How to Thicken Chili Without Tomato Paste


Chili should be a thick, meaty concoction, but some recipes turn out too thin. Not all chili recipes require tomatoes or tomato paste. To thicken these chilies and other recipes without adding tomato paste, use cornmeal.

How to Thicken Chili Without Tomato Paste
(Leigh Green/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Cornmeal
  • Whisk
Step 1

Cook the chili for an additional 20 to 30 minutes past the final cooking time without the lid to evaporate excess liquid, concentrate the flavors and slightly thicken the chili.

Leigh Green/Demand Media
Step 2

Slowly pour 2 tbsp. of cornmeal per 8 cups of chili into the simmering chili pot. Use more cornmeal for a thicker chili.

Leigh Green/Demand Media
Step 3

Whisk the cornmeal into the chili, and cook for 5 minutes or until the chili thickens.

Leigh Green/Demand Media

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Tips & Warnings

  • Effortlessly thicken chili with chips. Crumble 1 oz. of fried tortilla chips into the chili at the beginning of the cooking time. As the chips break down, the cornmeal in them will help to thicken the chili.


  • "Steve Racihlen's High-Flavor, Low-Fat Vegetarian Cooking"; Steve Raichlen; 1995
  • "Brilliant Tips and Cooking Tricks"; David Joachim; 2005
  • "Good Eats 2: The Middle Years"; Alton Brown; 2010
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