Spicy White Chili

Spicy White Chili gluten free  BoulderLocavore.com I love the elegance of tone-on-tone dressing.  It seems so chic, so ‘put together’.  In that same vein when I discovered this recipe for ‘White Chili’ in a family recipe collection, I instantly loved the aesthetic of coordinating a dish chromatically.  White-on-white, blanco-en-blanco, with a pop of discreet, muted chile green.  I felt confident I’d look very hip while eating it and it would be certain to go with any outfit.

It is chili season thanks to the arctic wiles of the mountain regions.  It’s been an underwhelming winter to date, leaving us constantly checking ski conditions at our little local area and wondering when ‘it will come’.    We enjoyed highs in the teens this past weekend, empathetically watching the beloved NFL home team man-up in single degree temps that meteorologists reported felt to be below zero, their breath curling out of their nostrils like angry dragons.  I’m not clear how they even handled a football frankly and why they weren’t crying it was so cold (I would have been).

Spicy White  chicken Chili #gluten free  BoulderLocavore.com

The arrival of said weather prompted perfect timing to try the White Chili recipe.  I tweaked it a bit and after I finished admiring the sublime color match, I realized it fits seamlessly into the eating protocol of the first part of the New Year, offering a lighter, healthier version of a favorite cold-weather dish.

Pale in visual tone does not mean wimpy or flavorless by any means.  Where red chili typically is chunky meat, beans and tomatoes in a thick sauce, White Chili offers a hearty yet light combination of succulent chunks of white chicken, smooth-flavored Great Northern Beans in a richly-flavored broth.  It quenches the winter hunger for warm, filling food without leaving one heavy in the stomach.  If you are on a mission to better health or less calorie consumption, this is a perfect dish.  And if you aren’t, this is a perfect dish!

Spicy White Chili gluten free  BoulderLocavore.com #healthy

Spicy White Chili gluten free  BoulderLocavore.com 971

Spicy White Chili

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves: 6-8

Unlike its heavier red counterpart, this white chile offers a lighter, healthier, chili without sacrificing spice or flavor. Simple and quick to prepare too! Gluten free.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted Butter
  • 4 boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 medium-large Yellow Onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 8 ounces canned Green Chiles
  • 3 16-ounce cans Great Northern Beans, drained
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth/Stock
  • 1 cup Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: Grated Mozzarella cheese and Cilantro


  1. Place butter in a large stock pot heat over medium heat. Once butter is foaming, place chicken breasts in the pot and cook for 2 ½ minutes on each side. Cover, remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Remove chicken and cut into bite sized chunks. Return to stovetop and heat on medium heat.
  2. Add chopped onions to pot and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano and green chilies. Stir to combine and allow to cook 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add chicken, beans, chicken broth and water. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 15-30 minutes to reduce the liquid and intensify the flavors! Salt and pepper to taste. Serve topping with grated Mozzarella cheese and some torn cilantro leaves.

Spicy White Chili gluten free  BoulderLocavore.com 978


    • says

      Wow Meeling, that sound really delicious! Sadly now that I’m gluten free my Guinness days are over but I can still imagine those two flavors and how complex and flavorful your chili must have been. Yum.

  1. says

    Shut up! Guess what I had on my menu plan for tonight???? The recipe I’m using is very similar and I was just thinking to myself how I wanted to photograph this monochromatic dish. Play up the tone on tone or add contrast with dark bowls or something. Your photos make me lean towards tone on tone.

    • says

      Regardless of how you photograph your chili Rhonda, if it’s anything like this batch, your struggle will be to get the pics done before you gobble it all up!

  2. Wendy says

    Made this tonight. I had nearly all ingredients except for chilies and cilantro. Snow storm of the century here in MI, and going out is not an option at this point. I found this recipe on pinterest last night and thankfully I remembered to soak my beans overnight. I did alter just a little. Subbed finely chopped jalapenos for the missing chilies. Added some paprika, 3 raw sugar packets (I have found that just a touch of sweetness in my chili makes the other flavors pop. Could use honey but I’m a little low.), and about 1/4 cup half & half only because I like the consistency it gives. I did take a potatoe masher and light mash into it just to slightly thicken. Oh, I did grate 2 lg carrots just to sneak in another veggie. This is a fantastic base recipe for white chicken chili. Will definitely make again.

    • says

      Wendy I’m feeling so badly for you Michiganers (Michiganites?) with the crazy freezing weather you are having. We certainly have had similar snow-ins in Colorado (but not those types of ongoing temps) and there is nothing more gratifying than having all the ingredients to whip up a soul-warming dish! I love that you made it all work with what you have on hand. I too add a bit of sugar (and apple cider vinegar) to red meat chili that I make.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know and I’ll keep fingers crossed for a warm up soon!

      • Wendy says

        Hi Toni! Call me a “Michigander”… lol. I hear if we can hold out one more day “normal” winter weather temps will be back. I’m in my mid 40’s and I have never ever felt this cold in my life! Not looking forward to the power bill next month! yikes!! Yes, this soup was just the ticket we needed tonight. Mmmmm!! Been snowbound for 2 days. Hubby says the roads are still horrid and he only works 5 miles away. Soup tomorrow and I’m sure it will only be better. Thanks for the recipe! I see you have many other recipes I’m looking forward to trying. We are gluten free here. Hubby’s the celiac. Take care & Happy New yr!

        • says

          Wendy my strongest memory like this was when my kids were smaller, my youngest had to be about 18 months and the elder maybe 6’ish. My husband traveled for work, it was just before Christmas and we had an enormous snow storm; 33 inches in my driveway. We were totally socked in. Fortunately I had food and had run out to Target the day the storm was coming to buy new games. My husband was stranded out of town, the airport cancelling flights left and right. I had an epiphany that if there was an emergency there was about 2 hours of shoveling between my garage and the mere yards to the street. I knew by that stage were I to go shovel for that time my tiny man who had a huge dose of cabin fever (it was so cold we couldn’t take advantage and go out snow shoeing around the neighborhood or anything) would rip the house apart. Nevertheless I did go shovel and just enough to have about 2 inches clearance on either side of my low riding car. The house did get ripped apart but my mind was at ease knowing I could get out if needed. I was able to get my son into his preschool which was open for the afternoon and took my daughter with me straight to Home Depot to buy a snowblower, which I’ve used maybe 3 times in the past 8 years but I don’t care! It was my favorite purchase ever just to know it was there if I needed it!

          I hope you will find more GF recipes you like! All my recipes are GF either naturally or with deliberate GF ingredients and I try to include non GF options for gluten-eaters too! Hang in there…..spring WILL come!


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