When Is The Best Time To Add Seasonings To Chili?

What do you get when you combine ground beef, tomato sauce, a few veggies, and lots of Southwest seasonings? We'll give you a hint: it's the official staple of Texas, according to National Chili Day. It's chili, of course!

A warm bowl of chili is what comfort food is all about, and the flavors are smoky, meaty, and spicy, with hints of tomato throughout the meat mixture. But not all chili recipes are made with the same seasonings or ingredients. Texas-style chili, for instance, emphasizes the use of meat and chili paste rather than beans and tomato sauce, per Chili Pepper Madness. In Cincinnati, Ohio, folks love to incorporate some kind of sweetness into the sauce and serve their chili mixture over spaghetti, via The Daily Meal. And in Detroit, a roux may be used as a thickening agent, which also serves as the base for ingredients like ground beef heart, oregano, and paprika according to The Daily Meal.

It's clear that chili is comprised of an abundance of seasonings, but some home cooks may wonder when it's the best time to add chili powder, cumin, paprika, and so forth. Well, we're here to shed light on this tasty mystery.

The early bird gets the worm

According to Kitchn, you should season your chili in the early stages of the cooking process, as well as throughout its simmering stages. This gives lots of time for the spices to break down and add depth to the entirety of the chili. If you add the spices at the end, the dish won't be well-balanced, and all of the flavors will taste separate from each other. For instance, if you add chili powder to the pot right before serving, all you're going to taste is chili powder. If you add some in the beginning and throughout the cooking process, you're going to taste spiciness, smokiness, and subtle notes of garlic, cumin, and other flavors from the chili powder blend (via food blog Inspired Taste).

Seasonings should not be an after-thought, but rather, a big part of the chili family that needs time to show off their flavors. That's why it's important to incorporate spices early and often, as Kitchn states, so these flavors have time to marry for a show-stopping ancho chili dish.