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Spicy Chicken & White Bean Chili

Scott Phillips

Servings: four.

Puréeing some of the beans along with the canned tomatoes in this recipe gives the dish a thick texture and a rich, slow-cooked feel. Chipotle chiles are available canned with adobo sauce in many supermarkets and specialty food markets.


  • 1 ripe avocado, cut in a medium dice
  • 1 large white onion, finely diced
  • Juice of 2 limes, about 6 Tbs.
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 chipotles, plus 2 Tbs. adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1-1/2 lb. boneless, skiness chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat, or 3-1/2 cups shredded store-roasted chicken
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup lager beer, such as Corona
  • Sour cream, for garnish (optional)


  • Toss the avocado, about one-quarter of the onion, 2-1/2 Tbs. of the lime juice, and 2 Tbs. of the cilantro in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  • In a food processor, combine 1 cup of the beans, the tomatoes and their juice, the chipotles, and adobo sauce and process until smooth. Set aside.
  • Season the chicken with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or casserole over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering hot. Add the chicken (the thighs should just fit, evenly spaced) and sear without touching until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until also golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Take the pot off the heat and set aside. When the chicken has rested, shred it by hand or chop it coarsely.
  • Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the remaining onion to the pot and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to brown and soften, about 3 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir for 20 seconds. Add the beer and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to incorporate any browned bits, until it almost completely reduces, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining white beans and the puréed bean mixture and bring to a boil. Stir in the chicken along with any accumulated juices on the bottom of the plate. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes so the chicken finishes cooking and the flavors mix and meld. Stir in 1-1/4 cup of the cilantro and the remaining lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Ladle into large bowls and serve immediately with a generous spoonful of the avocado mixture, a dollop of sour cream (if using), and a sprinkling of the remaining cilantro.

Serve with Mexican rice or cornbread.


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Reviews (15 reviews)

  • user-363816 | 08/26/2018

    Homerun with the family. I’ve made this recipe 4 times - once as a tester (I try it before introducing it to family), twice for home, and last time for a family camping trip with friends.

    Yes, it is ABSOLUTELY TOO SPICY if you use the recommended adobo sauce (we tend towards flavorful- not burning tongue- hot). After adding in one-quarter of the adobo sauce and seasoning to taste, the entire family LOVES this chili.

    It is true that leftovers are rare, so I double the recipe. The chili is even better the following day as the spices meld into the purée. The heat also kicks up a notch, which is why I add in one-quarter of the adobo sauce, in anticipation of this afterburner release in the chili.

    This recipe is now on the family meal rotation. Whether it’s a hot day or a cold evening, this chili is the go-to meal when ‘there’s nothing to eat.’ :-)

  • Brooke6281 | 10/22/2014

    This was amazing and is a new staple, it would be just as yummy with a rotisserie chicken, I think the chicken thigh was a messy, time consuming addition that doesn't enhance it anymore than rotisserie chicken would. LOVE this though.

  • cummingsbu | 10/11/2014

    Excellent. The avocado topping made this meal.

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