What Can I Use To Thicken Chili?

Your taste bud would attest to the goodness of a nourishing bowl of thick chili. And if you want to appreciate it more take the chili during the cold weather.

Regardless of how it tastes and feels, it would be heartbreaking having to deal with some watery chili.

And if nobody wants a soupy chili for lunch, you would have to thicken the chili. So you are curious and you ask what can I use to thicken chili?

You can use mashed beans, all-purpose flour, tomato paste, and cornmeal to thicken your chili. But do you know you can thicken your chili without anything? And this is a super fun way too!

In this guide, you will learn about these thickeners and how you can thicken your chili, but first off let’s learn why your chili is thin.


Why your chili gets thin

mexican chili
  • Limited cooking time: how does this affect the thickness of the chili? Chili involves heating chili peppers and tomatoes. Heating the tomatoes would make them produce more water. And it would take some heating to thicken the tomatoes.

But if you cook for only a short time, then you will end up extracting water out of the tomato without thickening it. And this overall affects the chili by making it watery.

  • Adding so many stocks: indeed some stocks would enhance the flavor of the tomato and make it a sight to behold. However, adding some stock that can produce water would make the chili thin.
  • Adding a lot of fresh tomatoes: a good number of recipes might permit for more fresh tomatoes. This might be to enhance the color and flavor of the chili. But since heating tomatoes produces water, it would affect the chili.

These are several reasons for ending with thin chili; let’s have a list of things to thicken your chili!


What can I use to thicken chili?

  • Mashed beans
  • Flour or cornstarch
  • Add some tomato paste
  • Thicken with corn chips
  • Cornmeal
  • Xanthan gum
  • Cook for a long time.

All these would thicken your chili, but it all boils down to how to use any of it and what works for you. How about some guide on how to thicken your chili?

How to thicken the chili

1. Mashed beans: If you intend to hold the flavor of your chili even after thickening, then use mashed beans. Getting the mashed beans into the chili releases starch into it. The starch would then absorb the extra liquid hence thickening the chili.

You can also blend the beans into a paste; add it to your chili. Simmer your chili for some time; continue to check on the chili until it thickens.

What beans should you use? You can use pinto beans, black beans, or whichever one is at your disposal.

2. Use thickening agent: What are these thickening agents? Flour and cornstarch.

To thicken with flour: get some flour mix the flour with water the quantity of the flour should be bigger than the water. Then pour it into the chili, it would absorb the water in the chili.

To thicken with cornstarch: if you want to thicken your chili, add cornstarch then mix with the same amount of water as the cornstarch. Mix well before you add it to your chili.

Do not add the cornstarch or flour directly into the chili. Mix with water to avoid having lumps in the chili.

3. Add some tomato paste: You can thicken your chili by adding tomato paste at the very last minute of your cooking. You would only have to mix a small amount of tomato paste into your chili. Lower the heat and allow the chili till it thickens.

Don’t worry though tomato paste seems sour, it would not alter the taste too much.

4. Thicken your chili with corn chips or cheese: Unlike other thickening processes that would require you to thicken while the chili is still on fire.

Corn chips and cheese allows for some thickening when serving the chili. You can add shredded cheese into the chili or some chips as toppings too.

The cheese contains some citric acid; this would help thicken the chili by binding the liquids in the chili.

5. Cornmeal: This like flour and cornstarch absorb excess liquids in the chili. But you do not have to mix it with water.

Add the cornmeal to your chili, a tablespoon will do. Stir the cornmeal so it spreads in the chili. Allow it to thicken before serving.

6. Xanthan gum: This might sound like a bad idea. However, contrary to that. Xanthan gum is a good thickening agent.

Well, this is because, unlike other thickening agents, this xanthan gum would thicken your chili without affecting the taste or color.

Dilute a few tablespoons in cold water and then add into the chili and allow it to do its job.

7. Cook your chili for a longer time: Remember we discussed earlier that one of the reasons for chili getting thin is because the chili doesn’t cook for a longer time.

So, if you have some time to spare and you do not have a lot of people to feed then you can thicken your chili naturally.

All you have to do is to cook until the liquid reduces. This is a good idea since other thickening agents would give your chili this glossy look and at worst alter the taste.

Read: Can You Use A Cake Pan For Pie?

Conclusion: What can I use to thicken chili?

We understand it is not nice to have some soupy chili around. However, what matters is that you can easily correct this fault with a few thickening agents. Here in this guide, we discussed;

  • What can I use to thicken the chili
  • Why your chili gets thin
  • And how to thicken your chili.

Simply work around the thickening agent that works for you. Ensure you follow this guide in other to get the best out of it.