The Best Ways to Thicken Chili

Stir in some masa harina

Masa harina is a ground corn flour made from corn that’s been soaked in an alkaline solution to give it a toastier, nuttier flavor, and make its nutrients more readily available. When added to chili, it thickens the liquid while giving it a subtle, toasty corn flavor. Though you can add it directly to a simmering pot, making a slurry first ensures it doesn’t clump. For best results, mix 1 tablespoon of masa harina and 1 tablespoon of water, then add to your pot of chili. Repeat as needed until it is thickened to your liking.

Blend in some beans:

If you are “no beans in the chili” kinda person, you might want to skip this one. (Or you might get an illicit thrill out of sneaking some secret beans in there. I don’t know you.) Beans are full of thickening fiber, and they read as creamy, rather than bean-y, when blended. Just take a cup of pinto beans or white beans, blend until smooth, then stir them into your chili and let simmer to thicken.

Get slightly French:

Chili is not a French dish, but that doesn’t mean you can’t borrow one of their techniques. Beurre manié (“kneaded butter”) is a particularly helpful thickener. Butter and flour are mashed together in equal parts to make a paste—kind of like a raw roux—and that paste can be dropped into a simmering pot of chili (or anything else) to add body and a touch of richness. I start with two tablespoons each of butter and flour, knead it together, then tear the pasty blob into bits and add them one at a time, until the chili is perfectly thickened.

Make a more-exciting cornstarch slurry:

Adding spoonfuls of cornstarch directly to the pot can cause the powder to clump up, but making a quick slurry prevents this. Cornstarch slurries are usually made with water.

Try making a slurry out of cornstarch and beer, tomato juice, fish sauce (for extra umami), or even bourbon. Any potable liquid will do; you just need equal amounts of liquid and cornstarch by volume. Start with a couple of tablespoons of each, whisk them together, then drizzle them in your hot pot of chili to give it body and a bit of flavor

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