Smoky White Bean Chicken Chili

White Bean Chicken Chili 016

I never cease to be amazed that the man I married over 31 years ago can still surprise me with his food preferences. For instance, the other night as he was mowing his way through a second bowl of this chili, he made the following statement in a longing voice, “Man, I just love beans.”

Excuse me?

I have been cooking with beans for at least a bazillion years and never once has that man of mine EVER said “I love beans.” As a matter of fact, when I went through a ‘cooking with beans’ phase, John asked me if it would be possible to have beans as little as possible in the future. I also recall that during that phase my children had to get psychiatric counseling and all three of them still go into convulsions whenever I mention anything about beans. But that’s another story.

As for this chili, there are probably some chili purists who would subject me to public flogging for even suggesting that something like this Smokey White Bean Chicken Chili carry the sacred name of ‘chili’. To them I say, “Tough beans. Get over it. Food evolves.” Not really…I mean I wouldn’t really say that. I would, of course, grovel, ask forgiveness, and change the name of this recipe to Spicy Chicken Soup with White Beans. Whatever.

If you are curious about the flavor profile of this homesy dish, I went for a smoky flavor with moderate heat. Heat in a dish is up to personal taste and certainly the heat level can be adjusted up or down. I used two spices to bring out the smokiness, ground chipotle chile and smoky paprika. Oh, yeah, and some bacon. Mmmmmm.

Smoky White Bean Chicken Chili

Recipe by Terri @ that's some good cookin'


  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken, shredded or diced--your preference, or an equivalent amount of cooked chicken
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced, roasted tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans white beans--cannelini or great Northern, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (4 ounce) cans diced green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cotija cheese, grated (optional)
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)


  1. In a hot dutch oven, cook bacon for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the bacon. Lower the heat to medium low and cover pot. Cook, stirring as needed until the onions are translucent and just starting to caramelize. This takes about 30 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken, smokey paprika, ground cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and chipotle to the pot and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes (covered) so that the chicken gets infused with the aromatics and the spices.
  4. Stir in the chicken stock, diced tomatoes, white beans, and green chiles. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a slow boil and cook, uncovered, stirring as needed until the liquid has reduced to your level of preference.
  5. For serving, top with cotija cheese and chopped cilantro. This is great with cornbread and a salad. I served it with whole wheat bread and a side salad.


A can of the white beans can be reserved, pureed, and then added to chili for thickening.


White Bean Chicken Chili 035


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  1. says

    Terri this chili has some amazing flavors in it. First of all you started with bacon so you got me there. I also love the use of cumin and chipotle!! My hubby surprises me to sometimes. He actually said he doesn’t like kidney beans after I made a chili one night. Good think I usually use white beans or black beans in chili. Sometimes it’s like who have I been cooking for… LOL! Have a great weekend!~ Ramona

  2. says

    LOL…husbands are SO unpredictable! Your chili looks marvelous, Terri. I don’t like kidney beans in my beef chili, but I’m all in favor of cannelini beans in white chili…mmmmm.

  3. says

    Ramona–Black beans are one of my favorites, too. And pinto beans. I think that pinto beans get underrated because they have been around for so long.

    Susan–Come on over, I have some left-overs! As for the chipotle, I have become an ardent fan of it.

    Lizzy–I’m with you and Ramona on kidney beans. I want to like them because they are so big and meaty and the dark red ones are very pretty. The taste, however, is lacking.

  4. says

    Stella B–You are so cute! Thank you for the support! Life seems so random at times, so that beef with barley soup step-by-step came as a complete surprise. I want to steal those pics that HowSweetEats took…sheesh, they make the soup look utterly elegant.

  5. says

    I’m in the midst of a several years long love affair with beans and this is going on my *to cook* list. My idea of heaven in a bowl πŸ™‚

  6. Nina says

    I just made this tonight! It was absolutely delicious…My two teenage sons and husband devoured it and said to put it into the rotation!! woohoo

  7. Donna Y says

    I make white chicken chili for my famille they love it. I can’t wait got try your version of it I know they’re going to love the new ingredients added to it,

    Thank you I’m so glad I found your posts

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