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How to Thicken Chili

The best way to thicken chili is by using cornstarch, flour, or tortilla chips.

Who doesn’t like a good thick and hearty chili in the colder months? Chili is good for last-minute meals as it can be so quick and easy to throw together.

Have you ever made chili that actually turned out more like soup and is watery? Then wondered how do I thicken chili?

bowl of thick chili

If you added too much water or sauce to your chili and you need to thicken it up it’s an easy fix.

Unfortunately, like a lot of soups or stew, you can’t just let it cook with the cover off to thicken it because the beans will end up too soft and start falling apart.

But good news, I bet you have one of these three things close by to save the day. I find these to be the best ways to thicken the chili.

These are also great ways to thicken the chili in a slow cooker or a crockpot as well.

How To Thicken Chili 5 Ways

These are the best options to thicken your chili!

1. Cornstarch

Add 2 tbsps of cornstarch to cold water and mix it well. It is very important to make sure that you mix the two together BEFORE adding them to the chili.

If you add cornstarch in its powder form to your chili it will end up clumping up and it will not be pleasant in taste or appearance. However, if you do it correctly the cornstarch will not affect the flavors of your chili.

It tends to ball up and it is impossible to completely incorporate the cornstarch at this point which is why it is so important to mix it well first.

Add your cornstarch water mixture to your chili and stir it in. Wait a few minutes and you will start to see your chili thickening before your eyes!

It is important to make sure that your cornstarch cooks to be safe to eat. Make sure it comes up to a simmer for a bit.

This is also a good option if you wanted to thicken a dutch oven beef stew.

2. Flour

Mixing flour and room temperature water together as a thickening agent is called a “slurry”.

Mix together 2 tbsp and 1/4 cup of water together until you no longer have clumps and then stir that into your chili to thicken it.

Like cornstarch, adding a flour slurry will not compromise the flavor of your chili. But you also want to make sure that you mix the flour and water well before you add it to thicken your chili.

If you find that you need to thicken the chili even more just repeat the process.

Make sure that you give it a few minutes to thicken before adding in more and also bring it to a boil/simmer to make sure that it gets cooked.

3. Tortilla chips

Tortilla chips are great with chili! Use them as scoops or to add a crunch! But you can also use tortilla chips to thicken your chili.

This is super simple! All you need to do is crunch up some tortilla chips and stir them into your chili. Let it simmer for 10 minutes and then stir it again before you serve it.

Once you add the tortilla chips to your chili, let it simmer so the chips can soak up some of the excess liquid, break down and thicken your chili. They also add a little texture once they are broken down.

Adding a few on top when you serve your chili will add some extra crunch as well.

4. Simmer the Chili longer

This might be the easiest way to thicken your chile. But be prepared it could affect the texture of the beans. They could just fall apart.

So all you need to do is remove the lid to the pot, and keep a close eye on it. Over time the moisture will evaporate and give you a thick chili.

5. Cheese

Cheese is another option for sure. One thing to consider is how salty the cheese is. If you have salt already added to the chili this might not be the best option.

Cheese to thicken your chili include…

  • Cheddar
  • Parmesan
  • Mild cheddar
  • possible cottage cheese, but I would try a little first.

What types of chili can you thicken?

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