Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

“Mary, if you put spaghetti in it, it’s not chili, it’s chili mac,” is what I remember my grandfather saying to my mom every time she made chili. With child-like bewilderment, I would just stare at their interaction upon that statement. His “I’m a chili-ologist expert” stance and her “get out of my face” look was priceless.  When it came to cooking, he was a purist, my mother was practical. When feeding 6 kids, she didn’t care if her chili was “authentic,” she was trying to make it stretch on the family budget.  I grew up with 5 siblings: 4 sisters and 1 brother. Yes, we are a small village who could possibly garner our own zip code.  Needless to say, no one picked on us much since we each had adequate back-up, if you know what I mean. 













Remember Hormel canned chili? (Vomit) When you opened the can it had that orange artery clogging solidified grease on top? As a testament to how far I’ve come, sadly, I thought this was really good chili when I was a kid. Okay…..before you give me that look…don’t act like you didn’t have something gross you liked back in the day….stop it…you did…we ALL did.  


I’ve had chili all types of ways.  Pasta, no pasta, beans, no beans, meat, veggie, spicy, mild, white, green, canned, bison, traditional.  As I got older, I became a seasonal cook, meaning, no you will not catch me making a pot of chili in the summer.  It’s too hot for all that; but my mom didn’t care, she cooked what she cooked when she wanted.  So one of those chilly (no pun intended) days last week, trying to decide dinner and definitely NOT feeling like going to the grocery store, I tapped into my inner Mary Lois (my mom) and decided to do some “stretching” of my own.



Plump black beans+ lean ground chicken + tomato paste + my creative culinary genius= Chicken Chili goodness. But I didn’t want just any stove top chili, I wanted this to touch the depths of my soul, lol.  I wanted the type of chili that when I took a bite, I stopped to look at the spoon lovingly. You know that “Excuse me Miss, what’s your name, can I buy you a drink” look. I wanted the type of chili that goes in tangy and “beefy” but leaves spicy notes at the end. 

















Slow cooking is one of the best ways to get maximum flavor without added calories.  Throw all the ingredients in and in 4-6 hours dinner’s ready. What’s so great about slow cooker meals is you don’t have to be a chef to make amazing meals. It does all the work for you. Go pick the baby up from daycare, run some errands, binge watch Luke Cage, dinner will be waiting for YOU. When the flavors of the spices and vegetables collide for 4-6 hours, it’s an amazing thing. The smokiness from the paprika and Umami (20 calories per serving and OPTIONAL), takes this to the next level.  It’s not chili mac but I think mom will still be proud.





Servings : 5-6 One Cup Servings
Calories 159/ Fat 1g/Carbs 15g/Protein 23g/Fiber 4g
Total Time:  4-High Setting or 6 hours-Low Setting



1-6oz. can tomato paste

1 lb. lean ground chicken breast

1c. reduced sodium stock (I used beef, but you can substitute veggie and chicken)

1c. water

½c. onion, diced

½c. green bell pepper, diced

½c. grape tomatoes sliced lengthwise.

½c. mushrooms

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1-2 tbs. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped.

1 tsp. salt

1tbsp. onion powder

1 tbsp. paprika (I use Penzey’s Hungarian Half Sharp)

2 tbsp. cumin

1tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp. ground black pepper

2 tsp. Stevia or 1 tbs. Honey or Agave or to taste.

1 tsp. Umami (Optional) 1.99 at Trader Joe’s

1-14oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (Add last hour of cooking)

4 quart or larger slow cooker (In my kitchen)


  1. Turn slow cooker on low.
  2. Add all the ingredients except for the black beans. Stir to combine.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
  4. Add the black beans in the last hour so you don’t end up with bean mush.

Clean ChEATs
-Disclaimer: I like my food spicy, so if you don’t, you can adjust the heat levels.

-Stevia/Honey/Agave, either one is clean. I like stevia because it’s 0 calories and has a low glycemic index. Adding a little sweetness brings out the flavor of the tomatoes. *If using honey/agave, this will alter the nutritional information.

-Roasting the veggies first for 45 min. at 375 degrees brings adds depth to the flavors. However, this is also an extra step and defeats the purpose of saving you time by slow cooking. Trust me, the chili will still be just as good.

-*You can use lean ground turkey or 93-96% lean ground beef instead of chicken. Want to go meatless? Add ½c. more mushrooms or any other veggies you want and use vegetable broth.

-You can substitute black beans for white or kidney beans.

Make it your own! Add Clean ChEAT toppings like:

Plain Greek yogurt
Sprinkle of cheese
Red Onions
Brown Rice

*Please note, this will change the nutritional value.


Nieta is a self-trained chef, fitness addict, wife, and mother of one AMAZING Bumblebee! Her passion is to help others start and stick to their fitness goals with clean chEATing.

7 Comment

  1. Wowww, only 159 calories? For chili? I’m trying this asap & I just bought a crock pot. *Happy Dance

    1. Yeeesss Rosie! 159 calories! The meat is a lean cut plus by adding stock and slow cooking, the flavors develop nicely so you don’t need all the added fat. Tell me what you think!

  2. Love this concept of clean cheating!

    1. Thanks Gigi! Try a recipe and let me know what you think!

  3. I never thought of using ground chicken! thanks 😉

  4. Slow cooking is the best way to cook chili. What is Umami paste?

    1. Hi Misty! Thanks for your comment. To me slow cooking is one of the best ways. Grilling is another one. Yes, i’m referring to cooking chili on the grill, but that’s an entirely different post. I don’t get the same depth and flavor development on the stove top vs. the slow cooker. There are 4 kinds of tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Umami is a single taste that isnt sweet, sour, salty, or bitter. Aged Parmesan cheese has particularly high levels of it. Umami paste encompasses this flavor profile. It’s a combination of tomato puree, garlic, anchovy paste, porcini mushrooms, black olives, balsamic vinegar, parmesan, and olive oil.

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