How to Thicken Chili in a Slow Cooker: The 15 Best Methods for Thickening Chili in 2022

Chili is a portion of classic comfort food that is often enjoyed on cold winter days. If you’re looking for a way to thicken your chili without using flour or cornstarch, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this blog post, we will share some of our best tips and tricks for thickening chili in a slow cooker. Keep reading to learn more!

Why Do You Need Thick Chili?

Chili is a popular spicy stew traditionally made with tomatoes, meat, a variety of chili peppers, and more ingredients. It’s made by cooking for a long time in a slow cooker.

But if the chili is too watery or thin then it loses its real taste and nobody loves to eat the watery or thin chili. That’s why to get the excellent flavor of chili, you must ensure your cooked chili is thick.

What Are The Causes of Thin Chili?

Thin chili is caused by different factors, including the main three causes given below;

  • Less Cooking Times

The less cooking time is one of the main causes of not thickening the chili. To get aromatic thick chili, you have to cook your chili in a slow cooker so that it can get enough time to cook.

But if the cooking time becomes short, then the chili will be thin and can’t enhance its flavor as well because the spices require enough time to marinate.

  • Using Too Many Fresh Tomatoes

Using too many fresh tomatoes can be a cause of thin chili as fresh tomatoes may release water at the time when you heat it. So, avoid using too many fresh tomatoes so as not to thin your chili.

  • Using Too Much Stock

Using too much stock like chicken or beef stock can also be a cause of thin chili. So, you have to add more solid ingredients into the stock like veggies, beans, and meat and cook your chili longer to thicken it thoroughly. Otherwise, it can be the cause of thin chili.

Thickening your chili in a slow cooker is easy, and we’ve got 15 ways for you!


Thick and chunky chili is a delicious way to enjoy the warmth of Mexican food all year round. I’ve got 15 easy methods for you that will ensure your slow cooker dish becomes an instant classic!

01: Simmer Your Chili Longer

If you want to simply thicken your chili then you have to cook it with low heat for a long time. That’s why you can simmer your chili in a slow cooker taking off the lid for up to 20-30 minutes depending on how much liquid remains that will in fact help to reduce the liquid as well as will help to thicken the mixture. When you get the desired thick chili, turn off your slow cooker and let it cool for a few minutes.

02: Add Cornmeal

You can add cornmeal to thicken your chili as it can absorb the liquid of the mixture and give your chili a great taste and a slightly grainy texture as well.

After adding a tablespoon of cornmeal to your chili, you have to cook it for up to twenty minutes at high temp and if you don’t get your desired thickness of the chili, then you can repeat the process again.

03: Add Vegetables

You can add small pieces of vegetables like celery, carrots, potatoes to thicken your chili. Vegetables release starches when they are cooked and absorb the liquid, so thus they can be used as a chili thicker. Adding vegetables into your chili enhances the flavor of your chili as well as thickens it and makes your dish healthier.

04: Add a Cup of Beans

Adding a cup of beans into the chili will give you a great taste as well as thicken the liquid. So, add a cup of black beans, kidney or pinto beans, mashing them using a potato masher that will thicken your chili and give a tasty flavor.

You can also mash the beans using a large wooden spoon instead of a potato masher. You can add a couple of pinches of spice like chili powder, salt, cumin, pepper, etc. to even out the flavor.

05: Add Oats

You can also add oats instead of adding veggies or kidney beans to thicken your chili. It’s also a healthier method of thickening your chili.

Just add a few spoons of oats to your chili and cook it on medium heat for a few minutes. It will automatically absorb the surplus liquid and thicken your chili.

06: Add Tomato Paste

Adding tomato paste will give you a tangy flavor as well as thicken your chili. So, add a sufficient amount of tomato paste (one  60 oz can of tomato paste )at the time of thirty minutes of cooking and let the chili simmer until it thickens.

Keep in mind that tomato paste has a little bitter flavor and so to balance the flavor you can add a small spoon of sugar. Besides, you can also add a little more spice to the mixture to get the flavor balanced.

07: Add More Meat

Sometimes the lack of enough meat can be the cause of watery chili. So, you can add a little more meat to thicken your chili.

But if you want to add meat to your already cooked pot of chili, you have to saute the meat first and then you can add it into the slow cooker.

You can add ground beef, ground turkey, or ground sausage into your chili but you have to heat it at a higher temperature for up to 20 minutes more.

08: Add Cornstarch

Cornstarch is a common thickening agent made from the starchy portion of corn kernels that you can use to thicken your chili.

But its process is quite complicated like you have to mix some tablespoons of it in a cup of cold water first.

Then you have to boil about 4 cups of chili liquid on the higher temp then whisk them in the mixture of cornstarch until it thickens.

Finally, you have to pour this thickened chili into your slow cooker and mix them together with the rest of the chili.

09: Add Potato Starch

Instead of cornstarch, you can add potato starch to thicken the chili. Potato starch can comparatively tolerate a higher temperature than cornstarch.

For gluten-free baking, potato starch is an essential ingredient.

10: Add Flour

This is the alternative method of using cornstarch. If you don’t have cornstarch then you can use flour or arrowroot to thicken your chili. You have to scoop out 4 to 5 cups of chili from your slow cooker and set it aside.

Then you have to melt 4 to 5 spoons of butter at a medium-high temperature in a pan then whisk in with two tablespoons of flour. You have to whisk 4 to 5 cups of chili into the butter and flour in medium temp heat.

Once you have earned the desired thickening chili then pour them in the slow cooker and stir them well with the rest of the chili and heat it for up to 30  minutes at high temperature.

11: Add Masa Harina

You can add masa harina to thicken the chili as well as get a bit of corn flavor. Add two tablespoons of masa harina to the chili and heat it at high temp for up to ten minutes if you don’t get your desired thickening chili then repeat the process again.

12: Add Shredded Cheese

Adding shredded cheese into your chili could be one of your favorite methods to thicken your chili as it can thicken the chili as well as flavor creaminess and richness to your chili as well.

However, once you add shredded cheese into the hot chili, it starts to absorb the liquid and melt and bind with it. The citric acid of the shredded cheese acts as an emulsifier and thickens the chili superbly.

13: Add Potato Flakes

Adding potato flakes into the chili is also a popular method of thickening chili but you have to simmer the mixture for up to thirty minutes at the high temp.

14: Add Tortilla Chips

You can also add tortilla chips to thicken your white bean chili. To do it you have to crush your tortilla chips in a zip lock bag first, then you have to sprinkle the crumby pieces of your tortilla chips into the chili.

Then you have to place the recipe in your slow cooker and heat it on high temp for up to thirty minutes with the lid off and stir the mixture every 5 minutes. Thickening your chili with tortilla chips will give you a very great taste.

15: Add Crackers

Adding crushed saltine crackers into the chili can also make the chili thick and give excellent flavor. It will absorb the excess liquid and bring a beautiful texture.

Let’s enjoy this video tutorial!

Frequently Asked Questions

1.   How do you thicken chili con carne in a slow cooker?

To thicken your chili con carne in your slow cooker you have to remove the slow cooker’s lid and cook the liquid for 20 to 30 minutes on high temp.

2. How do you thicken the sauce in a slow cooker?

To thicken the sauce in a slow cooker, you have to add a tablespoon of thickener agents like cornstarch, chickpea flour, or potato starch at the time of the last hour’s cooking time.

3. How do you thicken liquid in a slow cooker?

You have to whisk an equal amount of cornstarch and water in a cup to make a slurry to thicken up the liquid in a slow cooker.

Final Verdict

Chili is a very favorite dish for most people in the US. But if the chili becomes too thin or watery, then all your attempts to cook will be in vain.

So, to get the hearty taste of thick chili, you can follow our steps of how you can thicken your chili in a slow cooker.

Hopefully, you can make thick chili following our methods and enjoy the comforting hearty taste of your cooked chili.

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Stephanie Haines

Stephanie Haines is a USA-based writer, a healthy home cooking, former holistic nutritionist, and has been developing healthy recipes professionally for over years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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