Slow Cooker Spicy Mango Chicken Chili

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A couple of Sundays ago, this recipe appeared in my weekly newspaper column.  A few days later, I received an email from Jane from Mrs. Renfro’s salsa company thanking me for mentioning their product.  As a thoughtful gesture, she offered to send me any four of their products.  I truly love the flavor and ingredients in Mrs. Renfro’s products, so I took the liberty of asking if the company would be willing to extend this offer to my readers. And guess what?  Jane said yes!  To enter, simply leave a comment under the recipe between now and Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 6:00 EST.  Anything goes…What’s your favorite kind of salsa?…Would you cook with the salsa or eat it with chips?…Mild, medium or hot?? The winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond with a complete mailing address and the four products he or she would like.  You can see the options by clicking here…and good luck!

Congratulations, Amie Lawrence…you are the winner!

Every winter, my younger son’s school hosts a chili cook-off. There is a long-standing rivalry between the science and English departments along with many other worthy entries.  The chili is ladled into small cups so that hungry guests may sample many entries. The event is as delicious as it is fun–a great time to visit with friends, parents, and teachers while eating well and casting votes for the best bowl of chili.

The chili that unexpectedly piqued my interest a few years back had mango in the ingredient list.  Admittedly, I didn’t think I would like it.  I wasn’t sure I wanted fruit in my chili! Ultimately, this chili won my vote with its sweet and spicy kick, and I immediately knew I wanted to create a recipe around these amazing flavors.

The use of mango salsa provides a hint of sweetness that is not at all overpowering, and it eliminates the need to seek out a perfectly ripe mango, which can be elusive.  Cheese is the perfect match to a spicy pepper, mitigating some of the heat.  I don’t have a high threshold for spiciness and, to me, this recipe is spicy in a comfortable sort of way.  Similarly, my husband and kids also enjoy the level of heat.  The slow cooker preparation is incredibly easy, and the list of ingredients is colorful and healthy.

One of those wholesome ingredients happens to be sweet potato.  The first time I prepared this recipe, I marveled at how my younger son, who does not like sweet potatoes, gobbled up every last bite.  When I commented on his clean bowl, he mentioned all those yummy mango pieces.  I explained to him that the mango pieces in the salsa were quite small; the bigger orange chunks he was referring to were sweet potatoes.  He looked shocked and said, “Well, I guess I like sweet potatoes now!” We all laughed.  He doesn’t like black beans either.  I didn’t say anything.  Maybe he thought they were raisins.

For the Honey Sweetened Corn Muffin recipe in the photo above, click here.


Ready to cook: Everything in the slow cooker except the corn, cheese and a bit of seasoning. In an hour or two, an incredible aroma will fill your kitchen.


The orange pepper in the upper right corner is a habanero pepper. If a habanero isn’t available, feel free to use another chili pepper of choice or omit altogether. This dish will still have exceptional flavor without it.

Slow Cooker Spicy Mango Chicken Chili
The spicy-sweet combination in this chili makes it uniquely delicious. If you aren’t a big fan of spicy foods or are starting with a hot salsa, you may certainly forego the chili pepper; I have made this recipe with and without it. Once the seeds and veins are removed from the habanero, however, the heat is greatly reduced and the fruity undertones pair beautifully with the mango.

Yields 8-10 servings.
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (may substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
  • 1 pound sweet potato, chopped (about two medium or one very large potato; I keep skin on)
  • 1 15.5-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of beer (may substitute low-sodium chicken broth)
  • 1 habanero chili pepper, seeds and veins removed and minced (may omit or substitute a jalapeño pepper; see notes)
  • 1 small to medium onion, chopped (red or yellow)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 16-ounce jar mango salsa (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 slightly-rounded cup frozen corn (may substitute canned or fresh when in season)
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend or cheddar Jack cheese (for extra heat, try Pepper Jack; for something more basic, cheddar or mozzarella may be used)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Optional garnishes: additional cheese; cilantro; lime wedges; chopped avocado or guacamole; sour cream or Greek yogurt
  1. Place all the ingredients except the corn and the cheese in the slow cooker.
  2. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken to a plate. With two forks, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and return to the slow cooker. At the same time, add the corn, cheese, and salt.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes more or until the corn is heated and the cheese is melted.
  5. Ladle into warm bowls and garnish, as desired.
  • Mango salsa is available at most larger grocery stores.  I typically use Mrs. Renfro’s brand. My friend who inspired this recipe raves about a peach mango salsa by Desert Pepper Trading Company. Both are medium hot.
  • Habanero peppers are known to be HOT but this heat can be greatly mitigated by removing the seeds and veins.  (Wear gloves in case you accidentally touch your eyes after handling them.)  Once the seeds and veins are removed, this pepper has a fruitiness whose flavor is welcoming to other fruits such as strawberries, kiwi, and mango.  As noted, feel free to substitute with a milder pepper or omit.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen

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  1. Mary Lou Keller

    oh my MY!!! I had seen the tag for this but had not got on to really check it out and wow, I am SO going to make this, this week!

    I already know I will love this recipe Ann!

  2. Mary Lou Keller

    I have everything I need and I will set up my crockpot for tomorrow morning.. this will be our Thursday night dinner.

    I will let you know how it turns out Ann!

    1. Ann

      Well, now I must thank you because your comment just made my night! I am thrilled you have enjoyed the recipes and truly appreciate the kind words!

  3. Kristen

    Ann, thank you so much for posting this one! As a super-busy working Mom, I was thrilled at how easy and delicious this recipe was! I literally whipped it up between conference calls and then pulled it out last night after my son’s game. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes! 🙂

    1. Ann

      I am so glad, Kristen! Thank you for the kind feedback, and I do hope you find many more that are equally delicious and easy!

  4. Amie

    I spent the weekend making several of your recipes – this was one of them. This chili is amazing! The cheese added at the end makes the dish. I am putting this in my favorite soups file!

    1. Ann

      This has become a regular in our house, too, Amie! I am so happy this recipe is a keeper and that you got some good cooking time in over the weekend. Thank you for letting me know!

  5. Danielle

    Hi! I am in the UK and I doubt I cam find mango salsa here very easily. What could I do to make it myself, what would you estimate the ingredients would be? Mango, cilantro, tomato, onion? Thanks!

    1. Ann

      Hi Danielle,
      You are right on with the ingredients you mentioned. Because the mango is mixed with tomatoes, etc., in the salsa, the mango flavor is not overpowering. You could make your own or even start with your favorite tomato salsa, adding a little diced fresh mango to it.

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    1. Ann

      Hi Melissa,
      As an option, you could substitute carrots. Butternut or another winter squash would be great, too. In that case, I would add it a couple hours into the cooking time because squash will cook faster than the sweet potatoes or carrots. Hope that helps!

  7. Pam B

    How many does this recipe serve? I have a chili cookoff at work and will enter this recipe. Would you do anyhing different with the recipe if serving 75 people ?

    1. Ann

      Hi Pam,
      I always have a hard time estimating number of servings for this type of recipe, because people’s serving sizes vary so much. That said, based on the amount of ingredients, typical serving sizes, and how far this goes when I serve it, I would say 8-10 servings. In a chili cook off format where people are eating small amounts of many different recipes, it will go a long way. I haven’t yet made this recipe for such a large group of people. To be safe, you could have a little extra salsa and cheese on hand to augment the amount and thickness of the sauce at the end. Good luck, and I hope that helps!

  8. Liz

    I made this last night and the whole family loved it! The aroma in my kitchen was wonderful. I didn’t have the hot pepper but it was still delicious!

    1. Ann

      It’s amazing how little heat they have once the seeds and veins are removed. So glad you enjoyed and thanks for commenting!

  9. Betty

    Hi Ann, I made this for dinner last night. It was really delicious. It made a lot and I’m wondering if I can freeze some of what is left? I plan to pass this recipe on to my son in CA. He just got a slow cooker and is a good cook. Let me know about freezing . Thanks. Keep the good recipes coming.

    1. Ann

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the chili, Betty. Thank you for letting me know and for passing the recipe along to your son. Leftovers may absolutely be frozen. I have done so several times and they still tastes terrific months later.

  10. Mary Lou Keller

    WEll here it is t he end of October and I am just now seeing this recipe again. I even commented on it twice and have YET to make it..

    We leave for vacation on November 3rd, but I will have to try this when we get back. For certain!

    It is funny but as I have gotten older, I like spicier things more and I go between the bold and spicy salsa to the sweet/hot kind. I would love to win some salsa!

  11. Ann

    My husband made this chili for us on Sunday. We all enjoyed smelling the chili throughout the afternoon, and we knew we were in for a treat after perusing the ingredients list. It was delicious, and the colors are perfect for a fall meal.

  12. Trudy

    I made this over the weekend and it was awesome! I like spicy but I don’t like hot so I only put in a little bit of the pepper. I wish I hadn’t been such a chicken and put in more! It was delicious and my kitchen smelled scrumptious all day. I couldn’t find the recommended flavor of salsa at my neighborhood Weis. I used Mrs. Renfro’s peach and mango salsa.

  13. Terry Mosher

    I live in Texas and we love salsa. There are so many choices. I could eat it everyday of my life! My favorites are fresh tomato, not cooked, medium to hot, roasted, green tomatillo, and homemade. I can’t get enough of it! I eat it as a side, in dips, on salads, in casseroles, with chips, in soups. I have so many recipes that use salsa.

  14. Barbara Umbenhauer

    I’m already a fan of Mrs. Renfro – love the Green Tomatillo salsa! Now that’s got a kick. And the Mango Salsa is on my list for the next shopping trip because we are definitely trying Ann’s chicken chili.

  15. Michelle Bookman

    I love your blog and many of your recipes have become favorites! I have tried Mrs. Renfro’s salsa, although I admit I usually buy it only when I don’t have time to make it, or for certain recipes. The black bean salsa is my favorite.

  16. Danielle

    Definitely getting to Chili and Slow Cooker season…Can’t wait to combine the two and make this savory-sounding recipe! Thanks for always coming up with wonderful recipes…

  17. Eva

    I love mango salsa and I also like sweet potatoes . I’m always looking for other ways to use my sweet potatoes so I plan on giving this a whirl.

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  21. Marion

    Made this last weekend. It was fabulous! Your recipes are usually ones I want to try. I have a bunch bookmarked because they’re so good. Thank you!

  22. Barbara


    1. Ann Post author

      Oh yay! Thanks for the great comment, Barbara, and I’m happy to report that this freezes quite well. Enjoy the leftovers!

  23. Helen Post author

    I made this with some substitutions as I had fresh mangoes on hand and pineapple peach salsa from another company. It turned out great!! My husband couldn’t believe how a slow cooker would produce such a wonderful and flavorful meal!!
    Many thanks for the great recipe!

  24. Molly McCoy

    I have cooked this chili before several times and it has always turned out great! Today, however, the beans are still very hard with only 20 min of time left in the slow cooker. Should I have soaked the beans overnight (although I didn’t do that previously)?

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Molly, This recipe calls for canned beans, so they are already tender. Did you use canned or dried this time?

      1. Molly

        Hi ann,
        I used the dried beans we had in the cupboard and was in such a rush that I failed to even note that the recipe calls for canned beans. Mea culpa!

        P.S. I made another batch of mango chili today – this time with canned beans 😉

  25. Chuck

    I Just started this chili for tonight’s supper and I can already tell it’s a winner. Thankz fir the recipe! Yummy!