The Sweet Addition That Will Change Your Chili Forever

Homemade red chili is a dish that can bring out a lot of opinions from those who love to eat and make it. What exactly is chili? The International Chili Society is glad you asked because there are definitely some criteria that need to be met to receive this moniker. ICS explains that a classic bowl of red chili can be called chili if, and only if, it's loaded with "any kind of meat, or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices, and other ingredients." But they don't stop there. There is also a list of ingredients that do not belong in your chili. The ICS reveals you cannot put rice, pasta, beans, or any filler that isn't a vegetable in this dish if you want to call it chili. That's a lot to process.

That said, what's the best way to add more flavor to your chili? There are several unconventional ingredients you can add to this dish if you want to play with the taste (per Food52). These ingredients work with chili made with beans, rice, or pasta, too. From cinnamon to coffee to dark chocolate, there are some surprising taste bud enhancers to explore with your recipe, including one sweet ingredient that The Dashley's Kitchen recommends. 

Put a little brown sugar in it

While chili aficionados definitely may have a little pause over messing with a traditional chili formula, according to The Dashley's Kitchen, brown sugar can impart a light sweetness that contrasts nicely with chili recipes that have a little bit of a kick to them. But that's not all brown sugar can do. Sprinkle Some Sugar notes that sugar can help cut the tangy nature of the tomatoes in this favored comfort food if the acid bothers your tummy. But will it make your chili too sweet?

Leaf explains that the wonderful thing about adding brown sugar to your chili is you can control the sweetness because you decide the amount you put in. For this reason, it's probably best to start conservative and add just enough to meet your palate's taste so that the sweetness doesn't dominate and overpower the overall flavor of your chili. 

Still, how sweet is too sweet, and how spicy is too spicy when it comes to chili? Bobby Flay told Bloomberg, "Chili should have a kick, but not be burn-your-mouth-out hot. I love...balancing that heat with sweet spices, such as cinnamon, and natural sweeteners, such as maple syrup."