What secret ingredients can take your chili to the next level?

The leaves are changing, the air is crisp and football is in full swing, and that can only mean one thing, chili season is upon us in North Carolina!

With tailgate parties and chili cookoffs on the horizon, how do your make your crockpot concoction stand out from all the rest? You might need these secrets if you plan on competing in the big Hope Mills Area Chamber of Commerce Chili Cook-Off coming up in November!

Let’s check out some of the internet’s best “secret ingredients” that might just take your chili to the next level and have folks talking about you in North Carolina all year long.

  • Beer

    Ok, it’s not really a secret that beer and chili go together like hanky and panky. However, as an ingredient, you can’t go wrong with this clever addition to your chili pot. The type of beer you use makes all the difference in the flavor profile. For instance, if you’re making spicy and hotter chili, you’ll do great with dark and rich beers, while light and pale beers work great with less spicy and more simple chili recipes.

  • Cocoa Powder

    Chocolate and cocoa powder might not be the first thing you think of when you’re making a batch of chili but it pairs perfectly with peppers. Adding just a teaspoon or two of unsweetened cocoa powder  will make your go-to recipe rich and flavorful.

  • Coffee

    Is there anything coffee can’t do? Not only does it help us function in the morning (and beyond) but it can kick your chili recipe into the next level. A cup of strong, brewed coffee will work wonders for your pot of chili, imparting a deep, roasted flavor that will make the chili taste like it simmered away all day long. Pro tip, reduce the coffee along with a blend of tomato paste, aromatic veggies and spices to enhance all the flavors. 


    Coffee? Check out our spicy chili recipe! bosnianamericankitchen foodtok foodie chili hungry easyrecipe

    ♬ original sound - Billianne


  • Peanut Butter

    It’s the hot new chili trend this year! Some people swear by peanut butter to add a little fatty oomph to leaner veggie chilis, but it also shows up in meaty versions, from turkey to beef (and, hey, peanut butter burgers are a thing). Using a natural peanut butter will give you that creamy richness and nutty nuance without too much added salt and sugar.


    PB sandwiches + Chili is 2022's rising delicious trend which is why I partnered with the National Peanut Board to compete in the first-ever #PBChiliCookoff hosted by @Richard Blais! #peanutpartner 🥜 LIKE, COMMENT, & SHARE my Spicy Chili & Hot Honey PB Dippers recipe to vote for me by 10/22!

    ♬ original sound - Alix Traeger
  • Pumpkin Puree

    Not just for lattes and pies, pumpkin can more than hold it’s own in the chili arena.  Pumpkin is a great addition to chili because it adds body, providing a natural creaminess and richness to your chili. This helps smooth things out a bit in that sea of meat and beans. 


    🌟Pumpkin Chili🌟 Pumpkin Chili This autumn-inspired chili has all the flavors of chili you love with a hint of pumpkin mixed in. ⏺ The blog post includes #InstantPot instructions. I have not made this on the stove-top. . . . . . . . . . #crockpotsoftiktok #slowcooker #crockpot #slowcookerrecipes #crockpotcooking #chili #crockpotrecipes #chilirecipe #chilirecipes #pumpkineverything #crockpotchili #slowcookerrecipe #chilirecipe #chiliseason #fallfood #pumpkinrecipes #pumpkinseasoniscoming

    ♬ September - Campsite Dream
  • Root Beer

    Root beer lends a mildly sweet taste that compliments the spices that are commonly found in a traditional chili. 

  • Fish Sauce

    Apparently, fish sauce is the top secret of secret ingredients!  But don’t be deterred by the unusual pairing, the culinary experts rave on the umami factor it adds to your pot of chili. 

    Image by Kris Wu/Food Hacks Daily

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