Sweeten Up Your Next Pot Of Chili With The Ketchup Already In Your Fridge

A pot of chili traditionally includes tomato paste and diced tomatoes in juice to get a rich, tangy base to mix with the beans, beef, and vegetables like bell peppers. Then there are variations of chili that swap ground beef for turkey, add a pour of beer, or kick up the heat with serrano or jalapeño peppers. There are many other ingredients that some home cooks swear by, like squirting ketchup in the pot of chili along with those other ingredients.

The condiment that you probably only use on foods like burgers and fries has a flavor profile that can unexpectedly sweeten your pot of chili, because ketchup typically contains sugars. Ketchup will also give your chili a mild tanginess from the vinegar and deeper umami from spices like onion and garlic powders. You can pull the bottle of store-bought ketchup out of your fridge for this easy technique, but homemade ketchup also adds similar flavors depending on what spices you put in the sauce.

Tips for pairing and mixing ketchup in your chili

How much ketchup you add to the pot of chili depends on the recipe and what other tomatoey ingredients are used. Some recipes use a combination of tomato juice, sauce, or paste along with ketchup. For a 12-serving pot of chili, up to a cup of ketchup will add the sweet and tangy flavors to each bowl. A smaller pot of chili, or one that uses diced tomatoes along with the juice, might only need ½-cup of ketchup instead. If you have a go-to chili recipe that doesn't include ketchup, add a squirt and continue to add more to taste as needed. Don't overdo it, because you want the chili to get the essence of the flavors of ketchup, but not taste like the condiment.

You'll typically add the ketchup to the pot with ingredients like tomato sauce or paste to create a base, then stir in the spices. This will ensure the base is infused with all of those flavors from the ketchup before adding beans and other aromatics.

There are many flavors of ketchup on the shelves these days, and they can all add varying flavor profiles to chili. For a balance of sweetness and spiciness, try chipotle, sriracha, or jalapeño-flavored ketchup in your pot of chili. Other condiments can balance the sweetness from ketchup like Worcestershire sauce for umami, hot sauce for more heat, or chili sauce.