5 Ways to Thicken Chili Effectively

5 Ways To Thicken Chili EffectivelyChili is addictive, there’s no sense denying that. I was watching this TV show once, it’s called Black Mirror, where they said something that I really liked about Chili. It goes like this:

“First time you had a jalapeno, bet you spat it out, too hot. But persevere, and it becomes addictive. Soon, a jalapeno’s not enough. You work your way up, red-hot chilies, bird’s-eye chilies, till you get to them Scotch bonnet devils.”

Isn’t that the most accurate thing you’ve ever heard? It surely is for me. Be careful before jumping to your keyboards to look for the show though, as it isn’t for the faint-hearted, and nor is chili, the focus of our article.

Chili is amazing, but I’m not implying that chili is a must-eat dish every day, as that would only lead to severe consequences. But every once in a while, you crave a hot plate of chili, and when that happens, you find yourself facing a big problem; the thickness.

Preparing thick, rich chili can be a problem for both experienced and beginner cooks. If you’ve been struggling with thin chili for a while now, worry no more, as, in this article, we will detail five ways through which you can get that thick chili you’ve been dreaming about.

Keep in mind that these methods may require some extra ingredients and a slight investment of both time and effort, but if done correctly, you’ll never face the aforementioned issue again.

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Thicken Chili

Before getting to the methods, I need to remind you to keep your Beverage Dispenser, Olive Oil Dispenser, or Beer Glass. You’re surely going to need them with this particular dish.

#1 – Simmering

First, note that this method takes time, maybe an hour or two. If patience isn’t your best suit, you can skip simmering and move on to the next procedures. On the other hand, it is the easiest method, so you’d have to give up on comfort or speed.

In simple words, simmering basically means cooking the chili in hot water, above the poaching temperature but below the boiling point which is 212 °F or 100 °C. Why, you ask? So you can get rid of the excessive liquids through evaporation without sacrificing the thickness of the chili.

How to do that? Simply remove the lid from the pot to allow more steam to get out.

A critical thing to keep in mind is that your Gas Cooktop mustn’t get too hot as that may lead to burning your precious chili. To avoid such an inconvenience, be extra careful to avoid overheating your pot or Red Copper Pan. Also remember to keep some Pot Holders or an Oven Mitt close by, security first.

What I really dig about this method is how it preserves the spicy chili flavor as it doesn’t require adding any extra ingredient.

#2 – Using the Flour

Grab your Flour Sifter, it’s time to thicken some chili! As there are different types of flour, I’m going to detail how to use each one of them to achieve the ultimate thickness. Keep in mind that these aren’t the only types you can use, but they’re the most known and the ones that you’re most likely to find in any store or online. Other flours that you can use include rice flour and tapioca flour.

All-Purpose Flour

This is probably the most used type of flour, and it can be found in any kitchen. Here’s how you can use it to thicken your chili:

  1. First, you need to mix two tablespoons (30 ml) of flour with ¼ cup (60 ml) of water using a Hand Mixer. Make sure to mix them really well to make a smooth, lump-free slurry.
  2. Take the mixture and add it to your chili then keep stirring until the water starts boiling. Once you’re at that point, cook the mixture at medium heat for a few minutes.
  3. Don’t stop mixing and stirring until you get a smooth mixture, with no traces of lumps or flour in it.
  4. Repeat the process until you’re totally satisfied with the result.
  5. Bon Appetit!


Also known as corn flour or maize starch. Even though it’s mainly used to thicken sauces and soups, you can also include this flour to avoid thin chili. How, you ask? Here goes:

  1. Start by mixing one tablespoon (15 ml) of cornstarch and one tablespoon (15 ml) of cold water until you get a smooth slurry.
  2. Add the mixture to your chili then keep stirring until the water boils
  3. Leave the now flourish chili to simmer until the cornstarch disappears completely.
  4. Add more slurry as needed. Keep adding and stirring until you’re satisfied with the thickness and the quantity of the chili. Once that’s done, serve in your Dinnerware Set.

Keep in mind that even though cornstarch won’t affect the flavor, adding too much of it can result in a diluted taste, so be careful if you’re preparing a family dinner or such big meals.


If you’ve ever tried a Latin American dish, from a Mexican Cookbook or a Brazilian one, for example, chances are you’ve already tasted cornmeal. This type of flour is used in different meals, including tamales and tortillas. It’s also used to make cornbread and spoonbread, so if you have some Baking Tools or a Bakeware Set laying around, you can use them paired with cornmeal.

Here’s how you can thicken your chili with cornmeal:

  1. Simply add 2 or 3 tablespoons of cornmeal to your chili and keep mixing until you get a smooth mixture.
  2. Let the chili simmer for 50 to 100 minutes. Check it every once in a while until you reach the thickness and quantity you desire. You can add cornmeal as needed.

Unlike corn stash, cornmeal can actually change the flavor of your chili, so be careful when adding it.

#3 – You Can Use an Emulsifier

An emulsifier is a food additive that one can use to mix liquids that don’t normally go together, such as water and oil. These substances are made of lecithin and fatty acids.

Using an emulsifier to thicken your chili is easy as pie, as you only need to add one or two tablespoons in the pot or pan then keep stirring and you’re good to go.

Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t overdo it, as adding too much of an emulsifier can lead to adverse effects. A little amount is more than capable of thickening your chili and making it tastier.

#4 – Use an Arrowroot

What’s convenient about arrowroot is that it’s flavorless and healthy, which allows it to thicken any chili dish without eliminating the spicy taste. Arrowroot is a starch that’s derived from the rootstocks of diverse tropical plants.

How to use Arrowroot to thicken chili?

  1. Add one tablespoon of arrowroot to one tablespoon of cold water, then mix them together until you get a homogenous
  2. Add the mixture to the simmering chili and keep stirring until you reach the thickness that you need

Keep in mind that using arrowroot to thicken your chili will result in a slightly glossy, yet thick and delicious, dish.

#5 – Using Vegetables

If you’re looking for a method to thicken chili while making it healthier, this is the path that you should take. It goes without saying that veggies can be a great addon to any meal. For your chili, you can use different kinds of vegetables, including potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, black beans, corn, onions, etc.

How to add veggies the right way:

  1. Chop, blend, or smash the vegetables. You can go with canned food if that’s what you prefer.
  2. Add the veggies to your chili and stir the mixture then leave it to simmer until you get the desired thickness

Just like the type, the quantity of the vegetables is entirely up to you. Just keep in mind that the more you add, the more diluted the chili’s flavor will become. Should you add the right quantity and combination of vegetables, you’re bound to get a healthy and tasty chili dish.

Leave the Thickening for Later

In case you’ve already cooked your chili and found the thickness to be insufficient, there’s still hope as you can thicken this dish upon serving by adding one or several ingredients, including:

  • Potato flakes
  • Grated choose (use a quality Cheese Grater for that)
  • Crushed tortilla or corn chips
  • Crumbled cornbread or crackers

If you’re having guests over, thickening the chili upon serving would be a better option as every person can add any ingredient they desire.

Precautions When Thickening Chili

  • Avoid adding too many extra ingredients, especially those that can alter the flavor of the chili, as that can dilute the original taste.
  • Mix any flour-water slurry you’re using really well as you wouldn’t want lumps or flour in your chili
  • Overheating the chili may burn it, so be careful when simmering the dish
  • Be careful when making significant quantities of chili, as trying too hard to thicken this delicious meal can ruin the dish


Thickness isn’t something to ignore nor to be taken lightly when preparing chili, as it can determine the overall taste of our meal. If you want to make this fine dish thicker, and therefore better, there are several paths you can take and methods you can follow, including the ones mentioned above.

What’s left for you to do is to thicken your chili, grab your Dining Chair and enjoy the ultimate Latin American dish!

While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!


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