Making chili but don’t have that seasoning packet? Or would you rather just simply know everything that’s going into your chili seasoning mix? This homemade chili seasoning mix is a deconstructed, copycat version of McCormick’s Chili Seasoning! The recipe replaces exactly 1 store bought seasoning packet, making measurement easy for your next homemade chili!
Introducing the official Live Eat Learn homemade chili seasoning mix – your secret weapon for chili night!
Ever found yourself in the midst of a chili-making mission, only to realize you’re fresh out of that trusty seasoning packet? Or perhaps you’re just keen on knowing every element that goes into your chili’s flavorful profile.
I put on my food scientist cap and deconstructed those store bought chili seasoning packets, allowing you to effortlessly replicate the exact flavor you love. It:
- has the exact measurement as store bought (35 grams – I measured!), meaning you can use this whole recipe to replace a store bought packet (and easily scale up or down) for a batch of chili.
- is full of ingredients you can pronounce, unlike the ingredients in most store bought chili packets, which often have preservatives.
- doesn’t have the artificial flavor that we tasted when researching store bought packets for this recipe.
“Thank you it tastes better than store bought.” —Cherrie
Chili Seasoning Ingredients
The most time intensive part of this recipe is locating all the spices you’ll need, because there’s a bunch! For this chili spice mix need:
- Chili Powder: Earthy, Spicy
- Cumin: Warm, Nutty
- Salt: Flavor enhancing
- Garlic Powder: Savory, Aromatic
- Onion Powder: Sweet, Aromatic
- Ground Black Pepper: Peppery, Pungent
- Paprika: Smoky, Mild
- Oregano: Herbaceous, Slightly Bitter
- Cocoa Powder: Rich, Bittersweet
- Cayenne Pepper: Fiery, Hot
Cocoa Powder? In Chili?
You read that right! Cocoa powder is a secret ingredient that adds a layer of depth and richness to various dishes in Mexican cuisine. Its dark, slightly bitter notes complement the spiciness of chili powder, enhancing the overall flavor profile. Commonly used in mole sauces, cocoa powder provides a unique depth and complexity, balancing the heat of chilies with a subtle sweetness (but you won’t get any hints of chocolate once it’s in a chili, I promise!)
Does it need a thickener?
Many store bought chili seasonings will have a thickener added, such as cornstarch or flour. Our recipe for chili seasoning does not include a thickener.
If you want to add a thickening element to your chili mix, we recommend masa harina. Masa harina, which is a type of corn flour made from dried corn kernels that have been treated with lime, is a thickener commonly used in chili seasoning. It not only contributes to the thickness of the chili but also imparts a distinctive corn flavor, which is characteristic of many traditional Mexican chili recipes. Masa harina is a versatile ingredient in Mexican cuisine and is known for its unique taste and ability to create rich, hearty textures in dishes like chili.
What is “chili powder”
Chili powder is a blend of spices often sold in the spice aisle. In theory you could use this for your next batch of chili, but it doesn’t have the same depth of flavor as a chili seasoning blend like ours, which has spices and salt specifically designed to amp up your pot of chili.
Can I use chili mix instead of taco seasoning?
While they share some common spices, the ratios and additional ingredients used make chili seasoning and homemade taco seasoning are distinct. You can sometimes use one as a substitute for the other, but be aware that the flavor may not be exactly the same. Adjustments may be needed to achieve the desired taste for your specific dish.
If stored in a cool, dry environment (like your pantry) in airtight container, this chili spice blend should stay fresh for about 6 months. It will lose its potency over time.
Chili Seasoning FAQs
Can I adjust the spice level in this mix?
Absolutely! Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of cayenne pepper based on your spice preference. I started recipe testing with ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and reduced it to ¼ for a little less kick more similar to the store bough packets (I’m middle of the road when it comes to spicy liking).
Can I use fresh garlic and onion instead of powders?
I don’t recommend using fresh here, as they have much different flavor profiles than their powder forms.
How do I use this seasoning in chili?
To replace one store-bought seasoning packet, use the entire batch of this homemade mix when making your chili. Adjust to taste as you become familiar with its flavor profile. Add the chili seasoning after draining the liquid from any protein you may have cooked (whether it be tofu, ground beef, or ground turkey), then add the rest of your ingredients (like tomatoes and beans)! This is my favorite vegetarian chili.
Fun Ways To use chili seasoning
This homemade chili seasoning recipe was bound for so much more than just chili! Here are some ideas:
- Chili Mac and Cheese: Mix it into the cheese sauce for a zesty twist on a classic favorite (vegan mac and cheese)
- Taco Filling: Use it to season ground meat or plant-based alternatives for taco night (high protein vegan chorizo).
- Flavored Hummus: Blend it into chickpeas for a spicy kick in your homemade hummus (how to make hummus).
- Marinades: Combine it with oil, vinegar, and a touch of honey for a flavorful meat or tofu marinade (marinated tofu ideas).
- Popcorn Seasoning: Sprinkle it over freshly popped popcorn for a unique snack (popcorn seasoning ideas).
“This recipe is soooo good. I will not be buying packets anymore!” —Tabitha
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp paprika smoked paprika also works well here
- ½ tsp oregano
- ½ tsp cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper