Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

I’ve been making a variation of this slow cooker chili forever now and finally ordered myself to write down the ingredients in amounts (instead of “a bit of this and throw some of that in and add a handful of this”) and get it out here for you to see and to make and to love.

This delicious white bean chicken chili, simplified for slow cooking, is practically screaming “Make me!” for the upcoming fall and winter months (and to be perfectly honest, we enjoy it in the summer, too, when we get all wild and crazy and decide to eat chili in July).

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

Fairly straightforward, this chili is pumped up with a few savory spices and a hint of fresh lime and cilantro stirred in at the end. Don’t even think about skipping the garnishes – the cheese and avocados and sour cream and crushed tortilla chips take a pretty good white bean chili and skyrocket it into straight up deliciousness.

Kind of wish I had a slow cooker pot of this simmering right now instead of the leftover night built into my menu plan (leftovers equal a necessary evil especially when your name is Mel and you can’t stand to waste food – do you do leftover nights? love them? hate them?).

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

One Year Ago: Hearty Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Two Years Ago: Texas-Style Blueberry Cobbler
Three Years Ago: Chili-Rubbed Pork with Apricot Glaze

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

Yield: Serves 6

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

A variation we've come to love recently is to add chopped zucchini to the chicken and broth mixture, letting it cook for 6-8 hours with everything else. I scoop out all the zucchini and a bit of the broth and give it a good blend in the blender and stir it back in with the beans. It adds a hint of thickness and creaminess (you can thank this soup for the idea).


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 poblano pepper or large green pepper, diced
  • 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cans (15-ounces each) white beans (like Great Northern), rinsed and drained
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Garnishes:
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado, diced
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tortilla chips


  1. Place the chicken in the bottom of a round, 5-quart slow cooker. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil until rippling and hot. Add the onion, garlic, and pepper and saute for 3-4 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker.
  2. Add the chicken broth and stir in the cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, and chili powder.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. Remove the chicken and shred into bite-sized pieces. Stir in the rinsed and drained beans. Cook on high for 30 minutes until beans/soup are heated through. Stir in the lime and cilantro and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with garnishes.

Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

61 Responses to Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

  1. Kate says:

    Any tips for adapting this for a pressure cooker like the instant pot?

  2. Trish Pines says:

    Made this tonight!!! It’s a keeper! Thanks for a healthy tasty recipe.

    Trish Pines

  3. G says:

    I forgot to buy chicken, all I have are some boneless pork chops in the freezer–would that just be gross?

  4. Linder says:

    Made this last night. It was tasty! I am making this again in a couple weeks!

  5. Jennifer says:

    How long for frozen chicken breast?

  6. ann wank says:

    Mel, I enjoy 95% your recipes and so does my family, but I think you missed the mark on this one. The chicken was too mushy, almost disintegrated really. It was more of a soup, not a chili (so you should possibly rename it), and not very flavorful. The zucchini puree didn’t thicken it and gave it a weird taste. I had to do a lot of doctoring on this one to salvage it. The family didn’t enjoy it, which was disappointing, so, despite wasting food, I’m not even going to keep it for leftovers.

  7. Katie says:

    Made this tonight and everyone loved it! Thanks!

  8. Kelli says:

    I just made this tonight. It was a hit! Deeeelish! I did sub out yellow bell pepper for the green, and also did the zucchini trick. Very flavorful & easy – my two favorite combinations when I have to cook 😉

  9. Staci says:

    I have made this many times and it continues to be one of my absolute favorite soups! Friends have had it at my house and begged for the recipe. 🙂 Thanks for another home run!

  10. Jane says:

    Hi Mel-
    I have made this chili before and loved it. I want you to know that I tried it last night with dry (unsoaked) beans and it worked like a charm. I did give my slow cooker a kick start by beginning on High for about an hour, then switched to Low for 6 hours and it was perfect. The beans are very tender and make the chili nice and thick.

  11. Michelle Nowak says:


    We finally had this tonight-it was awesome, the kids said ‘yuck’ then ate all they were served. Thanks for all the great recipes. Since moving to Spain, it is much harder to cook on the fly and ‘picking up’ something is impossible to do quickly or early enough for our dinner time. I think I’ve used your recipes 3 or 4 times over the last three weeks!

  12. Dennis says:

    Wonderful, wonderful recipe! I will never try another chicken chili recipe.

  13. Mea says:

    This looks really amazing, I can almost taste it already! I love that there’s classic chili flavors, i.e. cumin, chili powder, so I know it won’t taste like chicken swimming in broth with beans. My only question is this: Can I cook this on HIGH for half the time?

  14. Ashley says:

    Made this last week. So delicious! I loved the added cilantro. Only thing we didn’t have was the Avacado.

  15. Lindsay says:

    I made this tonight, but my husband and I both agree it was missing something. I think next time I will include a couple bay leaves and also more spices towards the end.

  16. Deb says:

    Doubled the recipe and made for a church function today and it was AWESOME! Super easy to put together and really delivered on flavor. Thanks for the great recipe Mel!

  17. Kate says:

    I haven’t really had to deal with leftovers since I started living with my husband almost 7 years ago. He insists on having a hot lunch every day at work so any leftovers just get packed up for that. I do try to alternate meals that I know will have leftovers with ones that won’t so he always has some lunches but they don’t build up in the fridge.

  18. Mercedes says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was wonderful! Thanks for such great recipes!! For dessert we had your best recipe sugar cookies, also delicious! Thanks so much, I keep coming back here for more great ideas !

  19. Briana says:

    Every time I click on the print button, a blank page opens up. I am not sure if this is my computer’s problem or the website, so I thought I would check. I have never had this problem with your other recipes. My non-soup loving children loved this, so I would like to print it out to add to my recipe book. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Briana – what browser are you using? Have you tried it recently? It’s working for me in all browsers so I’m not sure what might be happening. Any additional info you can give me, would help me troubleshoot the issue. Thanks!

  20. Stacy L says:

    This recipe looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it!

  21. Doretha says:

    Just made this today, house smelled amazing and it turned out wonderful, mom and lil sis came over and they loved it!

  22. Jill says:

    This was amazing. I cooked it with a whole chicken and had enough leftover for chicken snack wraps! I also added in a cup of leftover refrained beans from your recipe to thicken it up. It was amazing. My three kids ate two bowls each!

  23. What a comforting bowl of chili!

  24. Katie says:

    This was so easy and delicious!

  25. tahnycooks says:

    I love the touch of lime! I would chow this down!

  26. Tiffany says:

    Mel – Sincerely, thank you so much for you blog! I fell upon it when I found your cookie experiment, and I’ve made several additional recipes since then in only the past couple weeks! I will continue pinning away from your many diverse recipes. I am not a wife or mom or anything, but I really love cooking/baking and have yet to make a recipe from your blog that didn’t turn out AWESOME 🙂 I am a new associate a large law firm so cooking is something I enjoy to manage stress and your blog seems to provide endless recipes. I peruse it almost daily, and will add this chili to my recipe board! Hopefully one day I’ll be able to cook your recipes for someone other than myself…but until then, I enjoy making your dishes. Thank you again for your dedication to this blog. It’s wonderful to have found a blog where I know I can trust that each and every recipe will come out perfectly!!

  27. Army of 7 says:

    We just finished this up for dinner & surprisingly ALL 5 kids finished their bowl without complaints! It was slow cooker day, as I also had 6 pounds of applesauce & refried beans cooking as well. It doesn’t say how many zucchini to add but I used your variation & added 2 medium zucchini which I pureed at the end to thicken it up. We garnished with green onions, cheddar cheese & avocado rices. I am really pleased with this recipe & will add this to the rotation. 🙂

  28. Larissa says:

    I call it “buffet night” or “smorgasboard night” and get all the leftovers out, heat them up and let the family choose what they want. This week I made a huge (2 lb!!) batch of homemade mac and cheese that was kinda mild flavor-wise. So, last night, I took some shredded chicken out of the freezer, heated it up with some Buffalo Wing spices (McCormick packet), a dash of Buffalo Wing Sauce, and a little ranch seasoning with water so it didn’t burn. Then, I added some extra butter and milk to the leftover pasta, threw in some more cheddar, took some pasta out for my daughter who doesn’t like Buffalo seasoning, added the chicken, another handful of cheese on top and my son ate 3 bowls! I took the rest for lunch and there is still some plain for another lunch over the weekend. Yay!
    I would love to try a white bean/chicken chili! Thanks!

  29. Tanya says:

    We don’t called it leftover night… we call it “CHOICE NIGHT!” 🙂 I pull everything out of the fridge and let them make their plates. It’s interesting the things my kids will put together! Rice, noodles, and peaches…. whatever!? I figure once in a while an unbalanced (still fairly healthy, though) meal won’t kill them. I love cleaning out the fridge before things go bad.

  30. Laura says:

    Love/hate relationship with leftover night too. Mostly because I have two kids that hate it and two kids that don’t mind at all. I however am glad to eat good food and not have to cook.

  31. Jennifer says:

    We love to do leftover nights while pretending it is a restaurant. We write down all there is and some takes orders and someone else nukes the food and serves it. This makes leftovers way more fun!

  32. Michelle says:

    Looks yummy Mel! I might even be able to find all the ingredients here in Spain!

  33. Jessica says:

    This looks great! Putting it on the menu. Making your smothered pork burritos tomorrow too. 🙂 funny side note I read the first paragraph above really fast and the last line says “to make and to love” but I read to make love to, ha! I had to read it twice before I read it right. 🙂

  34. Ginger says:

    I have a question. I have some dry white beans. I’ve never used dry beans before and have never considered it until you posted the recipe for refried beans (which I will try soon). Could I use the dry beans for this instead of canned beans? Would I need to soak them overnight before I put them in the soup?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Ginger – if I were using dry beans, I’d do as you suggested and soak the beans overnight and then add them to the soup at the start of the cooking time (not at the end like I do with the canned beans). Great idea!

  35. Cait says:

    I love leftovers for lunch, because I get bored with repeat dinners (and sandwiches) and grew up eating a LOT of leftovers 🙂 Plus it’s easier to send a container than make my husband a separate work lunch! But on weekends there will often be a leftover dinner and I appreciate the break 🙂
    This soup looks delicious! I might have to make it this week instead of white chicken chili 🙂

  36. Chris says:

    We have “musgo” night whenever the frig is filled with odds & ends. It’s basically the night where everything “must go”, but the words get smooshed together and it always comes out “musgo.”

    Thankfully, the teenagers are not very picky so they just call dibs on whatever container is most appealing.

  37. Shel says:

    I plan two left-over nights/week…the two evenings that I have obligations that run well into the 9:30 PM time frame and nobody wants to eat that late. But my daughter LOVES left-overs for breakfast: she doesn’t care for breakfast foods, and at least she is getting a good start to the day. Been looking for a good crock-pot white chicken chili so I can’t wait to try this. Also…at least 2 meals/week are crock-pot since I work 12 hour shifts and it’s too tempting to skip cooking dinner if it isn’t 99% done by the time I get home.

  38. Andreya says:

    What is the difference between chicken broth or chicken bullion cubes? Is the broth better for you than the bullion cubes?

    • Mel says:

      Andreya – I always use chicken broth because I can use it from my freezer (that I’ve made myself) or buy a low-sodium brand (I really like Swanson’s Natural Goodness 33% Less sodium – not affiliated with them at all, just love the broth). I haven’t bought buillon cubes in years but they can be reconstituted with water to make broth – I found that I stopped buying them because it was hard to find a brand without MSG and lots of other preservatives.

  39. bluebaker says:

    Sometimes on my day off, I will cook two meals so there will be something for the “witching hour” after work the next day. The school bus ride turns my two girls into ravenous she-devils. I call those meals planned-overs instead of leftovers. It sounds a little nicer.

  40. Kim says:

    We watch a movie with leftovers. I’m a stickler for no television during dinner, but I this works for us. It gives me a break from cooking, gets the leftovers eaten without complaint, and when the kids find out it’s leftover night they actually cheer.

  41. At my house, we’ve always loved leftovers–in fact, we fight over them! (“What do you mean you had the last of the jambalaya–I wanted it for lunch!”) When my son shows up to visit, the first thing he does is raid the fridge for leftovers. Even though we have an empty nest now, I still cook in large enough quantities to ensure leftovers for my husband and me and a visiting kid or two. If you’re going to cook and make a mess, make it worthwhile–and, as I’m fond of telling him, our leftovers are better than a lot of people’s first-time-around meals! I do enjoy a good white chili–will give it a try.

  42. Jenn A says:

    We have at least one leftover night a week. I don’t mind it and I’m thankful for the time it saves me that day. We also use leftovers for weekend lunches or for school lunches when it is something easy to pack. Looking forward to this chili I can make in the crock pot! We’ll be trying it soon!

  43. This looks so good! LOVE all the garnishes….so pretty 🙂

  44. Kim in MD says:

    Our garbage is picked up on Thursday, so Wednesday is leftover night. I don’t love it or hate it- it’s just necessary when you cook every night. I love white bean chili, and I especially love that your delicious recipe is made in the slow cooker!

  45. Stacey says:

    Mel – This looks pretty similar to your creamy white chicken chili, which is delish. Which one do you like better? And how similar are they?

    Leftovers are usually eaten for lunch and I look forward to grabbing a quick, tasty entree,(leftover or not)….unless its something I didn’t like in the first place.

    • Mel says:

      Stacey – the big difference between this soup and the creamy white chili (which we love!) is that this doesn’t have any sour cream/heavy cream stirred into actually make it white (it’s a white bean chili instead of a true white chili). I think they are similar in flavor profile but quite a bit different overall with the garnishes, method of cooking, etc.

  46. collette says:

    My family HATES leftovers- but they are a pretty common occurrence…so I either eat them myself for lunch if there is not a lot of leftovers- or I re-invent them. Pulled pork tacos last week became the most delicious pork enchiladas I have ever made. They don’t even realize they are eating left overs!!

  47. I love white chicken chili. This looks fantastic. I love that it is made in the slow cooker. Can’t wait to try it!

  48. I just made a white bean chicken chili last week. It was delicious. Looking forward to trying this one too. I’m loving the soups, chili and stews these days.

  49. Gail says:

    Ditto the comment above. We homeschool and are home for lunch, so most of our leftovers are consumed at that time. At our house, leftovers are almost always considered superior to the usual lunch options. 🙂

  50. Trish says:

    This looks delicious! I love having slow cooker meals during the busy-ness of carting kids around to activities. So much better than the drive-thru! And I hate left over meals for dinner. No one in my family looks forward to them, so we just skip it. Fortunately leftovers usually get eaten at lunch. I homeschool my kids right now, so lunch is a great time to eat up what we have left, and for some reason it’s less painful, almost enjoyable, at lunch time 🙂

  51. Ellie says:

    I try to plan two leftover nights per week. If not two, definitely one.

    It just saves me so much time. I love it. I also hate wasting food.

  52. Caitlin says:

    I plan two leftover nights a week. One day a week my children are at their father’s house, I cannot be bothered to cook for just myself, so I scrounge leftovers from the fridge or cereal. The second leftover night is to use up all the food we haven’t eaten before grocery shopping day, so it can lead to some weird combinations (eg. meatballs, pancakes, apple slices). My children actually love it (meatballs and pancakes for dinner? Hooray!), but I detest it. But it is a necessary evil for the other five nights a week we enjoy delicious planned meals. With just me and my three young children in the house it is almost inevitable that we will have leftovers on any given night.

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