Shortcut White Bean and Chicken Chili This popular chicken stew has several aliases: White Chili, White Bean Chicken Chilli, Chicken Chilli. This quick and easy version will put "whatever you wanna call it" on the table for dinner quickly.

Shortcut White Bean and Chicken Chili

Can you believe with Shortcut White Bean and Chicken Chili, you don’t have to soak the beans? You don’t even have to use a pressure cooker or slow cooker to make it. Read on to find the shortcut in the recipe.

Shortcut White Bean Chicken Chili has all the flavor of slow cooked beans and chicken but uses canned beans so you can get dinner on the table quicker! A lime squeezed over the top and sprinkled with Monterey Jack Cheese is over the top good

I’ll come back to the chili in a minute but first I have to share some “soup scoop”!

What are my reader’s favorite soups?

Last year, I ask a question on my Facebook page about soup. I asked for everyone to tell me their favorite soup. I figured I’d get a few potato, a few beef stew, maybe tomato and gumbo. After 30 years of developing recipes and 20 of those working in a professional test kitchen, I thought I’d pretty much heard of everything.

BOY howdy did y’all surprise me and in a good way!


Along with the tomato, potato, butternut squash, Posole, chicken enchilada, Zuppa, Southwest chicken, 15 bean, egg drop, broccoli and Cheddar, vegetable, and beef stew were three recipes (or ingredients) that were new to me. (I get excited about food, ingredients, or names of food that I have heard of before-can you tell?)

Swamp Soup, Dill Pickle Soup and the ingredient that I’ve heard of but not cooked with to thicken chicken soup is Yuca-and I certainly didn’t know you could buy it in the frozen section of Walmart! Thanks to Jean for the tip! Swamp Soup is just a fun name, I don’t care who you are. Connie said Fish River Grill in Gulf Shores serves it but she makes her own version of the turnip greens, white beans, and black beans concoction.

I put Fish River Grill restaurant on my bucket list then, and checked it off my list this summer! It sounded similar to a soup my sweet friends Deanna and Martha used to make at our church potlucks called Turnip Greens Soup. It is literally 3 ingredients (my kind of soup)- one 28-oz can of seasoned turnip greens, one can of Rotel tomatoes and chiles, one can of navy beans, and “some chopped ham” and heat it up. I didn’t think I would like canned turnip greens because I love the fresh ones but it surprised me. I’ve typed it up into a recipe and you can find it here. The Swamp Soup was literally turnip greens, broth and a few white and black beans.

Ok. The Dill Pickle Soup is a totally new concept for me. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it. I mean, I love dill pickles but ground beef and potatoes AND dill pickles in stew?  I must try it! Charity, when you make a pot of this curious creation, text me and I’ll send Grayson by to bring me a sample. I’ll barter and send you a dessert!

Now, back to the chicken chili recipe.

Here’s the shortcut

Shortcut White Bean Chicken Chili is in my Top 3 go-to soups/stews/chilis. This soup fits the bill whether it’s Winter and I am nesting with a cup of hot soup on the couch or it’s Summertime and I need to make something quickly that serves a crowd for a church potluck. (You know the weather here in Alabama is pretty much the same both seasons-just different degrees of warm!)

Using canned Navy or Great Northern beans is a big shortcut but here’s one more. Instead of simmering chicken on the bone in water (which could be a long time if it’s a whole bird) I like to use rotisserie chicken or bake chicken breasts while I’m prepping the soup.

How to bake chicken breasts

5 chicken breasts cooked on foil lined pan

Just bake small breasts at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until they reach 165 degrees. (The green legs sticking out of from under the pan are my favorite silicone trivets-they fold up and store in the drawer!

You will need about 4 cups of shredded or chopped cooked chicken so if you can only find those huge chicken breasts, I recommend slicing them in half (making them thinner, not shorter) and only using 2 or 3 of them.

Another shortcut is to buy a rotisserie chicken and use both the breast and dark meat.

How do you check chicken breasts for doneness?

My favorite way to check any meat or poultry for doneness is an infrared thermometer. You literally just point and “shoot” and it tells you the internal temperature of the meat. I don’t have to wash the thermometer or worry if I’ve sterilized it well enough.

Baked chicken breasts shredded on a white cutting board

How do you shred cooked chicken breasts?

Baked chicken breasts shred best when they are warm right out of the oven. Use two forks to pull the chicken apart and cut into bite-size pieces, if necessary. If you don’t want to shred the chicken, you can always just chop it.

Another tip is to place a kitchen towel under your cutting board so it doesn’t slide around.

Simmer all the ingredients on the stovetop for 15 minutes.

Simmering White Bean Chicken Chili. If you prefer a creamier, less brothy soup, partially mash the beans with a potato masher right in the soup pot.

Can I use dried beans instead of canned?

Yes. I like to cook dried beans in the Instant Pot because it’s cheaper and I know exactly what goes in the pot.

You will need 1 3/4 cups dried beans to make the same amount as 3 (14.5-ounce) cans of white beans. Dried beans triple when cooked. No need to soak dried beans before cooking in the Instant Pot.

Place dried beans in the Instant Pot and cover with water (about 3 cups). Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired. Seal the lid and turn the pressure valve to “sealing”. Press “pressure cook” and adjust the time set to 30 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes to come up to pressure, then cook 30 minutes. Then, Natural Release (which means do nothing for 20 minutes). Quick Release to release any remaining pressure. Remove lid.

How can I make my soup thicker?

If you would like a thicker, less brothy soup, mash half of the beans before adding or just partially mash them in the soup pot with a potato masher or fork.

Shortcut White Bean Chicken Chili with Monterey Jack Cheese and lime are just two of my favorite toppings. Add sour cream, cilantro, and salsa if you like.

Monterey Jack Cheese and lime juice are just two of my favorite toppings for this soup. Add sour cream, cilantro, and salsa if you like.

Cornbread is the perfect bread for this soup. Try my Vidalia Onion Cornbread. Tortilla chips is a possibility, too!

Watch the ABC33/40’s Talk of Alabama Segment on Shortcut White Bean and Chicken Chili

Talk of Alabama with Kathleen Phillips and Erica Lopez Oct 17 2019

Watch the WBRC Good Day Alabama Segment on Shortcut White Bean and Chicken Chili

Kathleen Phillips and Mike Dubberly make White Bean and Chicken Chili

More shortcut soups to enjoy:

Shortcut Turnip Greens Soup

Shortcut Tomato and Bread Soup

Instant Pot Collard Greens and Navy Beans

For more Southern shortcut recipes be sure to follow me on FacebookInstagramPinterest and Twitter . Don’t leave before you send me your email address on the home page side bar so you don’t miss a single post!

Shortcut White Bean and Chicken Chili
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
Shortcut White Bean Chicken Chili has all the flavor of slow cooked beans and chicken but uses canned beans so you can get dinner on the table quicker!
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: broth, chicken, chile, chili, chilli chili, easy, great northern beans, navy beans, shortcut, soup
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Kathleen Royal Phillips
  • 5 small chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) or 4 cups shredded or chopped cooked
  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper optional
  • 1 small onion, chopped 1 cup
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 32 oz carton chicken broth or stock 4 cups
  • 3 15.5 oz cans Great Northern or Navy beans drained
  • 1 4.5 oz can chopped green chiles
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Lime wedges and cilantro (optional)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

  2. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy clean up) and place the chicken on the foiled coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt (and pepper), if desired. Bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees with an instant read thermometer.

  3. Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic. Cook the onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil in an 8 quart pot over medium heat, stirring often until onion is almost tender.

  4. Add chicken broth to deglaze the pan then add the green chiles, cumin, oregano, and salt. 

  5. When the chicken is done, place the breasts on a cutting board and shred by pulling it apart with two forks. You may have to cut some of the pieces into bite size pieces. Add the chicken to the soup mixture. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer 15 minutes.

    If you prefer a more creamy texture, partially mash the beans with a potato masher right in the pot.

  6. Serve in bowls and top with cheese and if desired a squeeze of fresh lime, cilantro and sour cream.

Recipe Notes

Additional shortcut:  I often use Rotisserie chicken and chop or shred it.

Author: gritsandgouda

Hi! I’m Kathleen. I’m a food stylist, recipe developer, cookbook author, and event planner loving life in a charming town called Gardendale, Alabama, with my husband and two teenage children. I love to cook and laugh…not necessarily in that order.

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