Turkey Chili with White Beans Recipe

This easy turkey chili with white beans recipe makes a big pot of Dutch oven chili to feed a crowd. Canned white beans, diced jalapenos and tangy tomatillos give this ground turkey chili great flavor and texture. Top a bowl with your favorite extras and garnishes for a hearty, delicious meal.

Ingredients for the chili with white beans.

There’s nothing like a big, cozy Dutch oven chili on a cool day and this chili with white beans recipe is in our regular fall and winter rotation.

This recipe is made with ground turkey instead of beef, and we love it because the flavors develop without the time commitment of an all-day simmer. And this white turkey chili makes a big pot, so you can feed a large group — or have leftovers for days.

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Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • It uses fresh, everyday ingredients.
  • Easy to assemble on the stovetop.
  • It can be made ahead, and leftovers freeze well.
  • It can be customized to your tastes; make it spicy or mild.
  • Kids and adults both love this Dutch oven chili recipe.


  • Tomatillos – are also known as husk or Mexican tomatoes but shouldn’t be confused with green tomatoes. The two are different. Green tomatoes are unripe tomatoes, while tomatillos have a papery husk and a mild, lightly tangy flavor. Tomatillos are popular in Mexican cuisine and I use them in my spicy salsa verde recipe.
  • Chicken Stock from Rotisserie Chicken – or low-sodium canned broth for processing the tomatillos into a bright green sauce to season the chili with white beans recipe.
  • Onion – I recommend either yellow or white onion, but you can also use red onion.
  • Celery – as part of the aromatic base for the white turkey chili.
  • Green Peppers – have a vegetal quality compared to sweet bell peppers and are a better option for this turkey chili.
  • Jalapeño – Using the whole jalapeno with seeds and membranes adds a bit more spice to the chili. If you’re sensitive, omit the white membrane and seeds.
  • Garlic – I used three large garlic cloves, or about 2½ to 3 teaspoons of minced garlic.
  • Kosher Salt – I prefer Diamond Crystal kosher salt which is less dense by volume. If you have Morton’s, use about ¼ less salt.
  • Ground Cumin – gives the white turkey chili a smoky flavor.
  • Chili Powder – it’s not chili without it. You can use chipotle or ancho chili powder, or a chili powder blend.
  • Cayenne – this spicy red pepper gives the turkey chili with white beans a pleasant spice. You can use more or less, depending on your tastes.
  • Oregano – I prefer Mexican dried oregano. Fresh oregano can be too overpowering.
  • Ground Turkey -I used dark meat turkey, but you can use ground turkey breast for a leaner, healthier white turkey chili.
  • Dried Bay Leaf – perks up the flavors and aroma as the chili simmers. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
  • Green Chiles – I recommend using fire-roasted New Mexico Hatch chilies if you have them. Otherwise, you can use canned green chiles or roasted Anaheim chilies.
  • White Cannellini Beans – use the beans and their bean liquid. The liquid adds flavor and body to the turkey chili with white beans.
  • Fresh Cilantro – Mix it into the chili and garnish each bowl with fresh herbs.
Cooking ground turkey with veg and spices.


  1. Pulse the tomatillos and chicken broth in a blender until you have a smooth-chunky puree.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, saute the onion, celery, green pepper, jalapeno, garlic and salt in a tablespoon of olive oil until the vegetables are tender and translucent.
  3. Add the cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper and dried oregano and cook for a minute to bloom the spices.
  4. Add the ground turkey meat and cook, breaking up the lumps with a wooden spoon and saute until the meat browns.
  5. Pour the tomatillo mixture over the turkey and add the bay leaf, green chiles and white beans.
  6. Bring the white turkey chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer to reduce and thicken for 30-45 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking or scorching to the bottom of the Dutch oven.
  7. Before serving, stir in the chopped cilantro and top each bowl with fresh lime juice.
Quartering the tomatillos.


This recipe is great for game day because it’s rich, hearty, and feeds many people. To set up a DIY chili bar for a crowd:

  1. Arrange bowls at one end of a buffet table.
  2. Place the Dutch oven filled with white bean turkey chili next to the bowls (cast iron holds in the heat for a long time) followed by the garnishes, condiment bowls and go-withs.
  3. Roll utensils (we like large soup spoons or tablespoons) in napkins and stack them at the end of the buffet to grab-n-go.

What goes with white turkey chili?

Our favorite garnish and mix-ins include:

  • Salsa Verde – made from tomatillos and green chiles, salsa verde is a natural with this chili with white beans recipe.
  • Shredded White Cheddar Cheese, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack
  • Chopped Green Onion – a.k.a. scallions.
  • Cilantro – We like to trim the cilantro and put it in a glass of water to keep the leaves fresh and perky.
  • Ripe Avocado – sliced or diced
  • Sour Cream – low-fat or full-strength!
  • Jalapenos – thinly sliced or diced for sprinkling.
  • Hot Sauce – Put out several bottles of different hot sauces for your guests to choose.
  • Pico De Gallo or diced tomatoes.
  • Crumbled Queso Fresco or shredded Queso Blanco
  • A bag of tortilla chips or Fritos.
  • Warm flour tortillas for dipping


  • You can use other proteins such as ground chicken for a white chicken chili, ground beef, ground pork or even bison instead of the ground turkey.
  • Stir in a cup of frozen corn and a tablespoon of fine cornmeal into the turkey and tomatillo mixture before simmering the chili. It adds even more body and makes a thicker chili.
  • Add diced Yukon gold, white-skinned potatoes or sweet potato to the chili before simmering.
  • Substitute navy beans or small white beans if you don’t have cannellini beans. You can also substitute kidney, pinto beans, or black beans, which gives the chili a different look since those beans are darker.


Store leftover white bean turkey chili in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. Reheat in a large saucepan or in the microwave.

If you like to meal prep, divide this chili with white beans into individual containers for the week. Use snack baggies or small resealable containers to hold your favorite extra toppings.


This freezes well for up to 2-3 months. Fill a freezer-safe container with the turkey chili with white beans and freeze. Defrost to reheat.


Can red kidney beans and white kidney beans be used interchangeably in chili recipes?

You can use red kidney beans, but it won’t be a white turkey chili. The flavors should taste the same, however.

Can I make this chili with white beans recipe in a crock pot?

You can make this recipe in a crock pot. However, you’d need to saute the vegetables and brown the meat separately to combine all the ingredients in your slow cooker skillet, then cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

Adjusting the spiciness

You can make this Dutch oven chili as spicy or mild as you like… and this recipe has lots of layers of chile, so there are various ways to adjust the heat.

  • Omit the cayenne pepper.  The way this recipe is written, it’s got a mouth-tingling heat. It’s not precisely “hellfire and damnation,” but if you’re spice-averse, you can skip it.
  • Cut down on the heat from the jalapeño by removing the white membrane and seeds (that’s where the spice is).
  • Hatch green chiles can be mild or spicy — so order (either at the roadside roaster stand or online) according to your tastes.
  • For a smokier, spicier chili, add one whole chipotle pepper in adobo and one teaspoon of the adobo sauce to the tomatillo and chicken broth mixture and pulse to combine. This will bring up the spice factor in the ground turkey chili.

More chili recipes to try:

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Turkey Chili with White Beans Recipe in a white bowl with garnishes.
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4.67 from 15 votes

Turkey Chili with White Beans Recipe

This savory white bean turkey chili feeds a crowd and goes great with a wedge of cornbread! Use white or dark meat chili and canned white beans for this recipe.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chili, hatch chile, super bowl, turkey chili
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 8



  • 1 pound tomatillos peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups chicken stock from rotisserie chicken or low sodium broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper diced (for more heat- keep seeds and membranes, for less, discard seeds and membranes)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup fire-roasted green chiles I used Hatch chiles, skins, stems and seeds removed and chopped.
  • 30 ounces cannellini beans with their liquid
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped, + more for garnish


  • Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • cilantro leaves
  • avocado diced
  • lime wedges
  • sour cream
  • green onion diced
  • jalapenos sliced
  • tortilla chips or Fritos
  • hot sauce



  • Combine the 1-pound tomatillos with 2 cups chicken stock in a blender or food processor. Pulse several times until pureed. Set aside.


  • Heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add 1 large onion, 2 stalks celery, 1 green bell pepper, 1 jalapeño pepper, 3 cloves garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes until vegetables are softened and fragrant.
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons ground cumin, 1 tablespoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons dried oregano. Cook, stirring for an additional minute.
  • Add 3 pounds ground turkey, breaking up lumps with the back of a wooden spoon. Brown the turkey while incorporating it into the vegetables. This should take 5-6 minutes or until the turkey is browned.
  • Pour the tomatillo mixture into the turkey mixture. Add one bay leaf, 1 cup of green chiles, and 30 ounces cannellini beans (2 15-oz cans). Stir to combine.  
  • Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir ½ cup cilantro into the white bean turkey chili. Adjust for seasoning, adding salt, pepper or more spice if desired.
  • Ladle chili into bowls and serve with optional accompaniments.


YouTube video


You can order Hatch Chiles online if you don’t have access to a local roaster, or you can substitute canned green chiles.
For a milder (less hot) chili, roast some poblano peppers over a gas stove or grill until well charred.  Place roasted peppers in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and allow to cool, then slough off the charred skins and discard the seeds.  Use in place of hatch chiles.


Calories: 367.29kcal | Carbohydrates: 27.72g | Protein: 49.06g | Fat: 8.72g | Saturated Fat: 1.66g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.91g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4.12g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 95.35mg | Sodium: 783.86mg | Potassium: 865.51mg | Fiber: 8.38g | Sugar: 5.32g | Vitamin A: 672.56IU | Vitamin C: 25.59mg | Calcium: 113.13mg | Iron: 5.62mg

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  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is delicious! Used 2 lb ground turkey + 1 lb ground beef, and added some jalapeno and banana peppers into the tomatillo puree. I didn’t have a bay leaf so just added a little extra oregano. Served over rice and black beans and topped with shredded cheddar and sliced avocado, with a side of corn bread. Perfect snow day lunch!

  2. Wondering if I could make ahead and freeze

  3. Connie Jurczyk says:

    Hi, quick question – the recipe calls for 3 pounds ground turkey, and it’s noted that you use one pound extra lean and one pound regular. What is the third pound?

    1. Thanks for the catch. I use 1 1/2 pounds of each — fixed it in the recipe card.

  4. Julie Bou says:

    5 stars
    I had 1 lb of tomatillos, 1 head of romaine, and 2 eggplants from my farmer share basket that I didn’t want to go bad. I used this recipe and added roasted eggplant and romaine to the sauce and it was fantastic! Great recipe, thank you for sharing.

  5. 5 stars
    Making this again tonight, it so freaking good!

  6. I have canned tomatillos that I’ve been trying to find something to make with them. Can I substitute them for the fresh, maybe cutting back on the salt? It is a 28oz can. Drain or use liquid?
    This sounds delicious and I can’t wait to make it.

    1. Hi Cheryl – absolutely — the canned tomatillos should work perfectly in this chili. I would drain the tomatillos from the liquid — unless the liquid is very flavorful — if it is, it couldn’t hurt to use a quarter cup or so.

  7. Gave my sister the recipe so she can make it!

  8. 4 stars
    I made this tonight,it was delicious. I will be making it again.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Marie! We have this at least once a month usually beginning in the fall and going through the winter!

  9. I’m going to make this tomorrow, I see corn meal in the ingredients. I don’t see it in the directions

    1. It’s in step 5 — stir in beans and cornmeal… The cornmeal acts as a slight thickener. It gives body and texture. Let me know how you like it, Marie!

  10. I’m always up for a good alternative chili, and this combo sounds fabulous. I cracked up at your note about only using one chipotle –accidentally use a whole can, and I think your mouth would just combust into flames. 😉

    1. You definitely run that risk if you use the whole can!!!

  11. I love tomatillos, they are so tangy and full of flavor. This recipe is sure to be a family favorite. Thanks!

    1. Anytime I can find tomatillos at our farmers market — I load up on them… My husband thinks I’m nuts.

    1. Can you run back to the store and grab some???

  12. Lisa Bryan | Downshiftology says:

    Turkey chili is seriously the perfect meal for a cold winter day (like today!). Nothing like warming from the inside out with a big bowl of tasty chili!

    1. I completely agree! Even though I’m in South Florida — our weather is changing tonight and it’s going to be sweater weather tomorrow!

  13. Chili is all about the toppings for me too! I never think to make it with turkey, so I’m going to have to try this. Bring on the Fritos!