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This creamy and mildly spicy slow cooker chicken chili is our family’s staple dinner recipe. It freezes well and leftovers keep for days! There’s no pre-cooking or complicated prep required, so it’s a true “set it and forget it” crockpot meal.

slow cooker chicken chili in a bowl

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili: Recipe on Repeat

I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve made this easy slow cooker chicken chili in the past few years. 100? 200? I think we’re in the 300s by now.

That’s not an exaggeration. Every time a family member, neighbor, or friend has a baby, I bring them over a batch to freeze. (Who doesn’t find comfort in home-cooked chili? Especially new parents!) Every time we have company over for a football game, I make this chili. And every time I want to prep freezer meals, I make another batch. And, finally, anytime we want an easy slow cooker dinner, slow cooker chicken chili is on the menu.

Here’s Why We Love It:

  • Easy– a set it & forget it slow cooker meal
  • Flavorful– filled with traditional chili flavors and a little spice
  • Satisfying– warm, cozy, and comforting
  • Adaptable– swap out the chicken, beans, etc
  • Make-ahead & freezer friendly– so convenient!
chicken chili in slow cooker

Ingredients in Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Everything goes into the slow cooker at once. No pre-cooking!

  1. Canned Diced Tomatoes: Use 2 cans of diced tomatoes. Drain out the liquid first.
  2. Tomato Sauce: Use plain tomato sauce as the base of this chili. I usually pick up 2 8-ounce cans of Hunts tomato sauce.
  3. Chicken: You need about 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts.
  4. Chicken Broth: Use 1 standard can (about 2 cups) chicken broth. I stick with reduced sodium. If you have homemade chicken stock or broth, that works too!
  5. Onion & Bell Peppers: Let’s add a little freshness to the one pot dinner with flavorful onion and lots of diced bell pepper.
  6. Black Beans & Corn: I love adding these because the duo brings a southwestern vibe to the whole dish. If I don’t have corn, I swap in more black beans. If I don’t have black beans, I swap in kidney beans. Use what you enjoy and/or have in the pantry.
  7. Jalapeño: 1 jalapeño adds the perfect amount of spice.
  8. Garlic, Salt, Dried Oregano, Chili Powder, & Cumin: Each ingredient adds depth and flavor. I don’t recommend cutting any of them from the recipe. In fact, I usually add a little more of each after I taste the finished chili.
  9. Cream Cheese: Trust me. See below!

This is a set and forget it slow cooker dinner recipe. Besides chopping some ingredients and using a can opener, the only “work” is shredding the chicken. Remove the cooked chicken breasts, shred them with two forks (it’s easy because they’re so tender!), then add the shredded chicken back into the crockpot for 15 more minutes before serving.

canned ingredients for chicken chili
2 images of ingredients for chicken chili

Best Ingredient of All

You can make regular chicken chili or you can make the BEST CHICKEN CHILI. Stir in a touch of cream cheese after you shred the chicken. The cream cheese melts and creates a thick and creamy base for all these flavors and textures. It slightly cuts the heat, too. I’m not kidding– literally anyone I’ve made this chili for has asked me what my secret is– it’s the cream cheese!!!!

I usually add 4 ounces of cream cheese, but you can use the whole 8 ounce block if it’s easier. You can use light or full-fat cream cheese. Whichever amount or fat content you use, just make sure that you don’t use cream cheese spread. Pick up an 8 ounce block of cream cheese, like the kind you use for baking.

After you mix in the cream cheese, the chili will be creamy and lighter in color. Taste it. At this point you can add more salt, chili powder, or additional spices if desired.

Is This Chicken Chili Spicy?

No. I prefer mildly spicy chili and this has just enough heat to bring flavor without burning your tastebuds. (The cream cheese helps cut the spice, too!) The recipe written below is mild, so if you prefer spicier chili, add more chili powder and/or an extra jalapeño. You can adjust the spices in my pumpkin chili, too.

crockpot chicken chili

Adapt & Make it Your Own

This dinner recipe is adaptable! Sometimes I add more beans, less corn, an extra jalapeño, or more spices. This is a convenient base recipe where you can add/reduce pretty much anything in order to fit your family’s preferences. I’ve even turned it into slow cooker vegetarian chili by swapping the chicken for more beans and cubed sweet potato. See my recipe note.

However you make it, my #1 suggestion is to serve this 1 pot meal with cornbread.

You won’t regret it!

slow cooker chicken chili in individual bowls
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chicken chili in a green bowl with a spoon

My Favorite Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Recipe

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8 1x
  • Category: Chili
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Here’s my family’s favorite slow cooker chicken chili recipe, a complete “set it and forget it” crockpot dinner!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 2 (7 or 8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 and 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 cups (480ml) chicken broth (I use reduced sodium)
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (14 ounce) can corn (rinsed and drained) or 1 package of frozen corn
  • 1 (14 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (remove seeds and ribs)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (reduce to 1 teaspoon for less spicy chili)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 ounces (1/2 of a block) full-fat or light cream cheese* (see note)

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients except the cream cheese to a 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Give everything a big stir. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3 hours.
  2. Remove the chicken and chop into bite-sized pieces or use two forks to shred it. Return chicken to the slow cooker and add the cream cheese. Stir everything together until the cream cheese has melted. Taste, then add more salt or seasonings if desired. I usually add a little more chili powder and dried oregano/Italian seasoning blend. Cover the slow cooker and cook for about 10-15 more minutes.
  3. Serve warm topped with fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, or crackers. And serve alongside my favorite cornbread or dinner rolls. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Freeze up to 3-4 months. Freeze in 1 big container or a few smaller containers. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or place the container/bag in the sink filled with warm water. Once thawed, cook in a large pot on medium heat for 30 minutes. Or reheat in the microwave until warmed throughout.
  2. Substitutions: The spices like cumin, chili powder, and oregano/Italian seasoning blend are crucial to the taste. However, the following adaptions work well if needed. Homemade tomato sauce works wonderfully instead of canned. You can use ground turkey or ground beef instead of chicken. Brown on the stove first (medium-high heat for 8 minutes), then add to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. You can also use vegetable or beef broth instead of chicken broth. You can add more peppers, onions, or beans if you want (sometimes I do!). You can use kidney beans or white beans instead of black beans. Add more garlic or jalapeño if desired. And, finally, for vegetarian chili, you can add 1 more can of beans and swap the chicken for 3 cups uncooked diced and peeled sweet potato.
  3. Slow Cooker: You’ll need a 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Here is the one I own.
  4. No Slow Cooker? No Problem! Chop the raw chicken into bite-sized pieces. Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a 4 quart or larger pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the diced onion, chopped bell pepper, jalapeño, salt, dried oregano, chili powder, cumin, and garlic. Stir and cook until the peppers have softened and the chicken is cooked. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cream cheese, to the pot. Cover and cook for 30 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. After about 30 minutes, stir in the cream cheese until melted and cook, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes. Serve.
  5. Cream Cheese: Over the years, I’ve found that it’s helpful to slightly warm the cream cheese before adding to the hot chili in step 2. Unwrap it, place on a plate, and simply microwave it for 15-20 seconds before stirring into the chili. This helps it combine much easier into the hot chili.

Keywords: slow cooker chicken chili

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Best, best chicken chili ever! I used basically what I had in my pantry..( kidney beans instead of black beans, garlic powder instead of minced garlic, canned chicken instead of fresh, etc.) ..But I put in the cream cheese at the end and That is the secret ingredient, brings the whole recipe together! This is definitely a keeper to be passed on to my daughters!

  2. Wow!! This was yuummeee… I had leftover chicken and this cold weather brought a craving for chili. Ergo let’s try to make my first chicken chili. Needless to say, I didn’t use a crockpot. I put all the ingredients in a large pot and cooked til thickened. I also chopped up a nice size head of broccoli and tossed it in the pot the last 10 minutes of cook time (love the veggies). Garnished it with a dollop of sourcream and fresh garlic/cheddar bread on the side. Deliciouso and it made a large size batch. Will have leftovers for a few day. Thank you!

  3. I used Garlic powder instead of minced garlic, frozen diced chicken instead of shredding chicken, chilli beans and Northern beans instead of black beans. Absolutely love this recipe and will be making it again! Super easy and delicious!

  4. Delicious!!!!! Omg!!!!! How long will this stay in the fridge? We have leftovers and want to eat it again. Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Zoey, So glad you loved this chili! Leftovers will stay well in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

  5. Made this exactly per the recipe and it was delicious. Tomorrow I’ll try it with a pork sirloin tip roast that I’ll cut up first. Sally do you think I should brown it?

    1. Hi Michelle, You can brown it first. When we make this slow cooker chili with ground turkey, we always brown it first. Almost fully cooking it on medium heat.

  6. Well…my first time making…FYI tip…saw some were stating this was too watery/soupy, so I was prepared! FYI…crockpot at work, so did in a very deep 12″ sauce pan. I used (1) can, each, dark red kidney beans & black beans, drained & rinsed. (1) can diced tomatoes, drained well ( all in my colander ). Then added (1) can tomato sauce, first, with only about 1/3 can of chicken broth…decided to add the 2nd can of tomato sauce. ( I had already cut up my 3 huge chicken breasts and cooked with the onion, pepper, jalapeno and dried spices ) Not watery/soupy at all! Now on a very, very low simmer for about 3-4 hrs to allow for all the flavors to come out…my house smells amazing!! This was the 1st recipe I checked out, looked at a few others…came right back to this one and was DONE! I admit…had to do a “taste test” immediately….OMG…AMAZING!!! Cannot wait until dinner time! Wanted to try something a bit healthier & different than the traditional ground beef chili. So happy I found this recipe! We will have a ” boat load ” of this, but so great to know it freezes well! Will really help with less meal prep for my very long work days! Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Can you omit jalapeño? Or does it add to the flavor. We just don’t like spicy in our family l.

  8. This chili was so good. The only things I do different was I used rotisserie chicken instead of the chicken breast. I also did not drain the tomatoes, but I think I would do it that way again otherwise it would be a bit too dry for my liking. I was a little worried about the jalapeño pepper but I s till used it and it was good and not too hot.

  9. I love this chicken chili, I made it for a potluck tonight. I’ve had a hard time getting the cream cheese to blend completely. Today I cut the soften cream cheese into small blocks , put it in a mixing bowl, poured a little of the hot broth over it and whisked it. When I put it in the crock pot and it blended beautifully. Thanks for another great recipe!

  10. This is a great chili and crockpot recipe. I made it exactly like her recipe except I didn’t add the chicken to the crockpot until the end when I added the cream cheese. I had cubed the chicken and pan fried it in olive oil with seasoning salt. This made the chicken more juicy and not dried out. I served it with shredded cheese, cilantro and crushed tortilla chips on top. It has a southwestern flavor which I love. I served this to guests who loved it also.

    1. Hi Dani, you could try a dairy-free cream cheese instead, or leave it out. The chili will not be as creamy, but still delicious nonetheless!

      1. Adding fat free refried beans is a great substitute. It’s a little more healthy, and personally think it gives it a creamier, beanier depth of flavor!

  11. My 19 year old son had two bowls and said “That was beautiful mum”. What more can I say.

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