Chili Too Spicy? How To Fix Spicy Chili

by Gina Elizabeth
Chili Too Spicy

Did your chili turn out too spicy? You’re not alone.

Here are 3 easy ways to tone down spicy chili.

1. Add a Fat

Fats can counteract spicy food.

Sour cream or a low-sodium cheese like fresh mozzarella, Swiss, goat, and ricotta are great fixes.

Capsaicin is oil soluble, so fatty substances like cheese, sour cream, peanut butter, and olive oil may help dissolve some of the spicy substance.

Hot Tip: After a spicy meal, serve a cooling dessert like ice cream. The sugar and milk both help neutralize the heat.

Did you know?

Wine can counteract spicy food. Acidic ingredients such as lemon or lime juice, vinegar, tomato, and wine help tone down spicy food.

2. Double the Recipe

Double the original amount of chili if the chili is very spicy.

Gently combine both cooked batches thoroughly.

Hot Tip: Do not cook the new pot of chili with the originally, spicy batch. This will overcook the original spicy chili batch.

If your original batch of chili is not too spicy, just add half the amount of cooked chili you used into the pot of overly spicy chili.

3. Add a Starch


Mashed, pureed, or refried beans are another classic choice for easily toning down spicy chili.

How to add mashed beans to chili

Simply add mashed/refried beans to your spicy chili, mix, and simmer for 5 minutes.

  • Mashing beans releases their natural starches and helps tone down spicy chili, while maintaining flavor.
  • If the chili isn’t mild enough, simply add more mashed beans and simmer longer.
  • Use Red, black, and/or pinto beans.
  • Season with extra salt to taste.

How to mash beans after chili is cooked

If you’ve cooked your spicy chili with whole beans already, just use a potato masher to mash up some (not all) of your chili.

Mash lightly to maintain a bean-like texture. Or, if you don’t have a potato masher, pick about a third of the beans out of your chili and use a fork — or blender — to mash your beans.

Couldn’t be easier.


Starch provides a natural barrier between capsaicin and your mouth, absorbing some of it in the process.

How to make a cornstarch slurry

You’ll need about 1 tablespoon of corn starch for every cup of liquid in the recipe.

Mix the cornstarch with equal parts water to create a slurry, then gradually pour it into the pot and mix thoroughly. Stir frequently over low heat until the corn starch is well incorporated.

Do not add dry corn starch directly to the chili as this will cause clumping.

More Corn Starch Options

You can’t beat the classics.

You can also substitute corn flour, cornmeal, polenta, or masa harina for corn starch. Note that corn may dilute the chili’s meaty flavor if you add too much.

Tip: Do not use coarse-grind cornmeal, it won’t dissolve properly in the chili.

You can also use crushed tortilla chips

  • Crush tortilla chips or corn chips in a freezer bag, and add 10 minutes before your chili is done.
  • Stir thoroughly into the chili. Corn based chips will help absorb excess liquid.
  • (Optional) Add a layer of crushed corn chips into your bowl before ladling the chili in. Then stir to combine. Top with more crushed corn chips for that extra crunch factor.

Adding traditional tortilla chips (or corn chips) will also thicken chili up fast!


Whisk one tablespoon of flour in two tablespoons of room temperature water to make a slurry, then stir into the chili as it’s cooking.

Don’t add dry flour directly to the chili as it may clump. Simmer for about 15 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste.

A roux (pronounced “roo”) is also French and describes a paste created with equal parts flour and fat (melted butter, oil, or lard).

Or, in a separate bowl, just mix 1-2 tablespoons of flour, with a cup of your chili’s hot liquid. Whisk until all clumps are gone, then slowly add back to your pot while stirring. You can experiment with rice, almond, or coconut flour as well.

Or make a roux

What is a roux?

When using a flour slurry you have to simmer your chili for a while to cook out that raw flour taste. Using a roux speeds things up.

If you let your roux get really browned, it gives your chili a toasty flavor.

Here’s how to make a browned roux:

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a skillet.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir while cooking until fully incorporated and the roux is browned.
  3. Stir the cooled roux into your chili. Bring to a simmer (uncovered) and cook for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Tip: You can also make a roux using corn starch

Potato Starch

Add a tablespoon of instant potato flakes to spicy chili. Stir thoroughly. Let cook for a minute.

Potato flakes lighten the color and flavor slightly.


Serving rice and other grain-based foods like couscous, pasta, corn chips, and bread can also help neutralize the taste of hot chili.

Chili Cooking FAQs

What ingredients make spicy chili milder while cooking?

If you don’t mind altering your recipe, you can addnon-traditional ingredients to tone down your spicy chili.

Raw Broccoli

Raw broccoli soaks up a lot of liquid as it cooks. Just use chopped broccoli instead of beans.

  • Use raw broccoli (not frozen) and only the florets.
  • Chop the broccoli very finely.
  • The broccoli cooks down — after about an hour — and shrinks to the point you can hardly see it anymore.

Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it! The broccoli takes on the flavor of the chili and tastes great.

Who said chili can’t have veggies?


You can also add fresh mushrooms to your chili. Do not use canned or frozen mushrooms.

Uncooked Noodles

If the chili is not chunky enough. Add uncooked noodles to simmering chili to soak up extra liquid. Most pasta cooks in8 to 12 minutes.

Test for doneness after about 4 minutes of cooking by testing it.

Elbow macaroni or small pasta shells are a great choice of pasta for chili.

Ground Seeds

Ground seeds = game changing.

Whenever you need to tone down spicy chili, simply add ground pumpkin or chia seeds.

They don’t have a lot of flavor and the chia seeds will get a gel coating on the outside after a bit.


The newest use for quinoa is probably the best.

Red quinoa blends into the chili. Add a 1/4 cup an hour before chili is done.

Quinoa soaks up excess liquid and makes chili more hearty.

Important! Quinoa is a “high risk” gluten-free grain for people with celiac disease. It is often grown and harvested with wheat, barley and rye.

The following plant based ingredients will add extra nutrition without changing the flavor:

Nutritional Yeast

Only sounds fancy: Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, nutty or savory flavor. Its a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.

One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains 30–180% of the RDI for B vitamins.

  • Alternatively, you can add water to collagen in a separate bowl and mix until smooth. Then add the mixture to your chili. Cook over medium heat stirring the mixture constantly.

Peanut Butter

You’ll be using this easy spicy chili hack all year long.

Make sure you drain everything first.

Take the lid off and add a couple of tablespoons of smooth peanut butter. Mix thoroughly into the chili and simmer until the juices reduce.

Quick Oats

Quick oats are cheap, fast, and work great in a pinch to tone down spicy chili.

Oats are also nutritious and rich in fiber.

Oats absorb extra liquid in chili quickly so add conservatively.

You should see results instantly. Cook quick oats in your (uncovered) chili for at least 3 minutes.

Regular oats

Regular oats may take up to 30 minutes to cook.

Start with a teaspoon of oats and stir well. Just keep adding more and stirring.

Tip: It’s okay to use a combination of starches, but it will affect the taste of the chili slightly.

Should I cook chili covered or uncovered?

Bring chili to a boil and then simmer for 2 or more hours. Alternating between covered and uncovered will control how thick the chili turns out.

Stir your chili frequently while cooking to avoid scorching.

What is the best pasta to use for adding bulk to chili?

  • Elbow macaroni
  • Small shells
  • Curly spirals (fusilli and rotini)
  • Penne
  • Ziti

How is chili served?

Chili is most commonly served as a main dish or dip in the United States.

How do you fix spicy chili gluten free?

How to Fix Spicy Chili with Gluten-Free Starches, Just Add:

  1. Cooking collagen powder
  2. Arrow root powder or kuzu root starch (Japanese arrow root)
  3. Any corn based thickener like cornstarch, masa harina, tortilla chips, polenta…
  4. Finely chopped raw broccoli or raw mushrooms
  5. Gluten-free dry noodles while chili is cooking
  6. Precooked onion, corn, okra, drained tomatoes
  7. Low-sodium cheese like mozzarella or goat cheese
  8. Tomato paste

What is masa harina?

Instant corn flour (masa harina) is a common way stretch out chili in Texas. Masa harina is a corn flour that comes from ground nixtamalized corn.

Masa harina is pre-cooked and holds onto water better than corn meal.

The corn flavor isn’t very strong (most people probably won’t notice).

Masa harina is typically used in Latin America for making corn tortillas, tamales, pupusas, and other dishes.

How to tone down spicy chili on keto?

  • Reduction: Simmer (without a lid) until liquid reduces
  • Cooking collagen powder
  • Remove some of the veggies. Mash or blend them, then add back to the chili.
  • Arrow root powder
  • Finely chopped raw broccoli or raw mushrooms
  • Chia seeds
  • Add precooked cauliflower to make the chili chunkier
  • Grated parmesan or cheddar cheese
  • Xanthan gum (sparingly)

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