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: 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!
Ingredients in Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
Everything goes into the slow cooker at once. No pre-cooking!
- Canned Diced Tomatoes: Use 2 cans of diced tomatoes. Drain out the liquid first.
- Tomato Sauce: Use plain tomato sauce as the base of this chili. I usually pick up 2 8-ounce cans of Hunts tomato sauce.
- Chicken: You need about 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts.
- 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!
- Onion & Bell Peppers: Let’s add a little freshness to the one pot dinner with flavorful onion and lots of diced bell pepper.
- 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.
- Jalapeño: 1 jalapeño adds the perfect amount of spice.
- 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.
- 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.
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 and cornbread chili casserole, too.
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!
My Favorite Slow Cooker Chicken Chili Recipe
- 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)
- 1 cups (240ml) 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Slow Cooker: You’ll need a 4 quart or larger slow cooker.
- 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.
- 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 Comments & Reviews
This was my first chili – ever! And OMG it is so easy and SO delicious! I’ve been trying crock pot dishes and so happy I found this one.
This recipe has been in my regular rotation every couple of weeks for a long time now. Everyone in my family loves it. I tweak it a bit like most cooks do to suit personal preference but really this recipe works great even as is….and simple too. Having it tonight actually 🙂
HELP! I love the recipe and it tastes great but I have 2 issues that I’m hoping you can help me with. First, I forgot to drain the dices tomatoes so its super liquidy. I tried buying 1 tbsp of cornstarch but didn’t really make a difference. Secondly, I used Chipotle chili powder (half what the recipe called for per your note) and it’s just a little too hot for my little too eat. Will more cream cheese help? How much more?
Hi Cris, If it’s too liquidy you can try cooking for longer – uncovered – so that some of the liquid evaporates out. You can also add more of any other ingredients you wish. Yes, more cream cheese will help with the heat! You can simply add more cream cheese or even top your individual bowl with a bit of your favorite shredded cheese or even sour cream.
I made this tonight and it was so delicious,I put a can of red kidney beans and a can of black beans and instead of jalapeno pepper I added cayenne pepper I also had it with some tortilla chips I will be making this on a regular basis.
Made this tonight. Delicious! I did not put garlic in, but everything else was really good. Great recipe!
I’m so happy to find this recipe! I love the adaptability and the touch of cream cheese. I’m fortunate to have all the ingredients I want to add and looking forward to dinner tomorrow!
Great recipe! The only modification, I used a can of Rotel tomatoes with the jalapeños as I of the 2 cans of tomatoes. I did not add fresh jalapeños.
So easy and delicious!!
Great recipe! Used homemade stock and meat from a rotisserie chicken. I used a really hot jalapeño so I used the whole block of cream cheese. Will definitely make again.
Loved this recipe. Although I started cooking to late in the day for the slow cooker. Prepped on the stove top…was absolutely amazing. The next day we used the chili mix quesadillas. The sour cream added in the original recipe gave it the perfect consistency for quesadillas could have opted out for cream cheese for the chili recipe. Overall this recipe is AMAZING AND A MUST TRY.
I read the comments about chili being a little watery so I reduced the amount of broth I added. It turned out just right! So delicious! Talk about the perfect weeknight slow cooker recipe for a busy mom. The cream cheese really took it up a notch. Will 100% make again!
I love this recipe and the family does too!! One question, why do u think my cream cheese turns to little dots and doesn’t make it creamy? It’s real block cream cheese. Thanks!
Hi Deb! Try warming the cream cheese before stirring it in– unwrap it, place on a plate, and warm in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. I’ve found this helps the two combine a little better.
Great recipe, however leave out the cream cheese. I doubled the spices and added a can of tomato paste to thicken a bit. It was really bland with the suggested spices. Came out great and everybody enjoyed!
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.
Absolutely fantastic. The only thing is the cream cheese should probably be put in for 45 minutes for it to totally melted
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.
I bought Costco rotisseri cooked chicken breast meat. Can I use that and add it to the crock pot later in the cooking process ?
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
Yes this is a Keeper! Used an extra chicken breast, extra onion ROTEL tomatoes for one and one petite diced HUNTS brand. Tomatoes. Extra spices… and the full block of cream cheese. Will make again! Thank you Sally’s baking addiction!
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
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!
I’m making this recipe but it looks super watery. How can I thicken it up a bit?
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.
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!
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!
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 !
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!
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!
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!✨