Our new favorite leftover turkey recipe is this warm and comforting White Bean Leftover Turkey Chili! It's creamy (without cream), flavorful, and can be on the table in just a little over 30 minutes!
Yes, yes there are so many white chili recipes out there, I know. But let me tell you, this White Bean Leftover Turkey Chili is not only a creamy dreamy way to use up that leftover Thanksgiving turkey, but it also has a depth of flavor from the charred corn, green chilis, cumin, and coriander. The base recipe is very mild and perfect for the whole family (like our 3 and 5 year old), but then there are plenty of ways to add the heat for those of us that want it! It's one of our new favorite leftover turkey recipes!
What is White Chili?
White chili gets its name due to a couple of variations from a classic chili.
White Meat. Unlike traditional chili that's made with beef (or red meat). Since this is of course a leftover turkey chili, our protein of choice is turkey, however, you can also use some leftover chicken, too!
White Beans. While traditional chili usually has a mixture of black beans and red beans (and sometimes white beans) this white chili uses just white beans. You can use great northern, navy, or cannellini beans.
Stock Base. The base of this white bean chili is stock, unlike traditional chili's tomato base. For this leftover turkey chili of course we love to go all turkey in by using a fresh homemade turkey stock, but chicken stock is also great.
- Leftover Turkey - We love to make this with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, but you could also use some leftover chicken for this recipe, too!
- White Beans - Our choice is Great Northern Beans, but you can also use Navy, or Cannellini.
- Onions and Garlic - Can you make any soups without them?
- Green chilies - We use mild for this recipe, but you can also add some extra heat by using a hot variety.
- Corn - Fresh, frozen, or canned works well for this. But the most important peice is giving it a little char in some butter, first. It adds so much flavor to this white chili!
- Broth - Did you make some Turkey broth with your leftover Thanksgiving turkey? If not, chicken stock is great for this.
- Cumin, Oregano & Coriander - Such a delicious spice profile for this soup!
- Cheeses: Cream cheese and Pepper Jack. Cream cheese is vital for adding some thickness and creaminess to the soup, but you could substitute cheddar or a Mexican blend cheese for the pepper jack, too.
- Fresh Cilantro: Added in the end this brings a great freshness, but if it's not your thing, you can omit.
- Fresh Lime Juice - Just a squeeze at the end of cooking to add a bit of bright acidity to tie it all together.
Add some heat! This White Bean Leftover Turkey Chili is very mild because my husband and I want to make sure that it's kid-friendly at its base and then we like to add our own heat. Our favorite way to do that is with a favorite hot sauce. Top of our list right now is one from a local Portland, OR company, HAB Sauce. We especially love this hot sauce with this chili, their Smoked Cherrywood Habanero.
Easy to Make
Foundation of flavor! Giving the corn a little char in butter and then cooking the onions, garlic, and green chilis in more butter with all of that goodness left on the bottom of the pan builds so much added flavor to this white bean chili!
Bring to a boil and then simmer. Add the stock, turkey, corn, beans - whole and mashed. Bring it to a boil, then add the cheeses, lower, and let simmer until all of the cheese is well incorporated.
Done in just over 30 minutes. Add some fresh cilantro and lime juice and you have a delicious white turkey chili!
Char the Corn and saute the green chilis. These steps truly take this White Bean Leftover Chili to the next level by adding a little buttery charred flavor and bringing out the flavor of the green chilis with all of the goodness on the bottom of the pan after charring the corn.
Mash Some Beans. By mashing about 1 1/2 cups of the beans before adding them to the pot will give the chili a nice creamy texture, and will make it a bean-packed white chili that's not so in-your-face bean, but still with all of the protein and fiber-packed into the great northern beans.
Melt the cream cheese! It'll take at least 10 minutes to be able to fully melt the cream cheese. Give it a good mix and check the texture of the soup to ensure that it's all well incorporated.
Freshly grate your Pepper Jack. While it takes extra time, grating your own cheese is always worth it because it will produce a creamier smoother texture as freshly grated cheese melts better than pre-shredded. This is because there are additives used in pre-shredded cheese to prevent the cheese from clumping together.
Adjust the heat. This recipe is totally adjustable to your heat preference. The base of this is very mild - like 3 and 5 year old approved mild. But it's very easy to bump up the heat! See the recipe notes for our favorite ways to heat it up.
I don't know about you, but the leftovers from the holiday meal is where it's at for me. And this White Bean Leftover Turkey Chili is a new favorite leftover turkey recipe!
Other Leftover Recipes
- Leftover Turkey Pot Pie From Scratch
- Turkey and Spinach Noodle Soup
- Leftover Mashed Potato Waffles and Gravy
- Spinach, Ham, and Cheddar Quiche
- Denver Omelette Waffles
Creamy, without cream. Incredibly flavorful in not a lot of time. A protein-packed meal that my 5-year-old during recipe testing asked to bring leftovers to school for lunch, then requested it again for dinner. That's how I know it's a keeper!
Enjoy! As always, if you make this recipe or any of my others, I love to hear what you think! Leave a comment below, email me, or you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!
If you want to see more, be sure to sign up for my 5 Easy Ways to Start Cooking From Scratch!
White Bean Leftover Turkey Chili
- Dutch oven or soup pot
- 2 cups leftover turkey shredded
- 1 1/2 cups corn fresh, frozen, or canned
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 white onion diced, approx 1 cup
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 4 oz green chilis
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
- 3 cups great northern beans cooked or 2 cans
- 1/2 cup cream cheese approx 4 oz
- 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese shredded
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
- 1/4 wedge fresh lime approximately 1 teaspoon juice
- sliced jalapenos
- tortilla strips
- hot sauce
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a dutch oven or stock pot and melt over medium.
- Turn heat up to medium high to high and add corn and let cook for 2-3 minutes until corn begins to slightly char. Stir and cook for antoher 2 minutes. Remove corn and set aside.
- Turn heat down to medium and add remaining butter to melt. Scrape up any bits off of the bottom of the pan that may be left from cooking the corn (flavor!). Add onion, garlic, and cook until soft for 4 minutes.
- Add green chilis and stir. Add spices and mix and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add stock and turn heat back up to medium high to bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, add 1 1/2 cups of great northern beans to a small bowl and use either a potato masher or fork and mash beans.
- Once your beans are mashed (ok if it's before stock comes to a boil), add mashed beans, whole beans, corn, and turkey and mix cream cheese and pepper jack cheese to the pot.
- Once it all comes to a boil, turn down the heat back to medium or medium-low to bring soup to a simmer. Add cheeses and mix well. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes until all of the cream cheese is melted and texture is creamy.
- Add fresh cilantro and the juice of 1/4 wedge of a fresh lime.
- Serve in bowls and garnish with hot sauce, tortilla chip strips, or fresh avocado.
Very easy! Thanks for a recipe my whole family enjoyed!!!!
So wonderful to hear, Jess! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review! 😀
White bean chili is one of my favorites and I usually have it with rotisserie chicken. The leftover turkey was a great change and a good idea. Great recipe!
So glad you enjoyed it, Isabelle! Thanks for sharing and taking the time to leave a review!
This chili turned out great! It thickened great after about 15 minutes for me. If it appears to "soupy" for you (which it didn't in my case) just add more turkey- easy fix!
Thanks so much, Kristina! Easy fix, indeed!
We love chili in our house and this was a great way to use the leftover Thanksgiving turkey. The tip of mashing the beans to thicken the chili worked perfectly.
Great to hear, thanks Amy!
I used this recipe for our leftovers this year, and it came out beautifully! Loved that creamy texture and the green chiles added the best flavor. The directions were certainly easy for me. It seems a little funny for someone to say this isn't a chili when it's clearly a white chili — there are more than one type of chili! Anyway, loved it and would make again.
So great to hear, Amanda. Thanks so much for sharing and taking the time to leave a review!
What a great idea to use up that Thanksgiving turkey! I love white chili with chicken, but have never thought about using turkey instead.
First, this is not chili. This makes a soup. Also, they obviously didn't read back over the recipe because it is possibly one of the worst written, most confusing recipes I've ever tried to make. Includes contradictory and confusing instructions and isn't specific enough in some areas. Very lazy writing and not what I was wanting to make tonight, but now I'm stuck with it, cause I had faith it might thicken up at the end. it did not.
Hi Aaron, sorry you were unable to follow the instructions and that you needed more specific instructions, that probably explains why it didn't thicken for you.