White Turkey Chili

Food

White Turkey Chili is thick, hearty, and filled with good-for-you ingredients like lean ground turkey, tender white beans, crisp corn, and fire-roasted green chiles.

Overhead image of the white turkey chili in a bowl

Overhead image of the white turkey chili in a bowl

White Turkey Chili

Few soups get inhaled quicker than White Chicken Chili — it’s a favorite at my home. It also happens to be a favorite in so many of your homes as well! Since it’s been such a popular recipe, we are frequently asked how to make it without dairy or how to make it a bit more nutritious.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, we’ve been testing and tweaking this chili before weather was even appropriate to be eating it — ha!

And finally, it’s our kind of perfect — it’s packed with protein and, without toppings, is naturally dairy-free. It’s loaded with veggies, lean ground turkey, and is broth based. With a few tricks up our sleeves we add plenty of flavor and creaminess without loads of cream or cheese. 

What are the “tricks”? First off we thicken the chili by blending some of the beans. This yields a thick, hearty soup, but in a more nutritious way — no dairy needed. And while most chicken chilis use only chicken broth/stock as the base, we add in green enchilada sauce. The enchilada sauce gives this chili a nuance of flavor and richness with no extra effort on your part (beyond opening another can)! Not to mention, green enchilada sauce is low in calories and filled with veggies like green chiles, jalapeños, and onion.

Process shots: Sautéing the onion and ground turkey and adding in seasonings.

Process shots: Sautéing the onion and ground turkey and adding in seasonings.

Let’s Chat Ingredients

Below are notes on some of the ingredients in this White Turkey Chili:

  • Green enchilada sauce: We like Old El Paso® mild sauce best! Use a hotter sauce if you’d like some heat. And if you’re feeling ambitious, try making your own enchilada sauce! (Recipe for that on this green chile chicken enchiladas post.)
  • Chicken stock. A high-quality, flavorful stock adds loads of flavor and allows us to cut down on spices or other additions. We highly recommend Swanson ® chicken stock — it’s our favorite!
  • For ground turkey, use turkey sold in a carton, rather than in a chub. Chub-style ground turkey is the kind that comes in the plastic tube and it tends to be less flavorful and more watered down, so you’ll likely need to drain off the meat after browning (not a big deal, but it takes more time!).

SHORTCUTS

  • We recommend fire-roasted diced green chiles — this adds layers of flavor (fire-roasting) without any additional work on your end! 
  • Use pre-minced garlic from the jar to save more time.
  • Pre-diced onions. A lot of grocery stores sell diced yellow onions in the produce section of the store. Alternatively, frozen diced onions are often found by the other frozen veggies and can be used in this White Turkey Chili. 

Process shots: Adding enchilada sauce and chicken stock; preparing to blend some of the beans to thicken the chili.

Process shots: Adding enchilada sauce and chicken stock; preparing to blend some of the beans to thicken the chili.

White Turkey Chili Spiciness

You can make this chili very mild or fairly spicy, depending on the ingredients used. As written with mild enchilada sauce and green chiles, I’d say this chili has a kick, but nothing too intense (my kids ate and enjoyed it!).

  • For milder chili, use a mild green enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso® brand), mild green chiles, and mild chili powder (such as McCormick®).
  • For a spicier chili, use medium or hot green enchilada sauce and hotter green chiles. You can also add in 1-2 tablespoons diced jalapeños and/or 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper to boost the heat. 
  • Also note that if you add in cheese and/or sour cream, this tames down the spice quite a bit.

QUICK TIP

Be sure to use chili powder — not to be confused with chilli powder which is very hot. We’re using American chili powder (I use McCormick which is mild).

Process shots: Blend the beans with stock; add to the pot and continue to stir; add in beans and corn.

Process shots: Blend the beans with stock; add to the pot and continue to stir; add in beans and corn.

Optional Finishing Touches

These two finishing ingredients are optional, but add freshness and liveliness to the White Turkey Chili:

  • Fresh cilantro: If you’re a cilantro fan, you’ll love what this herb does to the soup with its freshness and citrusy flavor. And if you’re in the anti-cilantro crowd, substitute a bit of chopped fresh parsley or oregano.
  • Fresh lime juice: The lime heightens all the flavors in this chili and adds a burst of brightness. 

If some like cilantro and lime and others don’t, feel free to add these two additions to individual bowls instead of to the soup pot.

Simmer the white turkey chili; add cilantro and lime juice; mix well and serve with toppings.

Simmer the white turkey chili; add cilantro and lime juice; mix well and serve with toppings.

Toppings

While White Turkey Chili is great as is, the toppings truly seal the deal! Below are some of our favorite toppings: (If I could only pick two toppings for this chili, they would be cheese and sour cream.)

  • Cheese: We like to freshly grate the cheese right on top of each bowl and let it melt for a minute before stirring it throughout the chili. Our favorites are pepper-Jack cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, or sharp Cheddar cheese.
  • Sour cream: My personal favorite in this soup is lite or fat-free sour cream, which keeps things light while also adding in some nice creaminess. A small scoop goes a long way!
  • Chips: Crushed chips or tortilla strips (seasoned or plain) add a nice contrasting crunch to the creaminess of the soup.
  • Ripe avocado or guacamole: For an additional element of creaminess, we love a ripe avocado sliced on top.

If you’re dairy-free, add an avocado for creaminess and a squeeze of fresh lime. 

Trying to keep things as light as possible? Add a small scoop of fat-free sour cream and some extra fresh lime juice.

A bowl of White Turkey Chili with toppings

A bowl of White Turkey Chili with toppings

STORAGE

White Turkey Chili Storage

Leftover chili will keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-5 days. Reheat in the microwave (covered so it doesn’t splatter) or in a pot over low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. Don’t boil the chili or reheat it at a high temperature.

Freezing: Allow White Turkey Chili to fully cool to room temperature first. Fill up heavy-duty freezer bags 3/4ths full and then seal without air in them. Flatten the bag so it can stack and store nicely. Place filled bag(s) on a sheet pan, freeze for about 2-3 hours or until frozen solid; remove from baking sheet and stack in the freezer. Label and freeze for 2-3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat gently in a pot until heated through.

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White Turkey Chili

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White Turkey Chili is thick, hearty, and filled with good-for-you ingredients like lean ground turkey, tender white beans, crisp corn, and fire-roasted green chiles.

White Turkey Chili

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White Turkey Chili is thick, hearty, and filled with good-for-you ingredients like lean ground turkey, tender white beans, crisp corn, and fire-roasted green chiles.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cup (170g) finely diced yellow onion
  • 1 pound (453g) ground turkey (93/7) Note 1
  • Fine sea salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 can (4 oz.; 113g) mild fire-roasted diced green chiles
  • 3/4 teaspoon each: dried oregano, paprika
  • 1 tablespoon each ground chili powder, ground cumin
  • 1 can (10 oz; 283g) mild green enchilada sauce Note 2
  • 3 cups good quality chicken stock, separated (we love Swanson)
  • 3 cans (15.5 oz; 439g each) cannelini beans, rinsed and drained, separated
  • 1-1/2 cup (200g) frozen corn
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup (12g) finely chopped cilantro
  • Toppings: Tortilla strips or chips, extra cilantro and/or lime wedges, thinly sliced avocado, fat-free or lite sour cream, Monterey Jack, pepper-jack or cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • ONION AND TURKEY: Place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and once hot, add in the onion. Sauté until becoming golden about 5-7 minutes. Add ground turkey and season with salt and pepper (I add 1/4 teaspoon each here). Crumble ground turkey with a wooden spoon, breaking it down as you cook.

  • SEASONINGS: Once mostly cooked through (about 5-7 minutes), drain off any excess liquid and then add in the seasonings, additional salt and pepper (I add another 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper), minced garlic, and diced green chiles (undrained). Cook until very fragrant, 2-3 more minutes.

  • SIMMER: Add in green enchilada sauce, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Then add in 2 cups (450g) chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low. Meanwhile, add 1 can (drained and rinsed) white beans and the remaining 1 cup (225g) chicken stock to a blender. Blend until completely smooth and then scrape every bit of this mixture into the pot. Stir well and then add in the 2 remaining cans (drained and rinsed) white beans and 1-1/2 cups frozen corn. Stir through. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until warmed through.

  • FINISHING: Add lime juice and optional cilantro. Stir through. Ladle into bowls and serve with whatever toppings you like best — we love it with cheese and sour cream!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Ground turkey: We recommend 93/7 (99/1 is too dry and flavorless!). If you can, use turkey sold in a carton, rather than in a chub. Chub-style ground turkey is the kind that comes in the plastic tube and it tends to be less flavorful and more watered down so you’ll likely need to drain off the meat after browning (not a big deal, but it takes more time!).

Note 2: Enchilada sauce: We like Old El Paso® mild sauce best! Use a hotter sauce if you’d like some heat. And if you’re feeling ambitious, try making your own enchilada sauce! (Recipe for that on this green chile chicken enchiladas post.)

Nutrition information does not include optional toppings.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 546kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 1777mg | Potassium: 694mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 544IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 235mg | Iron: 10mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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