My Favorite Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Recipe

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

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


Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Video Tutorial

 

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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
  • 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

  • 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

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.

Keywords: slow cooker, dinner, crockpot, chicken chili

Set it and forget it Slow Cooker Chicken Chili! This is my favorite easy weeknight dinner recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

328 Comments

  1. Absolutely fantastic..I left out the cream cheese..I used 1 1/2 pounds of chicken and added a can of cannellini beans…Another phenomenal recipe! The cornbread was fantastic too!!

  2. Hans anyone tried making this in an instant pot?

  3. I made this following exact recipe- my family loved it. One thing that was not so good, was the cream cheese kinda clumped and looked kinda nasty- but it tasted great. Any suggestions?

    1. I’m so glad your family loved it, Angie! Make sure you are using a block of real cream cheese, like the kind you use for baking, and not the cream cheese spread. If you add it when the chili is hot it should melt.

  4. How many servings is the recipe and what size is a serving

  5. Debbie AngerDebbie says:

    I found it runny but very tasty. Is it suppose to be runny?

  6. Hi! Made this today and it is delicious. (Just didn’t add onions as I didn’t have any) Shared some with my neighbor lady and she also thought it was so good. Thank you for yet another great recipe!✨

  7. Made this tonight and it’s good. I added the cream cheese and boy it had such a great taste. I highly recommend adding the cream cheese!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

    2. Can this be doubled in a large crockpot?

  8. This was the easiest chili I’ve ever made, truly a one pot dish!!! It was really more of a soup, maybe because I put the tomatoes in with their juice but it was mildly flavored and delicious with a baguette. My family all loved it. I didn’t include the cream cheese to keep it super healthy but I bet that would be delicious too. Thanks so much, Sally, for sharing your recipe!

  9. Hi there!
    Wondering if you (or anyone else who has made this recipe) have used an Instant Pot for It. If so, I’m wondering what settings to use and how to cook It in one. Thank you!

    1. I don’t own an instant pot so I’m unsure of which setting to use for this recipe. Let me know if you try it!

      1. I actually tried It to tonight! It was amazing, so thank you! For the instant pot, I threw all of the ingredients in (except for the cream cheese) on manual / high pressure for 15 minutes. I took the chicken out, shredded It, then threw the cream cheese in and kept in on warm for about an hour and a half or longer! So yummy !

  10. I’m making this recipe but it looks super watery. How can I thicken it up a bit?

    1. Hi Sami, If it’s not finished cooking yet just keep going! Once you shred the chicken and add the cream cheese it does not end up as watery as it first appears.

    2. I’m making this right now , just turned on slow cooker and can’t wait till it’s finished.

  11. Can we use frozen chicken? Will it affect the taste or the cooking time?

    1. Frozen chicken is fine! You can thaw it first and follow the recipe as written. If you add it to your slow cooker when it’s frozen then the cook time will be longer.

      1. Safety first! Thaw frozen food before adding to the slow cooker. The frozen food may be in the danger zone long enough for dangerous bacteria to multiply.

  12. Jana Lykken says:

    We decided to cook on top of stove. Diced raw chicken breasts and cooked in soup pot. Then added the rest of the ingredients. I am diabetic so left out the corn. Substituted kidney beans because it was in the pantry. We are simmering it now for 45 minutes or until it thickens up. Can’t wait to dig in!

  13. I love this recipe ! It came out amazing and is my go-to chili recipe. I also serve it alongside cornbread. I am trying vegetarian for a month and decided to use the substitution of sweet potatoes BUT they dont seem to have cooked all the way through. They still seem crunchy. Does the time have to be adjusted for the vegetarian recipe? I cooked on high for 3 hours

  14. I’m going to try this recipe tonight,is there any other alternative cheese i can use?

  15. Great chili recipe! I subbed a half of a serrano pepper for the jalapeno as I couldn’t find jalapenos in the store. Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Delicious!! My kids (age 7 & 3) ate the whole bowl! And asked me to make it again. I found the cream cheese really cut the spice right out which I was sad about but it did give it a really nice texture so I just added more spices after. Overall, 5 stars!

  17. I made this in my Instant Pot! It was very easy. I browned the beef on saute function first and then added everything except the cream cheese. I increased the amounts to I.5 times the recipe just to make a larger batch. I pressure cooked it for 25 minutes, and did quick release. I added the cream cheese and covered and let it melt for 15 minutes. Turned out great! Highly recommend!

  18. Scott Marshall says:

    Mines in the crock pot now.. can’t wait to try it!! Only thing is, I have a 6qt crock pot and this recipe filled it to the brim! I wouldn’t recommend following this recipe in a 4qt or you may run into a bit of a situation.

  19. joan gordon says:

    What a great recipe! Used green chilis , 14oz and a can of condensed cheddar cheese soup! New fave. So easy.

  20. Good flavor – way too runny! We had to shred, drain and add more cheese. Even then we had too much liquid for chili but turned into great shredded tacos!

  21. I’m pregnant and would like to make this meal as a freezer meal I can easily make after baby comes. I’m not seeing any instructions on how to freeze – do I cook and then freeze or put all ingredients in raw and cook after freezing? Thank you.

    1. Hi Anna! Cook and cool the chili. 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. 

  22. Donna Cresci says:

    I bought Costco rotisseri cooked chicken breast meat. Can I use that and add it to the crock pot later in the cooking process ?

    1. Absolutely! You can use store-bought rotisserie chicken and add it in the beginning when you’d add the raw chicken. Cook time can be a couple hours less.

  23. This is my fiancé’s favorite meal! I follow the instructions exactly, but place everything in the instant pot. Cook for 15 minutes high pressure, natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Release remaining pressure, remove chicken the shred, return to pot with cream cheese and stir! Done in about 60 minutes, including prep of veggies.

  24. Absolutely fantastic. The only thing is the cream cheese should probably be put in for 45 minutes for it to totally melted

  25. This chicken chili recipe was FANTASTIC!! It came out perfect! I omitted the jalapeño, but otherwise followed the recipe almost exactly. The cream cheese sealed the deal. My husband kept raving about this chili. I’m sharing the recipe with friends and family. I will be making this on a regular basis. Thank you so much.

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