The Unexpected Ingredient That Adds A Tangy Sweet Twist To Chili

Chili in cast iron Dutch oven
Chili in cast iron Dutch oven - Gmvozd/Getty Images

There's nothing quite like a piping hot bowl of chili to warm you up on a cold winter day. Since it's made from staples that are often kept on hand, it's generally pretty easy to whip up a batch when the craving hits. Even if you're missing an ingredient or two, substitutions are often pretty easy to make. In the case of missing tomato sauce or paste, there's one tomato-based ingredient that works particularly well, and it will add a sweet, tangy twist to your best chili recipe. That ingredient is ketchup.

Ketchup can be used instead of the usual tomato sauce in many recipes, so it's probably not too much of a surprise that it will work in chili as well. Plus, the ketchup will add layers of flavor that you don't get from the usual sauce, so expect an extra level of zestiness that doesn't appear in typical chili recipes. This unexpected ingredient might sound simple, but it's that simplicity that makes it such an excellent substitution.

Read more: 15 Tips For Making The Best Meatloaf

What Makes Ketchup Such A Good Ingredient For Chili?

Ketchup in white bowl
Ketchup in white bowl - Carkhe/Shutterstock

Aside from the tomatoes, ketchup has key ingredients that work well in chili. These include seasonings like salt, onion powder, and other spices. There's also a fair amount of sweetener, which is an integral part of any chili. And then there's vinegar, which will help add an acidic balance to that sweetness, as well as the fat that's in the meat.

Using ketchup instead of tomato sauce or paste will slightly change the texture of your chili. Ketchup tends to be silky smooth compared to the other two, but it's especially thinner than tomato paste. This may lead to your chili being slightly less thick than usual, but it will still be delicious. Ketchup is also much sweeter and tangier than tomato sauce or paste, so you can expect that to affect the final dish. Chances are, you'll enjoy the slightly different flavor and texture that you'll get from using ketchup in that chili con carne.

Balance Seasonings When Using Ketchup

Bowl of chili with cornbread
Bowl of chili with cornbread - Lynne Mitchell/Getty Images

When adding ketchup to your chili, a cup will suffice for a standard batch (around 12 servings). Because ketchup is sweeter than other tomato products, you might want to consider adding extra seasonings and spices to help level it out. For example, you might want to add extra cayenne pepper or chili powder to offset some of the sweetness. A bit of smoked paprika will have a similar effect. On the flip side, you can also omit some or all of the sugar from your regular recipe to keep it from getting too sweet. Extra onion powder or garlic can also go a long way toward creating balance.

Ketchup's ubiquity in the kitchen makes it an easy substitute for the tomato sauce or paste that may otherwise be missing from your pantry. And, it's rather simple to course correct for its differences, while still taking advantage of the sweet and tart taste that it can bring to chili. If anything, your chili will shine with even more tangy flavor than usual.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.