Where do you store your slow cooker?
Since I usually have mine hiding in the basement, the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality is the main reason why I don’t use it as often as I could.
But now that I’ve been stockpiling more and more slow cooker recipes, like this homemade white chicken chili, I’ll need to find a more accessible spot to keep it!
Having a slow cooker really can be a time-saving lifesaver for my family – and I’m sure you would probably agree when you have a busy week ahead of you and you can’t spend too much time in the kitchen cooking a made-from-scratch meal for your loved ones.
Keep this quick-to-prepare recipe in mind the next time you want to make a comforting and casual stew for the whole family.
It’s a fun deviation from the popular and mighty chili con carne. Instead of a deep red and bold mix of beef, tomatoes, and kidney beans, this recipe plays with shredded chicken, white beans, and canned green chilies instead for a lighter color palate and more delicate flavors.
A little cream cheese added at the end of the cooking process helps to thicken the stew, and provides a smooth texture with a subtly tangy finish.
And for another quick tactic to thicken the chili even more, use an immersion blender to puree about one third of the chili base after mixing in the cream cheese – when pureed in the liquid, the beans effortlessly blend into a rich and silky mixture.
I recommend presenting an assortment of garnishes and sides when you’re ready to eat, and letting everyone assemble their own bowls.
I love an entertaining variety of colors, flavors, and textures for my selections, like sliced avocados, crunchy pumpkin seeds, warmed flour tortillas, fresh cilantro leaves, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, bright lime wedges, and fluffy jalapeno cornbread.
Customizable garnishes and serving ideas will please everyone’s individual taste preferences, and a new combination of toppings for Dinner Round #2 will keep this dish exciting when you eat it for the second (or third!) night in a row.
Didn’t think it could actually be possible for the whole family to enjoy and use up all of your leftovers? This white chicken chili keeps the surprises coming!
Dust off your slow cooker if it’s stored in the basement like mine, and keep it out – maybe it’s my full and happy belly talking, but I have a funny feeling that you’ll be making multiple batches of this recipe…Print
Want a new spin on your usual chili con carne recipe? Don’t have a lot of time to be in the kitchen? Make our slow cooker white chicken chili.
- 2 cups chicken stock or broth
- 3 15-ounce cans white beans (cannellini, navy, or great northern), drained and rinsed
- 2 4.5-ounce cans diced green chilis, mild or spicy
- 2 cups sweet white corn, fresh or frozen
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 1 medium jalapeno, chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black peppercorns
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 4 ounces full-fat room temperature cream cheese, cubed
- Your choice of toppings and sides, for serving
- Place all of the ingredients except the chicken and cream cheese into the slow cooker insert. Stir to combine. Submerge the chicken breasts in the base.
- Cover and cook undisturbed on low heat for 7 hours or on high heat for 4 hours.
- Leave the slow cooker on warm. Remove the chicken breasts from the slow cooker and place them on a large cutting board. Shred the chicken with two forks and set aside.
- Add the cubed cream cheese into the chili base. Whisk until completely melted and combined.
- Use an immersion blender to puree 1/3 of the base for about 30 seconds.
- Transfer the shredded chicken back into the base. Stir to combine.
- Divide the chili among dinner bowls. Serve hot with your preferred garnishes and sides.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Category: Chili
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: Stew
Keywords: slow, cooker, chicken, chili
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep
Set out your slow cooker. If you haven’t used it in a while, you may need to clean the insert and lid.
Open the two cans of diced green chilis. Depending on your personal spice level preference, you can use a mild or spicy version.
Using a sharp knife and sturdy cutting board, dice the white onion, mince the garlic or use a garlic press, and chop the jalapeno. If you prefer a milder chili, remove and dispose of the membrane and seeds from the jalapeno.
Place all of these ingredients directly into the slow cooker insert. Stir the ingredients with a spoon or spatula to combine them.
Submerge the chicken breasts into this mixture. If you prefer dark meat, you can use 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead.
While you will not need the cream cheese until the cooking process is nearly over, you can dice the cream cheese now, cover it, and store it in your refrigerator.
This is also the right time to decide on the toppings and sides you want to serve with your chili.
Suggested serving options include:
- Cilantro leaves
- Corn or flour tortillas
- Lime wedges
- Shredded cheese
- Sliced avocado
- Sliced jalapeno
- Sour cream
- Tortilla chips
- Toasted pumpkin seeds
Step 2 – Cook
Cover and secure the slow cooker with the lid.
The length of the cooking time depends on your own schedule:
If you have the time to allow the mixture to slowly simmer away all day, cook it on the low heat setting for seven hours..
However, if you need to get dinner on the table faster than that, choose the high heat setting and cook the chili for four hours.
As long as the onions are softened and the chicken breasts are cooked to at least 165°F (or at least 175°F for thighs) when you insert a thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, your chili is ready to eat. However, the more you let your chili cook, the ingredients will become more tender and the flavors will continue to develop.
When you are about an hour away from the end of your cooking time, remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator and let it sit out at room temperature.
A softer, room temperature cream cheese will melt and mix more readily into the chili base.
Step 3 – Shred the Chicken
After the cooking time is complete, leave the slow cooker on. You’re not done just yet!
Carefully remove the chicken breasts from the insert using heatproof tongs and place them on a large, clean, heatproof cutting board.
Using two forks, shred the chicken. I like a mix of larger and smaller pieces, but you can choose to shred them more evenly.
Set the chicken aside on the cutting board as you move on to the next step.
Step 4 – Mix in the Cream Cheese
Add the cream cheese to the hot chili base.
Use a whisk to mix until it is completely melted and incorporated into the liquid.
Step 5 – Puree Some of the Base
With an immersion blender, blend about one third of the base for 30 seconds to puree some of the beans. This will help to naturally thicken the base without the addition of any thickening agents.
If you don’t own an immersion blender, you can use a handheld potato masher instead to achieve a similar result, though the base won’t be as creamy.
Or you can skip this step entirely to keep the base as chunky as possible – it’s your choice here!
Step 6 – Mix in the Shredded Chicken
Place the shredded chicken back into the base and stir everything together.
Divide the chili among dinner bowls and serve with your preferred garnishes and sides. Enjoy!
Can I Leave out the Cream Cheese?
Looking for a lighter version of this recipe? Don’t consume any dairy products?
The cream cheese can be an optional ingredient!
You’ll get a decent level of thickness and creaminess simply by pureeing some of the base with the immersion blender, without the addition of cream cheese.
However, if you still crave a richer texture, there are some easy substitutions you can make.
You can use an equal amount of dairy-free cream cheese. Check your grocery store for available products, as many retailers carry an option or two.
You can also use an equal amount – 1/2 cup – of full-fat or light canned coconut milk. This is another dairy-free option that will still provide a smooth, silky finish.
Will you leave the recipe as is, or will you make your own substitutions? What toppings and sides are you excited to serve with this entree? Leave your comments below!
There’s something so fresh and exciting about making tasty alternatives to popular dishes. Be inspired to cook a new recipe outside of your typical comfort zone by checking out a few more of our other homemade chili recipes:
Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on September 4, 2014. Last updated on August 14, 2023.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.