The best chilly days have Rotel chili as a part of them. This thick, creamy, hearty, and delectable stew is the epitome of comfort food. One spoonful is enough to turn a frown upside-down.
I’d gladly devour bowls of chili any day, but the problem is, it takes so long to make!
Fortunately for us busy-bees, this easy, shortcut version exists, and it’ll blow your tastebuds away.
Thanks to canned beans, tomatoes, and chilies, you’ll be just a few minutes away from a mouthwatering pot of chili.
Rotel chili is a simplified version of the classic chili that calls for combining ground beef with canned beans, tomatoes, and chili.
Because everything is already pre-cooked, there’s no need to wait for hours upon hours before you can take a bite.
Is it easy? Yes. Is the flavor just as good? Absolutely.
Intrigued yet? Let the cooking commence.
What Can I Add to Chili to Make It Better?
From peppers to vinegar to espresso, there’s a myriad of ingredients to make chili taste even better. Some of these suggestions may sound strange, but promise me you won’t clock it till you try it!
- Herbs – cilantro, parsley, rosemary – These earthy flavors complement the richness of the chili.
- Balsamic or sherry vinegar, lemon or lime juice – Add a splash of acidity to chili to balance out the heat.
- Cocoa or Espresso powder – They’re often seen in many dessert recipes, but they do wonders for savory dishes as well. Don’t worry, your chili won’t taste like chocolate or coffee. All they’ll do is enhance its flavor.
- Fish Sauce, Vegemite, and Anchovies – Now, we’re really diving into weird territory! You won’t normally find these ingredients in an American pantry, but in case you do have them on hand, do give them a try.
These ingredients give your chili a unique level of umami greatness that you won’t get anywhere else.
- Beer – Not only does it lend a malty flavor, but because it contains starches, beer also helps thicken the chili.
How to Thicken Chili
One of the things that make chili ridiculously comforting is its thick and creamy consistency. If yours is looking runny, don’t worry, there are several ways to thicken it.
Remove the Lid
Despite how simple and easy it is, this method works beautifully. Just take off the lid and let the chili simmer for 20 to 30 minutes on low heat.
The excess liquid will soon evaporate into vapor, giving your chili that lovely thick consistency.
Mash Some Beans
Mash a cup of beans and throw it into the mix. Beans release natural starches when broken down. Thirty minutes later, the starches will have made the watery stew thick and creamy.
Add Tomato Paste
I love this technique because, besides the improved consistency, it also adds flavor. It gives the chili an even deeper red hue, as well.
Add just a teaspoonful of paste to your chili during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Don’t add too much, though, or it might make your chili bitter.
If this happens, counterbalance is with a dash of sugar.
Add Flour or Cornstarch
These starches are both awesome thickening agents. They’re fast-acting, too, so they’re a great solution if your family or guests are starting to get hangry.
Dilute a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch in a bit of cold water and pour the mixture into the chili. Mix the chili constantly for several minutes and watch it thicken right before your eyes.
Add Root Veggies
Just like beans, root vegetables such as potatoes, squash, sweet potato, and carrots also contain natural starches. Not only will they thicken your chili, but they’ll add flavors and substance to the dish as well.
Thicken it Post Cooking
If all else fails, just top your chili with crackers and shredded cheese and it’ll thicken right up.
Can I Make This in a Slow Cooker?
Absolutely. In fact, slow cooking for a few hours gives the chili that heartwarming, soul-soothing flavor we all know and love.
I just had to give this recipe a try because as a busy woman, timesavers are lifesavers. Fortunately, it works beautifully.
Because the ingredients in this chili are either canned or pre-cooked, there’s no need to slow-cook the chili long. Just cook it on high for 1 hour, reduce the setting to low, and cook for 1-2 more hours.
Tips for Making The Best Chili
- Traditional chili calls for ground beef, but feel free to sub it with pork, turkey, or chicken. You can even make it fancy with Italian sausage and chorizo!
- I personally like to use 80% chuck as it has just the right balance of lean and fatty.
- Wondering why you need to brown the ground beef first instead of just mixing all the ingredients at once? It’s to prevent the beef bits from clumping together as it cooks. It also gives you a chance to drain the excess fat from the browned beef and avoid a greasy chili.
- This recipe calls for chili seasoning mix, but you can also make your own blend. Chili seasoning mix usually contains sweet paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and cumin.
- The longer chili sits, the tastier it gets. Make chili a day in advance for maximum flavor.
- Jazz up your chili with these ingredient additions:
- Bell peppers, carrots, eggplant, mushrooms, corn, celery – More veggies, more substance. Don’t mind the chili traditionalists! Veggies in chili are delicious.
- Diced jalapenos – Only if you can handle even more heat.
- Liquid smoke, Chipotle, or adobo sauce – For a smoky flavor.
Chili won’t be as hearty and comforting without the toppings. Here are some of my favorites:
- Sour cream – Regular is fine, but you can go all-in with bacon-infused sour cream. Conversely, if you’re watching your diet, opt for Greek yogurt instead.
- Shredded cheese – Cheddar, Monterey jack, Mexican blend – you name it.
- Guacamole – It’s rich and creamy, and its vibrant green hue creates a lovely color contrast with the red chili.
- Chips, crackers, croutons – Something crunchy for a beautiful textural contrast.
Want more? Here are 25 chili toppings to make your meal more enjoyable.
What to Serve with Chili
- Cornbread – Sweet and salty is always a good idea. Drizzle some honey over the bread for extra yummy points.
- Quesadilla – Just think about it: thick stew filled with beef and beans combined with a cheese-filled tortilla. I’m already drooling.
- Fries – Whether it’s the classic potato or the sweet sweet potato, fries add a nice crunch and addictive flavor to your meal.
- Coleslaw – Something light and refreshing to balance out the heaviness of the stew.
- Hot Dog – Turn your chili into a hot dog topping! This is comfort food at its best.
Want more chili pairings? Check out my comprehensive guide to the best side dishes for chili.
You’ll also definitely need something sweet to round out that lovely meal! This round-up of desserts is waving.
More Chili Recipes You’ll Love
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