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How to Thicken Chili

Is your chili too runny to serve? Then never fear – help is here! Try these easy ways to thicken chili and save your dinner!

If – for whatever reason – your chili has turned out too runny, then you’ll be pleased to hear that there are several different ways you can thicken it up. Best of all, no one will ever be able to tell!


The first thing to try is simply simmering the chili with the lid off the pot. This will cause much of the excess liquid to evaporate.

Instant Pot Cajun Chili Photo

Keep a close eye on the pot though – if too much liquid evaporates too quickly, your chili may burn and stick to the bottom of the pot.

That being said, a little sticking to the bottom is a good thing, as long as you stir the little ‘burnt’ bits back into the sauce at frequent intervals. They add a richer, deeper flavor. 


Just take some of the beans from the chili and mash them well – or, better still, puree them! Then just stir them back into the pot.

Chopped vegetables

They may not be typical chili ingredients but certain vegetables – very finely chopped – can do a good job of thickening the sauce without significantly affecting the flavor. Broccoli florets, mushrooms and bell peppers all work well.

Quick Texas Chili Picture

Flour or cornstarch

Flour isn’t our favorite choice as a thickener and it needs to be used with care – otherwise you may actually be able to taste it in the chili.

The most important rule is NOT to spoon it straight into the chili. It will immediately form lots of clumps that will be virtually impossible to get rid of without straining!

Instead, spoon some of the hot liquid from the chili into a small bowl and whisk in a couple of tablespoons of the flour. Then stir the mixture back into the pot and continue to cook, stirring well, until the mixture has thickened.

If you choose to use cornstarch, mix it with cold water before adding it to the pot.

Chili Con Carne Image

Crushed tortilla chips

This method couldn’t be easier! Just finely crush the tortilla chips, stir them in and instantly thicken your sauce whilst adding a complementary flavour! Unsalted ones are best, otherwise you may upset the balance of seasoning in the dish.

Chia seeds

These tiny little black seeds are absolutely perfect for thickening foods without affecting their flavor! The reason they work so well is that they have a mucilaginous quality which makes them swell. It takes a few minutes for them to swell fully, so don’t add too many in one go! 

Turkey Black Bean Chili Pic

Last resort…

If none of these options are available to you, just take a hand blender and blend some of the chili in the pot. Stir it all together and the entire dish will be thick enough to serve.

Fancy something a little different? Why not try the Pioneer Woman’s White Chicken Chili? It’s a great twist on a traditional favorite