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

 

Print

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

262 Comments

  1. Made this recipe today. The only change I made was the addition of another teaspoon of chili powder. EXCELLENT! Very hearty. I will definitely make this again!

  2. Hi,
    Made this today. Really good. Little bit watery. May daughter suggesting I add another can of beans.
    Will make it again with more beans.

    Overall it was a success. This from somebody who love cooking but bats an average of .25.

    Thank you

    1. I love really hearty chili so I add a can of red kidney beans when I make this recipe and it makes it way thicker. Hope that helps!

  3. Has anyone ever made a white chili with chicken and green chiles? I am looking for a good recipe but cannot find one that compares to the white chili I was served at a restaurant in Snowmass Village, CO.

  4. Do you think there is an alternate for the bell pepper? Or do you think the recipe will be altered too much without it? I am not a fan of them!

  5. I’ve had this recipe pinned for a couple of weeks and finally got around to making it today. OMG delicious! The cream cheese makes it super creamy. I served it with corn tortillas, butter lettuce and chopped cilantro. Will be adding this to the regular rotation considering how easy and delicious it is. Thanks for the recipe Sally!

  6. Hi Sally! 
    I don’t eat dairy, what can I add instead of the creamed cheese? I have non dairy cream cheese and non dairy creamer is either of those a good replacement? Thanks so much!! 

  7. This is a silly question… I am new to slow cookers 🙂 Does the chicken go in raw or cooked? Thank you!! Can’t wait…we love chili 🙂

  8. My entire family loved this! I made the recipe exactly as written except for homemade tomato sauce and diced avacado on top. I also made your cornbread and was told that it was “the best ever”

  9. Tried this chili today and it was really great!

    We don’t have canned black beans in Germany so I substituted kidney beans and it worked well. Thanks for the recipe!

  10. Hi Sally!
    I recently bought a multi cooker and made this chili last night. I I forgot to add the cream cheese at first and it was still very tasty but then later added the cream cheese, and it was stellar! It definitely adds another layer of flavor. 

  11. This was OUTSTANDING! So delicious the night of and the day after. We’re not big fans of corn, so I 86ed that and added another can of black beans. Also, for the chili powder, I did rounded scoops. Same for the cumin. My six-yr-old twins are always great eaters and this was no different. They had seconds. We all loved it. Thanks for sharing this recipe!!

  12. So easy to make and sooo delicious!
    We enjoyed it for dinner and lunch the next day .
    I froze the leftovers and freezes well for a quick meal to grab out of the feeezer on a busy night . 
    I followed the recipe but added more beans and did not add the cream cheese at the end and it was terrific .
    Thanks for the recipe ! It will be added to the dinner rotation . 

  13. Made this on Sunday. I always use a McCormick chili seasoning packet with any chili I make instead of the suggested spices. I’ve been disappointed by people’s seasoning of chili in the past. I used the white chicken chili packet. This turned out wonderful, I love corn and chicken in chili. The only thing is I didn’t get the nice red coloring yours has after I added the cream cheese, it was a much more muted color. Still tasted great though! Will definitely make this again!

  14. has anyone ever made a vegetarian version of this?
    we love this recipe and have made it often, now we have some vegetarian dinner guests and I’d like to make it but not sure if it will have the same richness of flavour without the chicken.

    1. I have! My SIL is vegetarian, I pre cooked the chicken and shredded it and put it on the side so people (it was a family picnic) had the option of putting it in. I also used vegetable broth and it turned out just as good as the original.

  15. I loved this chili! I also added a bit of coriander…

    Do you happen to have the nutrition information?
    Trying to add this to my macros

  16. I made this for the first time for my office’s annual chili cook off in November and won. Definitely a crowd favorite and has become part of our recipe rotation at home. Thanks for a quick, easy dinner option!

  17. Would like to make this and am wondering if I can put the chicken breasts in frozen, or do they need to be thawed?

  18. I made this, substituting 4 cups of garden tomatoes for the canned. My husband thinks the cream cheese is too abundant but i disagree! Delicious. Thanks for posting.

  19. My kids reject anything “spicy” (even though this isn’t what I would call overly spicy) so the hubs and I make a batch of this and a pan of cornbread on weekends when the kids are at grandma’s and eat it for every meal. It’s delicious!

  20. Hi Sally! I’m thinking about making this chili for a church potluck on Sunday. It sounds delicious!! If I make it all the way through adding the cream cheese and then it sits in the crockpot for 2-3 hours on warm, would that be a problem? 

    1. Not at all– I’ve done that MANY times before. You can leave the cream cheese in there for several hours before serving.

      1. Thanks Sally!! I’m so excited to try it out! I’m going to make your spiced pumpkin truffles too!! We’re currently remodeling our kitchen, so I don’t have my oven. So I’m going with things that don’t need to be baked or cooked on a stovetop!!

  21. Excellent and easy! I used high setting for 3 hours and turned it to low after shredding chicken . My hubby thought it was as good as my beef chili. First time making chicken chili, but not my last! Thanks for a very delicious recipe!

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