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



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


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


  • 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


  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.


  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


Comments are closed.

  1. This looks so delicious! (Even at 6:30am! lol)…… Hopefully I will soon get a new slowcooker…. mine is only 3 and a half quarts. Any suggestions for making this on the stove??

    1. Yep! See my recipe notes.

      1. oops! Sorry, didn’t think to look…… I can’t wait to make this as a simple dinner over the holidays! Thanks!

  2. maybe weird, but I have yet to bake one batch of Christmas cookies! I know, but I don’t eat them and don’t have the freezer space and am not a food blogger so you know. And sometimes when I bake for others, they complain because they don’t want to get fat so I’ll just make them this chill instead. Notice, no one ever complains about chill, it’s nutritious (especially with the chicken!!!!!) and it’s what I usually make for friends and older people I know who need a meal. I had an Aunt who’s moving and she’s older and needs food because her kitchen is a disaster, she’s diabetic so cookies won’t work but will be THRILLED to the gills with this Sally! Thanks! Have a wonderful Christmas week!!!! 

    1. Hope EVERYONE loves this chili Laura!

  3. Michelle @ Modern Acupuncture says:

    Love that this is healthy and super easy. I definitely need to focus on lean meat and fiber for a day or two before returning to another week of Christmas cookies 🙂 Thanks Sally!

  4. Ahhh, I cannot wait to try this! Wish I wouldv’e seen it before I got to work. I have all those ingredients on hand and this looks so delicious. I guess I know what I’ll be making for dinner tomorrow! You are awesome, Sally!

  5. Leah @ Grain Changer says:

    EASY CHICKEN CHILI, FTW! My mother-in-law has a recipe that is very similar to this, and we all go NUTS over it. The cream cheese definitely takes everything to a whole new level! Can’t wait to try your version, and there will DEFINITELY be some cornbread on the side. YUM!

    1. Enjoy Leah! xoxo

  6. This looks so good! Crockpot recipes during the Christmas season are always so much preferred! So much is going on! 

  7. This looks amazing! I make chicken chili all the time but I’ve never added cream cheese in it!

  8. Just last night my husband asked me to make chili, so this is going in the crockpot tomorrow. He is a pheasant hunter and brought home some birds, so this will be pheasant chili. I know he will love the cream cheese addition!! Thanks Sally and Merry Christmas!!

    1. Merry Christmas Jan! Enjoy the chili.

  9. Your recipes always seem to come at just the right time! I have been fretting over what to stick in the crock pot on Sunday (I know, hundreds of recipes and I can’t decide – ha) because I need to finish up baking my cookies and candies and wrapping and cleaning the house and laundry in between – this is perfect! Thanks again!! Oh! The pb and carrot dog treats were a HIT!! And my hubby won’t stay out of the double choc crinkles in the freezer – I even doubled the batch and he’s about eaten them all!!

    1. Glad the dog treats were loved 🙂 And the chocolate cookies too! Let me know if you try this, Teija!

  10. Love Love Love!! I am totally in love with Chicken Tortilla Soup from Chick-Fil-A. This looks very similar. I think some jalapeno cornbread would be delish too!

  11. This sounds really good – I’ll probably be making it! Just wanted to suggest a cream cheese alternative in case anyone is interested… I’ve often added coconut milk for dairy-free creaminess to my soups and sauces. 

  12. Waaa boo hooo…no cookies! KIDDING! But, if it makes you feel any better, my husband and I have eaten half of the dark chocolate/orange slice and bake cookies I made over the weekend. SO GOOD. I bought two jars of cookie butter for those chocolate chip cookies!

    I understand how you would be tired of it though…they require a lot of monitoring. I guess for me it is a good break from my day job!

    1. YEEEESSSSS to those biscoff cookies! I know you’ll love them!

  13. This looks awesome, thanks Sally! Always a fan of a slow cooker recipe in the wintertime.

  14. Aaaaahhhhh! This sounds so perfect. And with the cornbread….you’re knocking it to heaven!

  15. Hahahahahaha I absolutely relate with that dream 😉

  16. Can I use hot sauce instead of chilli power? And my family doesn’t like diced tomatoes, can I use crushed instead! I really want to make this! Super excited!

    1. Hot sauce works!

  17. I LOVE slow cooker recipes! It’s just the best knowing that you can get so much done and in the meantime you slow cooker is making something delicious. 
    Gotta love the slow cooker 😉

  18. Oh, the recipe looks wonderful. But, seriously, the BOWLS! Where did you get them? I’ve been looking for just this style! And, I’m about to try several Christmas cookies, starting w/ the chocolate crinkle ones! Thanks so much!!

    1. Thanks Lisa!! I love them too. I got them from anthropologie!

  19. I made this tonight and it was FABULOUS! Ironically, I did leave out the jalapenos (because I do not like things to be too spicy)… My husband’s first comment? “This is great, but a touch of jalapeno would make it over the top.” Oh well. I still consider it a win! I would definitely make it again! Thanks so much 🙂

    1. Hahahaha his comment is on point! So happy you already made it and loved it. Thanks Deb!

  20. Saw this post today and made it for dinner tonight. Subbed Rotel tomatoes for the mini diced and added 1 tsp. chipotle chile powder for some added kick and a little smokiness. Delicious! Thanks for a great recipe.

    1. Amazing. Thanks Carol!

  21. Does the chicken need to be cooked first before putting it in the slow cooker?

  22. Erin @ Miss Scrambled Egg says:

    Sally – 

    I love a good chicken chili on a cold winter day. This one looks delicious…especially since I’ve been trying to wait to indulge in the cookie jar until next week! 🙂 

  23. Joshua Hampton says:

    I hear you. I’m getting tired of seeing nothing but Christmas cookies and sweet treats online. As much as I love holiday sweets, I could use more savory stuff like this one. Awesome chili recipe; thanks for sharing it.

  24. This looks amazing! I’m kind of sick of the sweet stuff too, I’ve had so much and it’s not actually Christmas yet! Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂 
    Lucy xoxo

  25. Every single recipe I’ve made from your site is ALWAYS a success and huge hit! I made this chili yesterday morning for the afternoon for some girlfriends I was having over for a cookie making party. Everyone LOVED it, and got second or third helpings! Thanks for an easy, delicious savory recipe 🙂

    1. I’m so glad everyone loved it!! I’m not surprised. What a great dish to enjoy together on baking marathon days!

  26. I made this tonight for company.  So delicious! By far my most favorite chicken chili recipe.  

  27. Ooh, yum! I’m always looking for new slow-cooker recipes and this one is definitely going on the list. Thanks!

  28. I made this today and it was very delicious! I followed the recipe exactly except I used full fat cream cheese and it does take it another level. Absolutely add the cream cheese. I used corn tortilla chips to eat this with and was very good. Awesome recipe!!

  29. Currently slow cooking this right now…. It smells so good!!!!!!!! 

  30. Absolutely delicious chili!!!!!  Our 17 year old son had 3 bowls of it last night – couldn’t stop eating it!  Cream cheese was very nice touch – another hit, Sally. 

    1. Excellent! I can never stop at one bowl.

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