Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

4.25

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With just a handful of ingredients and no pre-cooking required, Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili is every bit as satisfying as it is simple. This is rich and creamy (without condensed soup), gluten-free, and has a dairy-free option. 

overhead image of slow cooker white chicken chili in a white enamelware bowl with corn chips

Can we all agree that sometimes white chicken chili is not really like chili at all? Sometimes it’s more like soup – brothy and delicious – but soup. Not this white chicken chili. This one is thick, creamy, loaded with tender white beans and hearty chicken and it’s about as simple as they come. Just eight ingredients (plus an optional addition) and the slow cooker does all the work.

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If you have time to chop an onion, you have time to make this meal in the slow cooker and walk away. At dinner, thicken the chili, chop the chicken, and set out the toppings. Creamy, thick, cozy slow cooker white chicken chili is here for you. Here’s all you need to get this dinner done…

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White Chicken Chili Ingredients

  • Dried Navy Beans – This chili starts with dried white (Navy) beans. They’re inexpensive, easy to store in the pantry, and soak up all of the flavor of the chili as they cook. Just rinse the beans and put them right in the slow cooker. There’s no need to soak them ahead of time (see below for more on that). If you have canned Navy beans around, you can rinse them and use them instead, but dried beans will have the most flavor.
  • Chicken Thighs – Feel free to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you prefer. I find that chicken thighs stay a bit more tender, but chicken breasts work just fine. 
  • Salsa Verde – A jar of salsa verde is the star of this recipe, giving it all of its flavor. Be sure to grab mild if you don’t want the chili to be spicy.
  • Chicken Broth, Onion, Ground Cumin, Chili Powder – These pantry basics help to add even more flavor to the chili. You can use either chicken broth or chicken stock (I find that “chicken broth” has a bit more flavor, so use that if you have both options in front of you). Be sure that you use Chili Powder NOT Cayenne which is much spicier. 
  • Salt – Don’t forget to taste the chili at the end of cooking and add some more salt if needed. The amount of salt in the salsa can vary, and adding some more salt at the end will really help to bring out all of the flavors of the chili. 
  • Sour Cream – Sour cream is optional in this recipe, but it gives the soup a tangy flavor and creamy texture that really rounds it out. For a dairy-free option you can follow the instructions to blend some of the soup to thicken it. 
overhead image of salsa verde, onion, chili powder, navy beans and chicken stock on a white table
overhead image of white chicken chili ingredients in slow cooker

No. White beans do not need to be pre-soaked before adding them to the chili. The slow cooker provides the beans with plenty of time to soften and turn tender. Be sure to rinse them well before using them. 

Bon Appetit has a lot to say on the subject, but testing this in my own kitchen indicates that the dried beans are actually best if added right to the slow cooker. As they cook, they soak up the flavors of the other ingredients and help to make the chili broth more rich and flavorful.

rinsing dried navy beans in a colander
adding salsa verde to white chicken chili ingredients in a slow cooker

How to Thicken Chili

There are two options for thickening this chili:

  1. Sour Cream – At the end of cooking, whisk together some of the cooking liquid from the chili and some sour cream. Pour it back into the chili and it will give the chili a tangy flavor and creamy texture.
  2. Immersion Blender – When you take the chicken out to shred it, use an immersion blender (or you can transfer about 2 cups of the chili to a standing blender) to blend some of the chili until smooth. The blended beans serve as a natural thickener. This is a great dairy-free option. 

If you’d like, you can combine these for a super creamy, thick chili. 

overhead image of white chicken chili in a slow cooker with a wooden spoon
white chicken chili in a clear measuring cup next to sour cream
pouring sour cream into white chicken chili

Variations on White Chicken Chili

  • Use chicken breasts – As noted above, chicken breasts will work fine in this recipe if you prefer them over chicken thighs. 
  • Add vegetables – This is a simple white chicken chili, but it can be a blank slate for additional flavors. Try adding diced green bell peppers or frozen corn. 
ladling slow cooker white chicken chili into a white enamelware bowl

More Yummy Chili Recipes

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4.25 from 36 votes

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

With just a handful of ingredients and no pre-cooking required, slow cooker white chicken chili is every bit as satisfying as it is simple. Check the recipe notes for two options for thickening the chili with or without dairy and lots of options for toppings. 
This recipe should be made in a 6-quart slow cooker.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • 6-quart Slow Cooker

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound Dried Navy Beans, rinsed (see note)
  • 1 1/2 pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs (you can use boneless, skinless chicken breast)
  • 1 16-ounce jar Mild Salsa Verde (use a spicy salsa verde if you want your chili spicy)
  • 1 small Yellow or White Onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth (or chicken stock)
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup Sour Cream (optional, see note)

For Serving (optional):

  • Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Sour Cream
  • Tortilla Chips

Instructions 

  • Combine dried beans, chicken, salsa, onion, cumin, salt, chili powder, broth, and water in the bowl of a 6-quart slow cooker and give it a stir to combine. Cook until the beans are tender and the chicken falls apart easily, 4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. (Note: dried beans can vary in cook time depending on how long they've been stored, so plan for the higher end of the cook time range if you think yours might have been on the shelf or stuck in the back of the pantry for a bit.)
  • Remove chicken from the slow cooker and transfer to a cutting board.
  • Optional step to thicken (see note): Remove 1 cup of liquid from the chili. Whisk 1 cup sour cream into this cooking liquid. Pour the thickened liquid back into the chili and stir to combine.
  • Roughly chop the chicken and stir it back into the chili.
  • Taste the chili and season with some more salt, if needed.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and serve with any (or all!) the toppings you like.

Notes

Beans – It is not necessary to soak the beans before cooking. The first couple hours in the slow cooker will take the place of pre-soaking the beans. Just be sure to rinse the beans well before adding them to the chili. 
Thickening the chili – Adding sour cream to the chili in the optional step above yields a creamy, thick chili. If you want to skip the sour cream for a lighter or dairy-free option, use an immersion blender to blend a small portion of the chili before adding the chopped chicken back in. (The beans will naturally thicken the chili once blended.)

Nutrition

Calories: 480kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 1107mg | Potassium: 1389mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 373IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 182mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $8.00
Calories: 480
Keyword: chicken dinner, Chicken Recipe, chili, comfort foods, fall, gluten free, slow-cooker, winter recipe
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

4.25 from 36 votes (32 ratings without comment)

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13 Comments

    1. Yes! Preferably use whole milk greek yogurt though so that you get the rich flavor and texture that you would get with sour cream.

  1. 5 stars
    I prepared this recipe in my crockpot before heading out to work and came home to a wonderful dinner. It was my first time using dry beans. I’ll never go back to canned beans again. I loved this recipe and will make it often. Thank You.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it Marcy! Aren’t the beans great cooked this way? They soak up so much flavor from the broth!

    1. Yes – this chili freezes well! Just defrost in the refrigerator and gently reheat on the stove so that the beans don’t get overcooked.

  2. If I’m using chicken breasts, I’m afraid they’ll dry out. Can I open the cooker and add them an hour or so into the 4 hour high cook string or 2-3 hours into the low cook setting?

    1. Yes! That’s exactly what I would do. Just as you suggested – I would add the chicken breast when there is about 90 minutes left on high or 2.5 hours on low.

    1. Absolutely! Canned beans will work well but you’ll lose a bit of flavor and thickness in the broth of the chili which comes from the dry beans releasing starch during cooking. I think you’re spot-on with the timing – add the beans about an hour before they chili is done.

  3. 5 stars
    Very good! I upped the seasonings a little and waited to add salt until the end of cooking. My new go to white chicken chili recipe. Thanks!