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Recipe: Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

A hearty chicken stew with a nice balance of creaminess, warmth and tangy brightness.

The Kitchn

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Photo by Joe Lingeman

I’m afraid you’re about to make your neighbors very jealous. They will smell this cooking as they walk up to, and then pass by, your door — forced to smell those aromas of garlic, chicken, and cumin, all without getting a single bite.

You, and only you, will get to come home from work, take a bowl from the cupboard, and proceed immediately to the table without even needing to turn on the stove. It’s white chicken chili for dinner tonight, my friends! Inviting the neighbors is up to you.

What defines a “white chicken chili” is a rabbit hole that I’m not sure we want to go down when dinner is waiting. Personally, my aim is a hearty chicken stew with big white beans, Southwest spices like cumin and coriander, and a few cans of fire-roasted green chilis. It’s a nice balance of creaminess from the beans, warmth from the spices, and tangy brightness from the green peppers.

This particular recipe makes a very mild chili. If you’d like a bit more heat, roast a few poblanos or jalapeños, chop them up, and add them along with the other peppers at the beginning of cooking. You can also add a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes, or do as I do and bring out the hot sauce collection when dinner time rolls around.

As long as we’re adapting this recipe to our own personal taste, perhaps you’re looking for an extra dose of creaminess here? If that’s what you’re craving, make a quick white sauce thickened with flour and whisk that into the chili toward the end of cooking. Instructions for this are in the Recipe Notes at the end of the recipe.

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thighs, or a mix
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 (4-ounce) cans diced green chili peppers, preferably "fire-roasted", drained
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • For serving: shredded Monterey jack cheese, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, sour cream, hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Combine the chicken, onions, celery, green chili peppers, garlic, cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, coriander, oregano, and bay leaf in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to make sure the spices coat everything, and nestle the chicken into the vegetables. Pour the chicken broth over top, covering the chicken and vegetables by an inch or so.

  2. Cover and cook on the HIGH setting for 4 hours on the LOW setting for 6 hours. (It's fine to cook for 8 hours on low, if needed, but the chicken tends to fall apart a bit more when you shred after cooking, rather than staying in pieces.)

  3. About 30 minutes before the end of cooking, remove the lid of the slow cooker and stir in the beans and corn. Taste and add another 1/2 teaspoon of salt or other seasonings as desired. Cover and cook for the remaining time.

  4. Transfer the chicken onto a large plate and shred it into large, bite-sized pieces with 2 forks. Stir the chicken back into the chili and remove the bay leaf. (For a creamier chicken chili, see Recipe Notes below.) Serve with shredded cheese, wedges of lime, chopped cilantro, and sour cream.

Recipe Notes

Creamier chicken chili: For a creamier chili, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in 1 cup whole milk. Once all the milk is added, continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened. Stir this into the slow cooker along with the beans and corn.

Spicier chicken chili: Roast 2 poblano peppers and 2 jalapeno peppers over a gas flame or under the broiler until charred. When cool enough to handle, rub away the skin, remove the seeds and membranes (or save for an even spicier chili!), and coarsely chop. Add to the slow cooker along with the chicken at the beginning of cooking.

Smaller slow cookers: If you have a smaller slow cooker, divide all the ingredients in half and cook as directed.

Stovetop chili: Rather than a slow cooker, you can also cook this chili on the stovetop. Follow the same instructions, but simmer the chili in a stockpot or Dutch oven over low heat on the stovetop for about an hour, or until the chicken easily shreds apart.

Storage: The chili will keep for 5 days refrigerated or 3 months frozen.

Emma Christensen is a former editor for The Kitchn and a graduate of the Cambridge School for Culinary Arts. She is the author of True Brews and Brew Better Beer. Check out her website for more cooking stories.

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This post originally appeared on The Kitchn and was published January 29, 2020. This article is republished here with permission.

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