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10 Secret Chili Ingredients

Bored with the same ground beef and tomato chili? Take a taste adventure with one or more of our secret and surprise ingredients to make chili more than just chili.

Honey and Dry Sherry 

Try a tablespoon or two of honey in your chili for a natural sweetness. Cook with sherry to add a bit of sweetness to your chili as well as richness and depth of flavor.

Cactus Leaves and Mexican Beer

Add chopped cactus leaves to white chili for a delicate, slightly tart green bean flavor. Cactus leaves (nopales) are fleshy oval-shaped leaves found in the produce section of larger supermarkets. Stir in a little beer to add robust character and flavor to chili. Experiment with beers and find the one you like best.


Mix in a few tablespoons of cornmeal to thicken chili and add a polenta touch.

Carbonated Soda and Chocolate 

Pour in a bit of bubbly for a fun addition to chili and a clean crisp taste. Love chocolate? Add baking chocolate and cocoa to add a rich color and make chili flavors smoke.

Lime Juice 

Go citrus and add a squeeze of lime juice for tang and a clean fresh taste.


Sweet and heat – a tasty combo! Add a pinch of sugar to a pot of chili to balance flavors.


Sneak in chopped zucchini and shredded carrots for extra flavor, texture and bonus veggie nutrition.

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