The Pantry Staple You Should Be Adding to Every Pot of Chili

published Jan 22, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman: Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

You know that feeling when you dip a spoon into your pot of chili on the stove to give it a final taste, and it has all the things you were going for: A super-hearty texture, a deep, meaty flavor with layers of warm spices, just right amount of seasoning, and a hint of heat. And despite all that, your chili still tastes kinda flat. There’s clearly something missing, but you can’t quite put your finger on what your chili needs.

The solution is simple, your chili needs a splash of something acidic to brighten up the flavor. Here’s how to do it.

Finish Every Pot of Chili with a Spoonful of Vinegar

Good news, it’s easier than you think to perk up your pot of chili. All it takes is a splash of vinegar, which I bet you already have in the pantry. Stirred into the pot right before serving, a spoonful of vinegar brightens up the finished product, and gives it that full, rounded taste that was missing. Even if the chili recipe you’re using doesn’t call for vinegar, go ahead and add it anyway. You won’t actually taste the tang or sharp flavor of the vinegar. A splash is just enough to compliment the tomato-kissed broth and brighten up the flavors of the ingredients in the pot.

A little bit of vinegar goes a long way, so as a rule of thumb, stick with 1 tablespoon of vinegar per pot. Our top picks are apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or sherry vinegar, though any kind of vinegar on hand will get the job done and give your chili the boost it needs.

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