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.

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

242 Comments

  1. I made this today. yum! My family gobbled it up. (I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but my older daughter, in particular, is not generally amenable to my making new recipes even though I make new things alllllll the time because I get bored eating the same stuff all the time, plus there’s so many recipes out there to try. Her first question is always, “Have you made this before?” And when I answer her, she immediately declares that she’s going to hate it. Well, I love when I try any of your recipes because I get to say, “It’s a Sally recipe!” and it’s insta-cred with both my kids. Like, “oh? A Sally recipe? Then it’s sure to be good!” Ah. I love it! hahaha.) This chili recipe reminds me of a very tasty chicken tortilla soup–so much so that I topped mine with tortilla chips. I’ll definitely make it again. It was such a breeze to make and I’m excited to be able to eat some for lunch tomorrow, too.

  2. Cream cheese? Well played, Sally. Well played. This was delicious. I made your cornbread to go with it. It’s crazy delicious!! Happy holidays!

  3. This is amazing Sally!!! I make so many of your recipes anymore it’s not even funny!!! We had a Sally Thanksgiving, we are going to have a Sally Christmas. Heck I think anymore we have Sally months at our house!!! There aren’t too many recipes that don’t come from your website, your delish.com recipes, your people.com page or one of you two cookbooks. You are truly AMAZING!!! Thank you so much for sharing this my, family and I loved it!!!

  4. Just made this for dinner tonight and it was wonderful!! My mom even said she thought it was better than her “famous chili”. New dinner staple in our house for sure!!

  5. Just made this tonight – it was so easy and delicious, and I love the texture that the cream cheese adds at the end.  The heat is fairly mild and cut down further by the dairy, but it would be easy to add some cayenne and black pepper give a little more kick.  Love it!

  6. I was looking for some comfort food to make one day.  My husband had a cold, which I fortunately had not caught, and saw this and tried it the same day.  It was SO good.  it really hit the spot.  and you are right:  it’s even better the next day!  I also made the slow cooker cinnamon rolls which were fabulous, and I’m going to try your new slow cooker meatball recipe tonight!  

  7. Can’t wait to try this!  I was also thinking I would try putting everything except the cream cheese into a ziploc bag to put in the freezer and then just take out,  thaw and throw in the slow cooker. 

    1. Just halve all of the ingredients– I’ve done it before easily. But it might just be easier to make the whole batch and freeze extras.

  8. I received a crock pot for Christmas and this was my first recipe with it, and was AMAZING!! Everyone LOVED it!! Thank you Sally!

  9. Thanks Sally, I made the chili chicken and the cornbread and both were very delicious! I’ve just discovered your website and am glad I did, you have some great recipes on here I can’t wait to try, even dog treats for my pups!

  10. Ok so made this tonight and it was a win!!!! My love can be picky and so when he saw cream cheese and chilli he was super skeptical!!!! But he ate 3 bowls!!!!! Love it! I did only have chilli style beans so that was the only change I made! Its a must make!!! Such fabulous recipes!

  11. Absolutely fantastic!  I would have never dreamed to add cream cheese, but, WOW!  Delicious.  From cooking it in the slow cooker make all of the favors blend together beautifully.  Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. Just saw this recipe, so I know what I am making as soon as I finish this comment! It looks amazing! I will substitute the diced tomatoes for Rotel tomatoes because that is what I have in the cabinet. What a great thing to smell cooking on such a cold winter day! Thanks

  13. Just made this and tasted it prior to putting in the cream cheese.   Can I just say yesssssssss!!!!!!   Can’t wait to try it with the cream cheese in another 10 minutes.    Love chili this time of year.    Love the bowls also btw.   

      1. Should I be ashamed that I ate 3 bowls in one sitting?   It’s outstanding.   Will definitely be making over and over.   And I’m not typically into cooking.  More into baking personally but this looked so good and I had to have it.  Your recipes are always my go to.  Thank you.   Keep ’em coming.   I also love your pizza crust recipes.  

  14. Made the slow cooker chicken chili this weekend and it is WONDERFUL and so easy.  I’m going to try the slow cooker turkey meatballs next!  If you have more slow cooker receives, I’d love to try them!  

    Thanks for sharing!  Sheryl

  15. Hi, Iwas wondering if you can suggest any substitute for the cream cheese since it’s not available here (:

    1. Full fat (plain) greek yogurt would be good. Just temper it first. (Add a little of the hot chili to the yogurt to warm it slowly before adding it to the chili.)

  16. Sally, I tried the recipe out yesterday & omg it was fab!
    And twist with cream cheese was really yummy! Loved it!
    Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe!

  17. Sally,
    This recipe is awesome!  I have made it several times a month since a found it!   My picky seven year old that has lived on Mac and Cheese and peanut butter loves it!  I was so surprised he even tried it.  He has neVer tried anything like this, let alone eaten it!
    I love the fact it is so healthy!!

    Everyone that tries it raves about it!!
    Thanks for sharing it!!

    Happy cooking!
    Ricky

  18. My house smells delicious right now, still two more hours in the slow cooker. I used tomato purée instead of sauce and diced tomatoes instead of petite diced.  Didn’t have jalapeño so I used a chile in adobo sauce. I don’t buy cream cheese so I’ve decided to use shredded cheddar cheese. I know it will still be delicious because it smells so good in here!! Thanks for the recipe. 🙂

  19. Delish! Made just as recipe is written – 3 hours on high – it was perfect. One of my canned tomatoes was fire roasted as that’s what I had, which certainly didn’t hurt this soup at all.

    From a vegetarian who sometimes struggles with coming up with meat-based creations for all the carnivores in my life, THANK YOU for the great recipe!

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