Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili
This simple and delicious white bean chicken chili, simplified for slow cooking, is practically screaming “Make me!” for the upcoming fall and winter months.
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.
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?).
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
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ½ 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
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 2 cans (15-ounces each) white beans (like Great Northern), rinsed and drained
- Juice of 1 lime
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Sour cream
- Diced avocado
- Chopped cilantro
- Shredded cheese
- Tortilla chips
- 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.
- Add the chicken broth and stir in the cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, and chili powder.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- 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.
- Serve with garnishes.
Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
83 Comments on “Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili”
Made this tonight and my family loved it. Taking a hint from several of your recipes, I added some sweet potato chunks. And I made it in the Instant Pot starting with a pound of dry beans. Thanks, Mel!
For any interested, I cooked the beans for 25 minutes, then drained, then sautéed the onions, pepper and garlic, added a couple chunks of zucchini, pressure cooked again for a couple minutes, added sweet potato chunks and pressure cooked for another three minutes. Put the zucchini in the blender with about a cup of beans and enough water to cover, blended, then added back to soup along with beans and chicken. Heated through on sauté function. Next time I will probably only pressure cook the sweet potatoes for two minutes. They were a bit softer than I like. But my son really liked them as they turned out-mushy.
BTW, I had precooked chicken.
Could you adapt this for the instant pot?
I haven’t tried it yet but I’m sure it could somehow work in the IP…
I made this today in my instapot and it worked just fine. Just put the ingrenidents in and used pressure cook setting on high for 25 minutes. Then took chicken out and shredded it and blended up the veggies and then put it on sauté for a little bit for the beans to get warmed through. Pretty easy!
It is my family’s favorite! So delicious!
We love this recipe! It has become a staple for family and entertaining meals. I usually shorten the process by using rotisserie chicken and it tastes fantastic.
Sooo good! I have a recipe similar to this, but this has better flavor and is simpler to prepare. Next time I think I will skip sauteing the pepper, onion and garlic and just add it to the crockpot raw.
I know this is probably left-of-field, but do you just serve with whole corn chips on the side or break them up and sprinkle on top?
Either/or works just fine!
I love this chili! The first time I made it was a couple years ago and it’s been constantly asked for by my family since. Adding the zucchini (from your notes) is the best! I’d have to say it’s my favorite soup!
So good!! Me and my husband loved it
One of my family’s favorite recipes. It is printed and placed on the front page of my “favorites” recipe binder.
Have you Frozen this soup before? I’m looking for some easy freezer meals.
Yes, it freezes great!
How can I adapt this for cooking on the stove instead of a slow cooker?
I haven’t made it on the stove, but you could try simmering for 20-30 minutes.
M uy rica la spa de pollo me gustaría otras cremosas y de verduras
I make this and freeze it, it works great. I add the cheese, green onions to the top before I freeze it. I serve with all the toppings and included flour tortillas. Just in case a burrito sounds perfect! I heat it on 350 until it bubblies. If heated completely frozen allow 2 hours.
If someone has just dry beans, they can use the slow cooker to soak the beans overnight. First rinse 16 oz or a pound of beans,. Then add to crockpot and cover with water. Make sure water reaches to the top of the pot. The set pot on low and let them cook overnight. By morning the beans should be done (nice and sift). Drain off all the water, remove the beans and set them aside, then start the chicken. Cooking beans in the crockpot is so much easier than the pressure cooker and after you add all ingredients together and let them cook together for an hour or two, it tastes amazingly better.
I made this on the stove top (it’s almost finished, yay!) because I just had dry navy beans and didn’t know if they would cook in the slow cooker in the time I had. I subbed a pound of dry navy beans and two big chicken leg quarters (about a pound of chicken total) for the canned beans and boneless skinless chicken meat (and broth). I also stirred in half a cup of brown rice about an hour before the end of cooking to thicken it a bit. The flavor is great and I am excited to eat it. Thank you!
Any tips for adapting this for a pressure cooker like the instant pot?
I’d probably throw it all in there and cook at high pressure for 10-20 minutes.
Made this tonight!!! It’s a keeper! Thanks for a healthy tasty recipe.
I forgot to buy chicken, all I have are some boneless pork chops in the freezer–would that just be gross?
I’d probably make it meatless but you could experiment with the pork.
I tried it with the pork and it worked okay…just needed to cook longer. But chicken is definitely my preference!
Made this last night. It was tasty! I am making this again in a couple weeks!
How long for frozen chicken breast?
Probably about the same, maybe a half hour longer.
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.
Made this tonight and everyone loved it! Thanks!
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 😉
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!
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.
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!
Wonderful, wonderful recipe! I will never try another chicken chili recipe.
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?
Mea – I haven’t tried that but many slow cooker recipes can be adapted that way so it is definitely worth a try. Good luck!
I’ve made this many times before following the recipe but tonight I cooked the chicken on high for 3 hours and it tasted just the same as the low cook version! Delicious every time. Thank you for this quick and easy recipe!
Made this last week. So delicious! I loved the added cilantro. Only thing we didn’t have was the Avacado.
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.
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!
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.
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 !
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!
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!
This recipe looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it!
Just made this today, house smelled amazing and it turned out wonderful, mom and lil sis came over and they loved it!
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!
What a comforting bowl of chili!
This was so easy and delicious!
I love the touch of lime! I would chow this down!
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!!
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. 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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!
Looks yummy Mel! I might even be able to find all the ingredients here in Spain!
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. 🙂
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?
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!
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 🙂
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.
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.
What is the difference between chicken broth or chicken bullion cubes? Is the broth better for you than the bullion cubes?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
This looks so good! LOVE all the garnishes….so pretty 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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!!
I love white chicken chili. This looks fantastic. I love that it is made in the slow cooker. Can’t wait to try it!
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.
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. 🙂
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 🙂
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.
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.