This Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili takes advantage of store-bought salsa verde, canned white beans, and the infamous slow cooker to give a hands-off, warming, light, and bright bowl of chili that will surely get us to Spring.
The farmers market this past weekend reminded me that Midwesterners are truly in the tail end of winter. You know it’s bad when potatoes are hard to find. Plus, the 27 inches of snow that just got dumped on Minnesota certainly doesn’t help either.
This white bean chicken chili ticks all of the boxes for this time of year when we want those bright, spring flavors but are still in a snow-covered igloo. It takes a different approach to slow cooker chili by cooking the chicken in a bed of salsa verde and spices for a short time before adding the beans and a splash of lime juice. The result is a chicken chili that has moist shredded chicken and firm and plump beans, while being infused with jalapeños, chili spices, and tomatillos thanks to the slow cooker. Say good-bye to cabin fever, for good.
How to Make White Bean Chicken Chili
- Add the chicken thighs, onions, jalapeños, and chili powder to the slow cooker. Mix to combine.
- Top the chicken mixture with the salsa verde.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
- Shred the chicken.
- Stir in the drained white beans and lime juice and keep warm in the slow cooker until ready to serve.
CHICKEN THIGHS. Chicken breasts also work, though the cooked chicken might be slightly tougher.
BUTTER BEANS. Cannellini Beans or Great Northern Beans also work great!
3 Ways to Make Ahead
- FREEZE THE CHILI.To freeze, cool the chili to room temperature and place it in a freezer zip-lock bag. Spread the chili evenly in the bag so it lays flat. Seal the bag, making sure there are no air pockets in the bag. Place the bag flat in the freezer. Alternatively, freeze the chili in a freezer-safe container with a lid, such as a glass food storage container. Keep frozen up to 1 month.
- PREP THE NIGHT BEFORE. Add the ingredients to an air-tight container (step 1) and place in the refrigerator. The next morning, dump the ingredients in the slow cooker bowl and proceed with the recipe. I don’t recommend putting the ingredients in the bowl of the slow cooker the night before because the slow cooker bowl gets very cold in the refrigerator and takes longer to heat up.
- COOK AHEAD OF TIME. Make the chicken chili and then allow it to cool completely before transferring it to an air-tight container and placing it in the refrigerator for later in the week.
Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili: Frequently Asked Questions
Unfortunately, no. Chicken thighs and breasts overcook very easily, causing the texture to become tough and rubbery.
Yes! Bake the chicken mixture in a Braiser or Dutch Oven at 325°F for 1 to 1.5 hours and proceed with the recipe.
While I haven’t tried this, I think it will work with a couple modifications. Since dried beans require more liquid and time than the chicken takes to cook, make sure to add 4-5 cups of chicken broth to the bowl for the slow cooker and remove the chicken after 4 hours of cooking. This will allow the beans to continue cooking without overcooking the chicken.
Store in an air-tight container or freezer ziplock bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To reheat in a slow cooker: Place the frozen chili in a slow cooker, add 1/2 cup water or chicken broth in the bottom, and cook on low for 8 hours. To reheat on the stove-top: Defrost the chicken chili in the refrigerator overnight, and reheat in a large heavy-bottom pot on medium-low, about 10 minutes. Make sure to stir the mixture frequently to prevent the bottom of the pan from burning.
More Tex Mex Recipes to Try
- Small Batch Cornbread Muffins
- Grilled Carrots with Jalapeño, Lime, and Cotija
- Baked Fish Tacos with Peach and Jalapeño Salsa
- Citrus Pulled Pork Tacos
Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 1lb skinless chicken thighs, bone-in or boneless, trimmed of excess fat
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 1/2 fresh jalapeño or pickled jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 oz salsa verde, about 1/2 a 12oz jar*
- one 14.5 oz can white butter beans, drained and rinsed
- juice of half a small lime, plus more lime wedges for serving
- Prepare the chicken chili. Add the chicken thighs, onion, chili powder, chopped garlic, jalapeños, and salt to a 4 or 6 qt slow cooker and mix until thoroughly combined (your hands work great for this!). Evenly spread the salsa verde across the spiced chicken mixture.
- Cook the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, until the chicken shreds easily. Make sure not to overcook the chicken. Once the chicken is fully cooked, shred the chicken in the slow cooker bowl with the rest of the ingredients, discarding any excess fat and bones.
- Puree the beans (optional). Place half of the beans in a food processor and ladle 1/2 cup broth from slow cooker bowl containing the cooked chicken into the food processor. Puree until smooth. Pureeing some of the beans creates a thicker broth for the chili.
- Prepare the chili. Stir in the drained white beans, white bean puree, and lime juice. Cover and cook the chicken chili on low for 30 minutes to 1 hour to warm the beans. Once the beans are warm, turn the slow cooker to warm and keep the chicken chili warm in the slow cooker until ready to serve. Alternatively, cool the white chicken chili to room temperature and place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, skim the top of the white chicken chili of any excess fat and rewarm it on low heat in the slow cooker or in a 10-12-inch skillet on the stovetop until warm. If the soup is particularly thick after being chilled in the refrigerator, add water or chicken broth to loosen it up.
- Serve. Serve the chicken chili alone or with shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced avocados, crushed tortilla chips, and pickled jalapenos.
SALSA VERDE. Use any tomatillo salsa you like to eat alone. Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde is my favorite!