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

262 Comments

  1. I’m planning on making this, but I would like to use ground beef instead of the chicken. Any idea on how much beef I would need to use?

  2. Hi Sally-

    I made this on the stovetop, since my slow cooker is WAY too small.

    Might I suggest that you update the directions so that others don’t put the cream cheese in until after the initial cooking? I got a bit of difficulty in incorporating the cheese from just placing all of the ingredients into the pot–the cheese doesn’t melt well after it’s been in there for a while.

    Great recipe, it smells really good! I just have to wait for it to cool. 🙂

  3. I made this chili recently and loved it! I am planning on making it again with ground beef. Sally, would you recommend putting it right in the slow cooker or cooking it partially first? 

    1. Hi Audrey! I would brown the ground beef first. When I make this slow cooker chili with ground turkey, I always brown it first. Almost fully cooking it on medium heat.

      1. Hi there,

        I made the mistake of adding the ground beef in the slow cooker without cooking it first on the stove.

        Could I just leave it longer in the slow cooker?

  4. Made this today!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
    The whole family loved it. Really, restaurant quality for sure! I replaced 1/2 can of the tomatoes with 1/2 a can of beef chili, just to get some kidney beans in there, and I used dark meat chicken instead of white. Will make again for sure! Thx Sally 🙂

  5. Hi Sally! I love this recipe and have made it numerous times! I have quite a bit leftover this time and was wondering if you have ever tried freezing the leftovers? Thx Sally

    1. Hey Rachel! I don’t have that information for ya. Calorie counting calculators online can often be inaccurate (different brands/products/etc) and I would hate to publish wrong information on my website. Feel free to calculate at your own discretion!

  6.  Made this today but accidentally put the whole block of cream cheese in.  Is there any way to save it?  My family is not a fan of cream cheese so I was hesitant to use it. 

  7. I want to try this soon, but is it okay to leave out the jalapeño’s? All other spices I will keep. Will it turn out just as good? I read your note about not leaving out any of the ingredients. If not then I will have to find a different recipe.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Tammy! It’s really just for extra heat so if you don’t like a lot of spice, leave it out. Sometimes I leave it out when I don’t have one. Will still be great!

  8. I’m contemplating getting an instant pot to replace a broken slow cooker. Do you think this recipe would work in an instant pot? This is my favourite recipe and I won’t get an instant pot of it won’t make this chili!! 🙂

    1. Hi Erin, I don’t own an instant pot (I keep saying I need to get one!). From what little I know of them I don’t see why you couldn’t make it one.

  9. Thanks for leaving the no-slow-cooker recipe at the end of your post! Our errands took way longer than we expected, and we weren’t going to be home until after dinner and we’re super disappointed we’d have to miss out on this meal! Now we don’t have to! Super helpful. Thanks again!

  10. Hi Sally,
    How many servings does your recipe make? I’m thinking of making this for a work party where they just do samples. Do you think doubling this recipe would work for that? Thanks!

      1. Hi Sally, Thanks!! Also, this may be a silly question but do you cook the chicken prior to putting it in the crock pot originally? Thanks!

  11. we Have Sunday dinner every week with our adult daughters and their families and since two of my daughters don’t eat beef I always try to make an alternative choice for them. This week my husband decided he wanted to make chili so I googled and found your recipe and now that I’ve tasted it I can honestly say that I will be making this often! And not for just my daughters. It is absolutely delicious!!

  12. I was looking forward to this great and wonderful chicken chili recipe all day long. I decided to taste it before adding the cream cheese and it was absolutely wonderful. However adding the cream cheese basically ruined it and turned the chili into cheese tortilla soup so … not bad, but not at all what I wanted. So if you really want chicken chili leave out the cream cheese!!!

  13. Made this chili yesterday. Didn’t have any garlic and in addition to the black beans I added northern and pinto beans!!!! LOVE IT, THANKS FOR RECIPE

  14. My husband and I are addicted to this chilli, its absolutely delicious. The only (small) modification I’ve made, was to use taco seasoning instead of chilli powder

  15. Made this chili for super bowl Sunday and it was a huge hit! I only added 2 tsp of cumin and it was perfect. Thanks for the recipe Sally!

  16. This chili is very tasty! I served it alongside your honey whole-wheat dinner rolls (also fabulous! Love the flavor of those). The few changes I made were using half the chili powder (and the chili was VERY spicy just with that one teaspoon! Good thing I love my food extra hot and spicy) and excluding the cream cheese, as well as a few other minor adjustments to the ingredients. All in all, this chili is the perfect, warming dish to serve on a cool, rainy evening. I’d love to make it again sometime soon, as I definitely enjoyed it!

  17. I’m absolutely in love with your bowls!! Where did you find them? I’ve tried looking them up and can’t find anything remotely as cute as them. All my bowls are so, round. lol Your bowls totally suit my character and personality and i need them in my kitchen! Pretty please. 🙂

  18. Question, I’m a carnivore however my fiance is a vegetarian. I’m going to try this recipe, but what would you recommend changing for his? I’ll make making 2 portions in separate crock pots, I can keep the veggies as is, substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth, should i lessen the broth amount without adding chicken? we both love spicy foods so I’m likely going to add some extra jalapenos or some other hot pepper options.

    PS: I absolutely love your little bowls, any chance you can recall where you got them? I feel like they’re a necessity to accompany me in my kitchen. 🙂

    1. For your fiancé I would keep everything the same and add in extra beans and veggies! Try a variety of beans and both green and yellow squash are great in this recipe.
      The bowls are from Anthropology but it doesn’t look like they carry them anymore.

  19. Today I made this chili, your cornbread muffins, your breakfast hash, and your pumpkin spice truffles!! Every recipe I try of yours is amazing and I am learning so much from your detailed instructions and tips. Thank you so much!!

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