Imagine stepping into your kitchen, prepared to try the chili that has been simmering in the crockpot for the last six hours. The soup smells delicious and is enticing your senses. You open the lid to your crockpot and discover that the soup is very watery. Have you experienced this situation before? 

The most amazing chili dishes are the ones that are thick, warming you up on cold winter days. If you have struggled to make thick chili in the past, do not be discouraged! This article will discuss ten ways that you can effectively thicken your chili.

10 Ways to Thicken Chili Effectively 8) Grated Cheese
1) Cornstarch 9) Arrowroot
2) Cornmeal 10) Uncover the Lid
3) Tomato paste15 Health Benefits of Chili
4) Beans5 Chili Recipes You Must Try
5) ChipsSummary
6) Flour
7) Sour Cream
Table of contents

10 Ways to Thicken Chili Effectively:

You are probably curious about the various ways that chili can be thickened. The flavor in recipes remains bold even if thickening agents are added. Whether you prefer creamy or chunky, your soup can be thickened in a way that best fits your taste buds.

Even if you have already finished preparing the soup, you can quickly add one of the following ingredients to bring your recipe to the next level of thickness. After you determine the correct amount of ingredients that are needed to bring your chili the desirable thickness, you can begin integrating them at the beginning of the cooking process.

Agent 1: Cornstarch

Cornstarch (also known as corn flour) acts as a thickening agent in many different recipes, sauces, and soups. Many people prefer using cornstarch instead of flour because it is a gluten-free product. Cornstarch acts as a thickener by absorbing any excess liquid, causing the dish to be less watery. Surprisingly, adding cornstarch will not change the flavor of the dish.

Bunch of corns

Agent 2: Cornmeal

Cornmeal is an agent that acts similarly to cornstarch. The main difference between cornmeal and cornstarch is that cornmeal is composed of bigger and coarser particles. Cornmeal is another gluten-free and dairy-free way to thicken a pot of chili. It is typically believed that you only need one or two tablespoons of cornmeal to bring your soup to the adequate thickness.

Agent 3: Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is exactly what it sounds like, a paste made of tomatoes. With skins and seeds removed, tomatoes can be broken down to form a paste-like substance. Tomato paste embodies the fullness of the flavors found in the tomato plant. Tomato paste accentuates the flavor of a chili dish. Start by adding a quarter cup of tomato paste to thicken your dish. If it still seems watery, you can continue adding more paste until you reach the desired textured.

Bowl of chili sauce with tomato paste

Agent 4: Beans

You know what they say, beans are the magical fruit. Beans are magical when it comes to thickening your pot of chili. Both black beans and pinto beans are commonly used in chili recipes. You can mash or puree beans to bring them to a creamy texture. Once they are blended together, add one cup of the mixture into your dish. Beans help to balance the flavors of the dish while adding more protein.

Agent 5: Chips

If you prefer crunchy textures over creamy textures, chips are the perfect ingredient for your pot of soup. It is best if the chips are added after the cooking is completed so that they do not become soggy. Add corn chips or tortilla chips to the finished dish and let sit for ten minutes before consuming. The chips will still maintain their texture but will absorb the flavors of the dish. If you are not a fan of chips, crackers are another great option.

Agent 6: Flour

Jar of flour

Flour is ground wheat that is used as an ingredient in most recipes. Similar to cornstarch and cornmeal, standard flour is a great thickening ingredient. Just two tablespoons of flour can thicken your dish without altering the flavor. Since most people keep flour in their home, this is a great ingredient to add at the last minute. To avoid clumps, make sure to stir the flour into the dish thoroughly.

Agent 7: Sour Cream

If you are tolerant of dairy, sour cream is one of the most delicious options to add into your recipe. Sour cream is tart, adding a nice contrast to the other typical flavors of a chilli dish. If your dish turns out spicier than normal, sour cream will help to balance the heat. If you choose to use this ingredient, add it to your dish after it is finished being prepared. You can mix it in while the soup is still warm so that it is incorporated into each bite you take.

Agent 8: Grated Cheese

Grated cheese on a wooden board

Cheese can be added to your recipe during or after the chilli-making process is complete. Most chefs prefer using cheddar cheese in their recipes, but you can try alternative cheeses if you prefer. Try adding a half cup of cheddar cheese into the pot and stir it in until the soup becomes creamier. Each bite will not only be thick, it will take on a perfectly cheesy taste.

Agent 9: Arrowroot

Arrowroot is a thickening agent that is gluten-free, dairy-free, and paleo-friendly. This product is completely flavorless. This product should not be cooked over heat for a long period of time, so it is best if it is added towards the end of the cooking process. Just a few tablespoons of this product help to absorb excess liquid and make your meal more dense. Add arrowroot to your dish in small portions to prevent clumping.

Agent 10: Uncover the Lid

If you do not want to add any ingredients to a tried and true chili recipe, you do not have to. Although you make chili similarly each time, it can still vary in thickness. By simply uncovering the lid throughout the cooking process, excess liquid will begin to evaporate from the pot. This evaporation will slowly allow your dish to become less watery, bringing it to the desired thickness using no added ingredients.

White bowl of chili sauce with dry chili pepper on top of it

15 Health Benefits of Chili 

Winter is approaching. With cold weather coming around the corner, it is important that you are making nourishing meals that will keep your body energized and warm throughout the months ahead. Thankfully, there are many incredible health benefits of chili. The following are the top fifteen health benefits of a standard chili recipe: 

  1.  Between beans and beef, chili is packed full of protein! Some recipes offer 30 grams of protein in just a single serving.
  2.  Chiles help to clear your nasal passageways. The chili peppers used in chili recipes are known for their ability to clear up congestion. 
  3.  The beans in chili are packed full of fiber. If you are looking for help with your digestive tract, beans will help contribute to the total amount of fiber your body requires daily. 
  4.  Chili is full of iron-rich ingredients. Between red meat, beans, and vegetables, you can consume much of your daily iron allowances through a single serving!
  5.  The ingredients in a standard soup contribute a large sum of Vitamin C into your diet. Peppers and tomatoes are both packed full of Vitamin C, helping to improve your immune system.
  6.  This soup can help to stabilize levels in the blood. Blood sugar levels, serotonin, and endorphins are normalized through the consumption of chili peppers.
Chili Pepper Nutrition Graph
Image source:
  1.  A chili dish can be as hearty or light as you desire. If you are looking for a dense and hearty meal, experiment by adding many different ingredients to your dish. If you are looking for a lighter chili, you can make it soupier and vegetable-based. 
  2.  Chili can help to reduce your overall weight. Chiles contain a product called “capsaicin.” Capsaicin increases your internal body temperature for a period of time, causing your body to burn more calories throughout the day.
  3.  This soup reduces your desire for fatty and sugary foods. In addition to helping you lose weight, capsaicin helps your body combat certain cravings.
  4.  Soup can help to regulate your appetite. If you have been consuming more than usual on a day to day basis, eating soup at your main meal times will help your body adjust back to its normal appetite. 
  5.  The ingredients in this dish are good for your heart! Beans help regulate heart health because of their fiber and potassium levels. 
  6.  Chili invigorates your senses. The flavors, herbs, and spices present in this dish help activate all of your senses.
  7.  High-protein dishes help with muscle recovery. If you are active on a regular basis, your body requires an extensive amount of protein to recover properly. This high-protein dish will help build the muscles in your body.
  8.  Soups help to slow the pace of your consumption. Warm soups help to slow the rate at which you eat your food, allowing your digestive system to work properly.
  9.  Chili fills you up quickly! Since this dish is packed full of nutrient-dense foods and maintains a high water volume, you will become full soon after your meal begins. This fullness allows you to portion your meals without overeating.
White bowl of chili sauce

5 Chili Recipes You Must Try

One of the major benefits of eating chili regularly is that it is extremely versatile! Whether you like tomato-based chilies or vegetarian white bean soups, there are recipes that will fit the appetite of your taste buds. Some of the best chili recipes that can be made with a few simple ingredients include:

  1. The Budget Bytes Basic Chili Recipe
    1. You cannot go wrong with the standard chili recipe from Budget Bytes. This recipe is protein packed, flavor-dense, and easy to make!
  2. The Delish Vegetarian Chili
    1. Although it is meatless, this dish is packed full of protein and fiber. It offers warmth and nourishment on a cold winter evening.
Chopping pepper on a white chop board
  1. The Panning the Globe White Chicken Chili
    1. White chicken chili feels light when compared to other chili dishes. This recipe used great northern beans and salsa verde. If you want to experiment with the flavor, try using coconut milk in the base.
  2. The Well Plated by Erin Paleo Chili
    1. If you are looking to lower your carb intake while still partaking in a heart healthy meal, try this paleo-friendly chili recipe.
  3. That Low Carb Life Keto-Friendly Chili
    1. This keto-friendly chili recipe is extremely low in carbohydrates, packed full of protein, and rich in flavor. 


Chili is a dish that can be prepared by individuals who are still beginners in the kitchen. By following a well-vetted recipe, you can prepare an amazing chili dish on the stove, in a crockpot, or in an instant pot.

Make sure that you follow the correct cooking times and the exact ingredient list to ensure your recipe turns out exactly as you want it to. If you like extra spice or flavor, experiment on your own by adding extra chilis, avocado, or other ingredients that you love.

By learning a chili recipe, you can begin on your culinary journey of discovering complimentary flavors and best practices for getting the texture you desire in a dish.