Something is comforting about a bowl of chili; it’s hearty and, depending on the recipe, not too labor-intensive. While most recipes are pretty straightforward, things can still go wrong. One of the most significant issues I’ve encountered is when chili is too watery.
Let’s chat about how to thicken chili. There are several methods, and most are likely in your pantry. But not every chili thickener works with every recipe.
Want to learn what to do when chili is too watery? Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
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What To Do If Chili Is Too Watery?
When liquid isn’t absorbed, the problem becomes chili too watery. This can happen due to insufficient simmer time or liquid that hasn’t evaporated. Most chilis should simmer for 20-30 minutes. Start with an uncovered simmer if you haven’t done so already.
If that doesn’t thicken your chili, you need to add something to absorb the liquid. Here are some ways to do it.
Tomato paste is a great thickening agent for chili, although it will add a bit of tanginess. Add two tablespoons and mix well. Cook on medium heat and check after 15 minutes. It may take 30 minutes, depending on how watery the chili is.
If you want instant satisfaction, tortilla chips are a great thickening agent for chili and work particularly well for white chicken chili. Break the chips down into small pieces and add to the pot. Tortilla chips have a high sodium content, and this will affect flavor. If you are sensitive to salt or there is already a lot in the recipe, it’s best to use unsalted chips or try another method.
You may have this lurking in your pantry if you’ve made tortillas. Masa Harina is similar to cornmeal, but it has a finer consistency. It’s a great option to reach for when you have chili too watery since it won’t make it gritty like cornmeal. Add a tablespoon or two and mix and then let the chili simmer for a few minutes.
In a pinch, you could use the pantry staple, baking powder. Some chili recipes include baking powder in the early steps since it helps change the ph levels, which assists with browning. It’s listed as a thickening agent because it includes cornstarch, an effective ingredient. If you have cornstarch on hand, use that instead. If you are in a bind, baking powder works but can make your chili bitter, so add equal parts milk to counteract the bitterness.
Cornstarch is one of the quickest and easiest ways to thicken chili. Make a slurry by combining one tablespoon of cornstarch and water, and then add it to chili. Simmer for ten minutes, and you should have a better consistency.
Not technically a pantry item, but if you are making chili, you may have shredded cheese on hand. When you finish cooking, throw some shredded cheese on top and let it cook for a few minutes. Cheddar cheese, Monterey jack, and pepper jack are great options. You will taste the cheese.
Mash The Beans
If your chili contains beans, use them to your advantage by mashing to absorb excess liquid. The flavor won’t be affected, but the consistency will change slightly. Take a ladle-full out of the pot, mash, and then add them back.
Just like cornstarch, flour can be a great way to thicken chili. Again make a slurry with a 2:1 ratio of water to cornstarch and then add. Simmer for ten minutes.
What Do You Think?
How do you solve for when chili is too watery? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to read it.
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