How To Thicken Chili: 5 Common Techniques

When it comes to making a delicious chili, the thickness is often an important aspect. If you love your chili soupy, then use less liquid and leave some of it on the surface when cooking.

If you don’t like your chili soupy, then add more thickening agents and let the chili simmer for a longer amount of time.

The key to a delicious, thick, and rich chili is to use the right kind of ingredients – super spicy peppers; great ground meat; strong flavors that enhance each other, and so on.

How To Thicken Chili: 5 Common Techniques

1. Use A Small Amount Of Cornstarch Or Flour

If you are cooking a large chili containing lots of liquid, you can first use the water to boil some cornmeal in it, just like they do in professional restaurants.

Mix the cornstarch into cold water, add oil if you like, and then add this to your chili. The water will absorb the thickener, turning it from a soupy dish to a thicker stew-like one.

2. Add Ground Meat

When making chili, sometimes you can use ground meat instead of adding beans or other ingredients.

Do some people think that ground meat makes the chili taste better and richer with its color and aroma, but does it really?

It is not really true for the bright red color that many claim it has. Red chili powder may be mixed with ground meat, but the red time will shine through the dish in a more dominant way.

How To Thicken Chili
How To Thicken Chili

3. Use Beans

If you dislike ground meat, you can use beans instead. Some people also use both to make their chili richer and thicker.

If you are going to add dried beans to your chili, make sure that you have presoaked them for at least five hours or, better still, overnight if possible – this is because they will cook faster, and the texture will be better too.

4. Add Diced Vegetables

Another great way of thickening your chili is by adding diced vegetables. You can use carrots, celery, onions, and tomatoes.

If you like your chili with chopped vegetables, throw them in it at the end of the cooking process.

5. Reduce The Liquid

Another way to thicken chili is by reducing the amount of liquid used for it. Adding more water to tomato-based chilis will make it a soupy dish because tomatoes are high in water content.

Chili con carne contains more than 10% water, so if you want to thicken your chili without adding flour or cornstarch, use less liquid instead and add just enough water as needed to finish your dish.

How to Thicken Chili: 6 Simple Steps to an Effective Strategy

Alternative Methods For Thickening Chili

1. Make A Thickener Instead

In hot climates, where it is very hot, you can use a commercial thickener to thicken your chili. You can easily make your own using the following ingredients: salt evaporated milk or cream, and flour.

These are the ones used in some commercial thickeners, so you have to add them to your chili as well.

2. Add Some Bread

If you want to thicken chili fast, grab a slice of bread and mix it into your dish. This is because bread contains starches and sugars that thicken liquids as they are heated.

If you want to know how to thicken chili using bread, then soak slices of bread in milk or water and add them to your dish.

3. Use Corns To Thicken Chili

Some people also like using cornmeal instead of adding flour or cornstarch. For this purpose, you can use baked or boiled corn because it contains both a starch that thickens liquids and complex sugars that affect the texture.

Should Chili Be Thick Or Soupy?

This depends on who you ask. Many people love having their chili thick, but others prefer it to be soupy because the ingredients’ flavor blends in the mouth better and the texture is better too.

There are also those who like a little bit of both – having some chili sauce in it and some that are quite thick and hearty.

How Does Chili Thicken Covered Or Uncovered?

Most cooks prefer to cover their pots when making chili. The reason for this is so that no water will evaporate from it while cooking, which means that your dish will be more solid at the end of the day. But of course, whether you want to cover the pot or not is up to you.


If you have read this article to the end, I hope you learned something new about how to make chili and how to thicken the chili.

Whether it is thick with cornstarch, flour, or ground meat, just remember – don’t over-stir the chili because this will ruin its taste and texture.

Follow me
Publisher at Naznin's Kitchen
Hello! I'm Naznin Aktar, the food enthusiast and recipe curator at Naznin's Kitchen. Want to turn everyday ingredients into extraordinary dishes? Explore Naznin's Kitchen for a collection of recipes that are sure to inspire your inner chef and delight your loved ones.
Naznin Aktar
Follow me

Leave a Comment