Drawing on the flavor of classic Buffalo chicken wings, this chili is super easy, and loaded with delicious flavor!
Need a super delicious, cool weather meal that practically makes itself? I’d like to introduce you to this wonderful Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Chili. Throw the ingredients together early in the day (or even the night before) and let the slow cooker work it’s magic throughout the day (or night).
It’s funny how recipes evolve here at The Café. Last week I was rolling around the idea for a new chili with steak. I thought through it and had worked out all the details. I had most of the ingredients; just had a few more things to pick up. Then I got an email from my friend Karen, who’d invited us to a Super Bowl party. I had offered to help with “anything she needed”.
“Could you bring chicken chili”? Chicken chili, hmm, not what I’d been thinking about – but I had offered to help with “anything” so it was time to rethink the game plan (no pun intended). I’ve made a lot of different chicken chilis in the past, but was in the mood to create something new. I googled chicken chili and was intrigued when I noticed a few recipes for Buffalo Chicken Chili. Most of them used Buffalo Sauce as a major flavor ingredient. I was interested instead, in the spice combination that makes up the legendary Buffalo wings flavor. If you’re not familiar with Buffalo wings, they have nothing to do with a flying species of buffalo, but rather are a classic American bar fare, made from chicken wings and originally served in Buffalo, New York (hence the name).
I did a bit of research on the buffalo spice blend and was surprised at the list of ingredients. Are you ready? Don’t worry, you probably have most of this stuff in your spice cabinet. It’s a combination of chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, mustard powder (yup!), onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. That gave me a great place to start my new chili recipe. I combined all of the buffalo spices along with brown sugar, cumin and oregano in a large microwave safe bowl. Onion, celery, garlic and a drizzle of olive oil were then stirred together with the spices and given a quick stint in the microwave. (This is an easy, quick way to optimize flavor in slow cooker recipes. You can read more about this technique in my Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Sausage Tortilla Soup post.)
There are also lots of healthy legumes in this chili recipe. I used six cans of Great Northern beans for my chili and pureed two of them in the initial prep steps, to give a creamy thickness to the broth (without adding cream).
It’s easy peasy after that. Just combine the bean puree, with the spicy onion mixture along with all remaining ingredients in the slow cooker and let the delicious magic begin. 6-8 hours later a fun, unique and healthy dinner will be ready to serve.
I have to admit, for the most part, our preference when it comes to chicken is white meat. I love however, the way chicken thighs stay super tender and moist in slow cooker recipes so I employed them instead of breasts in this chili. If you’re used to cooking only with chicken breasts, give the thighs a chance. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
I’ve served this Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Chili to a number family and friend taste testers. Everyone who’s tried it says something like “Oh wow” or “This is wonderful” after the first taste. Next time you need a super delicious, cool weather meal that practically makes itself, pull out your slow cooker and see for yourself. Expect rave reviews!
Lots of people ask what kind of appliances, utensils and serving dishes I use. Here’s what I used to make this recipe:
- For the spice mix:
- 3 tablepoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- For the chli:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large large yellow onion* diced small (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3 medium stalks celery* diced small
- 4 medium cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 6 15.5- ounce cans Great Northern Beans
- 2 14 1/2- ounce cans fire-roasted canned tomatoes
- 2 4.5- ounce cans diced green chilies
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs trimmed of fat and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese optional**, diced into 1 inch pieces
- For topping and serving:
- chopped fresh cilantro
- lime wedges
- shredded cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese
- tortilla chips
Combine all spice mix ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well to combine. Set aside.
Combine olive oil, onion, celery and garlic in a medium large microwave-safe bowl. Stir well to combine, then add the spice mix and stir again.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in microwave. Cook on high power for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave, stir well, then cook another 2 minutes. Add to the slow cooker.
Drain and rinse 2 cans of the beans. Combine beans with chicken broth in a blender container. Blend on high for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Add to the onion mixture in the slow cooker.
Drain and rinse remaining 4 cans of beans, Add beans, tomatoes, green chilis and chicken to slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
If using Neufchâtel cheese, stir in during the last 30 minutes of the cooking time, stirring occasionally.
Serve top with cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese, chopped cilantro and tortilla chips, if desired.
Nutritional information does not include toppings since the amounts are individual choices.
* To make quick work of the chopping in this recipe, I use this inexpensive but really useful little chopper. I've used mine for several years now and loved it but they've just come up with a stronger, more well made version - for the same price!
** I've made the chili with and without the Neufchatel cheese. It's delicious either way but the cream cheese does add a bit of extra creaminess. If you're watching your calories or have a dairy allergy, just skip it!
Makes 3 1/2 quarts of chili (8-10 servings with serving size being approximately 12-ounces)