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.

Things You'll Need

  • Cornmeal
  • Whisk

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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.

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.

Step 3

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

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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