How To Thicken Chili: 4 Tried And Tested Methods

A bowl of chili can definitely suit anyone. It has a rich and overpowering flavor. It is extremely palpable, and every centimeter of your taste buds can feel it.


However, one should know that perfecting chili is a task that requires constant practice. But of course, it is a worthy pursuit, considering that it is a good comfort food during cold seasons any idle moment.

Over time, most of you have experienced accidentally making your chili too watery. Chili is supposed to be thick and mushy, but never too "liquid." It is not a soup after all. Fortunately, mistakes like this don't mean that you have to throw the dish. You just need to learn how to make chili thicker, and the nuisance would be drained off.

Throughout the years I spent in the kitchen, I found innovative ways to improve the thickness of chili without compromising its original flavor and texture. The tricks are quite simple. You don't even need to become an expert gourmet before you can achieve such a feat.

Here are some of those tested-and-proven methods.

Method 1. Thickening Chili With Flour

I've read several people asking the question "how to thicken chili with flour." While it is true that it sounds complicated, this process is quite straightforward. You just need to know the exact procedures that can do the magic.

At this point, you need to use all-purpose flour. The latter is a mixture of hard and soft wheat and is commonly used in various cooking and baking applications. Specifically, an all-purpose flour is a type of thickener for various recipes.

  • Use 1/4 cup of water and mix it with two tablespoons of the all-purpose flour so that you can make a slurry. Mix properly until such time you can make the composition smooth and free from any lump.
  • Once you completed the mixture, add it to the chili. After that, stir the chili and let it boil over medium heat setting. It doesn't take much time before the mixture boils.
  • Just continue in stirring and cooking the chili until such time that it will become free from flour lumps. If you think that the chili is still watery, you can add more flour mixture to it.

Method 2. Thickening Chili With Cornstarch

"How to thicken chili with corn starch?"

This is a question I asked a few years ago when someone told me that my chili could regain its thickness with the help of cornstarch. Surely, it piqued my interest since I have a lot of cornstarch stored in my kitchen. If I can thicken the chili with this particular ingredient, then I would be really relieved.

Fortunately, this method actually worked.

You see, cornstarch is a variant of starch that is derived from the corn grain. Typically, this ingredient as a base for thickening soups and sauces. Needless to say, it is also a primary ingredient of corn soup, which is, by the way, has a naturally thick texture.

The procedure for using cornstarch is pretty similar to when you are using all-purpose flour.

  • Combine one tablespoon of cold water with one tablespoon of cornstarch. Mix them properly until such time you can make a smooth composition.
  • After mixing, you can pour it into the chili that you are making. Cook the chili in a medium heat setting and wait for it to boil. While waiting, keep on stirring the chili.
  • Continue stirring for a few minutes before you let the chili sit to simmer for three to five minutes. Make sure that the cornstarch slurry is completely mixed with the chili.

Don't hesitate to add more of the cornstarch mixture if you deem that the chili is still too watery. If you are making chili in large amounts, you also need a large amount of the cornstarch-and-water mixture to make it thicker. One of the good traits of cornstarch is that it doesn't influence the taste of the food. However, you should be careful with it as it can cause dilution in the chili.

Method 3: Thickening Chili With Cornmeal

One of the kitchen ingredients that you can use to make your chili thick is cornmeal. The latter is a primary ingredient in making various baked goods such as spoonbread and cornbread.

Meanwhile, there is a unique variant of cornmeal called "masa harina" that is popular in Latin-American delicacies. This particular cornmeal is an essential piece in the process of making tortillas and tamales.

This time, you should learn how to thicken chili with cornmeal.

  • Pour two to three tablespoons of cornmeal to the chili that you are cooking. Mix them in a medium heat setting until the cornmeal dissolves and integrates into the chili. Stir properly until such time the chili gains some thickness already.
  • After mixing, let the chili simmer for up to 10 minutes. At this point, the chili should have achieved the kind of thickness and savoriness that you desire.
  • You can add more cornmeal if you think that the chili is not thick enough. Just repeat the process indicated here.

Let me remind you that putting too much cornmeal in the chili can cause changes in the flavor. Try to estimate the amount that you add to the chili so that you can prevent it from being compromised.

Cornmeal is definitely an excellent ingredient for thickening purposes. Aside from its effectiveness, it is widely available in many local markets. Therefore, you can have access to it anytime that you want.

For those who are asking, the process of how to thicken chili with masa is the same as cornmeal. After all, they are just technically similar when it comes to composition. You can use the same amounts of masa, too.

Method 4: Thickening Chili With Potato Masher

One of the effective techniques in thickening a soup-like chili in a slow cooker is through the help of a potato masher. I have tried the method from time to time, and it really does work.

The only thing that you need to do is to use a potato masher so that you can smash the chili. You see, when you mash the vegetables and beans together, the composition breaks, which in turn, allows the natural release of starches. Of course, these starches can help in thickening the chili by absorbing the unnecessary liquid on it. While doing so, you will notice that the beans are still intact.

As a reminder, do not overdo the smashing of the chili. It will cause undesirable results. Specifically, it can ruin the texture and appearance of the chili, which is something that you want to avoid in the first place.


These are the very methods that you can use to turn a liquified chili into a thick and savory delicacy. As you can see, each of these procedures is not difficult to do. They only involve simple ingredients and tools that you can find in your kitchen. You can apply any of these techniques if one day you find that your chili has become a messy soup! Trust me. All of them work like magic!

I hope that you learned from this guide. If you have other questions or suggestions, you can freely drop them in the comment section below.

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