix well, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes more.
It is done when it all mixes, but simmering longer to bring the tastes together is recommended. I suggest an hour.
🍽️Serving white chili
This chili stays hot for a long time due to the cheese, so it will work well for tailgating or parties.
A big bowl of white chili served with tortilla chips is all I need. But typical chili or southwest toppings and sides work well—like added cheddar cheese, sour cream, fresh cilantro, avocado, or guacamole.
Storage of leftover chili
Good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and reheat on the stovetop or microwave.
You can also freeze sealed in an airtight container or freezer bag for 3-4 months—thaw in the fridge before reheating.
This is a very thick chili, as written. It is much easier to cook thick and then to thicken later.
The thickness of the chili is entirely based on the chicken broth. Most people will want a moderate thickness, and that is keeping the packing fluid in the beans and 2 cups of broth.
If you want extra thick, skip the broth if you want a little more soup-like than 4 cups of broth.
If you drain the beans, add some chicken broth to replace the liquid.
This chili is frequently used for parties of various types. Be sure the chili stays above 140°. If it falls below 140° for more than 2 hours, it should be discarded.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
Have you tried this recipe, or have a question? Join the community discussion in the comments.
Easy Crock Pot White Chicken Chili
- 48 oz white beans - Great Northern or Navy
- 3 cups shredded chicken
- 1 cup medium salsa
- 8 oz pepper jack cheese cubed
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 14 oz chicken broth - optional but suggested. Add the desired amount at the end of cooking.
- Get your chicken any way you want. You will need about 3 cups of shredded chicken. Please see the notes below for options.
- Cube 8 oz. of pepper jack cheese.
- In a small (3.5 qt minimum) crock pot, pour one 48 oz jar of great northern beans (undrained), 8 oz of salsa, about 3 cups of shredded chicken, 2 teaspoons of cumin, and 8 oz of pepper jack cheese (cubed).
- Cook on low for 4 hours or 2 hours on high. Try to stir once or twice in the middle of cooking to distribute the cheese, but it can wait until the end if needed.
- Add a 14 oz can of chicken broth if you want a normal thick chili. Leave it out for extra thick. Stir very well.
Your Own Private Notes
- Use Rotisserie chicken or bake and shred some chicken. Or cook in the crock pot—see the raw chicken option below.
- Adjust the heat by the type of salsa, and you can use Monterey Cheese instead of Monterrey Jake Cheese. You can also adjust the cumin to taste.
- As written, a 3.5 qt crock pot should be good. To adjust the size of the recipe, see the notes in the post.
- Good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Good in a freezer for 2-3 months.
- Due to all the cheese, this stays hot for a long time, so great for tailgating and parties.
- Add broth at the end of cooking to get the thickness you want. This will aid in the fitting of the crock pots.
- Take copies of the recipe with you if you're taking it to a gathering. You will be asked how you made it.
Raw Chicken Option
- I'm adding a raw chicken option for simplicity.
- An average-sized chicken breast will make about 1 ½ cups of shredded chicken.
- The easiest way is to add broth, salsa, and cumin to the crockpot with two raw chicken breasts. Cook in high for 1 ½ to 2 hours, then remove and shred. Then add back the chicken and other ingredients and finish the cooking time or until the cheese can blend in—about one hour on high or 2 hours on low.
- Or cook a couple of breasts in the oven until done (about 350° for about 40 minutes).
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Publisher note: Originally published March 2, 2010. It was first published in the third month of this blog, and maybe 50 people saw the first post. It has been updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.