With Shortcut White Bean and Chicken Chili, you don't have to soak dried beans! It's a dump and heat weeknight soup recipe your family will love with a slow cooker option! This popular chicken stew has several aliases: White Chili, White Bean Chicken Chili, Chicken Chili. This quick and easy version using pantry staples will put dinner on the table quickly.
Although I love my Instant Pot White Bean Chicken Chili that starts with dried beans and frozen chicken breasts, this shortcut 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!)
What's the shortcut?
- Using canned Navy or Great Northern beans is a big shortcut and saves hours. Even with my Instant Pot White Bean Chicken Chili, it takes much longer to cook dried beans than opening a can of beans.
- Instead of simmering chicken on the bone in water (which could be a long time if it's a whole bird), I show you how to bake and shred chicken boneless chicken breasts.
- I also like to use rotisserie chicken where you can chop up 3 to 4 cups of the already cooked chicken and dump it in with the beans.
In case you are starting with raw chicken, here's how to bake chicken breasts for chopped/shredded chicken.
How to bake chicken breasts
Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the detailed, printable recipe. Pictures below will help guide you as you read the recipe.
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.
Can I use leftover or Rotisserie chicken?
Yes. Another shortcut is to buy a rotisserie chicken and use both the breast and dark meat. Or just use left over chopped cooked chicken or turkey.
How do you check chicken breasts for doneness?
According to the USDA, boneless chicken breasts must reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.
My favorite way to check any meat or poultry for doneness is a digital instant read thermometer. Be sure to insert it into the thickest part of the chicken. You can also use a regular instant read. Learn how to calibrate one here in the article by Fine Cooking.
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.
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.
Can I make this soup in a slow cooker?
Yes. Here's how:
- Raw chicken breasts. Combine raw chicken breasts with all other ingredients. No need to cook onion. Cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours, depending on size of chicken breasts.
- Frozen chicken breasts. Combine frozen chicken breasts with all other ingredients. No need to cook onion. Cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours or on HIGH 4 to 5 hours, depending on size of chicken breasts. When I used 3 medium-sized frozen breasts, they registered 190 degrees at 5 hours on HIGH.
Chicken breasts are technically done when they reach 165 degrees with an instant read thermometer but can go higher and shreds easier at 190 degrees and above.
Shred the chicken right in the pot with two forks or they should be tender enough to just press down with a wooden spoon and they will fall apart.
How can I make my soup thick and creamy?
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.
Toppings and Add-Ins
- Monterey Jack Cheese and lime juice are just two of my favorite toppings for this soup.
- Cheddar or Colby Jack
- Sour cream
- Sliced pickled or fresh jalapeno peppers
What can I serve with this soup?
- Cornbread is the perfect bread for this soup in my humble opinion. Try my Vidalia Onion Cornbread.
- Tortilla chips and strips
- Corn chips and scoops
- Easy Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Watch my ABC33/40's Talk of Alabama video segment
Watch my WBRC Good Day Alabama video segment
More shortcut soups to enjoy:
If you make this recipe I'd love to see it! Tag me on social media with #gritsandgouda or @gritsandgouda. Leave a comment below the printable recipe if you have questions or tell me how you liked the recipe. Don't forget to rate it 5 stars if you love it!
Shortcut White Bean and Chicken Chili
- 3 chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) or 3 to 4 cups shredded or chopped rotisserie chicken
- 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)
- Skip this step of baking chicken breasts if you are using rotisserie chicken
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add chicken broth to deglaze the pan then add the green chiles, cumin, oregano, and salt.
- 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.
- Serve in bowls and top with cheese and if desired a squeeze of fresh lime, cilantro and sour cream.
Updated August 2021 with valuable information.