White chicken chili is the epitome of comfort food, but what if I told you that it could also be a guilt-free pleasure? In this post, we’re diving into a healthy white chicken chili – a dish that’s not only delicious but also good for you. Whether you’re a health-conscious foodie or just looking for a satisfying meal, you’re in for a treat.
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Healthy White Chicken Chili
When our work schedules get busy and the weather is just a tad chilly outside, I have this go-to quick and easy healthy white chicken chili recipe I make all the time. Especially if we’ve been traveling a bunch and I want a meal that’s comforting, but not heavy.
It’s easy to make in one big pot without creating a big mess of dishes. Add a few blue corn chips and greek yogurt on the side and it makes a great snack for an at-home evening of catching up on streaming shows.
WHAT IS A GOOD THICKENING AGENT FOR WHITE CHICKEN CHILI?
One thing my husband Pete and I agree on about chili; it’s got to be thick and chunky. Otherwise, it’s soup. Without the tomatoes that are included in a regular chili recipe, you need something extra to get that chunky consistency. That’s where the cauliflower rice comes in and it works beautifully.
With a little bit of white corn flour and cauliflower rice, this turned out to be a pretty hearty white bean chili. We skipped using flour so we could keep this chicken chili recipe gluten free for friends sensitive to gluten. And the white corn flour worked great.
INGREDIENTS FOR A HEALTHIER CHILI
Now, let’s talk about making this classic dish a bit healthier without sacrificing flavor. Here are some key ingredients to use:
- Lean Chicken: Opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. They’re high in protein and low in fat. Some grocers even offer ground chicken if you want to keep the same texture as chili with ground beef.
- Ground Turkey: If you can’t find ground chicken at your local grocer, ground turkey is another healthy alternative for chili.
- White Beans: Pinto beans and great northern beans are a great source of fiber and protein. You can also use white kidney beans or cannellini beans.
- Cauliflower Rice: After eating a bunch of rich foods while traveling, my stomach gets sensitive to tomato sauces and I get acid reflux. In order to thicken up this chili, we added cauliflower rice instead of tomatoes.
- Broth: Use a low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth to control the salt content.
- Greek Yogurt: As an option, if you’d like to make the chili more creamy, use Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream to achieve creaminess without the extra calories. It’s also a great topper alternative instead of sour cream.
- Spices: Flavor it up with spices! Since this isn’t a tomato-based chili, we swapped the chili powder and paprika for white pepper, cumin, and green tobasco to acheive that that classic chili taste.
- Veggies: Add riced cauliflower, diced bell peppers, diced poblano peppers, onions, and garlic for extra nutrients and flavor.
HOW TO MAKE CAULIFLOWER RICE
Since cauliflower is still such a major health food trend (and who doesn’t look for ways to sneak a few vegetables into their diet?), I tried making this as a cauliflower based white bean chili and I have to say — it was damn good.
If you’ve not tried making riced cauliflower yet, it’s pretty simple. Of course, you can buy riced cauliflower in most grocery stores these days. For this healthy chicken chili recipe, I recommend fresh cauliflower rice, not frozen, as the frozen can water down your chili.
To save some money, you could always make riced cauliflower on your own. Basically, you take a head of cauliflower, wash it, chop it into smaller chunks, and then pulse it in a blender or food processor until it resembles rice. Pretty simple to do and it is a great recipe thickener too. And if you have any leftover, you can also make our recipe for cauliflower risotto.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN CHILI
Heat a tablespoon of oil on medium heat in a large stock pot and cook onions until they start to brown.
Add the chicken, cumin, white pepper, and garlic and cook thoroughly until the chicken starts to brown.
Add the cauliflower, chicken stock, white corn meal, olive oil, green tabasco, poblano pepper, and salt and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom and adding the beans in during the last 5 minutes.
TOPPINGS: A HEALTHY TWIST
Even when trying to eat healthy, we still love to top our healthy white chicken chili with shredded cheddar. But there are lots of alternatives if your looking to add healthier toppins Try these nutritious options:
- Avocado: Slices of creamy avocado add healthy fats and a satisfying color and texture.
- Cilantro: Fresh herbs like cilantro bring a burst of freshness to every spoonful.
- Lime Wedges: A squeeze of lime juice enhances the flavors and adds a zesty kick.
- Hot Sauce: If you like it spicy, opt for a low-sodium hot sauce to amp up the heat.
- Greek Yogurt: Instead of a dollup of sour cream, try adding a dollup of plain greek yogurt.
- Sliced Jalapenos: For some added color and spice, top your healthy chicken chili with sliced jalapenos.
WHY IT’S HEALTHY
White chicken chili is a flavorful, hearty stew made with chicken, white beans, cauliflower and a mix of spices. Here’s why it’s a great alternative to traditional beef chili:
- Protein-Packed: With lean chicken or turkey, and beans, this chili is packed with protein to keep you feeling full.
- Fiber-Rich: White beans and cauliflower are an excellent source of dietary fiber, aiding in digestion.
- Low in Fat: Chicken and turkey are both lower in fat and more heart-healthy than ground beef.
- Rich in Vitamins: Peppers, cauliflower, and other veggies bring in essential vitamins and minerals.
- Spices’ Benefits: The spices used in white chicken chili have various health benefits, from anti-inflammatory properties to aiding digestion.
In the world of comfort food, healthy white chicken chili shines as a dish that’s both delicious and nutritious. With lean protein, fiber-rich beans, and broth thickened with cauliflower rice, you can indulge in this classic recipe guilt-free. So, whether you’re cozying up on a chilly evening or hosting a gathering, this wholesome twist on white chicken chili is sure to satisfy your taste buds and nourish your body.
- 1 lb ground chicken or turkey
- 1 cauliflower head, chopped and ground fine
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 1 poblano pepper, diced
- 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 cup green Tabasco
- 2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1/2 cup white corn meal
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 cups chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- Heat a tablespoon of oil on medium heat in a large stock pot and cook onions until they start to brown.
- Add the chicken, cumin, white pepper, and garlic and cook thoroughly until the chicken starts to brown.
- Add the cauliflower, chicken stock, white corn meal, olive oil, green tabasco, poblano pepper, and salt and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom and adding the beans in during the last 5 minutes.
- Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Chicken Chili Toppings Ideas!
- Avocado Slices
- Lime Wedges
- Hot Sauce
- Plain Greek Yogurt
- Low Fat Cheddar Cheese
- Sliced Jalapenos
You can also saute the diced poblano peppers with the onion for a more roasted pepper flavor.
White Bean Options
- navy beans
- cannellini beans
- white kidney beans
- pinto beans
- baby lima beans
Want to lower the calories a bit?
Only use one can of beans instead of two.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 355Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 1447mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 7gSugar: 4gProtein: 26g
Nutrition information provided is only an estimate.
Originally published 2016. Updated 2023.