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How to thicken chili in 4 different ways

How to thicken chili in 4 different ways

There’s honestly nothing better than a steaming bowl of chili to overcome your hunger pangs.

Whether you have it with baked potatoes, cornbread, or on its own, it’s the ultimate hearty food that warms up your soul.

I love to make chili on the weekends. However, at times, our domestic antics result in the chili becoming too soupy for our liking.

After all, who likes to have runny chili? Definitely not us!

If you are wondering what to do with your soupy chili, then read on to find out how to thicken chili at home!

How to Thicken Chili in 4 Different Ways

There are many ways to thicken chili at home.

It is really up to you and the ingredients you have in your kitchen to decide which method to use.

So, how to thicken up chili at home? Here are 4 different and easy ways to thicken chili:

1. Reduce It

The first way to thicken chili is pretty simple, and you don’t even need any additional ingredients for it.

Simply remove the lid of your chili pot and allow the chili to simmer on medium heat for a good 40 to 60 minutes.

For this method, you are using the magic of evaporation to slowly reduce the amount of liquid in your chili.

What’s great about this method is that it allows the remaining, thickened chili to have a strong, concentrated, and unadulterated chili flavor.

Pro Tip: To reduce the time and bring it closer to 25 to 30 minutes, you can even increase the flame. However, make sure not to let it come to a full boil.

2. Create and Mix in a Cornstarch Slush

The second way requires creating a cornstarch slush and adding it to your chili.

It will give your chili a glossy appearance, but will not impact its flavor, if it is mixed in proportionately.

Things You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of cold water
  • Chili
  • A bowl


  1. First, you need to mix the cornstarch into the cold water to form a cornstarch slush. Keep stirring it till the mixture is free of lumps.
  2. Slowly stir the mixture into your chili pot and heat it over medium to medium-high flame. Wait for the chili to form bubbles after a few minutes. This means that your chili has started to thicken.
  3. You can add in more of the cornstarch mixture if required.
  4. After it has thickened, cook the chili for about 2 more minutes. This will allow the cornstarch to break down completely.

Pro Tip: If you have a large batch of chili, with more than 2 cups (500 ml) of surplus liquid, then you will need twice the mentioned amount of cornstarch mixture. Additionally, make sure not to add a lot of the cornstarch mixture as that will weaken the flavor of your chili.

3. Mix in Tomato Paste

This method of thickening chili requires mixing some tomato paste into the chili during the cooking process.

Things You Will Need

  • A teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • A 6-oz (180-ml) can of tomato paste
  • Chili


  1. Add a teaspoon of sugar into your chili pot. The sugar will offset the tanginess of the tomato paste. It will also add a mildly sweet taste to your chili, making it more flavorful.
  2. Gradually stir the tomato paste into the chili during the final 30 minutes of cooking it.
  3. Take three turns to stir in the tomato paste, little by little after every 10 minutes. Make sure to thoroughly stir the chili.
  4. Check the consistency of the chili before adding more paste to ensure that you don’t make it too thick.

Pro Tip: Make sure to do a taste check after adding in the tomato paste. If the taste of your chili has some kick missing, then make sure to add in some more seasoning to spruce up the chili.  

4. Add Beans

The last way to thicken chili involves adding home-cooked or canned beans into it.

Things You Will Need

  • 1/2 cup of white kidney or pinto beans
  • A blender
  • Chili


  1. Smash the kidney beans or puree them in a blender.
  2. Stir the pureed beans into the chili and mix it until the dish has attained the required thickness.

If your chili dish already has beans, here’s what you can do:

  1. Strain out half a cup of the beans and blend them in your blender.
  2. Return the pureed beans to the chili mixture and let it cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Make sure to stir the chili occasionally.

Pro Tip: Be alert when blending hot beans in the blender. Make sure to handle the cover with a kitchen towel to avoid burning yourself.  

Check out these articles:

Does Chili Really Taste Better the Following Day?

It absolutely does! This is due to the fact that during cooking, the spices have very little time to marry with the other ingredients.

When you rest the chili overnight, the meat in the chili absorbs the flavor of the seasoning and spices and enhances the overall flavor.

Moreover, while resting, the chili develops into a thick mixture, which makes it taste even more divine.

What Makes Chili Taste Great?

Even though chili is a combination of scrumptious meat and delicious spices, you can add a few secret ingredients to your chili to make it taste even better.

Brine or Vinegar

Stir in a few tablespoons of brine from a jar of pickled jalapeños in your chili to give it a nice kick of flavors.

You can also add some white vinegar to achieve this burst of flavor.


Yes, you read that right! Sometimes, I add cocoa powder or even unsweetened baking chocolate to my chili.

It adds a subtle bass note of flavor to it, which perfectly complements its spicy and acidic flavor.

Take a look at these amazing chili recipes from coast to coast!

Mistakes to Avoid When Making Chili

Here are some mistakes that you need to avoid to make delicious chili at home.

1. Using stale spices

You want your chili to have a fresh and strong flavor. Ground spices lose their strong flavor after around 6 months, so they won’t add the needed punch to your chili.

So, make sure to use freshly ground spices to season your chili.

You can buy whole spices and toast and grind them on the day you decide to make chili at home.

2. Not cooking the chili long enough

Chili is a dish that requires patience and slow cooking. You need to cook your chili for at least an hour to ensure that the meat is tender and full of flavor.

This is why a crock-pot or slow cooker is the ideal dish to cook your chili in.

Read this article to find out more mistakes to avoid when making chili.

If you are short on time and can’t make chili at home, then you can make do with some delicious canned chili.

The bottom line

If you are wondering how to thicken chili without ruining its flavor, try easy ways to thicken chili that I have mentioned above.

To sum it up, here’s how you can thicken homemade chili:

  • You can reduce it
  • You can add in a cornstarch and water mixture
  • You can mix in tomato paste to thicken it
  • You can add kidney or pinto beans to it

We hope you enjoyed reading this article on how to thicken chili in 4 easy ways.

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How to thicken chili

How to thicken chili

Learn how to thicken your chili using a cornstarch slurry.


  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of cold water
  • Chili
  • A bowl


  1. Mix the cornstarch into the cold water to form a cornstarch slush.
  2. Slowly stir the mixture into your chili pot and heat it over medium to medium-high flame until it thickens.
  3. After it has thickened, cook the chili for about 2 more minutes. This will allow the cornstarch to break down completely.

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