dad's white chicken chili

In addition to being really into breakfast foods, my dad is seriously into chili.

True story time: One of his semi-real goals is to open up a restaurant that serves chili and hot dogs and call it “Dis Place.” I know. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know where that idea came from, or why he wants to serve just those two foods, but it’s perfectly quirky and awesome. Just like Dad.

My dad typically makes two kinds of chili: red chili, with loads of beans and ground beef and tomatoes and chopped veggies, and this white chicken chili. The former, I believe, is his original recipe (which I need to share, too, one day) while the latter is a take on Melissa d’Arabian’s recipe. In both cases, my dad is famous for them. Well, in our immediate family, at least. But we’re really big fans.

dad's white chicken chili

What makes this white chicken chili so fame-worthy, you ask? Well for starters, it’s unique. It’s made with shredded cooked chicken, roasted garlic, roasted Anaheim peppers and spinach and all of it comes together into what leads to my second point, which is that this chili has a legit Y-U-M factor. It might take some love and time to make, yes, but all of that love and time goes into the chili and the result is spectacular spectacular. And yes, I meant to type that twice.

There are beans in this chili, but they aren’t really the star of the show. Neither is the chicken, really. To me, what makes this recipe a recipe worth repeating are the roasted garlic and peppers. They impart such a wonderfully rich, savory and slightly spicy flavor I don’t think I’ve ever tasted in anything else before, soup, chili or otherwise. The creamy base of this chili (which is really just a small amount of heavy cream, meaning this is a good-for-you meal, too, cha-ching!) helps to balance out the strong flavors. Oh, and then you get those pieces of shredded chicken and spinach throughout. Aaaaaand cue the moment when I wish I had made a double batch.

dad's white chicken chili

So here you have it: My dad’s (via Melissa) famous white chicken chili recipe. Coming soon to a “Dis Place” restaurant near you.

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White Chicken Chili

  • Author: Adapted from my dad, who adapted it from Melissa d'Arabian
  • Prep Time: 45 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x



For the roasted garlic:

  • 12 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon water

For the chili:

  • 3 Anaheim chile peppers
  • 8 shallots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 8 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 (15 oz) can navy beans, undrained
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 (10 oz) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Sour cream, chopped fresh parsley and/or shredded cheese, for garnish (optional)


  1. Toss garlic, oil and water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving a small vent, and microwave 1 1/2 minutes until soft. Cover completely and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, place an oven rack near the top of the oven, then heat the broiler. Line a broiler pan with foil. Place chile peppers on foil and roast 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until charred.
  3. Transfer peppers to a bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let sit until cool.
  4. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add chopped shallots and cook 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized.
  5. Add minced garlic and cook 2 minutes; add flour and stir 3 minutes until toasted. Increase the heat to high and add 1 cup broth. Simmer 2 minutes, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add another 6 cups broth, the cooked chicken, chili powder, cayenne pepper, navy beans and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Peel, seed and chop roasted peppers; add to saucepan.
  7. Remove pulp from roasted garlic cloves and place in a food processor. Add remaining 1 cup broth and process until smooth. Add to saucepan.
  8. Simmer chili, uncovered, 25 minutes until thickened. Add spinach; cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in smoked paprika, heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve with sour cream, chopped fresh parsley and/or shredded cheese on top, if desired.