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The One Thing You Should Always Do When Making Chili

Southern Living logo Southern Living 1/10/2018 Lisa Cericola
a bowl of food on a table © Photo: Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

There are many ways to make a pot of chili, and even more “secrets” to making that an ordinary chili recipe even better. Use fresh spices. Brown the meat thoroughly before adding it to the pot. Use a mix of dried and fresh chiles. Sauté your aromatics. Cook the chili low and slow. And if all else fails, you can always top it with plenty of Cheddar cheese and sour cream. But there’s one specific thing you can do that is guaranteed to improve your chili—and it requires no additional work at all. Zero.

Make your chili a day in advance. That’s it!

Yes, this will require a little advance planning, and also some extra space in your refrigerator. But the benefits are twofold: Firstly, you’ll have a hot, homemade dinner that is ready to go—all you have to do is reheat it and dig in. Secondly, an overnight rest in the refrigerator will give all of the flavors more time to meld together and deepen. Recipes like soups and stews (especially ones that are heavily spiced and made with a lot of ingredients, such as chili) almost always taste better the next day.

Best of all, this tip works for every type of chili, from vegetarian chili, to chicken-green chile chili, to the beefiest, bean-free Texas chili con carne. No matter what you like to put in your chili pot (or whether you use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker), the end results will be more complex and satisfying if you let the contents rest.

And if you can’t wait an entire day to eat a bowl of chili, rest assured that any leftovers you might have will taste even better the next day.

Related Gallery: 21 Hearty Chili Recipes


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