How to Thicken Chili Like a Pro (13 Methods)

Chili should be thick and rich enough to serve as a meal on its own, yet it happens to the best of us from time to time.

Did you remove it from the heat too quickly? Perhaps you used too much stock or too many tomatoes? All of these elements might make your food soggy.

In any case, you may be able to thicken your dish by cooking it or adding additional components such as beans, veggies, cornstarch, flour, and a few others.

The most common ways to make chili thicker:

  • Simmer
  • Cornstarch or Arrowroot
  • Flour
  • Beans
  • Tomato paste
  • Quick Oats
  • Masa Harina
  • Cornmeal or Polenta
  • Cheese
  • Oats
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Veggies
  • Arrowroot

1. Simmer the Chili

Begin by simmering the chili, which requires the least amount of effort.

Simply remove the pot’s cover and place it on a low heat setting for 20 to 30 minutes. The excess liquid will evaporate, causing your meal to thicken.

The low temperature is critical in this case. You’ll have a burned dinner if it’s too hot. For a tasty, properly cooked dish, keep the temperature below 212 degrees Fahrenheit (94 degrees Celsius).

2. Add Cornstarch & Arrowroot

When you’re in a hurry, cornstarch and arrowroot are the greatest thickening agents to utilize. They operate instantly.

To employ this method, mix two teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot with equal parts cold water before adding it to the stew. Stir it in completely to prevent lumps and continue to cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.

Are you worried about the taste? The taste of your food will not be affected by cornstarch or arrowroot. Enjoy!

3. Add Flour

Flour is a common thickening that everyone has on hand.

However, using uncooked flour into the recipe will result in lumps. A better method would be to make a slurry using two tablespoons of cold water and one tablespoon of flour. Stir in the flour slurry to spread it evenly around the dish. Continue to whisk while allowing the mixture to boil for 10 minutes.

4. Add Beans

Refried beans, whether mashed or pureed, are another simple technique to thicken your meal. You may choose red, black, or pinto beans since they are all high in starch.

Stir in one cup of mashed, pureed, or refined beans and let to simmer without a cover. You may keep adding beans until you reach the desired consistency. Allow it to rest for 30 minutes before serving. To preserve flavor balance, taste your food and make any required spice modifications.

5. Add Tomato Paste

Adding tomato paste or sauce to a runny chili enhances the texture, is simple to produce, and adds flavor to the meal.

To attempt this approach, you will need 6 oz of ketchup or tomato paste. Cook for an hour, adding roughly 2 oz to the dish every 20 minutes. This allows it to readily integrate with the food.

6. Add Quick Oats

Oatmeal is a frequent addition in most of our kitchens since it is healthful, inexpensive, and quickly thickens chili.

Begin with a serving of quick oats. In a pan over medium heat, combine the chili and oats. Stir the oats often to encourage the release of additional starch.

In an uncovered pan, cook quick oats for at least 3 minutes. The results should be obvious right away. If your dish is still liquid, whisk in a bit more until it thickens completely.

7. Add Masa Harina

Masa harina is a pre-cooked maize flour that contains more water than conventional corn flour and is used as a thickening agent.

People often believe that masa harina and cornmeal are interchangeable, although they are not. Masa harina has a whiter hue and a texture similar to flour.

Masa harina has a corn-like taste, so use it sparingly if you don’t like it. Begin by adding 2 tablespoons masa harina to your meal. After 5-10 minutes, check the consistency. Add more if required.

8. Add Cornmeal or Polenta

By absorbing extra moisture, a tablespoon of cornmeal or polenta (see where to get polenta) will thicken the final chili.

This paste may be made using either white or yellow cornmeal powder.

Start with 1 tablespoon of cornmeal or polenta and 1 tablespoon of water. Allow the food to boil for approximately 10 minutes after adding one of the two thickeners.

The chili has a gritty texture because to the cornmeal and polenta. Furthermore, if you apply it all at once, it may clump. It’s best to go slowly at first until the dish achieves the correct thickness.

9. Add Cheese

Another easy approach to repair a watery chili is to add shredded cheese. You may use parmesan, a substitute for parmesan, or other melting cheeses.

Because cheese adds taste, richness, and creaminess to a dish, it is one of our favorite ways to thicken it.

This approach is used after the food has been cooked. All it needs is a heaping spoonful of shredded cheese as a garnish. When the cheese comes into contact with the heated dish, it starts to melt, producing delectable consequences.

10. Add Veggies

Finally, to thicken your chili, add vegetables with a high starch content, such as onions, celery, potatoes, and carrots. These veggies release starch and increase the consistency of the meal when added. Broccoli and mushrooms are also excellent thickeners due to their ability to absorb liquids.

This technique takes longer than others since you must simmer the dish for an hour over medium heat to complete it. However, the end product is undeniably wonderful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Thicken Chili Post Cooking?

Simply top with crackers. This approach works well with potato flakes, cornmeal, and shredded cheese as well. Allow it to rest for a minute or two before serving.

Can Chili Thicken While It Cooks?

Many chili recipes, particularly ones that call for beans, will thicken on their own in the pot while the cooking liquid simmers. To give it additional substance, add a second ingredient such as cornstarch or flour.

How to Thicken White Chicken Chili?

The best method to thicken white chicken chili is using a slurry of cornstarch, flour, or arrowroot. Allowing it to simmer until all of the surplus liquid has evaporated is the easier approach. You may also add shredded cheese to thicken the meal. Avoid using tomato paste since it will change the color of your dinner.

Can I Thicken Chili in a Crockpot?

If you made your chili in a crockpot, just remove the lid and keep it on high heat. Other possibilities include heating the meal on medium heat with shredded cheese, cornstarch, or tomato paste.

How to Thicken Green Chili?

To thicken green chili, also known as chili verde, purée three green chilies in a spice grinder or blender, then add the puree to the pan and boil until thickened.

If you are concerned that your green chili will be too spicy, use a roux to thicken it. In a mixing basin, combine equal parts flour and butter. Stir the ingredients until it forms a paste, then add it to your meal. Bring everything to a boil while continually stirring. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat to thicken the dish completely.


Here are 13 thickening tricks that will transform your chili.

Some ingredients, such as cornstarch, arrowroot, flour, and masa harina, may thicken the dish without altering the flavor. Others, like as cheese, beans, tomato sauce, and vegetables, may thicken and flavor it. Quick oats are another healthy and quick answer. Do you lack the necessary ingredients? Allow it to simmer in an uncovered pan for a few minutes, and you’ll have a thick chili in no time. Checkout How to Thicken Teriyaki Sauce with Ease


How do you make chili thicker?

The good news is that there are plenty of simple methods to thicken up your chili using things you probably already have on hand—flour, cornmeal, pureed beans, cornstarch, or even broken tortilla chips can do the trick, along with some additional simmering time.

What is the best thickener for chili?

Mix in the cornstarch or all-purpose flour: Cornstarch and all-purpose flour are two typical thickeners that you may already have in your cupboard. The addition of flour immediately to the chili will result in lumps. Instead, produce a slurry by combining 1 tablespoon cold water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch.

How do you make chili less soupy?

Chili Thickening Method
Reduce the heat.
Add some finely ground cornmeal, polenta, or masa harina to taste.
Alternatively, add a scoop of cornstarch, all-purpose flour, or oats.
Pile on the veggies.
Try adding additional tomato paste.
Some beans should be mashed.
Crush some corn chips.

Should I use cornstarch or flour to thicken chili?

Make use of all-purpose flour or cornstarch.

Chili, as well as sauces, soups, and stews, benefit from the addition of all-purpose flour and cornstarch. However, you should avoid adding these components immediately to your recipe since they will form clumps.

Does sour cream make chili thicker?

Shredded cheese and sour cream will melt into the chili, thickening it. Crushed tortilla chips, crackers, crumbled cornbread, and even potato flakes can absorb liquid and bulk up the dish.

Does baking soda thicken chili?

Baking powder is another useful thickening agent for chili. The combination of sodium bicarbonate and cornstarch instantly improves the flavor of any chili. It may, however, have a harsh flavor. To prevent this, combine the baking powder with cold milk or water before adding it to the saucepan.

Should chili be thick or soupy?

Chili should be thick and substantial enough to constitute a meal on its own, but there’s occasionally a little too much liquid in the pot. While you could just keep the chili boiling, this approach risks overcooking softer components like the beans, resulting in mushy monotony.

What can I add to sauce to thicken it?

Flour is the most widely accessible sauce thickening. If your sauce is too thin, consider adding a slurry (equal parts flour and water whisked together) or beurre manie (equal parts melted butter and flour kneaded together to produce a paste)—both are excellent thickeners for rich and creamy sauces like steak sauce.

What liquid is best for chili?

Chili cooks slowly and requires a lot of liquid to tenderize the meat and prevent everything from drying out. Use chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or beer, since that liquid should give flavor to the chili.

Should you simmer chili covered or uncovered?

Cook Your Chili Without Covering

Remove the cover from the pot if you want to keep things easy. Cook the chili, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes to help decrease the liquid and thicken the mixture.

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