Slow cooker chicken chili is a wholesome meal with a spicy kick! Serve it up with jalapeño cornbread to dip and you’ll be golden. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
Football season is here, and while the fans are excited about the game, I’m thrilled to make some game day eats! If you are looking for something that’s easy to prepare and ready at kickoff time, I’ve got you covered! You are going to love this healthy slow cooker chicken and butternut squash chili and whole wheat jalapeno cornbread to compliment the soup.
These two simple recipes pair perfectly and will fill the house with fantastic aromas. Break out your slow cooker, fire up your oven and let’s get cooking!
To create a flavorful base for the chicken chili, you are going to need a few key ingredients and techniques to have a tasty touchdown!
Tips to Making a Flavorful Chicken Chili
Slow Cooker: The ideal equipment to gently and evenly cook lean chicken, delicate beans, and vegetables. The consistent heat allows the ingredients not to get dried out. The longer cooking times also allow all of the flavors to meld together from the aromatics, spices, and sauce. You can also control how fast the chili cooks, either 3 hours or up to 6 depending on your needs. Learn more about this technique with my Slow Cooker 101 guide.
Spices: Dried spices effortlessly add instant flavor, especially when allowed to infuse over time. One easy tip used in this recipe to enhance the spices is by blooming them in oil before adding into the slow cooker. We do this by microwaving the cumin, chili pepper, smoked paprika, oregano and olive oil with the aromatic vegetables. This helps to deepen the spice flavor in the chili as well as the vegetables.
Aromatics: Chopped garlic, onion, bell peppers, jalapenos and Pace® Picante sauce add an excellent flavor base and aromas to the chili. The water soluble and oil soluble flavors from these ingredients release as they cook and absorbs into the sauce and more porous vegetables like the butternut squash. This pleasant exchange of flavors with the medley of ingredients create a hearty chicken chili.
Now it’s time to let the magic happen and cook all of the ingredients in the slow cooker. I use a 6-quart sized slow cooker and found it to be the perfect size for small and large dishes.
The best part is it has a high or low-temperature setting depending on how quickly you want it to cook. It also turns off and stays in “warm” mode so you can add, set and forget until you are ready to eat. I’m sure you’d rather be watching the game than a pot on the stove!
After about 3 to 4 hours on high, all of the delicious tomato, spices, peppers, chicken, beans and tender butternut squash have gently cooked together. The bold flavors have infused for this hearty and wholesome chicken chili.
The Pace® Picante sauce adds a lovely southwest flavor, thickness to the chili, and is made with hand-picked jalapenos, perfect for the chili. Your guest won’t be able to resist opening up the lid and scooping out a generous serving.
You can also add a topping bar next to the pot of chili so that everyone can customize their bowl. I like to have some freshly grated cheese, sliced green onions, diced red onions, sour cream or nonfat Greek yogurt, creamy avocado, lime wedges and some cilantro available.
Build, eat and enjoy the game!
I know that you are anxiously waiting to dig into a big bowl of chicken chili, but hold on, we need to make the cornbread!
You are not going to want to forget this fantastic side to devour with your meal.
If there is one thing I can’t resist, it’s a pan of freshly baked cornbread, how about you? This recipe is for a more savory cake with a hint of spicy fresh jalapeno and Pace® Chunky Salsa.
Each slice contains whole grains from white whole wheat flour that I used instead of all-purpose flour. The whole wheat flour complements the grainy texture of the cornmeal.
Golden brown and baked to perfection!
I used a cast iron skillet to cook the cornbread. I pre-heat the pan, so it gets sizzling hot, and then add the batter. Feel free to top with freshly chopped jalapenos. Adding in the Pace® chunky tomato salsa, cheddar cheese, chili spices and a touch of honey gives just the right balance of sweet-savory cake.
Who’s ready to grab a big slice of jalapeno cornbread and dip, crumble and dig into a hot bowl of chicken chili? With every spoonful packed with protein, fiber and nutrients, you’ll feel good about enjoying each bite.
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If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #jessicagavin on Instagram. I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
Can you replace fresh aromatic ingredients and herbs for dried?
To make meal prep even quicker you can substitute dried ingredients like garlic, ginger, and herbs. The substitution would be one clove of fresh minced garlic for 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic. For ginger, one tablespoon grated fresh ginger can be substituted with one teaspoon ground. Dried herbs can also replace fresh. They are more potent and concentrated than fresh, so you would need three times more fresh herbs to dry. For this recipe, 1 teaspoon dried oregano would be one tablespoon fresh.
- 1 cup yellow onion , finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic , minced fresh
- 2 cups bell pepper , ½-inch dice, red and green
- 1 jalapeno pepper , seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 24 ounces Pace® Picante sauce , mild
- 2 cups butternut squash , 1/4-inch cubes
- 16 ounces red kidney beans , canned, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounces pinto beans , canned, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounces corn , fresh or canned
- 1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock , or broth
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal , ground
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 cup jalapeno pepper , seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese , grated
- 1/2 cup Pace® Chunky Salsa , mild
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/3 cup olive oil , plus 1 tablespoon
- 1/4 cup honey
- In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl add onions, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and olive oil. Stir to combine. Microwave for 3 minutes.
- Stir, microwave for another 3 minutes. Add to a 6-quart slow cooker.
- Add chicken breasts, Pace® Picante sauce, butternut squash, kidney beans, pinto beans, corn, chicken stock, salt, and pepper.
- Gently stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on low for 5 to 6 hours. You want the chicken to be cooked through and easily shredded.
- Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and transfer to a clean dish or pan.
- Shred the chicken into smaller pieces. Set aside, cover with plastic wrap if not eating right away.
- Taste the chili and add more salt and pepper as needed. Add back the chicken and stir to combine. Serve with desired toppings. Meanwhile, make the cornbread about 1 hour before serving.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Place an 8-inch cast iron skillet on top of a sheet pan inside the preheated oven to heat while you make the batter.
- In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, chili powder, ¼ cup jalapeños, and cheese.
- Add in ½ cup salsa, egg, milk, ⅓ cup olive oil and ¼ cup honey. Whisk together until just combined, and no lumps remain.
- Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven.
- Coat the bottom and sides of the hot skillet with one tablespoon olive oil. Pour the batter into the skillet, sprinkle evenly with minced jalapenos.
- Place skillet in the center of the oven and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread, comes out clean and the bread spring back when touched.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
1. Chili Topping Suggestions: Avocado, sour cream, yogurt, green onions, red onions, cilantro, cheese, lime wedges.
2. If you do not have a skillet, you can use an 8-inch round cake pan or 8-inch square baking dish. Make sure to grease with some olive oil just to coat, but you do not need to pre-heat the pan.
3. You can substitute whole wheat, all-purpose or gluten-free flour for the cornbread.
4. Chili can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. I separated chili into 1 cup servings in small resealable bags, and they warmed up perfect for a grab and go meal. The chili tastes even better the next day!
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