Homemade Chili Seasoning

by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.86 from 76 votes
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I made a pot of my basic chili a few weeks ago, which uses my homemade chili seasoning, so I wanted to post the homemade chili seasoning blend by itself to highlight the fact that it can be used for so much more than just chili.

Originally posted 1-17-14, updated 8-14-18.

How to Make Homemade Chili Seasoning

A bowl of homemade chili seasoning being stirred together on a wooden background.

How to Use Homemade Chili Seasoning:

This homemade chili seasoning is equivalent to one store bought chili seasoning packet. This homemade chili seasoning will be enough to season one 6 serving batch of chili, or a batch of chili that uses one pound of ground beef or ground turkey.

Brown the ground beef or ground turkey first, drain the excess fat if needed, then add the homemade chili seasoning. Continue to sauté the seasoning with the beef for about a minute more, which will toast the spices and make them a bit more pronounced. Continue making your chili by adding diced tomatoes, beans, or whatever else you prefer (see my Easy Chili Recipe).

In addition to making a big pot of warm and comforting homemade chili, you can add this chili seasoning to vegetables, meat, or fish before roasting or grilling (check out my Chili Roasted Potatoes), or even sprinkle a little into your mac and cheese. I mean, what can’t you do with chili seasoning?!

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Homemade Chili Seasoning

4.86 from 76 votes
This simple homemade chili seasoning is made with a few basic pantry staple spices and can be used for so much more than a pot of traditional chili! 
This simple homemade chili seasoning is made with a few basic pantry staple spices and can be used for so much more than a pot of traditional chili! Budgetbytes.com
Servings 1 recipe
Prep 5 mins
Total 5 mins


  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp approximately freshly ground pepper


  • Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Store in an air-tight container, away from heat and moisture for up to six months.

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Makes enough for one pot of chili (about 6 servings).
If the chili powder you are using is spicy, you can reduce or eliminate the cayenne pepper from this recipe.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 18.1kcalCarbohydrates: 2.9gProtein: 0.3gFat: 0.1gSodium: 2841.5mgFiber: 0.4g
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What is “chili powder”?

Chili powder is a blend of spices used to season chili, which is commonly sold pre-mixed in the United States. So, in effect, you could use just that alone to season your pot of chili, but my homemade chili seasoning takes it up a few notches.

Chili powder can vary in heat from brand to brand, so make sure to give yours a taste before making your chili. If the chili powder you are using is spicy, you can reduce or eliminate the cayenne pepper from this recipe.

Bottle of chili powder being hand held.

The chili powder pictured above (Kroger brand) is spicy, as the label indicates, but not every brand is nice enough to let you know ahead of time if their blend is spicy. If you’re looking for a mild, not-spicy blend, check out McCormick’s chili powder. They also make a “hot Mexican” chili powder, which is quite spicy.

Can You Use Taco Seasoning for Chili?

They’re quite similar, but not exactly the same. For my Homemade Taco Seasoning, I use a slightly smokier blend of spices and add a little oregano. I do think you could use them interchangeably in a pinch, if needed, but prefer this slightly more simple blend for chili.

The spices needed for homemade chili seasoning in a wooden bowl before being stirred together.

What is the Best Secret Ingredient for Chili?

The answer to this is subjective, of course, but in addition to your basic homemade chili seasoning you can add some fun “secret ingredients’ to your chili. Here are some fun secret ingredients for chili: 

  • Cocoa powder or dark chocolate, which gives an earthy flavor
  • Beer: light Mexican or dark beer, like Guinness 
  • Brown sugar or molasses (sweet makes a great contrast to spicy!)
  • Cinnamon, goes nicely with savory flavors as well as sweet!
  • Red wine (for beef chili)
  • Coffee or espresso (similar to cocoa, this provides a deep earthiness)

What are your favorite chili seasonings? Share in the comments below!

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  1. Made as directed with a whole teaspoon of garlic. Also added a splash of red wine. Delicious and just the flavor I was looking for. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Emilia! You can add anything you want in whatever quantity! The world is your oyster! (Or should I say…taco?!) Since we haven’t tested it this way, I can’t promise that the results will be absolutely successful — however, coffee and unsweetened cocoa powder are a classic combination used in Mexican cooking, specifically in a type of Mole sauce that is usually served over chicken. So, I bet it will be awesome! Just add a little bit of each at a time, and taste as you go. And, of course, since it’s a dry mix, you can always add more of some of the other ingredients later to bring the flavors back in balance if you happen to add too much coffee/cocoa by mistake or find that the combo overpowers the other flavors when added together. — Marion :)

  2. I love this recipe. I also added Yuengling Hershey’s chocolate porter to my chili to combine the cocoa/dark chocolate/beer flavor.

  3. This seasoning recipe produced the best chili I’ve ever made, and I’ve been making chili for 39 years! This is a keeper.

  4. I’ve used this recipe ever since I came across it, and am making a pot of chili for the football game as we speak. My husband just said “How you make it is much better than the packet from the store!” Chef’s kiss!