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Lightened Up White Chicken Chili

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Creamy and hearty, lightened up white chicken chili is a bowl full of hearty goodness made with feel-good ingredients you’ll be reaching for a second helping.  Simple to make on the stovetop or in the crockpot with just the right amount of spice and zesty flavors.

over head view of the three bowls of white chicken chili

If you wanted to know the one thing I’d keep in my fridge always, well, here is it.  White chicken chili is officially a fridge staple in the Pariseau household.  Well, that and Lucky Charms cereal because #kids.

A lightened up version of the classic chicken chili is a no brainer, instant food love for these reasons:

  • oh so easy to make
  • stovetop or crockpot option
  • just the right amount of spice
  • feel-good, filling ingredients like beans and corn
  • gluten-free
  • creamy and comforting

While we’ve never been a huge ‘meal prep’ family, I’m discovering that making a big batch of soup or chili at the beginning of the week has had great success.  When you’re looking for a quick lunch, just got the kids their food and don’t want to snack on meaningless bites, or want something filling between a meal – just heat up a bowl of this!  

I’ve been following the weight watchers program lately to help me reach some goals and this has been clutch!  It’s only 4 points per serving and tastes rich so having it for a lighter meal with a slice of bread or on an extra snacky day, it’s an easy choice.

Bonus points that it’s comforting and cozy, because the spring temps and weather have been ALL OVER THE PLACE.

dollop of sour cream on top of bowl of chili

Stovetop White Chicken Chili

This recipe can be easily made on the stovetop and that’s usually my first move since we’re home.  The ingredients are easy to find and simple to prep.  The only chopping is an onion, jalapeño, and garlic, everything else uses canned pantry staples!

To make this on the stovetop, grab your favorite soup pot or dutch oven – something with a heavy bottom so you can sauté and simmer without worrying about burning anything.

Sauté the onion, jalapeño, and garlic until translucent then cook the chicken and add the secret ingredient – tequila! The tequila adds so much flavor and the alcohol cooks off so it’s not like you’ll be having a bowl full of margarita reminiscent chili.  


Nope!  Totally optional.  I’ve made it with and without, it adds a really great ‘ooooh, what is that? it’s so good but I can’t quite place it’ taste that is very secret ingredient, but if you don’t have tequila or don’t want to use it just skip it and go straight for the chicken stock.

spoon scooping white chicken chili out of a bowl


When it comes to the chicken, you’ve got three options.

  1. Buy a rotisserie chicken at the market and pull the meat from that.  Chop it into bite-sized pieces.  (Then you can save the bones for some homemade stock!)
  2. Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces before cooking, then saute in the pan after the vegetables are translucent.  This is how I prepare it, but if cutting raw chicken freaks you out a little bit you can cook it whole first. (pictured below)
  3. Bake the chicken breast whole in the oven at 375°F for 15 to 20 minutes until the center is no longer pink and/or registers an internal temperature of 165°F.

ingredients simmering in dutch oven

Once the chicken is added and the pan deglazed with tequila (or chicken stock) just dump in the rest of the ingredients, bring it to a boil then simmer for a few minutes.

To turn this chicken chili into creamy, but lightened up white chicken chili perfection we’re using a combination of cornstarch to thicken and fat-free sour cream.  Whisk the cornstarch with the sour cream really well until there are no more clumps then whisk this mixture into the chili.  This makes sure your chili is thick, creamy, and totally clump-free.

side angle of bowls of chili

Crockpot Option

On the go?  Want a set it and forget it an option?  Here it is!

Making white chicken chili in the crockpot is just as delicious as the stovetop.  The steps are almost the same, which just a few minor changes.

  • The chicken can be placed in the crockpot either prepped in raw, bite-sized pieces or whole and raw.  If cooking the chicken breast whole, remove after cooking and pull the meat with two forks.
  • Wait to add the cornstarch and sour cream until after cooking.
  • Instead of sautéing the onion, jalapeño, and garlic, you’ll just add them in raw with all the other ingredients and they will cook down over time.

That’s it.  You’re done with very minor changes.

four bowls of white chicken chili topped with sour cream

How to serve it

When it’s time to dish it out, you can go au natural and just ladle the chili into the bowl.  If you’re looking to add some heartiness, serve it with a slice of fresh bread.  We’ve been obsessed with sourdough making in this house lately!  Or keep it crisp with a fresh salad.

Other ideas for dressing up your bowl:

  • dollop of sour cream
  • grated cheese
  • chopped green onions or chives
  • fresh jalapeños for the spice lovers

Make it your own, however it suits you, but one thing is for sure – you’re going to love how flavorful and easy this is to make!

Did you make this recipe?  Please leave us a comment and rating below!  Don’t forget to add a photo of your deliciousness to the pin on Pinterest so others can see your beautiful cooking!

four bowls of white chicken chili topped with sour cream

Lightened Up White Chicken Chili

White chicken chili gets a lightened up makeover that's full of zesty flavors, creamy texture, hearty beans, tender chicken, and sweet corn with a secret ingredient that really makes the flavors pop!
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Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: crockpot white chicken chili, healthy white chicken chili, lightened up white chicken chili, stovetop white chicken chili, white chicken chili
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Author: Lauren


  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast cut in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeño minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup silver tequila optional
  • 2 cans navy beans 15.5 ounce cans
  • 1 can corn 15 ounce can
  • 1 can mild green chiles 4.5 ounce can
  • 4 to 6 cups chicken stock see notes
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup fat free sour cream


  • Stovetop instructions:  In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and jalapeño.  Sauté for 2 minutes or until translucent, then add in the garlic and cook everything together for about 1 minute.
  • Add the raw chicken cut in bite sized pieces to the pot.  Alternatively, you can bake the chicken at 375°F for 15-20 minutes until cooked through, then cut in small pieces.  Immediately after adding the chicken, season with salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and garlic powder.  Stir well to coat all the ingredients in the pan.
  • When the chicken is mostly cooked, deglaze the pan with tequila.  If opting not to use tequila, add a 1/ cup of chicken stock.  Drain and rinse the beans and corn, then stir into the pot.  Add the can of chiles without draining.  Finally, add the chicken stock and bring to a steady simmer on high heat.  (Depending on the thickness you prefer, use more or less chicken stock - 4 cups of stock will yield a hearty, thick more traditional chili and 6 cups of stock will create a more 'soup like' chili with extra broth.)
  • After 10 minutes of cooking, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 more minutes.  While the chili cooks, whisk cornstarch into the sour cream thoroughly, making sure all the clumps are gone.  Stir into the soup until light, creamy, and slightly thickened.
  • Crockpot instructions: Leave out the olive oil from the recipe.  Place the raw chicken breasts (whole or cut in bite-sized pieces) to the bottom of the crockpot.  Top with the onion, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, cumina, garlic powder, tequila, beans, corn, chiles, and chicken stock.
  • Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.  If cooking the chicken breast whole, remove from the crockpot and shred the meat using two forks, return to the pot.  Whisk cornstarch into the sour cream thoroughly, making sure all the clumps are gone.  Stir into the soup until light, creamy, and slightly thickened.


  • Depending on the thickness you prefer, use more or less chicken stock - 4 cups of stock will yield a hearty, thick more traditional chili and 6 cups of stock will create a more 'soup like' chili with extra broth (like the photos in the post.)
  • I prefer to cut the raw chicken into bite-sized pieces and cook in the pan with the vegetables and spices for maximum flavor.  Alternatively, you can bake the chicken first or use the meat from a rotisserie chicken.
  • To make white chicken chili spicier, add an extra jalapeno, or use hot green chiles.
  • Fat-free sour cream keeps this recipe 'lightened up' but for a creamier experience, substitute full-fat sour cream or 4 ounces of cream cheese!
  • This recipe is 4 blue points on weight watchers!


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