how to thicken up chili in slow cooker

Getting your chili to the perfect thickness in a slow cooker can often be a challenge. A well-thickened chili not only tastes better but also has that hearty texture we all love. This article will guide you through various methods and ingredients to help thicken your slow cooker chili effectively.

Read on for simple tricks to achieve that ideal consistency!

Key Takeaways

  • Use beans, cornmeal, tomato paste, or flour to thicken chili in a slow cooker.
  • Let the chili simmer longer without the lid to reduce liquid and make it thicker.
  • Add ingredients like potato flakes or crushed tortilla chips for extra thickness and flavor.
  • Cook chili long enough and follow recipes closely to avoid thin results.
  • Mix cornstarch or flour with cold water before adding to prevent clumps and ensure smooth thickening.

Common Methods for Thickening Chili in a Slow Cooker

Adding beans, blending beans, using tomato paste, adding cornmeal, or removing the lid and simmering longer are all effective methods for thickening chili in a slow cooker. These simple techniques can help you achieve a thicker and heartier chili without sacrificing flavor.

Adding beans

Beans make chili nice and thick. Use any kind you like, such as kidney or black beans. To thicken your slow cooker chili, put in a can of beans with its liquid. The beans will break down over time and help make the chili thicker.

If you want an even thicker mix, blend some of the beans before adding them to the pot. This makes a paste that blends right into your chili. Next up is another bean trick – blending them for extra thickness!

Blending beans

To make your chili thicker, try blending a portion of the beans you are using in the recipe. By taking a cup or two of cooked beans and blending them into a smooth paste, you can then add this puree back into the slow cooker.

This will not only enhance the texture of your chili but also help thicken it naturally without altering its flavor. Blending beans is an effective method to give your slow-cooked chili a heartier consistency while adding extra protein and fiber to your dish.

Additionally, this technique eliminates any grainy texture that whole beans might impart, resulting in a velvety, thickened chili.

Using tomato paste

To thicken chili in a slow cooker, using tomato paste is an excellent option. Tomato paste not only enhances the flavor but also adds thickness to the chili. Simply add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to your slow cooker and stir it in well.

Let it cook for another 20-30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the chili to thicken up nicely. This simple addition can make a significant difference in achieving that perfect hearty texture for your slow cooker chili.

Adding cornmeal

Cornmeal is a simple and effective way to thicken chili in a slow cooker. Just mix a small amount of cornmeal with water to form a slurry, then stir it into the chili during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

The cornmeal will thicken the chili and add a subtle, earthy flavor without overpowering other ingredients. It’s an easy method that works well for those seeking gluten-free options or looking to add some texture to their dish.

Using cornmeal as a thickening agent brings depth and richness to your slow cooker chili without altering its taste. This approach serves as an excellent alternative for individuals who want to avoid traditional thickening agents like flour or cornstarch but still desire that hearty consistency in their chili recipes.

Removing the lid and simmering longer

To thicken chili in a slow cooker, you can remove the lid and let it simmer longer. The heat will help the liquid evaporate, making the chili thicker. This method is straightforward and doesn’t require any additional ingredients or special techniques.

Simmering your chili without the lid allows moisture to escape and concentrates the flavors. It’s a simple way to achieve a thicker consistency without adding any extra ingredients or altering the flavor profile of your chili.

Other Ingredients to Thicken Chili

Consider using alternative ingredients like cornstarch, flour, potato flakes, potato starch, crushed tortilla chips, masa harina, refried beans, or adding more meat for thickening chili in the slow cooker.

These options can help you achieve the desired consistency without compromising the flavor of your chili.


Cornstarch is a great option to thicken chili in the slow cooker. It helps create a smooth consistency without altering the flavor. To use cornstarch, mix it with cold water until smooth, then stir it into the chili during the final 15-30 minutes of cooking.

The liquid will thicken as it heats up, giving your chili a delightful texture.

Making chili thicker without flour or cornstarch can be tricky, but cornmeal or masa harina are excellent alternatives for thickening. They add richness and depth of flavor while achieving that desired thickness.


You can use all-purpose flour to thicken chili in a slow cooker. Mix a small amount of flour with water to form a smooth paste, then stir it into the chili. Let it cook for an additional 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend and the chili to thicken.

This method is simple and effective at thickening your chili without altering its flavor profile.

Now let’s move on to “Potato Flakes” and how they can help thicken your slow cooker chili.

Potato flakes

Potato flakes are a simple and effective way to thicken chili in a slow cooker. They dissolve easily, imparting a subtle potato flavor while thickening the chili to perfection. Adding potato flakes also provides a creamy texture without altering the taste significantly.

Simply stir in the desired amount of potato flakes during the last 30 minutes of cooking, allowing them to soak up excess moisture and create a hearty, thick consistency.

Using instant potato flakes as a thickening agent for your slow cooker chili offers convenience and reliable results. With just a few spoonfuls, you can achieve your desired thickness without any extra hassle or specialized techniques.

Potato starch

Potato starch is an effective thickening agent for chili in a slow cooker. It can easily be dissolved in a small amount of cold liquid before being added to the chili, helping to create a thicker consistency without altering the flavor profile.

When using potato starch, avoid adding it directly to hot mixtures as this can cause clumping. Instead, mix it with a little bit of water or broth before incorporating it into the chili.

This method provides an excellent way to thicken your slow cooker chili and is especially useful if you’re looking for alternatives to flour or cornstarch.

Crushed tortilla chips

To thicken up your chili in the slow cooker, consider using crushed tortilla chips. These can add thickness and texture to your chili while also infusing it with a subtle corn flavor.

Simply crush the tortilla chips into small pieces and stir them into the chili during the last 30 minutes of cooking. The chips will dissolve slightly, releasing their starches and aiding in thickening the chili without altering its flavor profile.

Masa harina is commonly used for thickening chili, but if you’re looking for an alternative thickener that adds a unique twist to your dish, crushed tortilla chips could be just what you need.

Masa harina

Masa harina is a fine corn flour made from ground, dried hominy. It’s often used to make traditional Mexican dishes like tamales and tortillas. When added to chili in a slow cooker, masa harina not only thickens the chili but also adds a unique corn flavor.

Simply mix masa harina with water before adding it to the slow cooker, ensuring there are no lumps.

Additionally, masa harina can be used as a gluten-free alternative for thickening chili without affecting the flavor profile of the dish. Remember, when using masa harina, it’s important to allow the chili to cook for a little while longer to ensure that the flavors blend well together.

Refried beans

Refried beans can be a great addition to thicken chili in a slow cooker. They add texture and richness while helping to make the chili heartier. Simply stir in a spoonful or two of refried beans during the last hour of cooking, allowing them to meld with the other flavors for a deliciously thickened result.

This method not only adds thickness but also infuses your chili with a satisfying taste that complements the other ingredients like meat and spices, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to elevate their slow cooker chili game.

– More meat

More meat

To make your chili thicker, consider adding more meat. Ground beef or turkey can add richness and density to the dish, helping it to achieve a heartier consistency without altering the flavor profile.

The protein from the additional meat will blend seamlessly with the other ingredients and contribute to a satisfying texture in your slow cooker chili. Plus, this simple addition is a great way to enhance both the taste and thickness of your chili without any extra effort.

Tips for Making Thick Chili in a Slow Cooker

– Simmer the chili longer to reduce the liquid and thicken it.

– Use all-purpose flour or cornstarch as a thickening agent.

– Add more vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, or celery to bulk up the chili and make it thicker.

– Mix in cornmeal for added thickness and texture.

Simmering longer

To thicken your chili in a slow cooker, one effective method is to let it simmer longer. Allowing the chili to cook on low heat for an extended period helps the flavors to meld together and the liquid to reduce, resulting in a thicker consistency.

As the moisture evaporates, the chili becomes richer and more concentrated, intensifying its taste. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more, depending on how thick you want your chili to be.

By giving it extra time to simmer, you’ll achieve a heartier and more robust texture without needing any additional thickeners.

Using all-purpose flour or cornstarch

To thicken chili without cornstarch, you can use all-purpose flour. Mix a small amount of flour with water to create a slurry, then slowly stir it into the chili. Let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken.

Cornstarch is another option for thickening chili. Create a slurry by mixing cornstarch with cold water, and then add it to the chili. Let it cook for a few more minutes until the desired thickness is achieved.

Adding more vegetables

Adding more vegetables to your slow cooker chili not only enhances the flavor but also helps thicken it naturally. Vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and zucchini release moisture as they cook, which then evaporates and thickens the chili.

Additionally, their natural starch content adds to the thickness of the chili without altering its taste. By incorporating an assortment of veggies such as onions, mushrooms, or even sweet potatoes into your slow cooker chili recipe, you can elevate its texture while boosting its nutritional value.

Moving on to “Other Ingredients to Thicken Chili,” let’s explore alternative ways to achieve that perfect hearty consistency for your slow cooker chili!

Mixing in cornmeal

To thicken chili in a slow cooker, you can consider mixing in cornmeal. Cornmeal not only adds thickness but also enhances the flavor of the chili. It blends well with the other ingredients and helps to create a hearty and comforting texture to your slow-cooked chili.

Next up, let’s explore how using tomato paste can also be an effective method for thickening your chili in a slow cooker.

How to Avoid Thin Chili and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Not cooking chili long enough can result in a thin consistency, while not properly thickening the chili can lead to a watery texture – learn how to avoid these common mistakes and make your chili perfect every time.

Read on for more tips and tricks on making thick and hearty chili in a slow cooker!

Using the wrong type of cornmeal

Using the wrong type of cornmeal can affect the thickening of your chili. Avoid using finely ground cornmeal, as it may not thicken the chili effectively. Opt for coarse-ground cornmeal instead, which has a better thickening ability and adds a pleasant texture to your chili.

Choose coarse-ground cornmeal over finely ground to ensure effective thickening without altering the flavor or texture of your slow cooker chili recipe. By selecting the right type of cornmeal, you can enhance the consistency and overall quality of your chili without encountering issues with insufficient thickening.

Not cooking chili long enough

If your chili is too watery, not cooking it long enough might be the culprit. When you don’t give the ingredients sufficient time to meld and the liquid to evaporate, you’ll end up with a thin consistency.

Allowing your chili to simmer for an extended period will help thicken it by concentrating the flavors and reducing excess liquid, resulting in a richer and heartier dish. By increasing the cooking time, you can achieve that perfect thickened texture without relying on additional thickeners like flour or cornstarch.

Not properly thickening the chili

If your chili doesn’t have the thick consistency you desire, it might be because you’re not properly using the right thickening agent. Failing to use the appropriate thickening ingredient, such as cornstarch, flour, or masa harina can result in a thinner chili than desired.

Additionally, neglecting to follow a recipe carefully and precisely measure out your ingredients may also lead to improperly thickened chili.

Furthermore, overlooking simmering down or adding too much liquid without adjusting for extra thickeners could result in thin chili. It’s crucial to pay attention to these details when aiming for a hearty and thick slow cooker chili.

Not following a recipe carefully

When you’re not properly thickening the chili, it might be because you didn’t follow the recipe carefully. Make sure to measure ingredients accurately and follow the cooking times and methods mentioned in the recipe.

Skipping or substituting ingredients can also lead to a thinner chili than desired.

To avoid thin chili caused by not following a recipe carefully, double-check your ingredient list before starting. Ensure that you have all the necessary components listed in the recipe, and if any substitutions are made, understand their impact on the overall thickness of your chili.


In conclusion, thickening chili in a slow cooker offers numerous options to create a hearty and satisfying meal. From adding beans and cornmeal to using flour or potato flakes, there are various ways to achieve the desired consistency.

Remember that patience is key – allowing the chili to simmer longer can help thicken it naturally. By experimenting with different ingredients and techniques, you can find the perfect method for creating deliciously thick chili every time.


1. Can I make my slow cooker chili thicker without using flour or cornstarch?

Yes, you can thicken your chili by adding instant potato flakes, simmering it down, or using masa harina and other thickening agents.

2. How do I use tomato paste to make my chili in the slow cooker thicker?

Stir in some tomato paste during cooking to help thicken up your slow cooker chili.

3. If I don’t have cornstarch, how else can I thicken my crockpot chili?

You could use flour, instant potato flakes, or let the chili cook longer so it simmers down and gets thicker.

4. What’s a good way to thicken up my chili without changing the flavor too much?

Using cornmeal is a great option for thickening your chili as it won’t alter the taste much.

5. Is increasing cooking time an effective method to thicken up my slow cooker chili recipe?

Yes! Letting your slow cooker chili cook a bit longer can help make it thicker because extra water will evaporate.

6. Besides making it thicker, what else should I keep in mind when making chili in a crockpot?

Remember to season your slow cooker chili well and consider adding beans for extra texture and flavor.

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