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

280 Comments

  1. Sally,

    I LOVE this recipe! There’s always a crock of chili cooking in the fall at my house and my parents’ house, but until now I’ve yet to find a good shredded chicken chili recipe. This is the one! The cream cheese was a fantastic addition that I never would have even thought of. I’ve passed the recipe along to my parents, as well, so there are two new households making this chili.

    P.S. I’m a huge fan of your soft pretzels recipe, which is how I came originally came across your blog. When hosting parties or bringing a dish to potluck parties, I’m always required to make those pretzels 😉

    1. Thanks so much Susan Elizabeth– I LOVE this chili. I just made it the other week actually. The best soul-warming recipe for this time of year. 🙂

  2. Would adding an extra can of kidney beans throw off the flavors? I love a lot of beans in my chili. Making this recipe for friends, can’t wait to have a bowl!

      1. I cook a bag (1 pound) of dry beans (black beans one day, pinto another day, red kidney beans, etc) at a time in the slow cooker and freeze them in pints to use instead of canned beans (I rinse and drain the black beans prior to freezing and they’re fine).  Started doing this when I as a broke single mom because it was so much cheaper, now I can’t stand the taste of canned beans.  I’m about to toss the (mostly all frozen) ingredients for this chicken chili in the crockpot.  I’m thinking 8 to 10 hours on low will cover the fact that the chicken, corn and beans are all frozen.  Can’t wait to taste it this evening! It sounds soooo good!

  3. I made this chili this past weekend, absolutely delicious! I did it with the pulled chicken… I am getting married on Friday and my fiancé’s sisters flew in and had to make them something and I was nervous to impress. Well this stuff kicked butt!

  4. I made this for dinner last night. It was incredibly easy and VERY good. I felt it needed a little more heat and flavor. Tonight before I reheated it, I added a small can of chopped mild green chiles and about a teaspoon and a half of red pepper flakes and it went from VERY good to AWESOME! Loved it and I will definitely make again.

  5. I made this for my husband and this has got to be the best recipe I’ve ever tried! I have shared it with so many people since!!

  6. I made a double batch of this, half for me and half for a friend who just had twins, it was delicious! I used fire roasted diced tomatoes and 1 tsp chili powder plus 1 tsp ancho chili powder which gave it a smoky taste! My husband raved for days and even used the leftover chili to make nachos for gameday!

  7. I tried this tonight for the first time – the whole family, including my 3 & 5 year olds, gobbled it up! I did 2 tablespoons of chili powder, rather than 2 teaspoons, and used fire-roasted diced tomatoes rather than plain. Also, a bit more chicken broth and we heaped it on top of sour cream rather than putting in cream cheese. All that to say, this recipe seems easily adaptable and delicious no matter what! 

  8. This chili was amazing!!! I loved the creaminess from adding cream cheese and next time I think I will add a little more jalapeno for a tad more kick. 🙂

  9. I’m excited to try this for a chili cook-off at work! Looks amazing!
    Quick question- if I let it sit in slow cooker overnight so it’s ready in am and it is on warm – when should I add the cream cheese? Should I wait until I get to work and turn it on Low Heat to heat it up to add it then? I just didn’t want to ruin the consistency if the cream cheese sits in the crock pot for too long. Thanks!

    1. Hey Courtney! Great question. I would add it when you get to work. Stir it in on low heat. It will melt down fast. So much fun!

  10. This sounds amazing, I plan to make it for a chili cook off at my husband’s work. One question though, I need to make 5-6 quarts, will this recipe make enough or should I double it?

  11. I made it yesterday for my family. I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned and didn’t have jalapeño or chilli podwer, so I substituted with taco seasoning. I used a can of pink beans and a can of red kidney beans and 2 cans of corn. Basically, I used what I already had on hand. Eveyone LOVED it. Thank you so much, this recipe is a keeper!

  12. Just made this for dinner tonight and it was awesome! I live in the UK so just used 2 tins of chopped tomatoes (not drained) and it was definitely saucy enough. We had it with rice and tortilla chips but would definitely try the cornbread next time!

  13. Tupperware is a brand, not a description of a thing. They sell many things including knives. I assume you don’t mean to store leftovers in a knife?

  14. Sally,
    Have you ever tried adding a can of pumpkin to the chili? Curious how that might change the taste.
    Thanks!

    Katie

    1. I haven’t but now I’m SUPER curious as well! I think it would compliment the flavors wonderfully; I love savory pumpkin dishes. Let me know if you try it!

      1. While I cannot say how much (if at all) the 1 can of pumpkin altered the overall taste as I have never tried it the other way, the chili turned out delicious and received many compliments. I would highly recommend making this addition to the recipe! Thanks!

        – Katie

  15. I made this for a Saturday dinner since we were out and about all day. I knew it was going to be good when I got a text from my brother-in-law asking what the incredible smell coming from the crock pot was 🙂 This was my first recipe from your blog and I can’t wait to make more yummy dishes.

  16. Can I used store cooked rotisserie chicken??? When should I add it?
    Does it alter cooking time
    I’m using slow cooker?
    Please answer ASAP I’m ready to make my first of o’chili
    Thanku

    1. 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.

  17. Hi
    Okay so overall the chilli was amazing!
    I had a few hiccups I bought tomatopaste instead of
    Sauce not sure how I missed that,
    just wanted to share my experience to help 
    Someone!
    I used store rotisserie chicken In slow cooker on
    High (I don’t have med) for 5 hours,  it took that long for
    The flavors to blend and the chicken to tenderize 
    My chili  tasted bland 
    So
    I added teaspoon of tumeric and more
    Cumin
    Tsp of salt
    1/3 cup of red wine
    2 Table spoons of worstershire sauce
    I used 2 Salerno peppers
    Add half just before the cream cheese 
    For that extra kick
    Maybe I needed more spices
    because I had  a 14oz can of tomato paste
    Instead of  tomato sauce as the recipe instructed 
    You will need to use the entire container of chicken broth if u make this mistake   
    We all make mistakes 
    I served mine with the cream cheese in each bowl some people like watching the transformation 
    It makes two dishes
    Add pepper jack cheese and tortilla chips
    To the chilli it taste chicken tortilla soup(without cream cheese)

  18. This recipe is so amazing! I made this for the green room at our church this past weekend! It was gone in no time! Didn’t change a thing, it was perfect! Thank You!

  19. Bland, bland, bland. I had to add hot sauce and more seasoning to give this flavor.  Cream cheese was a nice touch though. 

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