6 Ways To Spice Up Your Bland Chili With These 6 Simple Ingredients

how to fix bland chili

Whether you’re making chili for a family dinner or planning to serve it at your next potluck, there’s nothing worse than ending up with bland-tasting or watery chili.

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Unfortunately, that’s what happens all too often.

But don’t panic!

We’ve got some tips on how you can fix your bland chili and ensure that everyone will be coming back for more time.

What is a chili dish?

A chili dish is a spicy, meat-based stew consisting of chili peppers and other ingredients such as beans, tomatoes, and onions.

Chili can be made with meat or meat substitutes such as tofu or tempeh.

Typical toppings include cheese (usually cheddar), sour cream, chopped onions, and green peppers.

Chili is one of the most popular dishes in the United States and Latin cuisines; its preparation has many regional variations.

In certain parts of northern Mexico and Texas, it may be referred to as red or green depending on the color of its condiments (either red due to tomatoes being used or green because there are no tomatoes).

Other areas use these terms interchangeably depending on whether beans are included in their recipe.

Why does my chili taste bland?

Your chili is bland, and you’re wondering why.

If your chili lacks flavor, it could be for any number of reasons:

  • Your spices are old and have lost their potency.

If you buy dried herbs or spices that have been sitting in your pantry for months or years, they can lose their flavor over time.

Most chilis need at least an hour of slow-cooking time to develop their full flavors before serving.

The longer they cook, the more intense those flavors will become.

  • You didn’t add enough ingredients to give your dish some punch!

For example, you use plain water instead of broth, or there is not enough ground beef to give the chili sweetness.

6 ways to fix bland chili

When your chili ends up so tasteless, there are a few simple things that you can do to save the dish.

So you’ve made some chili, and it tastes like warm water.

No one wants that! Here’s how to fix it:

Add salt

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As a general rule, when making any dish—whether it’s soup or chili—you should add salt in small amounts until the flavor is right.

Don’t just dump a bunch of salt into your pot of simmering chili, and expect it will be delicious.

Start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more until the taste is right for you.

Add more spices and herbs

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The best way to add flavor to your chili is by adding more spices and herbs.

If you’re making a pot of plain chili without any other ingredients, it’s time to start seasoning! A great way to do this is by sprinkling in some crushed garlic and onion (powder forms will be okay) or even paprika to give it some kick.

The key here is not too much: if you put too much spice, you’ll risk ruining the taste altogether by making a stew that’s no longer recognizable as chili (and we don’t want that).

So use sparingly with each new batch—you can always add more later if needed!

Add bacon

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Bacon makes everything better.

It has a lot of flavors and can be added in small pieces or diced.

It can be added at any point during the cooking process, but if you’re looking for an intense umami flavor profile, adding it at the beginning will produce the most flavorful results.

Add ground meat

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Ground meat can be an ingredient in a chili recipe.

But if there is not enough, your stew will not be as tasty as it should be.

Therefore, adding more meat is a great way to make your chili more filling and nutritious, but it’s also the secret ingredient that can help you avoid blandness.

You can even use leftover meat as a more economical way to fix your tasteless chili.

Add acidic ingredients

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Chili is supposed to be a flavorful stew that contains meat and beans, but sometimes it can be too bland.

If your chili needs a little more flavor, try adding one or more of these acidic ingredients:

  • Vinegar – Vinegar is an excellent way to add some zing to dull-tasting chili.

Try adding a tablespoon or two of cider vinegar and any other spices you plan on adding.

You can also add spices like cumin and paprika, giving your meal a little kick!

Simply slice them up into small pieces, then throw them in with everything else before serving!

  • Lemon/lime juice – If you’d prefer not to use actual limes themselves because maybe they’re expensive?
  • Or maybe there aren’t any around where I live?

Or maybe I just don’t want something green in my food?

Fear not!

There’s another option available here: squeezing out lime juice into the mix once everything has been heated up together will accomplish pretty much the same thing as having slices sitting right there next door on top during cooking time.

  • Tomatoes/ tomato sauce: Tomatoes are another versatile option that you can use to add some extra flavor.

You can either chop them up into small pieces and throw them in with everything else, or you can use tomato sauce as a substitute for the tomato paste used above.

However, if you mean to serve a green chili, then adding tomatoes can ruin the desired color of the dish, so consider other options in this case.

Reduce it

Some of the most common reasons for bland chili are that you haven’t cooked it long enough or added too much liquid.

If there is no ingredient available in your kitchen, just cook it longer to get rid of some of its water content, and the flavor will develop, not that much, but it will be better.


Chili is a simple, hearty meal that’s easy to make and delicious.

But sometimes, you might find yourself stuck with a bland pot of chili.

Luckily, there are some quick fixes for this problem.

So the next time you want to spice up your dinner, don’t throw in the towel just yet! Instead, try one of these above fixes and see if they work for your dish.

If not, then keep trying until you get it right!