This Slow Cooker Chicken Chili is a fast, flavorful, dump-and-go recipe. It makes plenty for leftovers, and is an easy way to stay on budget.
Between shopping for food to cook for this blog, and shopping to feed a hungry husband and a rapidly growing toddler (not to mention myself!), I spend a lot of time at the grocery store. I often wonder if I’m making the best decisions, both for my family’s health, and for our budget.
When Indiana’s Family of Farmers offered me the opportunity to tour a grocery store with Kim Galeaz (a registered Dietitian Nutritionist), I jumped at the chance. (Indiana’s Family of Farmers sponsored this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Referral links are used in this post.)
My friend Katy (from Indy with Kids) and I spent the day with Kim, hit three different grocery stores, and talked about ways to make different choices, ways to get more vegetables into every meal, and when it’s okay to splurge (on calories and on budgets).
So let’s talk budgets for a minute. We started the day at Kroger. I was able to buy everything I needed for this recipe (with extra garlic, onions, crackers, sour cream, and cheese) for $24.64 at Kroger. At 8 servings, that’s only $3.08 a serving, for a full meal! That includes a little over 3 pounds of chicken breast, and I only used half of that in this recipe. So I’m already ahead for the next time I make chicken!
We also checked out a Walmart and a Fresh Thyme Market. Since I already had all the ingredients I needed to make the chili, I didn’t buy everything again at the next two stores. But I did keep track of prices. So let’s compare!
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Kroger and Walmart had very comparable prices. I expected Kroger to be higher, but when buying the generic brands (Kroger and Great Value), the prices were within pennies. The big difference was the chili seasoning ($0.89 at Kroger and $0.44 at Walmart) and the shredded Cheddar cheese ($3.49 at Kroger and $2.22 at Walmart). I would have spent $22.09 at Walmart, and ended up with 1/2 pound more chicken than I bought at Kroger.
Fresh Thyme Market was a different story. Everything (except the garlic) was more expensive there. Most of their products were organic or were Non-GMO Project verified (which is fine, if you want to buy that, but I didn’t). And they didn’t have the chili-style beans I needed. I would have spent $33.66 at Fresh Thyme, and still needed to go somewhere else for chili-style beans, or buy something else to use instead.
Different Price = Different Quality?
Now let’s talk tomatoes. There are tons of options when it comes to canned tomatoes – whole, diced, crushed, with added spices and without, not to mention all the different brands. I noticed that Kroger had their store brand ($1.09), and another Kroger generic at an even lower price ($0.95). Kim told us that the only difference would be in the quality of the tomatoes. The less expensive canned tomatoes might have more yellow parts, or an extra stem or two, or be in smaller pieces. I bought one of each to see what the difference is.
There really wasn’t much difference! The Kroger “brand” tomatoes were in slightly bigger pieces that held together better. The Kroger “generic” tomatoes looked a little more like crushed tomatoes, instead of nicely diced tomato chunks. But they tasted the same.
I decided to use the “generic” tomatoes for this recipe. Everything was going to sit in the slow cooker all day long, so the tomatoes were going to cook down anyway. I saved the Kroger “brand” tomatoes for a different recipe where I wanted the tomatoes to be more of the star of the dish.
Check out this Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce! I used the Kroger brand diced tomatoes for this sauce, and they look amazing! (They tasted amazing, too.)
Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
It really couldn’t be easier. Mix the onion, garlic, black beans, chili beans, tomatoes, corn, and seasoning mix together in a 6-quart slow cooker. Then nestle the chicken down in the bean mixture, so it’s all buried.
I inserted a meat thermometer into the middle of the thickest chicken thigh before I added it to the slow cooker. If you cook chicken too long (yes, even in your slow cooker), you can end up with over-cooked, dry chicken. So use a meat thermometer in your slow cooker – find out how here.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until the chicken is done (165 degrees Fahrenheit in the center). When the chicken is done, take it out and let it cool slightly (just until it’s cool enough to handle). Then shred or chop the chicken roughly, return it to the slow cooker, and mix it all together.
Top the chili with your favorite garnishes, and enjoy! What’s your favorite way to enjoy chili?
Free Printable to Help Know When Your Chicken is Done
It can be hard to tell when chicken is fully cooked. Get our best tips, and grab the free printable cheat sheet to keep handy in your kitchen so you never have under-cooked chicken again!
3 Ways to Take the Fear Out of This Recipe
3 More Recipes to Try
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-15.5 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2-15.5 ounce cans chili-style beans, with liquid
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
- 15.25 ounce can corn, drained and rinsed
- 1.25 ounce package chili seasoning mix
- 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Optional garnishes - oyster crackers, cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips
- Combine all ingredients except chicken and garnishes in a6-quart slow cooker. Stir to mix.
- Bury chicken thighs in the vegetable mixer. If desired, insert a probe-style meat thermometer into the thickest piece of chicken first.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, until chicken reaches 165 degrees F in the cnter.
- Remove chicken from slow cooker and cool slightly (until cool enough to handle). Shred or chop chicken roughly, and return to slow cooker. Stir to combine.
- Serve immediately, or turn slow cooker to "warm" setting to hold.
- Garnish servings as desired.