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The chicken tortilla soup from McAlister’s has been one of my favorites for decades! This copycat recipe is spot on and easy to make – creamy, just a little spicy, and perfect with chips and ice tea!

Top-down view of McAlister’s Chicken Tortilla Soup copycat in a bread bowl surrounded by tortilla chips.

🍲 What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • This recipe is a PERFECT copycat for McAlister’s chicken tortilla soup. Creamy and deliciously cheesy, with a little touch of spice and juicy rotisserie chicken. Pair it with a giant sweet tea and you’d never know the difference!
  • Soup makes a wonderful meal prep or freezer meal. It’s so easy to portion into individual containers and reheat when you’re ready to eat. You can refrigerate the cooled soup up to 4 days, or you can freeze it in containers or freezer bags up to 3 months. Just let it defrost in the fridge overnight and then reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop until it’s heated through.
  • If you compare the nutrition information between this soup and an actual bowl of McAlister’s chicken tortilla soup, ours comes out ahead in several areas! The calories are roughly equal (McAlister’s is slightly lower), and ours does contain more grams of fat per serving than their version. Ours has a higher protein count and a much lower carb count, though. There’s also less sodium in our version.

👩🏼‍🍳 Chef’s Tips

  • There’s a decent amount of dairy in this recipe, and when you’re adding dairy to hot liquids, there are some real must-dos to… well, do. It’s really important that the heavy cream and the cheese are at room temperature when you start the recipe. If they’re too cold, they’ll curdle or separate when they’re added to the hot broth mixture. If you forget to take them out of the fridge early enough, you can warm them very gradually, but be careful not to get them too hot or heat them too fast. Rapidly heating dairy products can also cause them to separate.
  • Another must-do that’ll help ensure the dairy products incorporate smoothly is to move the stockpot off the heat and let the broth cool slightly before adding the cream and cheese. The lower the temperature difference between the broth and the dairy products, the less risk there is of curdling.
  • We’re only using 1 cup of rotisserie chicken, which keeps the recipe similar to McAlister’s chicken tortilla soup. You’re absolutely welcome to double or even triple the amount of chicken for a soup with more protein. You also don’t have to use rotisserie chicken if you’d prefer not to. If you’ve got boneless, skinless chicken breasts on hand, check out my recipe for the absolute BEST shredded chicken EVER.
A bread bowl holding a copycat version of McAlister’s Chicken Tortilla Soup surrounded by tortilla chips.

Try These Soup Recipes While You’re Here

Recipe By: Cheryl Malik
5 from 5 votes

McAlister’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Prep 15 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
Total 1 hour
A perfect copycat for McAlister's famous chicken tortilla soup – creamy, a little spicy, and perfect with a giant sweet tea.
6 servings


  • medium stockpot
  • Large wooden spoon
  • small mixing bowl
  • whisk


For the Chicken Soup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • half of one medium yellow onion minced, approximately ½ cup
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes undrained
  • 1 32-ounce carton chicken broth divided
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup heavy cream at room temperature
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican-style cheese blend at room temperature
  • 1 10.5-ounce can cream of chicken condensed soup
  • 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles undrained
  • ½ tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt more or less to taste

To Serve

  • chopped green onions
  • white corn tortilla chips


  • Heat medium stockpot over medium heat. When stockpot is hot, add butter to pot. Heat butter, swirling pot occasionally to distribute butter evenly around bottom of pot, until butter is melted.
  • Add minced onion and minced garlic to pot with melted butter. Sauté until onion and garlic have softened, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Once onion and garlic are soft, add chili powder, paprika, cumin, crushed tomatoes, and 3 ½ cups chicken broth to stockpot. Stir to incorporate ingredients. Let mixture simmer while preparing cornstarch slurry.
  • Add cornstarch and remaining ½ cup chicken broth to small mixing bowl. Whisk until fully incorporated, then pour slurry mixture into stockpot. Stir to incorporate.
  • Increase heat under stockpot to medium-high. Bring mixture to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 to 10 minutes, or until broth is slightly thickened.
  • Move stockpot to cool stovetop burner. Let mixture cool slightly, then add heavy cream and shredded cheese. Stir until heavy cream is incorporated and shredded cheese has melted.
  • Once cheese has melted, return stockpot to heat. Add cream of chicken soup, shredded chicken, green chiles, chopped cilantro, white wine vinegar, and salt. Stir until ingredients are fully incorporated, then let mixture simmer 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, ladle soup into serving bowls. Top with chopped green onions and serve warm with tortilla chips if desired.
  • Cold dairy products can clump, seize, or curdle when added to hot liquid, so make sure they’re at or close to room temperature before you begin. They can also have those reactions if they’re heated too quickly, so be sure to remove the skillet from the hot stove burner before adding in the cream and cheese.

Approximate Information for One Serving

Serving Size: 1servingCalories: 375calProtein: 15gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 1488mgPotassium: 201mgTotal Carbs: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gNet Carbs: 15gVitamin A: 1114IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 187mgIron: 3mg
Nutrition Disclaimers
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

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  1. This was delicious and a huge hit with my family! I’ll be making it again for sure – thanks for the recipe!

  2. I can’t wait to make this! Did you use a bag of pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend? I’d rather use a block and shred it myself since there would be no caking agents in it that could inhibit melting. I don’t think Mexican blend comes in a block, though?

  3. So good! I am obsessed with the this soup from McAlister’s but just recently moved to an area with no McAlister’s nearby. This tastes just like real thing and was so easy to make. I didn’t have cornstarch on hand so I just used 1/2 cup of flour instead and it turned out so creamy.5 stars

    1. So glad you loved it- this soup is definitely a great one to keep in rotation, especially if you don’t have a McAlister’s nearby!

  4. Really delicious. I needed to double the recipe and it wasnt quite as thick when doing that. I wonder how well it will freeze?5 stars

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