Southwest Chicken Chili is the perfect simple slow cooker comfort food! Super hearty with lots of veggies, black beans, corn, slow cooked pull-apart chicken, finished with fresh lime juice and cilantro and topped with all the fixings! This chili is so fast and easy to throw together in your slow cooker, just 10 minutes, and it's ready for you at dinner time! Switching our usual beef chili to chicken and adding all that southwestern flavor gives it a whole feel, the perfect cozy bowl on a chilly busy weeknight, a lazy Sunday or game day party!
Why We Love It!
- It's a Quick & Easy Crock Pot Meal! - Gotta love the slow cooker! Just 10 minutes of prep in the morning and dinner is done! This southwestern chili slow cooks the raw chicken all day, ready to shred that tender chicken into every bite!
- The Flavor is Amazing! - All the classic flavors of regular chili with a southwest flare! This chili is loaded with black beans and corn, finished with lime and cilantro and piled with all your favorite Mexican toppings. Think chili meets taco night - shredded cheese, avocado or Guacamole, tortilla chips and a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt!
- This Chili is Healthy! - Loaded with veggies and lots of protein and fiber from the beans and chicken, chili is a perfect well rounded nutritious meal, and with all those lovable toppings, it's kid-friendly too!
- If you love this recipe, it's a happy combination of two of my favorites! Be sure to check out my Chicken Tortilla Soup and my Veggie Beef Chili!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Canned Tomatoes - Canned tomatoes make up the bulk of the chili. I like to use a combination of crushed and whole peeled tomatoes, chopping the whole tomatoes on a cutting board to give you a chunkier chili. If you don't like chunky tomatoes, you can use all crushed tomatoes or use whatever you have pulsed in a food processor. Don't skip that little can of tomato paste, it thickens the chili while giving you an added depth of tomato flavor.
- Black Beans & Kidney Beans - I like to use a combination of beans. Kidney beans are classic in chili while black beans give you that southwestern style. Using all black beans would be great too! I always drain and rinse canned beans.
- Onion, Bell Pepper, Corn & Garlic - I love to add extra veggies to a big pot of soup, a boost of nutrition that nobody really notices! They give you an added layer of southwest flavor and a pop of color. If you have picky eaters, you could finely mince the onion and bell pepper in a food processor.
- Spices & Seasonings- You'll find all the classic chili spices, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and seasoned simply with salt and pepper.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken - Beef chili is the classic, but switching out the protein to chicken is a delicious variation! Just add in raw chicken, the slow cooker does all the work! It will be super tender and easy to shred when finishing the chili.
- Fresh Lime Juice & Cilantro - Cilantro and lime juice added at the end of cooking give you a bright fresh flavor! If you or your guests prefer, you can also leave them as toppings on the side.
- Toppings - The toppings might just be the best part of any chili recipe! We love shredded white or regular cheddar, a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, and plenty of tortilla chips. I also like to add super healthy avocado since my kids love it! Either just plain slices or make it into guacamole. Even a quick guacamole with just mashed avocado and a pinch of salt is delicious!
Step 1 - Add canned tomatoes to a slow cooker. For the whole peeled tomatoes, drain the juice into the slow cooker, then roughly chop the whole tomatoes on a cutting board to be as chunky as you like before adding them.
Step 2 - Add beans, veggies and spices.
Step 3 - Stir well to combine.
Step 4 - Nestle your chicken into the chili, press it down so it is completely submerged. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 8 hours.
Step 5 - When fully cooked, remove chicken to a cutting board and shred it with two forks. Return it back to the chili.
Step 6 - Add fresh lime juice and cilantro (or leave them on the side as optional toppings). Top your chili with all your favorite toppings, cheese, avocado, cilantro, tortilla chips and a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt!
- Make Ahead & Storage Instructions - This southwest chicken chili recipe is great for meal prep! Make a batch on a weekend and have it for lunch throughout the week! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or cool first and freeze.
- Can I use any cut of chicken? - Yes! If you have chicken that is bone in or skin on that is fine! Throw it in the slow cooker and remove the bones and skin when you pull the chicken out to shred at the end. You could also use leftover cooked or rotisserie chicken. You would not need to cook the chili as long since the majority of the cooking time is just to cook the raw chicken. Half the cooking time would be enough.
The chili toppings are by far the best part! Set toppings out in bowls so everyone can help themselves, like cheese, extra chopped cilantro, red onion, or scallions, lime wedges, sour cream or plain yogurt, avocado or Guacamole, and plenty of tortilla chips or Fritos. If you are serving chili for a game day party, ask your friends to bring things like chips and Pico de Gallo or any salsa or guacamole, taco dip, or corn bread muffins to round out your Southwestern Chili menu!
Yes, this chili is naturally gluten free! Chili is thickened with all those hearty tomatoes and beans, so no flour is needed as a thickener! Make sure to use a gluten free tortilla chip for topping.
Yes! Leave out the chicken and dairy toppings, and this recipe can be made vegan. You may wish to add extra protein with an additional can of beans, lentils, or quinoa or even a chopped sweet potato.
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Southwest Chicken Chili - Slow Cooker
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomato
- 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomato chopped on a cutting board (add all juice)
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste, plus 1 can water
- 1 15 oz can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz can kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 small onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 red bell pepper chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 grinds fresh black pepper
- ½ to 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 to 2 breasts, depending on size)
- ½ juice of a lime Optional - either squeezed into the pot of chili just before serving, or sliced wedges on the side as a topping
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro Optional - either added to the pot of chili just before serving, or served on the side as a topping
- Toppings - shredded cheddar, fresh cilantro, scallions, lime wedges, avocado or guacamole, plain yogurt or sour cream, and tortilla or fritos chips
- Add canned tomatoes to a slow cooker. For the whole peeled tomatoes, drain the juice into the slow cooker, then roughly chop the whole tomatoes on a cutting board before adding them.
- Add beans, veggies and spices and stir well to combine.
- Nestle in the chicken breasts so they are fully submerged. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
- Remove chicken to a cutting board with tongs and shred with 2 forks and add back to the chili and stir. If the chicken isn't done, you won't be able to shred it, return it to continue cooking.
- Either add a big squeeze of lime juice and a handful of chopped cilantro to the pot of chili just before serving, or leave them on the side as an optional topping.
- Serve with your favorite toppings - shredded cheddar, avocado, plain yogurt or sour cream, scallions, and tortilla or fritos chips.
- Make Ahead & Storage Instructions - Great for meal prep! Make a batch on a weekend and have it for lunch throughout the week! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or cool first and freeze.
- Use any cut of chicken - If you have chicken that is bone in or skin on that is fine! Throw it in the slow cooker and remove the bones and skin when you pull the chicken out to shred at the end. You could also use leftover cooked or rotisserie chicken. You would not need to cook the chili as long since the majority of the cooking time is just to cook the raw chicken. Half the cooking time would be enough.