Do you enjoy chili? If you do, then this page rightfully deserves your attention. Like me, most people are also chili fans, but something can make that love diminish. “Watery” or thin chili isn’t a thing that many enjoy. Have you ever wondered how to fix the problem of having a thin, soupy chili? Various ways can be used to thicken this hearty, tasteful food. You’ll need to follow the different methods discussed in this blog to get your chili thick without altering its appearance, taste, or flavor. Read on below to find out more on how to thicken Chili.

how to thicken Chili

Using A Thickener While Cooking

You can emulsify the chili, thicken when serving, letting it thicken naturally, or use a thickening agent, which is the simplest method. Adding a thickener entails using an agent like flour dissolved in water. Since these agents have starch, they can absorb the extra fluid in the chili.


Adding Flour/Cornstarch as A Thickening Agent

In this case, any all-purpose flour or cornstarch at home can do. Doing this starts by making a slurry with water, which involves mixing water and flour in a 2:1 ratio or equal amounts of cornstarch with water. This helps to avoid large lumps formation if we are to input flour directly to the chili.

Put the slurry into the chili and stir appropriately while ensuring that they combine sufficiently. Boil the mixture and allow simmering for 10 minutes, but the flour should be cooked thoroughly to remove the raw taste. You can always repeat the procedure if the desired thickness isn’t achieved.

Adding Cornmeal

You can also use cornmeal as a thickener. The mechanism is similar to flour-absorbing excess liquid to create the needed thickness. The process doesn’t begin with mixing the cornmeal with water first; instead, you’ll need to add a tablespoon full of the agent to the chili while it’s cooking. Stir and allow simmering plus an additional 10 minutes thickening. You can use Masa harina instead of cornmeal.

Buy Organic Alma Semillera White Corn Masa Harina

Mashing Beans into The Chili

Do you ever use your potato masher while preparing your tasty chili food? If not, then it’s the perfect time to do so and use it to mash a cup of pinto or kidney beans into the chili. But, if you had already cooked the chili with beans, you can still make it thicker.

Take a cup of the beans in the chili and blend/grind them into a thick paste. Add them back to the chili pot and boil. Allow it to simmer up to the required thickness. This method is efficient in retaining the flavor of the food.

Buy KitchenAid Potato Masher

Use Tomato Paste

Adding a tomato paste creates a sweet tasty flavor to the dish. It’s also a simple way to go once you have the paste. It’s preferred to add it in the last 30 minutes of cooking. That’s when you will need to mix the tomato paste into your chili. The amount you add will depend on that of the chili you’re preparing. After that, allow it to simmer until it becomes thick.

Buy Hunt’s Organic Tomato Paste

Thickening When Serving

Sometimes thickening chili is like adding salt to food, especially when several people should eat the meal; you can’t know the thickness that each person may want. Such scenarios enable thickening while serving so that everyone can choose how thick they want their chili.

Crushed tortilla chips, potato flakes, crumbled crackers, cornbread, or grated cheese can be used. They can be used as a topping and to make the chili delicious.

Using Tortilla Chips Serving

These will not only thicken the dish but also add flavor. It’s appropriate to check the salt content in the chips. You can reduce the amount of table salt used in the chili if you’re using salted tortillas. Add a layer of the chips to the plate before putting the chili in and then stir to mix.

Add Crumbled Saltine Crackers

Put a few crackers into each plate and then mix with the served chili. It’s good to begin with, three or four crackers, and proceed on adding more to get the desired thickness.

Use Potato Flakes/ Crumbled Cornbread

Add one or two tablespoons full of dried potato flakes to a hot served chili and stir. This will result in a thicker, tastier dish. Though it might alter the flavor, using this means causes a slight difference. Added crumbled cornbread would absorb some of the fluid leading to a seemingly overall thicker chili.

Add Grated Cheese

You can also add grated cheese on top of the serving bowl as a topping. The other option is to scoop huge cheese sauce dollop over the dish as well. The cheese will emulsify the chili by binding to the liquid, thus thickening it. This agent adds flavor, creaminess, and tanginess.

Buy Happy Belly Shredded Mexican Four Cheese Blend


Emulsifying your chili is another great way to make it thicker. Using emulsifiers (emulgents), which are food additives for mixing two or more fluids that generally don’t mix properly, can help you if the above ways aren’t available. You can buy an emulsifier like those made from lecithin.

It will help distribute fat throughout the chili, making it thick and creating a rich mouthfeel of each bite without increasing stickiness. Only add one or two teaspoons of the product to the chili and mix. It’s advisable to limit the use of an emulsifier and discard excess amounts if possible. A small amount will suffice in making the dish delicious and thicker.

Letting The Chili Thicken Naturally

This is the most economical way to thicken chili, but also the longest. It involves cooking it until the excess fluid evaporates. Keep it below the boiling point by removing the pot’s lid to enable more steam to evaporate. Ensure the heat isn’t high to avoid burning your dish. This method also preserves the flavor and results in a more concentrated and stronger taste as no additional ingredients are required.

The Bottom Line

Nothing is boring as being unable to enjoy and find pleasure in one’s favorite meal. Undoubtedly, most people enjoy feasting on chili, so having a thin dish isn’t adorable. Even so, now you know how to thicken chili the way you desire by following the above methods.