Award-winning Crock Pot White Chicken Chili only needs five ingredients and 10 minutes of prep time. It's thick and creamy with tender chicken and mild spiciness.
Many readers have won chili contests with this simple recipe for white chicken chili with salsa—it is that good. It is also a pot-luck winner—all your friends will demand the recipe. I have added a stovetop version and a raw chicken option.
Only 10 minutes of prep and shredded chicken, white beans, pepper jack cheese, and some salsa will make your new favorite chili. This small crock pot recipe is perfect for a smaller household or adjusts the amount to your needs.
There is no "inspired by" recipe here; I have done this one for 40 years. I even remembered the recipe without looking it up. And my memory is going. I believe the original was one of those passed-around recipes at my wife's grade school.
This chili has always been one of my most requested recipes. This is the best chili to take to tailgating or parties since, with the cheese, it stays hot for a long time, and most people will want seconds. Please enjoy this great chili.
👨🍳How to make this recipe
- Prepare chicken and cube cheese.
- To a smaller crock pot, add all ingredients.
- Cook on low for 4 hours or 2 hours on high.
- Use chicken broth to thin if you want thinner chili.
Cooking on the stovetop will take about only 30 minutes since everything used in this dish is safe to consume before cooking. You only need to heat everything to come together. But some simmering to help the tastes combine is a good idea.
Use a large pan like a full-size Dutch oven. Add everything, mix well, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes more.
It is done when it all mixes, but simmering longer to bring the tastes together is recommended. I suggest an hour.
This recipe needs about 3 cups of pre-cooked shredded chicken. Use rotisserie or any other pre-cooked chicken. You can always use a bit more or less depending on what you have.
I will often toss a couple of skinless chicken breasts in a 350° oven for about 35-40 minutes. Then shred with forks while still warm. One good size breast will make about 1 ½ cups of shredded chicken. Chicken thighs will work well also.
I have included an option to cook the raw chicken in the crock pot in the recipe card.
I recommend Great Northern or Navy beans. I prefer the Great Northern since in like a bit bigger white bean.
This is not a recipe for uncooked beans.
To decrease the sodium, you can drain and rinse the beans. You will need to replace that fluid with low-sodium chicken broth.
Use Pepper Jack cheese unless you need to adjust the heat of the chili some by using Monterey Jack cheese instead. But you need to use one or the other to make this chili correctly.
Use a good quality salsa you like and would use for dipping. I like chunky salsa.
You can adjust the heat of your chili by choosing the heat of your salsa.
Most of the seasoning in this chili depends on the salsa and pepper jack cheese. Cumin adds more flavor.
The spiciness is a 4/10. You can adjust that up and down with your choice of the spiciness of the salsa. You can also use Monterey Jack cheese to adjust the heat down.
If you want even more spiciness, add a bit of cayenne pepper.
Other taste adjustments can be made by adding onion, garlic, green chilis, or other spices. But if you feel you need to do much of this, you have the wrong salsa.
Adjusting the cumin can increase or decrease the spiciness, but I suggest depending on the salsa as the primary adjustment.
↕️How to make this a "for two" or "family size" recipe
This is a very easy recipe to cut in half or double.
The full recipe makes about 11-12 cups for 8 servings. We do love leftovers. For both half and double recipes, we are pushing the limit of the size of the crock pot. The solution is to hold the broth until everything is done cooking, then add any desired broth for thinning at the end.
- Use the recipe card and adjust the number of servings to half or double.
- Use the amount of ingredients in the ingredient list, not the instructions—those do not adjust.
- The half recipe will fit in a 2-quart mini crock pot.
- A double recipe fits in a 6 ½ quart or larger crock pot.
- Cook for the same amount of time.
This is a very thick chili as written. It is much easier to cook thick and then thicken later.
The thickness of the chili is entirely based on the chicken broth. Most people will want a moderate thickness, and that is keeping the packing fluid in the beans and 2 cups of broth.
If you want extra thick, skip the broth if you want a little more soup-like than 4 cups of broth.
If you drain the beans, add back 1 ½ to 2 cups of broth.
🍽️Serving and Storage
A big bowl of white chili served with tortilla chips is all I need.
But any typical chili or southwest toppings and sides all work well—like added cheese, sour cream, fresh cilantro, avocado, or guacamole.
This chili stays hot for a long time due to the cheese, so that it will work well at parties.
Good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and reheat on the stovetop or microwave.
You can also freeze sealed in an airtight container or freezer bag for 3-4 months—thaw in the fridge before reheating.
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This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
A few simple ingredients. Get your chicken any way you want. You will need about 3 cups. I have included several raw chicken options in the notes of the recipe card.
Cube 8 oz of pepper jack cheese.
In a small (3.5 qt minimum) crock pot, pour one 48 oz jar of great northern beans (undrained), 8 oz of salsa, about 3 cups of shredded chicken, 2 teaspoons of cumin, and 8 oz of pepper jack cheese (cubed).
Cook on low for 4 hours or 2 hours on high. Try to stir once or twice in the middle of cooking to distribute the cheese, but it can wait until the end if needed.
Add a 14 oz can of chicken broth if you want a standard thick chili. Leave it out for extra thick. Stir very well.
Easiest Crock Pot White Chicken Chili
- 48 oz white beans - Great Northern or Navy
- 3 cups shredded chicken - See notes for suggestions
- 1 cup medium salsa
- 8 oz pepper jack cheese cubed
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 14 oz chicken broth - optional but suggested. Add the desired amount at the end of cooking.
- Get your chicken any way you want. You will need about 3 cups of shredded chicken. Please see the notes below for options.
- Cube 8 oz. of pepper jack cheese.
- In a small (3.5 qt minimum) crock pot, pour one 48 oz jar of great northern beans (undrained), 8 oz of salsa, 3 cups of shredded chicken, 2 teaspoon cumin, and 8 oz of pepper jack cheese (cubed).
- Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.
- Add a 14 oz can of chicken broth if you want a normal thick chili. Leave it out for extra thick. Stir very well.
Your Own Private Notes
- Get your chicken anywhere you want. See the raw chicken option below.
- Adjust the heat by the type of salsa, and you can use Monterey Cheese instead of Monterrey Jake Cheese. You can also adjust the cumin to taste.
- As written, a 3.5 qt crock pot should be good. To adjust the size of the recipe, see the notes in the post.
- Good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Good in a freezer for 2-3 months.
- Due to all the cheese, this stays hot for a long time, so great for tailgating and parties.
- Add broth at the end of cooking to get the thickness you want. This will aid in the fitting the crock pots.
- Take copies of the recipe with you if you're taking it to a gathering.
Raw Chicken Option
- I'm adding a raw chicken option for simplicity.
- An average size chicken breast will make about 1 ½ cups of shredded chicken.
- The easiest way is to add broth, salsa, and cumin to the crockpot with two raw chicken breasts. Cook in high for 1 ½ to 2 hours then remove and shred. Then add back the chicken and other ingredients and finish the cooking time or until the cheese can blend in—about one hour on high or 2 hours on low.
- Or cook a couple of breasts in the oven until done (about 350° for about 40 minutes).
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
© 101 Cooking for Two, LLC. All content and photographs are copyright protected by us or our vendors. While we appreciate your sharing our recipes, please realize copying, pasting, or duplicating full recipes to any social media, website, or electronic/printed media is strictly prohibited and a violation of our copyrights.
Publisher note: Originally published March 2, 2010. It was first published in the third month of this blog, and maybe 50 people saw the first post. It was republished in 2013, so time to update again. It was updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
Hi, I can’t eat dairy will it taste good without cheese? Can I add vegan cream cheese to make creamy?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
This recipe depends on the cheese for lots of the texture and taste. Eliminating it is just not going to be the same. The vegan cream cheese will bring a completely different taste profile. So that is your choice but I would look at other recipes. Perhaps https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/low-fat-high-taste-crock-pot-white-chicken-chili/
This is very very good! Wanted to try it out before cooking for a soup and bread event and I am sure now this is a great choice. Also love that it is so easily scalable both up and down! Used half medium salsa as suggested and half TJ's green chili salsa. Poached the chicken first in crock pot -shredded - then dumped everything together, could not be easier, this really works!
Follow-up, this was a major hit at the soup and bread event. We were the only chili and only spicy entry, even people wary of spice thought this was just perfect. A keeper recipe for us, Thank You!!!
My husband loved this. I had to call it something besides chili so I told him it was Spicy Chicken Stew. He loves chili, he just doesn't think it should be white or made with chicken.
I'm trying to make recipes that feed just two with no leftovers. Your blog is very helpful.
I have used this recipe numerous times now and I love it! I have entered multiple chili cook offs with this recipe and I have won 3rd place and 1st two different years! Hoping to get 1st again this year!
This has become a fall staple at our house. So easy and so darn good!
OK, I hate when people change up recipes, but I don’t want to go to the store! Can I use black beans and salsa verde? I do have the correct cheese.
I have made this recipe hundreds of time but I'm just not seeing the black beans as a good choice for the beans. The salsa verde would almost for sure be good although I haven't tried it.
I have another chili, https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/salsa-verde-white-chicken-chili-la-crock-pot/ , that I think black beans might be good in although I would probably just combine them with another bean.
Maybe it is just me, I like black beans but probably not enough to have them by themselves in a chili.
Thanks, I’ll go to the store!
This was soooo good! You’re right, I don’t think black beans would’ve worked. Thanks!
About how much of the sodium would you say is due to the extra broth?
Welcome to the blog.
I ran the recipe through the updated calculator so you will notice some changes. To answer your questions, the broth would be about 170mg of sodium per serving. It will vary some by brand and there is zero sodium broth available now.
I would like to know the serving size please. : )
Welcome to the blog.
About 1 1/2 cup assuming you don't add the extra broth. With that 1/8 of the recipe is more like 1 3/4 cups.
Could you use frozen boneless chicken breasts?
Welcome to the bog.
The answer is no for several reasons.
Cooking frozen chicken has been reported to break ceramic inserts.
The FDA states it is a safety hazard with too long in the food danger zone of 40 to 140 degrees.
I have recipes where I cook raw chicken (not frozen) then remove in 3-4 hours to shred. Not good here due to the risk of burns from the cheese.
So toss it on a tray and bake them for 35-45 minutes until 165 then shred.
MADE THIS LAST NIGHT AND EVERYONE LOVED IT! THEY REALLY DID. I ADDED HALF A BLOCK CREAM CHEESE AND A CAN OF CORN AND SOME SALT N PEPPER.
Welcome to the blog.
This is one of the original recipes that were the reason I started the blog. People were always asking for those recipes. There were about 20 of them.
Thanks for the note.
Angela S Wilburn
If you double the recipe,do you need to cook it longer?
Welcome to the blog.
Don’t double the time. Only a few crock pot recipes will need increased time with increasing ingredients. My crock pot pulled pork is one example where the increased solid mass requires increased cooking time.
You, of course, will need a large enough crock pot. It should be a max of 75% full but really 66% is a better target. For this recipe. Double will need at least 6.5 qt but a 7-8 qt crock pot would be better.
I could not find where you gave an estimated time for stove-top cooking? And... would there be any adjustments needed for stove-top?
Welcome to the blog.
The cheese needs to be melted very slowly to incorporate into the chili correctly. If you melt it faster, it can scorch and the proteins will change. So a crock pot is ideal for this, just dump and go. I just would not do this on the stove top due to the cheese.
You could simmer the other ingredients for an hour then added the cheese at the end of cooking off the burner but I doubt it would be the same. If you do this, shred the cheese so it will incorporate easier than cubes.
Melinda L Baugh
My family loves this recipe! I do a quicker version using store bought rotisserie chicken. I chop up the breast, which is our favorite part. Throw it in my soup pot with all ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. As soon as my family knows I'm making it they start asking how much longer. I can't prepare it fast enough. Thanks so much for this amazing recipe!
Could you substitute Mozzarella for the Pepper Jack? Or should I leave the cheese out?
Hi Dan (great name by the way),
I have used Monterey Jack when I was making a batch for company that didn't want much spice. That worked fine. Mozzarella has very little taste to me, you can do it but I think it will be too blah. Leave it out? Not with this recipe. Try https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/low-fat-high-taste-crock-pot-white-chicken-chili/ instead.
What do you serve, with this? Crackers, corn muffins, corn bread or maybe tostitos?
Yes, all those things are fine. I have done this recipe for almost 40 years so probably 200 plus cookings. I have used all those things. Corn chips usually for party type situations, tailgating etc. Corn bread or biscuits at home usually.
Thanks for the note and enjoy your chili.
Looks great and based on the comments I'd love to try the recipe. But, I'm not a melted cheese fan because of the texture. Does it incorporate smoothly or is it stringy? Thanks for your help.
It is a smooth thick creamy type texture.