8 Simple Tips for Making Great Chili

coca cola bottle beside white ceramic bowl with food on brown wooden tray

Now that the cooler temperatures are making an appearance, you may be considering making a big ol’ pot of chili. Follow these tips to make great chili. They may make ho-hum chili into something your family will ask you to fix again and again.



  1. Start with the freshest ingredients possible. While opening a couple of cans of beans and tomatoes may make your chili quick and easy, it simply can’t compare with homemade all-the-way chili. Use fresh, seeded tomato and peppers. Even though the seeds often provide a bit of flavor, seeds can detract from a ‘pretty’ bowl.
  2. Cook a pot of beans before you start. This can make all the difference in the world. It may take a while longer to prepare your chili, but the results will be well-worth the wait.
  3. Consider the different types of peppers available. Sure, a jalapeno will add some heat to your recipe, but do you want your chili to have heat or a flavor all its own? You may even want to mix the types of peppers to give your chili the right amount of kick!
  4. Avoid using water to thin it down. Instead, use beef broth. Not only will this provide the extra liquid you need, it can also add depth and flavor to your recipe.
  5. You can thicken up a too thin chili by adding small amounts of tomato paste. This will provide both flavor and thickening. If that doesn’t work, try adding just a little bit of cornstarch or cornmeal. Be careful to add only a little a time or you’ll have the opposite problem.
  6. Avoid using pre-packaged chili seasoning mix. The flavor may be alright, but you want “Wow!” Use fresh herbs, spices and chilies to create a wonderful taste. Experiment with a variety of seasonings. When you hit on the perfect mix, make a large batch, and then separate it out for individual pots. This can be frozen for up to one year.
  7. Be sure to cook your meat before adding it to the mix. Brown and drain any excess fat from the meat before you begin adding liquids. Browning the meat sears it and locks in the flavor. Use a better cut of meat and your family will love it!
  8. Make your chili the day before you plan to eat it. Why? Preparing then allowing it to cool and then refrigerating it overnight, you will give the flavors of the chili to “marry.” The result will be so much better than opening up some cans, adding some ground beef and a packet of chili seasoning. Your family will notice the difference and will enjoy every drop of it. If you want to eat it the same day, put the ingredients in the crock pot or allow it to simmer all day before eating it.

Anyone can make chili with cans, but you are wise enough to use these tips to make it from scratch. The results will be well worth the time and effort. Your family will thank you each time you make it.