White Bean Chili

A delicate balance of spicy and sweet, white bean chili is a great one pot meal for warm weather camping. A little lighter than the traditional tomato-based version, this white chili is just as flavorful and filling.

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In the fall shoulder season, when the weather is chilly, we love to turn to a nice hearty chili. But during the summer, a traditional “bowl of red” can feel a little too heavy. This White Bean Chili offers a flavor profile that feels much more fitting with the warmer weather.

A bowl of white chili on a camp table

This chili features onions, yellow bell pepper, poblano pepper, sweet corn, navy beans, and canned green chiles. The “white” part of the chili comes from the addition of milk, which gives it a bit of a creamy texture. If you want to make this vegan, you can use oat milk instead.

Why We Love It:
↠ Great summertime chili
↠ Vegetarian as written, easily adapted to be vegan
↠ Lots of fun topping ideas!

So if you can’t wait for a cold-weather chili season to get here, then give this warm-weather white chili a try!

How to make white bean chili

The recipe starts off by heating a little bit of cooking oil in your pot, then lightly brown the onions, poblano pepper, and bell pepper (1).

Next, add in the flour, stir around quickly to distribute, and then add the broth. (The flour is to help thicken the sauce. See “Substitutions” below for gluten-free instructions.)

After the flour and broth are combined, add in your rinsed navy beans, corn, and diced chiles (2).

How to make White Bean Chili step by step photos

From here you can simmer as long as you want to let the flavors play together (3). We’d suggest a minimum of 15 minutes. Reduce the heat and then stir in the milk (4).

With the chili ready, you can now consider some toppings. Cilantro, avocado, fried tortillas (or chips), cheese or sour cream, and a squeeze of lime are all fantastic options to add on top.


To make the chili extra creamy, substitute heavy cream for milk.

To make this chili vegan, substitute with oat milk, adding it at the same time as the broth.

To make this chili gluten-free, leave out the flour. Add a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water (whisk in a small bowl or cup with a fork first) to the chili before adding the milk. Let it simmer for a minute to thicken, then add the milk.

Pre-trip prep

You can chop the onion, poblano, and bell pepper at home and store them in a sealed container in your cooler.

Or, this chili could be made entirely ahead of time, then stored in a sealed container in your cooler. Gently reheat over medium-low (to prevent the dairy from getting funky).

Two blue bowls of white bean chili on a table

Essential equipment

Dutch Oven: While you could make this any pot, we prefer using a cast iron Dutch oven because of how well it retains heat. Once you’re done cooking, place the Dutch oven on the picnic table and serve from there. The cast iron will keep everything warm when you want to go back for seconds.

Heat Resistant Gloves: Anytime you’re working with cast iron, we recommend using heat resistant gloves.

Ladle: We don’t always remember to bring all our kitchen utensils with us camping, but for this recipe, you are definitely going to want to bring along ladle.

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  1. Very tasty! I actually made this at home after returning from camping – still had your site on my brain and was looking for a quick lunch. This is a very good and adaptable recipe; I made a couple of substitutions based on what I had on hand. If I were to make this for camping, I’d probably make ahead since it doesn’t take long to do so, and I’m a little unpracticed at making a meal like this at camp – but it’s a winner recipe for sure!5 stars