Tried and True Tailgate Worthy White Chicken Chili

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Ingredients (12)

  • 1 pound dried white beans (such as Great Northern), rinsed
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium brown onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can (7 oz) roasted whole green chiles, drained, seeded, and chopped
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2-3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into cubes
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1 C shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • salt and pepper
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Tried and True Tailgate Worthy White Chicken Chili

A few years back, my Mom was a guest at a Sunday football “get together”, and one of her best friends had made white chicken chili. The following morning, I got an earful about just how “amazing” this chili was, and that she had the recipe for me. I had never even heard of a version of chili described as “white”, as I was more accustomed to traditional red, meaty chilis full of different beans and herbs and spices. But, this “new” chili was intriguing, so I thought I would give it a try…

…and now, it virtually is the only chili I enjoy making, and eating.

Full of white beans, chicken, sour cream, onions, garlic, and spices – this white chili is hands down my go-to recipe for any group get together. It’s been a hit (and repeated request) at numerous tailgates for USC games, so many times in fact that this chili simply became known as “Lesley’s Famous Chili”.

Best made the day before and reheated, pack this chili into disposable 1/2 hotel pans, place them right on the tailgate BBQ grill, and with an occasional stir every so often you have a true tailgate winning chili on your hands!


  1. 1In a large stock pot, combine the beans and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to a very low simmer and cook the beans until extremely tender, covered, about 1 1/2 hours.
  2. 2Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat up the olive oil over medium heat and add your onions with some salt and pepper and “sweat” them for about 10 minutes or until they look slightly translucent and are soft. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, and chiles to the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until all of the ingredients are mixed together well.
  3. 3Add the cooked chicken to the onion mixture and continue to stir to combine all of the ingredients, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. (This part can be done while waiting for the beans to fully cook.)
  4. 4When the beans are ready, add the onion-chicken mixture to the beans with the sour cream and cheese (chili will look extremely thick before adding cheese and sour cream – do not add any more liquid as the sour cream will then out the chili on its own). Bring chili to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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