How to Thicken up Chili in Slow Cooker

How To Thicken Up Chili In Slow Cooker: Solved

Last Updated on June 13, 2024 by Shari Mason

On a cold evening, there’s nothing quite like a steaming bowl of chili to warm you up. It’s satisfying, flavorful, and the perfect comfort food.

However, chili can sometimes disappoint. A thin, watery down chili from a slow cooker might be frustrating. We can fix this common problem with some simple techniques.

Read on if you want to learn how to thicken up chili in a slow cooker without compromising its taste. 

10 Simple Ways to Thicken up Chili in a Slow Cooker 

1. Slowly Simmer Excess Liquid

One best way to thicken chili is to simmer it gradually on low to medium heat. Cook it until all the watery mixture has vaporized. 

Doing this method is a great way to preserve its natural flavor and texture. However, the slow cooker might consume a lot of time to simmer off the excess water.

But if the consistency is still watery after a long day of waiting, it’s time to add some flour and thickening powders. But how much chili should you serve per person?

2. Use Flour, Arrowroot, or Cornstarch

Using natural starches is a great start to thickening sauce, but adding powdered starches to thicken watery chili is a better option. 

Flour, arrowroot, and corn starch are the most commonly used thickening powder. However, potato starch and chickpea flour could also be effective in thickening sauce. 

This flour and powder will make a huge change in the texture of your chili. However, don’t put it straight into the chili. Make a slurry mixture by adding cold water, mix, then put it to the chili.

Read: How To Use Xantham Gum To Thicken Soup?

3. Add Mashed Beans

Breaking down chili beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans releases natural starch. 

However, if you don’t like the added texture of the other beans, you can use refried beans instead. It can add great flavor and thickness to your chili without compromising the texture. Also, how do you get the burnt taste out of chili?

4. Mix Up Tomato Paste

tomato paste in a jar and bowl on top of wooden table

Tomato paste is a good thickener and will add a tangy flavor to the chili. But if it tastes too sour, you need to neutralize it. 

Adding a pinch or two of sugar is advisable if you put a tomato paste to balance its tanginess. However, some people add baking soda instead of sugar to neutralize overly acidic tomato sauce.

Also, too much tomato paste, tomato sauce, or diced tomatoes can ruin the consistency of the chili. So, if you put tomato paste, add it gradually in small portions. 

Read: Does Meat Need To Be Submerged In Slow Cooker?

5. Add Shredded Cheese

Adding dairy products, such as cheese, milk, and even sour cream could help to thicken the chili. 

In adding dairy to your chili, use a slice of grated cheddar cheese or cheese sauce, a half cup of milk, or sour cream. These dairy products can make a creamy chili and add a richer flavor to the sauce.

Dairy products are normally bland and bind well with hot and spicy chili ingredients. But it won’t make a massive change to the chili’s flavor. 

It can also neutralize the spiciness if you overdo your hot chili. For better tasting and texture results, use a full-fat dairy.

6. Thicken With Vegetables

Aside from the thickening powder, some vegetables have a natural starchiness that might help add thickness to chili. 

Diced potatoes and carrots are starchy vegetables that help thicken the watery chili. In this procedure, add half a cup of diced potato or carrot to your chili mixture. 

Also, you can use canned potatoes and potato flakes for this recipe. Chopping them into smaller pieces makes them easier to cook and blend well with the chili.

Read: How To Slow Cook In Slow Cooker

7. Add More Meat

ground meat on a slow cooker

Sometimes your chili mixture is thin because it lacks meat. Adding more meat will thicken chili and enhance its flavor’s richness. 

Commonly used meats in chili include beef, pork, and chicken. But you can also try to add ground turkey and sausage to add more complex flavor to your chili.

Also, it is best to cook and saute the meat first on medium to high heat to brown it before putting it into the chili mixture.

8. Make a Roux

Putting a roux mixture thickens soups and stews like chili. But to make a roux, it needs flour and fat.

The flour needed could be potato starch, all-purpose, or corn flour like Masa Harina, while the needed fat could be butter, oil, or margarine.

Put the fat, preferably butter, on low heat in a saucepan, then slowly add the flour. Constantly whisk the mixture for 1 to 2 minutes until it is ready to be mixed into the chili.

9. Add Instant Oats

Another amazing way to thicken chili is to add instant oats. Quick oats have a sticky and chewy texture to help thicken the chili. 

Add the oats gradually to the chili liquid, mix it, and simmer it on medium-high heat.

10. Combine Tortilla Chips

Tortilla Chips

If you want a little crunch to your hearty chili, you can combine tortilla chips or corn chips or add cornmeal to your chili. This technique is common for most Mexican dishes. 

Toasted tortilla strips, corn chips, and cornmeal will not only give crunch and texture to your chili but absorb the excess liquid from the watery or soupy chili. 

Why Thicken Chili?

Chili is a thick stew-like food with a mixture of tomatoes, meat, chili peppers, and, sometimes, beans. [1

There are many recipes and ways to cook chili, from beef chili, pork chili, and even chicken chili. But nobody prefers a watery chili. A standard chili is always thick and has multiple chilis and chili powder.

Other chili recipes have a soupier and brothier texture, so a thickening agent is necessary for a thicker consistency.

Tips When Thickening Chili in Slow Cooker 

  • Let it simmer for a longer period. After it reaches its boiling point, let the chili simmer on medium-high heat for about 30 minutes or longer to achieve a thick consistency. Short cooking time might result in a watery mixture and thin chili.
  • Put additional ingredients. Adding extra meat, tomato paste, and beans could help thicken the chili. 
  • Mash the beans before adding them to the chili. It would be best to mash beans with a spoon or potato masher to release natural starch that supports thickening chili.
  • Use a thickening agent. Thickening powder is widely used to thicken soups, sauces, and stews. Putting potato starch, chickpea flour, or cornstarch slurry can instantly thicken your chili in a slow cooker. 

Should You Cook It Uncovered? 

chili on a slow cooker

Yes. Cooking it uncovered on medium heat would reduce the liquid consistency and thicken the chili. Take the lid off for about 20-30 minutes once it hits the boiling point.

Cooking it with a lid or cover might bring moisture because of evaporation. Moisture and steam would cause it to add a watery mixture to the chili that might prevent it from thickening.

Since it is best to have a thickened chili, cooking it uncovered might result in the right thickness. 

How to Thicken White Chicken Chili in a Slow Cooker? 

You also don’t want a watery chicken chili, so cook it in a slow cooker with added arrowroot powder, flour, or cornstarch. 

White chicken chili is an upgraded version of the traditional chili recipe. It’s a tasty food that contains additional shredded chicken and white beans in the recipe. 

When adding a thickening powder, put water to make a creamy consistency like slurry. [2]

Make sure that there are no clots or powder visible in the slurry before putting it into the white chicken chili mixture.


How can I thicken my chili without losing its taste?

You can thicken your chili in a slow cooker without losing its taste. Waiting to cook it at a low temperature won’t change its taste and texture.

However, adding blended cooked beans could also thicken your chili without too much flavor alteration.

Will chili thicken as it cooks in a slow cooker?

Yes, chili will thicken as it cooks in a slow cooker. The heat can absorb and dry up the extra fluid over time. So, allowing your chili to boil or simmer long enough will make your chili thicker in consistency.

Why is my chili not thickening?

One reason your chili is not thickening is the short cooking time. Another one is if you add too much liquid like chicken broth or beef stock in the ingredients.

What is the best thickening agent for chili?

The best thickening agent to thicken chili is all-purpose flour or cornstarch. A cornstarch has twice the thickening power of all-purpose flour. Making a slurry out of cornstarch can make an excellent thickening agent. 

Key Takeaways 

There are many ways to thicken chili in a crock pot or slow cooker. One of the best techniques is to thicken chili slowly at a low temperature. 

There are some factors why your chili is watery, even if it stays on the slow cooker the whole day. A thin chili might lack meat or have an overly liquid mixture. 

So, you can also add extra ingredients like starchy veggies and meat to help to thicken the sauce.

But if you don’t want to wait a long day to thicken chili sauce, you can add quick oats, cornstarch slurry, and roux to instantly thicken the chili.


Shari Mason

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *