Substitutes for Masa Harina in Chili [11 Ideas]

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Masa harina is a popular thickening and foundation flour for cornbread and other related items. It is most known for its usage in corn tortillas, although it has many other applications.Masa harina is a fundamental component in chili and is responsible for its thick and creamy consistency. Some argue that masa harina is essential for chili, and although this may be true, there are alternative choices to consider.So, what are the finest masa harina replacements in chili?

Masa harina may be replaced with cornmeal, maize flour, cornstarch, ground tortillas, white flour, rice flour, wheat flour, potato flour, graham flour, chickpea flour, girts, and crushed taco shells.

Even while masa harina is readily accessible and very simple to produce at home, you cannot rely on having it on hand every time you want chili. Because having a few tricks up your sleeve is always useful, I’ll reveal the greatest masa harina replacements for chili in the following paragraphs. I’ll also explain how to utilize each of them and what your chili should taste like as a consequence.

Masa Harina Alternatives for Chili

Substitutes for Masa Harina in Chili [11 Ideas]

To properly replace masa harina in chili, first understand its purpose in the chili and why it is used. One of the crucial elements is masa harina, not just ordinary flour.

Masa harina is similar to maize flour, but it is not the same. It is created from dried maize that has been combined with calcium hydroxide and dehydrated. Masa harina is the name given to the dehydrated material.

This product is most recognized for its density and heaviness, which makes it an ideal basis for maize tortillas and a component in chili.

Because maize is abundant in Mexico, this Mexican delicacy employs masa harina instead of another sort of corn. Masa harina smoothes and creamifies the chile. It also adds texture and solidity to the consistency of the dish, making it more richer.

To replace masa harina with another product, that product must be doubled for consistency, texture, and taste. Although it is often regarded as having a neutral taste, masa harina does have a distinct flavor.

It’s subtly sweet, which comes through in the chili. As a result, you will need to replace not only the consistency of the chili that masa harina produces, but also the taste.

Below is a list of the finest masa harina replacements, along with some recommendations on how to use them effectively.


Cornmeal is the most obvious masa harina alternative due to its texture, composition, and taste characteristics.Cornmeal is somewhat sweeter than masa harina, but it works well as a substitute.

The customary amount of masa harina in chili is three tablespoons, therefore use the same amount of corn meal when replacing. However, the texture of masa harina is finer than that of maize meal, but this is not an issue since corn flour is rapidly degradable, so there will be no lumps.

Corn Flour 

The differences between maize flour and masa harina are minor, but important enough to distinguish them.Corn flour is just coarsely ground corn kernels, while masa harina is milled corn kernels soaked in calcium hydroxide. As a result, maize flour is coarser than masa harina.

Even though you can’t use masa harina in lieu of corn flour everywhere, chili is a great spot to try it. Because chili is made at high temperatures and contains fluids and liquid, the maize flour will readily turn creamy and perform admirably in the function of masa harina.

In terms of quantity, I would recommend using half a tbsp less corn flour, since the coarse particles will dissolve and compensate perfectly for the reduced corn flour amount.


Cornstarch will act as a thickening in chili as a masa harina alternative, but it will have no effect on the taste.Using cornstarch instead of masa harina in chili results in a creamy and rich meal with no loss of taste.

To properly replace masa harina for cornstarch in chili, make sure the cornstarch is dissolved in warm water before adding it to the dish. Fill a third of a cup with warm water and add one tablespoon of cornstarch. Stir it well until there are no lumps.

Stir in the dissolved cornstarch to prevent it from curdling due to the high temperature.

Ground Corn Tortillas 

Corn tortillas, which are formed of masa harina, are a great alternative for masa harina in chili.Grind them as finely as you can, which shouldn’t be difficult, particularly if they’re dry. You may dry them in the oven if they are still fresh.

It takes less than a minute to transform the dry tortillas into dust, and it’s also a good idea to add some spices to the mill. Stir in the ground tortillas within the chili pan. Fill the two tbsps of masa harina suggested for chili with the equal number of tortillas.

White Flour 

White flour, like cornstarch, won’t add much flavor, but it will help with the texture and consistency of the chili if you play your cards well.We’ve all heard that white flour only comes to life when mixed into a dough; the rest of the time, it’s only there for support.

Nonetheless, if the conditions are favorable, it will perform well. In a half-cup of warm water, dissolve one spoon of white flour. Stir well since white flour often becomes lumpy. Furthermore, once it becomes bumpy, it will never level out.

As a result, you must avoid lumps from the start. Pour the water and white flour mixture into the chili pan, stirring constantly, to get a lump-free, creamy, and thick consistency.

Rice Flour 

Rice flour, which is gentler than white flour and much more tasty than cornstarch, is also a great masa harina replacement in chili.Its subtle sweetness may be just what you’re looking for in your chili.

Rice flour, on the other hand, is significantly lighter than other masa harina replacements, such as white flour. It melts considerably more readily, so there is less possibility of lumps and it is incredibly nutritious.

You may use more rice flour than called for in the recipe for masa harina in chili. As a result, instead of two tbsp., use two and a half tbsp., or even three. You may either dissolve the rice flour in water before adding it to the chili or sprinkle it on top and mix it in.

Wheat Flour 

Wheat flour is extremely soft and fine, but it rapidly forms lumps and may considerably reduce the food when it is used as a thickening if you are not careful.It is a good alternative for masa harina in chili, but it must be used with caution.

Wheat flour is typically thought to be flavorless, however it has a distinct character that lets it stand out in a meal. You can still pull this off by using one tablespoon instead of two in your chili.

In a cup of water, dissolve the wheat flour. If you attempt to dissolve wheat flour in less water, it will become mushy, therefore use plenty of liquid. Pour it carefully into the chili pot, stirring constantly.

Potato Flour 

Potatoes are well-known thickening agents.Many people add shredded potatoes to soups to make them creamier and to other foods to add substance. As a result, potato flour works well as a replacement for masa harina in chili.

Add the same quantity of potato flour as you would for chili. It is extremely readily degradable in liquid, particularly at higher temperatures, thus there is no need to dissolve it beforehand. Furthermore, potato flour has a lovely, smooth, somewhat sweet taste that will go well with your chili.

Graham Flour 

Graham flour is not only tasty, but it is also incredibly healthy, full-bodied, rich, and thick.It is mostly comprised of whole wheat. It is less refined than conventional wheat flour, making it an excellent component for making your chili denser.

However, since Graham flour is heavier than masa harina, use 1 tbsp instead of the normal two. You may either dissolve it in water ahead of time or slowly pour it into the chili and let it dissolve on its own. It does not form lumps like wheat flour.

Chickpea Flour 

Chickpea flour is a high-protein flour that works well as a substitute for masa harina in chili.When wet, it turns creamy, which transfers to the chili, making it richer.

Use the same quantity of chickpea flour as masa harina, which is 2 tbsp. It will not get lumpy since it will become creamy nearly immediately. Because chickpea flour has a distinct flavor, it will enhance the flavor of your chili. It’s somewhat beany and nutty, and it’ll go well in your chili pot.

Ground Taco Shells 

Taco shells are mostly comprised of maize flour, often known as masa harina.As a result, they make an excellent chili masa harina alternative. They are often hot and flavorful, which is advantageous since they will transmit that taste to the chili.

Roll the taco shells over with a rolling pin in a zip lock bag. Enjoy your chili with two tablespoons of ground tacos.

Does Chili Need Masa Harina?

Masa harina thickens and creamifies the chili when added at the end of cooking.It also has an effect on the flavor by toning down the too powerful components and providing sweetness and gentility to the meal.

It is not necessary to use masa harina in chili, and you may like it without it. If you prefer your chili rich and creamy but don’t want to use masa harina, there are several good options.

Is Masa Harina the Same as Cornstarch?

No, masa harina and cornstarch are not interchangeable terms.Cornstarch, on the other hand, is a good alternative for masa harina. Masa harina is dried maize combined with calcium hydroxide and subsequently dehydrated, while cornstarch is finely crushed corn kernels.

They are similar in that they both use maize as a basis, but they are not the same item.


What can I use if I don’t have masa harina?

There are 13 fantastic masa harina replacements!
Preparation is key.
Hominy that has been dried.
Hominy in a can.
Grits from corn.
Meal made from corn.
Polenta, dry.
Polenta has been prepared.

What can you use instead of masa to thicken chili?

If you don’t have masa harina, you may use flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, or a can of beans puree. Simply mix up a tablespoon of flour, cornmeal, masa harina, or cornstarch with a little water, add to your chili, and cook for another 10 minutes or so.

What is the purpose of masa harina in chili?

Masa harina, when added to the chili at the end of cooking, slightly thickens the liquid, gives it body, and lends a mild maize taste.

What can I use instead of cornmeal in chili?

If you don’t have cornmeal on hand, tortilla chips may be used as a thickening (but bear in mind that they will add additional salt to the dish). Crush a few chips and toss them into the chili.

What is the same as masa harina?

Masa Harina Alternatives

You may substitute corn flour or cornmeal for masa harina, but you won’t get the characteristic taste that comes from soaking the maize in lime water.

How to make your own masa harina?

Masa Harina Making Instructions
Place ground corn on a dehydrator tray.
To protect the mixture from falling through the pan, use a dehydrator sheet.
Set the temperature to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and dry for 6 hours.
Once again, place the dry masa in a high-powered blender or food processor.

Can cornstarch be used to thicken chili?

Mix in flour, cornstarch, cornmeal, or arrowroot powder.

Cornstarch is another excellent thickening agent. Dilute 2 tablespoons cornstarch in cold water. Pour in little portions of the diluted liquid until the required thickness is reached.

How do you thicken chili without carbs?

There are two methods to thicken keto chili. One method is to boil the chili with the cover off, allowing the extra liquid to evaporate and thicken the chili. A slurry of xanthan gum and water may also be used to thicken chili. In a small dish, combine equal parts water and xanthan gum.

Can you thicken chili with almond flour?

All-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, almond flour, or another kind of flour will do. However, any kind other than all-purpose and wheat flour may affect the flavor of the chili.

Can I use flour instead of masa harina in chili?

If the masa harina is used as a thickening (like in chili), normal flour or cornmeal will provide the same texture but not the same taste.

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