4 Ways to Thicken Chili

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4 Ways to Thicken Chili
4 Ways to Thicken Chili

If there's too much liquid in your chili, there are several ways you can thicken it at the last minute. Some methods do change the taste slightly, but the difference is usually not dramatic. If you want your dinner guests to choose to thicken their own portions or eat them as liquid chili, there's a final section on how to thicken individual chili dishes. Keep reading to learn more about this method in detail.


Method 1 of 4: Use the Standard Thickening Method


Step 1. Use flour

You can also use protein powder (available at drugstores and some grocery stores) to thicken the "low calorie chili." Stir in a slurry made of cup (60 ml) cold water (or pour a little chile juice to use) and 2 tbsp (30 ml) flour.

  • Combine flour and water in a separate bowl, whisking with a fork until thickener is smooth and without lumps.
  • Add the flour mixture to the chili and cook over medium heat on the stove, stirring constantly, until the liquid boils and thickens. This should only take a few minutes.
  • Continue cooking and stirring for another minute after the chiles have thickened to allow the flour to mix well with the chiles. Otherwise, you may taste flour in the chili.
  • For larger chili servings where the liquid is 2 cups (500 ml) or more, double the amount of flour and water you use.
  • Although flour is an unflavored thickener, some people believe that using too much flour and water in your chili can reduce and dissolve the flavor, making it less strong.

Step 2. Make a starch porridge

Mix 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of starch with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of cold water to add to the chili.

  • Whisk the starch and water in a separate small bowl before adding them to the chili. Make sure there are no lumps.
  • Add and stir the porridge into the warm chile and heat over medium heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens. You should see results in a few minutes.
  • Add more starch and water, if needed. If the chiles are not thick enough, you can make more puree to add. Large servings with more than 2 cups (500 ml) of liquid may require twice the amount of starch slurry, or more.
  • Cook the chiles for another 2 minutes after they have thickened to allow the starch to completely disintegrate. If not, you can change the taste of the chili.
  • Be aware that starch has a slightly shiny appearance.
  • Also be aware that starch has no taste and won't change the taste of the chili; however, if you add too much porridge, it can dissolve the flavor and reduce it.

Step 3. Try cornstarch or masa harina

Adding 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) of cornstarch or masa harina directly into the chili will also thicken the liquid.

  • Add cornstarch or masa harina to the chili without mixing it with the water first. Stir well to absorb the liquid, thicken it.
  • Let the chiles simmer for 5-7 minutes after adding the thickener.
  • Fine corn flour is similar to flour but has a strong corn flavor, because it comes directly from corn. Masa harina also has a strong flavor, as it comes straight from grits.
  • Adding cornstarch or masa harina will affect the taste of the chili. This can give the liquid a polenta or tortilla shell flavor.
  • While many people feel that the added flavor goes well with the chili, others think it spoils the taste.

Step 4. Try arrowroot

Add 1 tsp (5 ml) of arrowroot mixed with 1 tsp (5 ml) cold water to the chile and simmer until thick.

  • Combine water and arrowroot separately in a small bowl until smooth.
  • After adding the porridge, let the chili boil, stirring constantly. The liquid should thicken quickly.
  • Ararut is a starch taken from the Ararut plant. These can usually be found near starch.
  • Ararut is unflavored and strong, so you only need a small amount. Since only a small amount is needed, this shouldn't over-dissolve the flavor, making it a favorite for many chili fans.
  • Like other starches, arrowroot will add a little shimmer to the chili liquid.

Step 5. Let the chili reduce

Remove the lid of your chili sauce and let it simmer for another 30-60 minutes.

  • You can raise the temperature to reduce the time, bringing it closer to 30 minutes. However, don't let the chilies boil completely. If you continue to cook the chiles at a low temperature at a slow simmer, it may take closer to 60 minutes before much reduction is noticeable.
  • This process uses evaporation to reduce the amount of liquid in the chili. Opening the cover maximizes the effect by allowing more steam to escape.
  • The remaining chile liquid will have a stronger, thicker taste once the reduction is complete.

Method 2 of 4: Emulsion

  • Buy an "emulsifier". An emulsifier, such as lecithin (usually available in the health food section) will help disperse the fat in the chili, making it thicker and richer without adding too much thickness.


Step 1. Remove excess fat before emulsifying

This process makes the fat tastier, if you leave it alone, but otherwise adds more fat that you want to lose.


Step 2. Add emulsifier conservatively:

one tsp for small saucepan, one tsp for large pot.

Method 3 of 4: Thickening with Chili Ingredients


Step 1. Mix the tomato paste

Add a 6 oz (180 ml) can of tomato paste to the chile for the last 30 minutes of cooking, stirring frequently to combine.

  • Since most chiles are tomato based, adding extra tomato paste to the chiles doesn't add any new flavor to it. However, this can take the "kick" away, so you may need to add the seasoning you're using to balance it out.
  • Since the tomato paste can be a little bitter, you may want to add 1 tsp (5 ml) to 1 tbsp (15 ml) granulated sugar to the chili, too. The sugar will balance the bitterness and add a little sweetness to the chili.
  • If you just want the chili to be a little thicker, slowly add the tomato paste, using about 1/3 of the can every 10 minutes or so. Stir thoroughly after each insertion. This will give you an idea of how thick the chili will be and will prevent your chili from becoming too thick.

Step 2. If your chiles contain nuts, sift about cup (125 ml) of beans and fry them again, or crush them in a food processor or blender

Return the beans to the chili, stir, and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until warm.

  • Be careful when crushing hot food, especially using a blender. The slurry can leak out of the blender and cause sunburn if you don't secure the lid with a thick cloth.
  • If you know the chiles will be too runny before you start making them, you can make the process easier by crushing cup (125 ml) or more of the beans before adding them to the chiles.
  • Use home cooked or canned beans. These beans don't need to be crushed to thicken your chilies. Use a can of pinto beans or kidney beans.

Step 3. Add the quick oats

Cheap, thick, and popular “beanless” chile for hot dogs, it doesn't contain a lot of meat. This meatless ingredient is oatmeal! (Right, just read the label). Dried oats, for oatmeal, absorb a lot of liquid and form moist seeds that are soft but not soggy when cooked. Read the can for how much oatmeal makes for a given amount of dry oats by absorbing liquid, and enter it conservatively. Cook for at least a few minutes for “quick” (half-cooked) oats; at least half an hour for “old-fashioned” oats.


Step 4. Add other solid ingredients

Sometimes the liquid itself is quite thick, but the chili doesn't contain enough solids. In this case, you can change the recipe by simply adding solid ingredients. But remember that many “solids” have liquid in them and will become softer or even ooze when cooked. Adding pre-cooked ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, corn, beans or okra, etc. Closer to the end of cooking can make the chiles thick, but adding it in the middle and cooking for longer can add more liquid and make the chiles more liquid.

  • Add the uncooked noodles to the boiling chile to absorb the liquid. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes to heat up and check the noodles until they are as soft or al dente (hard) as you'd like.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes – canned or fresh. Let it simmer for 10 minutes or so to heat up, or longer to soften the tomatoes, if you prefer.
  • Use chopped bell peppers, such as to 1 bell pepper, diced, for a slightly sweet taste. Use 1 chili for added spiciness, if desired. Let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the dried, chopped or powdered onions and let it simmer to absorb the water. Onions add a sweet, spicy taste but don't cause bad breath like raw onions.

Method 4 of 4: Thicken While Serving


Step 1. Wait till the end for this method

If you have a thin chile pan that doesn't spread heat well, doesn't like to stir the chiles, or wants a very thick chile. It's best to wait until the end as thickening will reduce the convection that spreads heat inside the chili without creating a scorching hot spot.

Step 2. Crush some saltine crackers and stir into your individual chile dish

Start with 3-4 crackers, adding more to thicken the chili to your liking.

  • You can also use small oyster crackers, but it's a good idea to crush them to absorb more liquid.
  • To add an interesting dimension of taste, you can also use flavored gourmet crackers. Try garlic and cheese, green onions, or four-cheese crackers, for example.

Step 3. Try crushed corn chips

Add a layer of crushed corn chips to your bowl before adding the chilies. Stir evenly.

While corn chips don't thicken the chili as much as crackers, most prefer the taste of corn chips to the crunchy taste of chili. While it doesn't thicken the liquid itself, it does thicken the overall texture of the chili by incorporating solid ingredients into it

Step 4. Add the potato flakes

You can sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) of dried potato flakes over a large serving of individual chiles while they are still hot.

The potato flakes will lighten the color of the chili a little. It may also change the taste, giving it a richer taste, but the difference is less dramatic

Step 5. Add crumbled cornbread, such as a muffin or cornbread slice, to the chili and mix lightly

The cornbread will absorb some of the liquid, making the chili thicker.

Step 6. Add grated cheese, soft cheese or cheese sauce/dipping

Cheese adds rich, creamy softness to the lucky guest's plate.

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