What’s A Good Masa Harina Substitute In Chili?

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Masa harina is a corn dough flour that is popular in Central and South American cooking. It is made by soaking and boiling dried corn kernels in limewater. If you’re seeking for a masa harina substitution in chili, there are many of possibilities.

It is often used to produce corn tortillas, giving them a characteristic sour flavor. Masa harina is another great thickening that is often used to thicken chili. Masa harina may be thought of as a distant relative of maize meal and corn flour.

In this article, well explore all the best options for an ideal substitution for masa harina in your chili recipe.

What Is Masa Harina?

What’s A Good Masa Harina Substitute In Chili?

Masa harina translates to dough flour. It is a corn flour variation made from dried corn kernels. The sour flavor of this flour differentiates it from corn-based flour.

This sour flavor is obtained by soaking fried maize kernels in a calcium hydroxide (lime solution) solution. Following soaking, the kernels are washed, dried, and pulverized into a fine powder known as masa harina.

Masa harina is a common ingredient in Mexican and Latin American cuisines. It creates tamales, tacos, tostadas, and tortillas, among other things. It is also used to thicken dishes like as chili, lending body and a slight nutty maize taste.

However, it has a very neutral flavor, allowing other components like paprika and chili peppers to stand out. It is also a gluten-free dish that is suitable for persons who are gluten intolerant.

Substitutes For Masa Harina

There are various excellent substitutes for masa harina in chili that match the taste, thickening capabilities, and tanginess of masa harina. And finding a good substitute that works for you and your recipe should be simple.

1. Masa Preparada

Masa harina is a dry flour that must be mixed with water to form a good dough before it can be utilized. Masa preparada is ready-to-eat masa harina. As a result, it saves time since you may skip the processes in creating the dough.

Because they are comprised of the same components, it is a great alternative for masa harina in chili. Masa preparada may also be used in any dish that calls for masa harina, such as tamales and tortillas. It’s also an excellent sauce thickening.

2. Dried Hominy

Hominy is made from hulled corn kernels. It is quite similar to masa harina in that both are produced using a lime water soak. Masa harina, in its pre-ground state, is dried hominy.

It may be used whole in many Latin American meals, pounded coarsely to form grits, or ground finely to make masa harina. This is an excellent thickening ingredient in stews and for making tortillas and tamales. In order to prepare masa harina, ground entire hominy kernels in a food processor. You may use a 1:1 substitution in your chili recipe.

3. Corn Flour

Corn flour and masa harina are both products of the corn plant. As a consequence, maize flour makes an excellent substitute for masa harina in chili. Corn flour, on the other hand, does not go through the same process as masa harina. Corn flour keeps its shell and is not lime-soaked.

When cooked, corn flour releases a pleasantly sweet and nutty taste. They are both smooth and finely ground, making them ideal sauce thickeners. Corn flour is quite adaptable and may be used in a variety of culinary ways such as frying, baking, and grilling.

4. Dry Polenta

Polenta is an Italian dish made from pounded yellow cornmeal. Because they are both prepared from maize, it is an excellent substitute for masa harina. Polenta is often used in porridge-like meals.

It has a texture similar to masa harina. It may also be used as a replacement in chili without sacrificing taste. Masa harina is finely ground, while polenta is coarsely ground. It may also lack the sour flavor that masa harina has. Dry polenta may be used in place of masa harina in chili in a 1:1 ratio.

5. Corn Starch

Corn starch is derived from the endosperm of the kernel. It is a popular food thickening that may be an excellent substitute for masa harina in chili.

Masa harina may be substituted for cornstarch in a 1:1 ratio. Before adding the starch to your stew or sauce, make a thick slurry with a tiny quantity of water.


This page has several fantastic options that will work for your recipe. Whether you want a comparable masa harina alternative in chili or something milder, our suggestions above will do the work.


What can I substitute for 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.

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.

Can I use cornmeal in chili instead of masa?

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.

How do you thicken chili without masa?

To make a cornstarch slurry, combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon cold water, swirling well to eliminate any lumps. Then, mix the slurry into the chili and let it to thicken for another 10 minutes.

Does masa change the taste of chili?

Add a tablespoon of masa harina, a specialized maize flour, for added richness. Keep in mind that this will change the flavor and texture of your chili to make it more cornbread-like, but it will still be substantial and tasty.

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.

Is masa harina just cornmeal?

It literally means “dough flour.” Tortillas and tamales are made using this naturally gluten-free flour. Because the corn is steeped in lime water, it differs from corn flour or cornmeal. (It’s a calcium hydroxide solution, not the green citrus fruit.)

What can be used to thicken chili?

Make use of all-purpose flour or cornstarch.

“Remove some of the warm liquid [from the chili] to a separate bowl.” “Whisk in the flour or cornstarch, then gradually stir it back into the pot,” Wofford suggests. Bring the mixture back to a boil to “activate” the ingredient, which will quickly thicken the meal.

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