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Gourmet Hacks: 5 BEST Substitutes for Masa Harina in Chili

Craving chili but just realized you’re out of masa harina? No sweat!

We’ve all been there, digging through our pantries, hoping for a miracle.

Today’s your lucky day because I’m about to spill the beans on the top 5 go-to swaps you never knew you needed.

You could be moments away from that thick, hearty chili texture without the classic thickener.

Ready to get a bit crafty in the kitchen? Stick around. These alternatives are about to save your dish and possibly your entire meal plan!

Why Using Masa Harina in Chili?

Using masa harina in chili may seem perplexing at first, but there are plenty of reasons why this ingredient should be a staple in your pantry.

Masa harina is made from nixtamalized corn grains and is usually used for tortillas or tamales.

But it can also add an interesting texture to your chili.

Not only that, but masa harina can thicken the texture of your chili without using extra fat or flour – making it a gluten-free alternative.

It has a slightly nutty flavor that can bring depth to many chilis, ranging from mild to spicy varieties.

To use masa harina in chili, it’s best to dissolve the powder in liquid before adding it to the pot – this will ensure everything cooks evenly, and nothing clumps up together.

If you’re looking to spice things up in the kitchen, give masa harina a try.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Masa Harina in Chili

If you’re a fan of chili, you know that using masa harina is essential for getting the perfect texture and flavor.

But what if you don’t have any? Not to worry.

Here are five great substitutes for masa harina in chili that will still give you an amazing dish.

1 – Masa Preparada

Sometimes, the simplest ingredients can make a world of difference in a dish.

Take Garcia’s Masa Preparada, for example.

This pre-cooked masa harina consists of just two simple ingredients: rehydrated ground corn and salt; that’s it.

It has a unique texture, being slightly grainy but also softer than traditional Masa Harina.

In terms of flavor, it can be described as pure and earthy and lacks the taste associated with Masa Harina, which has a slightly bitter aftertaste.

One great way you can use Masa Preparada is as a substitute for normal Masa Harina when preparing chilis – this lighter ingredient creates a creamier result without compromising on flavor.

If you are looking to add something new to your chili recipes, look no further than Masa Preparada.

2 – Dried Hominy

Dried hominy is a peculiar type of dried corn that may have you feeling perplexed.

It’s more than just regular corn kernels, but just what exactly is it? Well, true hominy starts out as whole-grain white or yellow corn, which gets soaked in an alkaline solution until the hull and germ soften.

This process not only removes the hulls to make them easier to cook and digest, but it also increases their nutritional value as well.

In terms of flavor and texture, hominy possesses a hearty consistency with a mildly sweet flavor.

If you want to substitute this unusual ingredient for chili, you can replace up to half the masa harina with dried hominy for added complexity in taste and texture.

No matter what application you put this unique type of dried corn towards, you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised.

3 – Canned Hominy

If you’ve ever been to a Mexican restaurant and had a bowl of traditionally cooked Mexican chili, you may have noticed an interesting ingredient: hominy.

Canned hominy is actually dried corn kernels that are boiled and soaked in lye or lime water until swollen to around double their original size.

This results in a chewy texture with a slightly nutty flavor taste, making it an ideal ingredient to add bulk and flavor to dishes like chili.

Surprisingly, it can be substituted for masa harina when making chili – but don’t let the lack of typical ingredients fool your palette.

The kicked-up flavor of canned hominy makes a delicious difference in this unconventional dish.

4 – Corn Grits

Corn grits provide a delightful and unique flavor to many different dishes while also providing an interesting texture that many don’t expect from this type of grain.

They are basically coarsely ground bits of dried corn and can often be found in grocery stores and health food shops in either yellow or white variations.

The taste is somewhere between sweet and nutty, and the texture can range from slightly crunchy to softer than mashed potatoes when cooked.

To top it all off, they are the perfect substitute for masa harina when you want to try something new in your chili-adding, a unique twist that certainly won’t disappoint.

5 – Cornflour

Imagine a cup of thick, gloopy cornflour with all its yellow-orange hues.

It doesn’t sound appetizing, does it? In reality, though, while it might not appear attractive, this distinct and fine powder is used in a variety of cooking processes, from sauces to moist cakes.

Deemed gluten-free and easy to digest, the flavorless nature of this powder creates flexibility when devising recipes.

For instance, one can substitute cornflour for Masa harina in chili for a smoother texture and milder flavor – especially helpful for those who cannot tolerate more pungent spices found in traditional chili.

Cornflour is highly versatile and undeniably worth trying out in the kitchen.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Masa Harina in Chili

Out of masa harina for your chili recipe? Don't worry! Discover the 5 best substitutes that will help you achieve the perfect texture and flavor in your chili without the need for masa harina.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Masa Preparada
  • Dried Hominy
  • Canned Hominy
  • Corn Grits
  • Cornflour


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword Substitutes for Masa Harina in Chili
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