How to Thicken Chili – Best Ways to Thicken Chili

If you’re looking for an easy and people-friendly family weeknight meal, or a centerpiece for your fall game day menu that’s sure to score, then you need to whip up a big pot of chili! There are so many delicious chillies to make: from veggie chili, chicken, good ol’ beef, and even pumpkin chili! You can make a batch of chili and stack it on chipotle hot dogs, or even stuff your favorite chili recipe into zucchini boats for dinner. Chili is so versatile it can be easily made on the stovetop, in an Instant Pot, or even in the slow cooker!

If you’ve ever made a big pot of chili on a cold day, you might have wondered what’s the best way to thicken it when it’s looking a little too soupy. The good news is that there are many easy ways to thicken your chili using ingredients you probably already have in your pantry — flour, cornmeal, pureed beans, cornstarch, or even shredded tortilla chips will help get the job done, along with some good extra cooking time. Read on for some tips on how to thicken chili.

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how to thicken chili

Will Dickey

How do you thicken chili?

The key to a thick chili is not to start with too much liquid. The less liquid you have to start with, the less you’ll have to fiddle with the chili later to thicken it.

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If you end up with a chili that’s too soupy, there are a few simple fixes: Ree Drummond’s favorite is to use some masa harina, which gives the chili a nice corn flavor and texture (try Ree’s Chipotle chicken chili).

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Masa Harina Golden Cornmeal

Bob's Red Mill Organic Masa Harina Golden Cornmeal

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Masa Harina Golden Cornmeal

If you don’t have a masa harina on hand, you can use flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, or a can of mashed beans.

Just start with a tablespoon of flour, cornmeal, masa harina, or cornstarch whisked with a little water, add your chili, and simmer for about 10 minutes. If it’s not as thick as you’d like, repeat and simmer another 10 minutes. If using pureed beans, puree 1 cup of cooked (or canned) beans, then stir into the chili and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Does simmering chili thicken it?

Yes! The longer you simmer uncovered chili, the thicker it will become. The excess liquid turns to steam and helps reduce the chili to a nice, thick consistency.

How can I thicken my chili without using cornstarch?

Cornstarch isn’t the only way to thicken chili. You can also use flour, cornmeal, or masa harina as a substitute for cornstarch. Start with a tablespoon whisked with some water, add to your chili and simmer for another 10 minutes, then a cup of your favorite mashed beans and stir straight in, simmer for another 15 minutes, and this will naturally thicken the whole chili.

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