how to thicken chili colorado

How To Thicken Chili

Making chili is no big deal. But for most people, the biggest challenge is making sure that the chili doesn’t come out with insufficient thickness. It’s quite clear that nobody likes thin chili because then it’s just like basic soup. If you make this soul-warming masterpiece and it turns out too thin, you may find yourself in a position where your culinary skills are being questioned. However, if you accidentally add more liquid than you intended and make the chili too runny the good news is that you can thicken it without necessarily changing the flavor.

Ways To Thicken Chili

Over the years, people have come up with numerous ways of making chili thick. In most of these ways, you have to add a certain ingredient to help thicken the chili.

Here are the different techniques you can use to thicken chili without compromising the flavor:

1. Add cornstarch or cornmeal

These are the most commonly used thickening agents not only for chili but also for sauces and soups. This is because they’re easily available to most people. For the best outcome, mix the cornstarch or cornmeal with water in a different bowl (usually a teaspoon is enough but the amount you add depends on the quantity of the chili being thickened). Ensure that all lumps are dissolved then add to the chili slowly as you stir and check the consistency. Use low heat to cook the chili and let it simmer for a while until all the thickening agent has dissolved.

thicken chili with cornmeal

These ingredients do not have any flavor so they don’t change the flavor of your chili. However, it’s worth noting that if you use too much cornmeal it could change the taste and texture of the chili but it’ll still be hearty and delicious.

2. Add wheat flour, arrowroot flour, or protein  powder

Different types of flour work magic in making chili thicker. You can either use all-purpose wheat flour, unflavored protein powder, or arrowroot flour. These ingredients are flavorless so they cannot mess with the taste of the chili.

thicken chili with wheat flour

Take any of these flours and mix it with a little water in a different bowl until it becomes a smooth paste. Add this paste to the cooking chili and keep stirring to make sure that they mix well. Arrowroot powder works so well to thicken the soup. Since it’s highly potent you should only use a very small amount to avoid getting the intense smell onto the chili. The chili thickens quickly and becomes a little glossy.

Protein powder is easily available in most outlets including grocery stores.

3. Add tortilla chips or flakes, or crackers

Adding a cupful of tortilla chips or crackers helps soak in the excess liquid and gives the chili some texture. These chips have a great flavor so they also improve the overall taste of the dish

thicken chili with tortilla chips

Crush the tortillas into small pieces and dump them directly into the chili then mix them up well with a spoon. Allow the mixture to simmer for a while so that everything comes together nicely. 

4. Add vegetables

This is probably the healthiest way to thicken the chili because they’re very healthy and nutritious. Some vegetables that you can use include tomatoes, onions, peppers, and potatoes.

thicken chili with vegetables

Add the chopped, blended, or mashed vegetables of choice to the pot of cooking chili. Allow the mixture to cook well until it’s thick. The vegetables break down to release their juices that make the chili thicker.

Keep in mind that vegetables are highly likely to change the taste of the chili but not for the worse.

5. Use beer

Beer is not only used as a meat tenderizer and as a baking agent but it may also be used as a thickening agent. This is because beer contains starch which is released into the chili causing it to thicken. To fix your running chili, add beer into the chili pot and allow simmering for about one hour until your chili gets thick.

Beware that beer introduces new flavors to the dish depending on the type you use.

thicken chili with beer

6. Use beans

Beans are a very easy way of thickening chili. Start by mashing about one and a half cups of beans into a thick paste (if you like you can leave a good portion of the beans intact). Breaking down the beans allows them to release their starch which helps in thickening the chili.

thicken chili with beans

7. Use tomato paste or tomato sauce

Tomato paste is a commonly used ingredient in cooking chili. Usually, when you realize that you made thin chili, it makes sense to add the same ingredients you had previously used. The best thing about using tomato paste is that it doesn’t change the taste in any way because it’s supposed to be a part of the chili. However, if you have added a lot of tomato paste, make sure that add some seasoning to the chili so that it doesn’t become less potent.

thicken chili with tomato paste

Add the paste in the last half an hour of the cooking.

8. Evaporate the excess liquid

Using heat to evaporate the excess water in the hot chili is quite slow. The process might take you about an hour before you can achieve your desire results. Fortunately, the flavor of the chili gets preserved because you don’t add other ingredients.

Evaporate the excess liquid

Open the lid of the cooking pot to allow the steam to escape. While doing all this, you have to be very careful not to overheat the chili so that it gets burned. Instead, use low heat and allow it to simmer. Keep checking the pot regularly and stirring.


Making great chili with the right of thickness requires skill, time, and effort. But we’re all humans and sometimes we mess up. If your chili comes out thin, there are several ways of making it thick. The method you choose depends on what you prefer and how much time you have on your hands. If you like you can combine one or two ways to create your signature recipe– what matters is that you get the desired results.

Also, you need to be extra careful when fixing the sauce so that it doesn’t become too thick which means you have to make it less thick again. At the end of the day, you’ll have too much chili with a dilute flavor making it more like a stew.

1. What is the best secret ingredient for chili?

Are you bored eating the same chili every day? We bring some different ingredients for you. This will change the test of your chili.
• Zucchini
• Sugar
• Lime Juice
• Cornmeal
• Chocolate

2. Do you Stir chili while simmering?

Yes, it is necessary to stir chili on the stove. Simmering chili is a mouthwatering dish during the winter season. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to cook the chili, during this time you should stir the chili very often.

3. How long should I let the chili simmer?

You may need 15 to 20 minutes to simmer the chili on the stove.

4. What can you not put in chili?

There is some gradient that you may not want to put in the chili. Such as-
• Cola
• Beer
• Olives
• Sweet Potato
• Balsamic Vinegar
• Sriracha

5. Can I Thicken Chili with Flour?

Yes, sometimes chili becomes very thin and you may not find anything to thicken it. You can add flour to thicken the chili. But don’t add flour directly to your chili. Take two tablespoons of flour and three or four cups of water. Stir them very well and then add to the chili.

6. How Can I Thicken Chili with Corn Starch?

Take two tablespoons of corn starch and cold water. Then mix them properly that there shouldn’t any lumps.
Cook the chili for more than 10 minutes. Corn starch doesn’t change the flavor of chili.

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