Monday, September 3, 2012

White Chicken Chili ala Cheesecake Factory

Cheesecake Factory White Chicken Chili

My husband had this chicken chili last spring at the Cheesecake Factory, and he asked me to figure out how to make it at home.  I immediately found the actual recipe at CookEatShare, but it's taken me a few months to get around to making it. The man really asks for very little, but when I saw the list of ingredients for this chili, I was very put off. Maybe it's because he handed me his disc golf winnings last night, telling me to spend it all on myself (which I did), but I decided to go ahead and gather the remaining ingredients today and make this for my loving husband. Actually, once I had all of the ingredients under my roof, it didn't take very long to throw it all together. I had a pretty big mess to clean up, but it was relatively quick to make and it was super delicious. To quote my husband, "Do you realize the perfection that IS this chili?" It's been so long since he had this at Cheesecake Factory, that we're not sure if it does actually taste like what you get at the restaurant, but Eddie says it doesn't matter. He raved and ate, and raved some more. 
At any rate, it's delicious. Quite spicy. Very meaty, and only a few beans (which makes me happy). It's a flavorful, filling meal that I highly recommend. I'll be making it again. For sure.
Oh, I halved the original recipe, and it was enough for our family of four with no leftovers. So if you think you'll want leftovers, double what you see below and use a dutch oven.
P.S. I froze some of my last batch about a month ago, and we just had it tonight. It tasted GREAT. I love it.

P.P.S. Gee, this post has a lot of little notes. I just wanted to say, that the last two times I made this chili, I used Better Batter Gluten Free Flour instead of wheat flour, and I have to say, I think I like this better. The chili comes out thicker with a silkier texture that I really enjoy. I don't end up with any little grease blobs like you see in the photo above when I use the Better Batter.

*Note: CookEatShare used to have a clip from the news segment that had an actual Cheesecake Factory chef preparing this recipe on TV. I can't find the original link now, but this recipe really is from the Cheesecake Factory. Here's the clip.

Cheesecake Factory White Chicken Chili Recipe
   --adapted from CookEatShare

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 pounds* cubed chicken breast meat or chicken tenders
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow or white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted poblano pepper**
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely diced green chilli pepper (I used a serrano***)
  • 1/3 cup flour (I recently used Better Batter Gluten Free Flour, and it worked great too)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons salsa verde
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili garlic paste 
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle Tobasco 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup white beans (from a can, or cooked)
  • pico de gallo (garnish)
  • white rice (garnish)
  • 3 green onions, sliced (garnish)
Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan or a dutch oven (dutch oven if you're doubling the recipe for sure) over medium heat.
Combine chicken and spices in mixing bowl.
Lightly brown the chicken, cooking until about 75% done.
Remove chicken and set aside.
Melt the butter in the pan, and sauté onions until translucent.
Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Add the poblanos and green chilis.
Add the flour, stir to incorporate, and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the chicken stock a little at a time, whisking to smooth out any lumps.
Add the salsa verde, chili garlic paste, and chipotle tabasco.
Allow to come back to a simmer over medium heat, and then add the chicken back into pan.
Simmer for 5 minutes and add the cream and white beans stir to incorporate.
Serve and with rice and garnish with pico de gallo and green onions.

Makes about 5 servings.

* The original recipe has been halved here, and it originally called for 4 pounds of chicken. That's actually too much. I go with 3 pounds of chicken for a double recipe and 1.5 pounds for the recipe above. You'll still have PLENTY of chicken in the chili.

**To roast the poblano, you do it over a gas burner on low-medium or a grill on high heat (that's what I did). If you don't have either of those options, I've heard you can do this in a cast iron skillet, but that's just one more pan you'll have to clean later. Put it directly on the grate and turn every now and then to evenly scorch it all over. Once it's bubbled and burned all over, you place it either in a zip top bag or seal tightly in aluminum foil (which is what I did). Let sit for about 15 minutes to steam. Then you peel off all the blackness, cut it open, scrape out the seeds, stem, and any "ribs" inside. Then chop. (I had to google this one.)

***For the green chili pepper, I really just went to the grocery store down the street, stood in front of the section of chiles in the produce section, and found a small pepper that said said "green chili" (turns out it was a serrano pepper--see Visual Guide to Peppers). Okay, actually, I looked "green chili pepper" up on google images first, and saw that they were on the small side, so I used one of those small, thin green peppers that's about 3-4 inches long. I put on some plastic gloves (food service type) and chopped off the top of the pepper, quartered it, scraped out the seeds and ribs, julienned, and diced it.

For more information about peppers, see this visual guide to peppers: Visual Guide to Peppers.


  1. This looks delicious. I am unclear on one ingredient. After 1/4 cup chopped roasted poblano pepper is 1 1/2 tablespoons finely diced. The suspense is killing me.

    1. Ha! I guess I got a little too excited about posting and didn't proofread. I'll fix that now. Is this KJ, by the way?

  2. Is it difficult to find chili garlic paste and chipotle tobasco??

    1. I live in Des Moines, Iowa and was able to find these ingredients, so I figure you could probably find them most places in the U.S. I found the chili garlic paste at SuperTarget near the Sriracha chili sauce and the chipotle tobasco near the other Tobasco sauces in a regular grocery store. I'll try to put the product links into the recipe so you know what you're looking for.

  3. Could you please tell me what the level of heat this is? It sounds very spicy with all the peppers but I am not very used to cooking with the different kinds in this. Would you say this is mild, medium or very spicy? (Keeping in mind that mild is about as hot as I can eat!) If it is medium or spicy how could I make it mild? Thanks!!!

    1. Good question. I would call this very spicy, like I think I actually told my husband, "My lips are on fire a little bit." To tone it down, I would eliminate the serrano pepper and chili garlic paste. I'd probably add another clove of chopped garlic (or a teaspoon of the stuff from a jar) to make up some flavor. I hope that would do it. The poblano pepper is a mild pepper that I don't think adds any heat, but make sure you de-seed it and cut the interior "veins" to make sure. Please let me know if you try that and if it is mild enough for your liking, which I really think it will be.

    2. I meant "cut the interior 'ribs.'" It's too late for me. I'm not thinking very clearly.

    3. Oh, I forgot about the chipotle Tobasco. I'd probably leave that out too.

  4. Made this tonight. Holy awesome. Perfect fall dinner. :)

    1. I know! Surprisingly awesome, right? Glad you made it and loved it! :)

  5. I LOVE cheesecake factory's dish of this so I'm gonna attempt to make this :) However it won't be 100% like it as I'm omitting some ingredients I don't have on hand.

    1. Well, as long as you know what the original tastes like, you'll know how it's different with the omitted ingredients. As I said above, it took me a long time just to get around to get all of the ingredients in my house to make this. Totally worth it though. :) Good luck!

  6. Nice blog! I'm going to try this tomorrow. Bought all the ingredients today.

    1. Thanks! :) And purchasing all of the ingredients is probably the biggest hurdle for this recipe.

  7. So, you don't drain the oil after frying the chicken? That seems like a lot of oil to leave in the pan, but I'm going to trust you! :)

    1. It DOES seem like a lot of fat, and I guess it is, but you do in fact leave it all in there. It seems even crazier to add the butter to the oil, but trust me, it tastes so good when it's done.

  8. I just wanted you to know that I've made this recipe at least a dozen times this year. It's fabulous. I leave all the super spicy stuff out so my kids will eat it, but we all gobble it up. Thank you!


    1. Thanks for letting me know you're enjoying the recipe. Makes me happy. :)

  9. So I see the last comment was over 5 years ago...I really just jumped on to say this is still a family favorite. I'm so glad you added the story about your husband because that's how I know I've found the right recipe. Over the years I've added and adjusted things and it's always a little bit ad lib on the flavor once the basics get in there. I once won a chili cook off with my take on it... and today my son (who has eaten gallons of this during his growing up years) asked for the recipe to enter in a cook off at his work. Thank you for sharing this with all of us!

    1. Oh my gosh! That's so awesome! Thank you for letting me know, and sorry about this super late reply. You've probably forgotten you ever wrote this comment.😆


Hello! If your comment is more of a question about something you are cooking RIGHT NOW, please email me the question in addition to posting it here. I check my email more frequently than I check my blog comments. :)

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