How to Thicken Vegan Chili (9 Quick & Easy Tips)

Did you just make some vegan chili… But, it’s just not thick enough?

Crafting a thick and hearty chili recipe isn’t the easiest thing to do… especially when you’re making a plant-based chili.

But, fear not! Your chili doesn’t have to go to waste. Thankfully, there are a few little tips and tricks you can use to thicken your vegan chili (and you probably have most of the ingredients and tools in your kitchen already).

In this article, we’ll share exactly how you can get your vegan chili nice and thick within minutes (using these 9 simple tips). And, if you have more questions… we’ve got plenty more vegan chili answers for you!

Let’s dive in!

Here’s How to Thicken Vegan Chili:

If you’re struggling to get your vegan chili to thicken, follow these 9 simple tips:

  1. Blend a few scoops of chili and add it back in.
  2. Cook your chili for a bit longer (with the lid off)
  3. Add a cornstarch slurry.
  4. Add a flour slurry.
  5. Use a cornstarch alternative (i.e. tapioca starch or xanthan gum)
  6. Add more vegetables.
  7. Try cornmeal.
  8. Add more beans.
  9. Mix in tomato paste.

1. Use Your Blender

If you’ve got a watery or runny vegan chili, the first trick you’ll want to try is not to add anything at all (as it will alter the flavor). Instead, it’s to use what you’ve already got.

Take a ladle or two of your vegan chili and put it into your blender. Just remember to make sure your blender can handle the heat of your chili (so you don’t melt the plastic). If you have a Ninja or Vitamix, this shouldn’t be an issue.

If you want, you can take 1-2 ladles of your chili and pour it into a separate bowl to cool for 5-10 minutes before blending.

Next, blend up the separated chili. Just blend lightly and quickly. You don’t want to over blend your chili. You’ll still want it relatively chunky.

Then, add the blended mixture of chili back into the main chili pot.

Stir the two together, and voila! You’ve got a thickened chili without having to add any extra ingredients.

2. Cook Your Chili Longer

Tip number two also allows you to thicken your chili without adding in other ingredients.

It’s simple… Most of the time, vegan chili isn’t thick enough simply because it needs more time to cook.

What you’ll want to do is allow your chili to simmer for another 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn the heat down and remember to remove the lid. If you keep it on, it will trap moisture in, making your chili more watery. By allowing it to simmer for up to 30 minutes longer, it will naturally thicken your chili (and intensify the flavor.

3. Add Cornstarch

The quickest way to thicken your vegan chili is by adding in some cornstarch. This is the perfect solution if you’re in a rush and need a thicker chili immediately. But… be careful. There’s a right and a wrong way to do this. Follow these steps to create a cornstarch slurry:

  1. Measure out 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
  2. Put the cornstarch into a small bowl.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of cold water to the bowl and mix.
  4. Once your slurry is mixed, add it to your chili and stir.
  5. Let your chili cook for at least 10 more minutes for effective thickening and dissolving of the cornstarch.
  6. If you still want a thicker chili, repeat the process.

Just remember to make sure it’s mixed well otherwise you’ll get lumps of cornstarch in your chili. 

4. Add Flour

Similar to cornstarch, flour can also be added in to help thicken up your vegan chili. If you have cornstarch, you should use that since it’s better at thickening chili. But, if you’re all out of cornstarch, flour can work great as well.

Follow these steps:

  1. Measure out 2 tablespoons of flour.
  2. Put the flour into a small bowl.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of cold water to the bowl and mix.
  4. Once your flour slurry is mixed, add it into your chili and stir.
  5. Let your chili cook for at least 10 more minutes for effective thickening and dissolving of the flour.
  6. If you still want a thicker chili, repeat the process.

Keep in mind – you need to make sure it’s mixed well otherwise you’ll get lumps of flour in your chili.

4. Use a Cornstarch Alternative

Are you all out of cornstarch and flour? And… you’re wondering what else you can use to thicken your vegetarian chili?

Well, don’t give up on your chili just yet. There are a few handy cornstarch alternatives you can use to ensure your vegan chili is thick and hearty and ready to eat!

Here are a few of the most popular vegan cornstarch alternatives:

  • Tapioca starch
  • Arrowroot powder
  • Potato starch
  • Rice flour
  • Xanthan gum

Something you need to keep in mind if you do decide to use one of these alternatives… You will most likely need to use twice the amount of thickening as cornstarch. But, just be careful not to add too much at once.

Carefully create a slurry (as mentioned at tip #3 and #4, then mix it in.

5. Add More Vegetables

Another simple way to thicken your vegan chili is by adding some more veggies!

Chances are, your vegan chili already has a few vegetables in it. So, adding a few more is a great way to thicken it up, and add to the flavor!

Here are a few ideas for veggies you could add to thicken your chili:

  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Bell peppers

6. Try Cornmeal

Another way you can thicken your chili at home is with cornmeal!

Simply add in 1-2 tablespoons of cornmeal to your vegan chili and stir!

The cornmeal will begin soaking up excess moisture in the chili, while creating a creamy texture (similar to polenta). Plus, cornmeal can also add a nice flavor to your chili!

7. Add More Beans

Another simple way to thicken up your chili is by adding in more beans!

You can simply add a can or two more of whatever beans you have… Or if you want to take it to the next level of thickness, take an extra can of beans, and mash them up.

Alternatively, you could use the beans you already have in your chili, scoop a ladle or two out, and mash them with a fork before placing them back in. This is a similar idea to tip #1 (blending some of the chili before adding it back in).

9. Mix in Tomato Paste

Another way you can quickly thicken your chili with easy ingredients at home is with tomato paste.

Add about 1 can of tomato paste slowly, stirring constantly. Then, let the chili cook for another 15-20 minutes. This should create a nice, rich flavor. If you find it makes your chili a little bitter, you can simply add in a tablespoon of sugar (or another sweetener) to counterbalance it.

How to Thicken Meatless Chili

Chili isn’t always easy to get right. One of the most common problems is that it just isn’t thick enough. And… when you’re making a meatless chili, it’s even tougher.

Thankfully, you’ve got plenty of options. Here are the most popular ways to thicken meatless chili:

  • Add cornstarch
  • Blend some of the chili then pour it back in
  • Add flour
  • Add cornmeal
  • Add more veggies
  • Add more beans
  • Add tomato paste

For more cooking and baking tips, remember to check out our other posts here!

Do you have more questions about making vegan chili the right way? Make sure to check out our other posts: 7 Things to Use In Chili Instead of Meat (Vegan & Vegetarian Ideas) and Vegan Chili: 12 Answers You Need to Know!


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