Easy Chicken Chili

Smoky and a little spicy and like a big hug in a bowl. Chunks of tender, juicy chicken thighs are slowly cooked with beans, tomatoes, chipotles and seasonings for one of the must-have chicken chilis of the season.

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Chipotles in Adobo Sauce in Chili

One of the greatest “secret weapon” ingredients I know is chipotles in adobo sauce.  These are smoked jalapeno peppers stewed in a sauce with tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt, and various spices such as cumin, oregano and paprika, and then canned and available for your cooking pleasure. (Imagine doing all that yourself!) 

I puree up a can of the peppers in their sauce by just dumping the contents of the whole can right into the food processor, and then put it in a sealed container in the fridge (check out the video).  Whenever a soup or a stew or a chili or a dip or anything calls for a little touch of smoky heat, in goes a tablespoon or two of the puree.  You can also add it to dressings (Iike in Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad), burgers (try Chipotle Barbecue Turkey Burgers), and deviled eggs (Chipotle Deviled Eggs), to name a few uses.

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Crock Pot Chicken Chili

And of course one of the greatest “secret weapon” cooking appliances of all time is the slow cooker, or Crock Pot, which for many of us takes up a permanent place of residence on the counter during the colder months.  The unparalleled pleasure of walking into your home at the end of a long day to be greeted with the scent of a cooked dinner is hard to overstate.

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

In this chili, these two secret weapons join together to turn boneless, skinless chicken thighs into a somewhat spicy and couldn’t-be-easier chili.  I often make chili with ground chicken or turkey, which we all love, but it was nice to change it up with real cubes of chicken.

This one is a definite weeknight keeper, but on a wintery weekend morning, before you head out to do whatever wintery things you are doing, you might want to crank up a pot of this.   And if you are being really smart and good to yourself, have those topping ready in small bowl in the fridge.  Dinner ready as soon as the table is set?  Oh, yes, that would be lovely, thanks.

Leftovers would be awesome on top of some nachos!

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Toppings for Chicken Chili

You can use any toppings you like with any kind of chili, of course. I like the combo of shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican blend), sour cream, avocados, and chopped scallions. Red onions are also nice, and if you have guacamole around and want to serve that up instead of the avocados, go for it.

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Freezing Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

You can keep the chili in the fridge for up to 4 days, or you can freeze it. The chili can be frozen in freezer weight zipper top bags, or freezer proof containers for up to 6 months. Make sure the chili is cool before you put it in the containers, and allow for about 1/2-inch of space between the chili and the top of the bag or container. The chili will expand a little as it freezes, and you don’t want it to pop open the container. These Stasher bags are reusable and sturdy and pretty awesome (pricy but they last!)

Defrost in the fridge overnight, and then reheat in a pot over medium-low heat on the stove, stirring until it’s hot.

Serve Slow Cooker Chicken Chili with Cilantro Lime Rice!

A slow cooker turns juicy chicken thighs and pureed chipotles in adobo sauce into a very satisfying crock pot chicken chili.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

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Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

A crock pot turns juicy chicken thighs and pureed chipotles in adobo sauce into a very satisfying chili.
Yield: 8 People
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Diet: Gluten Free



  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons pureed chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans black or kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 scallions trimmed and chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime

To Serve

  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Diced avocados
  • Chopped scallions or onions


  • In a large slow cooker, combine the onions, carrots, garlic, pureed chipotles in adobo, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Add the beans and stir to combine, then stir in the chicken.
  • Cook in the slow cooker on high for 4 hours.
  • Stir in the chopped scallions and the lime juice right before serving. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados and scallions on the side and let everyone top their own bowls as they wish.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 376kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 511mg | Potassium: 1264mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3512IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 4mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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  1. Another winner! Perfect working from home crockpot meal. Putting it together during my lunch break Serving it with brown rice and riced cauliflower

  2. This recipe sounds incredible wonderful…can’t wait to try it, most likely with brown rice. I appreciate your comments on the recipe. Thanks! Looking forward to futurerecipes

    1. Hi, Maryanne – starting in January the site is being totally redesigned including a button that will let you skip right to the recipe if you don’t want to read the intro!

  3. Please Katie….do not make us believe that you are the next Martha Steward… you are not. Work in those video clips and make sure that your food is not burned. Burned is not the new normal, and it will never be. Be a little more responsible and caring to your viewers. After all, it is Christmas time. Thank you

    1. Gosh, I would never presume to be the next Martha Stewart (it’s Stewart, by the way). I’m just a cook and a writer, and there are a lot of s out there, so I hope you find one you like more. Happy holidays to you.

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