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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.