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. 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.
  2. Slow Cooker: You’ll need a 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Here is the one I own.
  3. 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

275 Comments

    1. Hi Ray Anne, I wish I could give details on making this in an instant but but I don’t own one. I’m sure you could use one, though!

      1. Made this 3 days ago and man O friggin loved it! Made it again the following day and everybody at work loved it!
        Now I’m making it again today and I’m gonna bring it over to my folks house- perfect timing as today is our first day of snow here.

        Ty for the great recipe Sally

  1. I made this chili last night for my family. I’m happy to say they loved it. It’s very flavorful. I substituted cooked shredded chicken and used my stockpot. Delicious. Thank you for sharing the recipe. We’ll be adding this chili to our list of faves.

  2. Thank you for including this with your newsletter as I may not have known about it otherwise. I made it and OMG…..It was perfect. My father is 93 and lives alone. Whenever I go stay with him, I cook for him and freeze leftovers for him to heat up until next time I come stay with him. (I’m in NY and he is in SC….I know!) Anyway, I saw this and went to the store and got the ingredients I did not have in the house and made it. We had it for dinner, and I froze the leftovers. It was very good…and best thing…not spicy which is perfect for my dad. Going to make this soon now that I am back in NY….and will spice it up for us.

    1. I made this with chicken thighs yesterday and I wish I would have used chicken breasts. I think it would have looked and felt more substantial. The chicken tasted delicious, but it just seemed to lack that heartiness I like in my chili.

      I used a poblano instead of jalapeno because my family cannot do anything remotely spicy. I only used half and probably should have used the entire pepper. I also wish I would have added another can of beans, or maybe a can of chickpeas as another commenter suggested. As I said, I was just missing that thick, hearty quality I prefer in chili.

      All of that to say, no matter what you do, it’s going to be good! This recipe is delicious!

  3. Thanks. Going to the store to get what I need. Can’t wait to taste it. A cold front is headed to Louisiana in a couple of days and this will be perfect.

  4. Wow!! I cooked this for a dinner with friends and it was a huge hit. Everyone went back for seconds (including me), the crock pot was scraped clean, and I passed this recipe on to one of my guests upon request. I even accidentally used black soy beans but no even noticed! It was my first time making this recipe and I’ll definitely make it again. Just wanted to suggest these extra steps I took even though I now wonder if I even needed to take them because it was so tasty:

    I used 2lbs of grass fed, 95% lean ground beef. I noticed from attempting other internet chili recipes that it’s hard for spices to come through in the chili. Some just taste like tomato and burger (but not this one, not even a little!). Per the blog’s suggestion, I browned the meat but first I diced half of a yellow onion and cooked it in a non-stick skillet on medium heat. After 1-2 minutes, I then added the ground meat. I salted the meat and stirred the onions into it. I cooked the meat in the skillet until the onions started to look slightly transparent. I drained the meat juice from the skillet before I added the cooked meat/onions to the slow cooker because I didn’t want to dilute the broth with fatty grease.  Then I added the other half of the diced onion raw to the crock pot.

    Seriously, excellent chili! This recipe fed four adults/one child and made enough for the all adults to go back for seconds.

  5. Hi this recipe looks delicious i just have one question. Im in australia and what u call ketchup is what we call tomato sauce. So
    Is ur tomato sauce the same as tomato pasata or a tomato paste or something else? cant wait to make this:)

    1. Definitely not ketchup! This would be similar to tomato paste or marinara sauce used with spaghetti. Adding crushed tomatoes along with this adds more substance to the chili. Hope that’s helpful. 🙂

  6. Hi Sally…

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so forgive me if this question has already been asked. If I use a roasted chicken from the store deli, what would the cook time be in the slow cooker?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Tammy! You can just add everything else to the slow cooker, cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3 hours, shred or chop the cooked chicken, then add the chicken (and cream cheese) and cook for another 10-15 minutes (or up to 30 minutes) on high or low.

      1. This was my question too, thanks for answering. I’ll let you know what my family thinks about it later. I plan to make it today.

  7. Do you think it would possibly work to not drain the chopped tomatoes – and then add less tomato sauce? I also love that you included the vegetarian options! This recipe looks really good!

  8. I didn’t have any jalapeno but it was fantastic even without it! Had a friend over another night and had it again as left overs and she took a copy of the recipe home with her! Will add this to my list of recipes to make again!

  9. This is sooooooooo delicious! A party for my palette! I added 1 can of chickpeas for more fiber and texture. This will be added to the winter meal rotation. So glad to have found you. Thank you!

  10. This is one of the best recipes I’ve come across! So delicious and just placed in my company’s chili cook-off with this recipe!

  11. I have made this twice in two weeks and my husband and visiting company all loved it. It was extremely easy to make which left me more time to relax with my company. My husband told me he didn’t like chicken chili, but now he does! Thanks again for passing on this family favorite recipe.

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