Creamy Crack Chicken Chili is a hearty, flavorful chili recipe packed with succulent chicken, beans and veggies, a creamy texture, and a medley of spices. Its comfort in a bowl, and totally addicting!
I love making a big batch of chili in the fall and winter. It's such an easy dish to prepare and there are so many different types that you never have to get bored making the same old thing.
Growing up, I knew only one kind of chili – the classic ground beef chili with onions, and chili beans. That’s what my Mom always made, served with a side of “relish”.
(BTW, does anyone else do that? Serve a “relish” tray with chili? It’s basically a big plate of cheese, pickles, carrots, celery, and crackers that you pass around the table while they’re eating chili. Maybe it’s a Midwest thing?).
If you DO decide to do a relish tray, here's a great recipe for making your own pickles!
Anyway, my Mom’s chili is awesome, but while I love a traditional ground beef chili, or three bean chili, this creamy crack chicken chili might just be one of my new favorite recipes. It's super comforting, creamy, and has just the right amount of spice. My whole family loves this chili and even my pickiest eater gobbles down every bite when i serve it!
Why I Love This Recipe
- Easy. This cream cheese chicken chili is such an easy meal to pull together. The prep time is pretty light and you can make this delicious soup on the stovetop, in one pot, in under an hour. I like making it quickly on the stovetop, but you can also use a slow cooker or even your instant pot for super easy prep!
- Delicious. This chili packs the perfect blend of ingredients, combining the richness of cream cheese with the savory chicken and delicious spices. The addition of hatch chilies and a packet of ranch seasoning elevates the taste to a whole new level, making it a standout among chili recipes.
- Versatile. You can totally customize this to your tastes. Make it more or less spicy, make it vegetarian if you want, add extra veggies or beans - you can truly make this your own.
- The ultimate comfort food. The creamy texture of this dish makes it ultra comforting.
- Perfect for parties! Have a chili cookoff or a tailgating party you’re headed to? Crack chicken chili is always a hit!
- Easy to store and freeze. This is a great freezer meal, and is also super easy to store/bring to potlucks, chili cook offs, or tailgating parties!
- Goes GREAT with this delicious Cornbread Recipe.
Here are the key ingredients you'll need to make this creamy chili.
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I love the texture of chicken breasts over chicken thighs in chili, but you can easily sub in boneless skinless thighs, or even shredded rotisserie chicken for the fresh chicken breasts.
- Beans. I used a combination of black beans and great northern white beans here but feel free to experiment with different types for different flavors and textures.
- Veggies. You'll want to use corn (canned or frozen), diced tomatoes (canned or fresh), onion, garlic and green chiles for this recipe.
- Seasoning. This is really the bulk of what makes that long list of ingredients! This chili uses the standard spices - cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano. But a distinction of crack chili is that it also uses ranch seasoning, which gives it a unique flavor different from a traditional chili. You can find ranch seasoning in the dressing aisle of the grocery store. It's typically sold in packets and can be used to make ranch dressing, or can be added to all sorts of dishes.
- Cream cheese. Another standout ingredient! The cream cheese in this recipe makes the chili ultra creamy. I prefer to use low-fat cream cheese to save a bit on the calories, but if you want a slightly thicker chili, feel free to use full fat cream cheese.
- Toppings! This is where you can get super creative! I love topping this dish with shredded cheddar cheese, cilantro, diced green onions, bacon (regular or even turkey bacon are great!), sour cream. Diced jalapeno is also a great option if you'd like a little extra spice!
How To Make Creamy Crack Chicken Chili
This creamy white chicken chili is a cinch to make:
- Sauté aromatics. In a large pot, sauté the onion on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
- Cook chicken. Add the chicken breasts to the pot and cook for a few minutes on each side until browned.
- Combine ingredients. Pour in the chicken broth, hatch chilies, corn, diced tomatoes, white beans, black beans, ranch seasoning, and spices.
- Simmer. Let the chili simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Shred chicken. Remove the chicken from the chili, shred it using two forks on a cutting board. Return the shredded chicken to the pot.
- Add cream cheese. Stir in the cream cheese and let it melt into the chili for about 5 minutes, creating a luscious, creamy texture.
- Serve. Spoon the Crack Chicken Chili into bowls and top it with your favorite toppings! Bacon crumbles, shredded cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, green onions, cilantro, and jalapeno are all great options.
I'm a huge fan of using what you have on hand to make things easier. Here are a few swaps you can make based on what you've got, or your preferences.
- Use a different type of chicken. Boneless chicken thighs can easily be substituted here. And, if you’re looking ot save a bit of time, shredded rotisserie chicken can work too - just add it after the soup has had a chance to simmer for 30 minutes to prevent it from overcooking.
- Use different beans. I love the great northern beans and black beans in this recipe, but you could also try using pinto beans red kidney beans, or cannellini beans for some different flavors.
- Make it vegetarian. Swap the chicken for your favorite meat substitute or add extra beans for a hearty vegetarian version. Consider using vegan cream cheese for a plant-based twist.
- Adjust the spice level. Adjust the chili powder, jalapeno, or cayenne pepper to your liking for a little kick or a milder taste. You can also add more green chiles to the dish if you'd like.
- Use Rotel tomatoes. To cut down on the ingredients list, feel free to use a rotel tomatoes, instead of using the separated diced tomatoes and green chiles. Rotel tomatoes typically have green chiles already included and come in a variety of spice levels.
- Use freshly roasted hatch chiles. When they're in season, I love roasting up a big batch of hatch chiles to use in dishes like these. Roasting them yourself is easy to do and they provide such great flavor. If you use your own, just substitute them for the cans of green chiles in the recipe.
There are several cooking methods and variations for this recipe to suit your time or preference:
- Slow cooker method. For a hands-off approach, transfer the sautéed ingredients and raw chicken to a slow cooker/crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until the chicken is tender and easy to shred. Shred the chicken, add it back to the crock pot, then stir in the cream cheese and serve.
- Instant pot method. If time is of the essence, adapt this recipe to your Instant Pot for Instant Pot Crack Chicken Chli! Sauté the onions and garlic using the sauté mode. Add the chicken breasts and cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Then add the veggies, beans, broth and spices and pressure cook the soup on manual mode for 15 minutes.
Do a quick release once it's done cooking. Remove the chicken and shred it, then add it back to the instant pot and turn the mode to sauté. Add the cream cheese and stir for about 5 minutes to combine. Transfer to bowls and serve with your favorite toppings!
- Make it thicker. For a thicker chili, use a fill fat cream cheese instead of low fat. You can also blend some of the cooked beans with the broth in a blender or food processor, then add them back to the chili to make the mixture chili thicker
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! The thighs will add a richness to the chili. Adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Yes! Using a store-bought rotisserie chicken is such a great time saver! Simply shred the chicken and add it after the chili has had a chance to simmer for about 30 minutes. You don’t want to add it too early since the rotisserie chicken will already be cooked. Adding it at the beginning of the process, like you do with the raw chicken, would overcook the chicken leaving you with dry rubbery pieces.
Yes! I often will make two batches of this chili - one to eat now and one to freeze for later. Here's my method for freezing this dish:
Wait until the chili has completely cooled. Then place it into freezer-friendly containers. I typically use freezer storage bags since you can lay them flat on a sheet tray and stack them. Then when they're frozen, you can either leave them stacked or make "freezer files" by placing them upright.
When you're ready to use them, take your freezer bag out of the freezer and allow the cream cheese chicken chili to thaw in your refrigerator. Then just heat it in a pot over the stove on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, or just before it starts to boil. Serve it with your toppings and you're done!
If you have leftovers, allow them to come to room temperature, then store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Experiment with reduced-fat cream cheese or even vegan cream cheese for a different twist.
There are so many great options here! Try shredded cheese, tortilla chips, crispy bacon bits, cilantro, chopped scallions, lime wedges, sliced jalapeno, sliced avocado or a dollop of sour cream for added indulgence.
If you try this Cream Cheese Crack Chicken Chili Recipe, let me know what you think in the comments below. And don't forget to tag me @frontrangefed on Instagram so I can see your masterpiece!
More Great Soups!
- Tasty Pastele Stew Recipe With Plantains
- Chickpea Stew With Orzo And Greens
- One Pot Chicken Minestrone Soup
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Easy Split Pea Soup Recipe
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Summer Corn Chowder
Best Cream Cheese Crack Chicken Chili Recipe
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 14.5 oz cans chicken broth
- 4 oz can green chiles (or ½ cup roasted hatch chiles
- 15 oz canned corn
- 15 oz great northern beans (or other white beans)
- 2 15 oz cans black beans
- 1 oz ranch seasoning (usually one packet)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tp cumin
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 6 slices bacon (crumbled)
- cheddar cheese, green onions, cilantro and sliced jalapeno for serving.
- In a large dutch oven, sauté the chopped onion on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.
- Add the chicken breasts and cook for a couple of minutes on each side.
- Add the broth, hatch chilies corn, diced tomatoes, white beans, black beans ranch seasoning, and spices.
- Cook the chili on medium heat for about 30 minutes, allowing it to simmer lightly on the stove. Stir occasionally.
- Remove the chicken from the chili and, using two forks, shred it on a cutting board. Return the shredded chicken to the pot. (Note - if you're opting to use a rotisserie chicken instead of raw chicken breasts, this is where you'd add it)
- Add the cubed cream cheese and stir it into the chili until melted, about 5 minutes.
- Spoon the chili into bowls and top with bacon crumbles, cheddar cheese, green onions, cilantro, sour cream, tortilla strips and jalapeno.
- Use shredded or chopped rotisserie chicken to make this dish easier!
- See instructions above to make this in an Instant Pot dish, or a slow cooker crack chicken chili
- Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.