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The 5 Best Substitutes for Masa Harina in Chili: Alternatives to Enhance Your Recipe

If you’re making chili and don’t have masa harina on hand, don’t worry!

There are plenty of substitutes you can use that will still give your chili that delicious, authentic flavor.

Masa harina is a type of flour made from dried corn that is commonly used in Mexican cuisine, especially for making tortillas and tamales.

However, it’s also a key ingredient in many chili recipes, adding a unique texture and flavor to the dish.

Fortunately, there are several substitutes for masa harina that you can use in your chili recipe.

Cornmeal, corn flour, and cornstarch are all good options that can be found at most grocery stores.

Additionally, you can use ground corn tortillas, white flour, rice flour, wheat flour, or potato flour as substitutes.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the 5 best substitutes for masa harina in chili.

Read Also: The 10 Best Substitutes for Beer in Chili

Whether you’re looking for a gluten-free option or just don’t have any masa harina on hand, we’ve got you covered.

So, let’s dive in and explore these delicious alternatives!


Cornmeal is a common alternative to in chili. It is made from ground corn and has a similar texture to masa harina. However, the flavor is not the same, and cornmeal has a slightly sweeter taste than masa harina.

To use cornmeal as a substitute for masa harina in chili, you can mix it with water or chicken broth to create a thickening agent.

Cornmeal has a coarser texture than masa harina, so it may take longer to cook and may not dissolve as easily. It is best to add it to the chili early in the cooking process and stir it frequently to prevent clumps from forming.

Here is a table comparing cornmeal to masa harina:

Masa HarinaFineMild corn flavor
CornmealCoarseSlightly sweet

While cornmeal is a suitable alternative, it is important to note that the flavor and texture will be slightly different. If you are looking for a more authentic taste, it is best to use masa harina. However, if you cannot find it or do not have it on hand, cornmeal is a viable alternative.

Corn Flour

Corn Flour

Corn flour is another common substitute for masa harina in chili. It is made from finely ground cornmeal and is often used in baking and cooking. Corn flour has a similar texture to masa harina and can be used as a thickening agent in chili.

When using corn flour, it is important to keep in mind that it may not have the same flavor as masa harina. Corn flour has a milder taste and may not add the same depth of flavor to chili as masa harina does. However, it can still be a good option if you are in a pinch and don’t have masa harina on hand.

When using corn flour in chili, it is recommended to mix it with cold water or broth before adding it to the chili.

This will help prevent clumping and ensure that it is evenly distributed throughout the dish. You can also use corn flour in combination with other thickeners, such as flour or cornstarch, to achieve the desired consistency.


Polenta is a great substitute for masa harina in chili. It is made from ground cornmeal, similar to masa harina, but is cooked in a different way. Polenta is boiled in water or stock until it thickens and becomes creamy.

When using polenta in chili, it is important to use the right consistency. If the polenta is too thin, it may not thicken the chili as well as masa harina would. On the other hand, if it is too thick, it may make the chili too starchy and heavy.

One way to use polenta in chili is to cook it separately and then add it to the chili towards the end of the cooking process. This will allow the polenta to thicken the chili without becoming too starchy. Another option is to add the polenta directly to the chili and cook it together. This may result in a slightly thicker and creamier chili.

All-Purpose Flour

All-purpose Flour

All-purpose flour is a versatile ingredient that can be used as a substitute for Masa Harina in chili recipes. It is a common ingredient in most kitchens and can be easily found in grocery stores. All-purpose flour is made from wheat and has a neutral taste that will not affect the flavor of your chili.

When using all-purpose flour as a thickener for chili, it is important to mix it with a small amount of cold water to form a slurry. This will prevent lumps from forming in your chili. Once the slurry is formed, it can be added to the chili and stirred until it thickens.

Using all-purpose flour as a substitute for Masa Harina in chili may not give you the same texture as Masa Harina, but it will give you a similar consistency. It is important to note that all-purpose flour is not gluten-free, so it may not be suitable for those with gluten allergies or sensitivities.


When it comes to making chili, masa harina is a key ingredient that gives it the authentic Mexican flavor and texture. However, if you don’t have masa harina on hand or if you’re looking for a gluten-free option, there are several substitutes that you can use to achieve a similar result.

Based on our research, the top 5 substitutes for masa harina in chili are:

  • Masa Preparada
  • Dried Hominy
  • Corn Flour
  • Dry Polenta
  • Corn Starch

Each of these substitutes has its own unique properties and can be used in different ways to achieve a similar result to masa harina. Masa preparada is the closest substitute to masa harina, while dried hominy and corn flour are great gluten-free options. Dry polenta and corn starch can also be used to thicken the chili and give it a similar texture to masa harina.

Ultimately, the choice of substitute will depend on your personal preferences and what ingredients you have available. We recommend trying out a few different substitutes to see which one works best for you and your recipe.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Masa Harina in Chili

The 5 Best Substitutes for Masa Harina in Chili

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • Cornmeal
  • Corn Flour
  • Polenta
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Dried Hominy


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.