Slow Cooker Chicken Chili & Jalapeño Cornbread

4.92 from 12 votes
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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.

white bowl of slow cooker chicken chili with two sliced of lime

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!

Ingredients for chicken chili pre-portioned in small jars on a table

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.


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.

Chicken Chili ingredients in a slow cooker


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 absorb into the sauce and more porous vegetables like the butternut squash. This pleasant exchange of flavors with the medley of ingredients creates 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!

A spoonful of chicken chili steaming in a Crock Pot

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.

Top down photo of a bowl of chicken chili with sliced limes on a table

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!

Close up photo showing garnish topped over a bowl of chicken chili

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.

Mixing ingredients in a clear bowl to make cornbread

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.

Making jalapeno cornbread in a cast Iron skillet

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.

Fingers holding a cornbread and dunking it into a bowl of chicken chili

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!

Recipe Science

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 ¾ 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.

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili & Jalapeño Cornbread

Slow cooker chicken chili is a wholesome meal made with ease! Serve with jalapeño cornbread to dip into the thick and satisfying chili with a spicy kick!
4.92 from 12 votes
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Total Time5 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Mexican


Chicken Chili

  • 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
  • ½ 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
  • ¼ cup honey


Chicken Chili

  • 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!

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 484kcal (24%)Carbohydrates 69g (23%)Protein 25g (50%)Fat 14g (22%)Saturated Fat 4g (20%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 70mg (23%)Sodium 2114mg (88%)Potassium 484mg (14%)Fiber 15g (60%)Sugar 18g (20%)Vitamin A 2300IU (46%)Vitamin C 107.3mg (130%)Calcium 310mg (31%)Iron 2.7mg (15%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating

8 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Steve Brandt says

    Jessica Gavin you knocked it out of the park with this one! The combination of so many flavors exploding in your mouth leaves you wondering what do you like best. So many ingredients that have never gone into my chilis, traditional beef or chicken, left the family wanting so much more. Paired with the corn bread (which also was incredible) it made for the best slow cooker meal ever. Seriously phenomenal. Well done!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much, Steve! That makes me so happy to hear that the family enjoyed the chili and cornbread combo.

  2. Katie Kruse says

    I don’t have a cast iron skillet. Can I use an 8 by 8 glass pan? If so how to change recipe. Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Katie! 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 or spray just to coat, but you do not need to pre-heat the pan. The times may vary by a few minutes, but just check at around 15 minutes then every couple of minutes after until it’s golden brown on the top and sides of the bread.

  3. Maria says

    Hi Jessica, I love your receipes! This one looks like it might be missing the butternut squash you mentioned earlier in the post? Just wondering how much squash to use and when to add, since I love butternut!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you SO much for letting me know Maria! I’ve updated the recipe to have 2 cups butternut squash in the chili. XOXO

  4. David @ Spiced says

    Slow cookers are indeed game day’s best friend! I mean no-one has time to stand by the stove when the game is on! This chili + cornbread combo sounds amazing, and it’s perfect for these Fall games…especially now that there is a little chill in the air outside. Thanks for sharing! #client

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I couldn’t agree more David! I’ve been eating the leftover frozen chili the last few days and it keeps getting better. Can’t wait to make another batch for this weekends game!