This chili seasoning recipe is a perfect blend to have in your cupboard for when you want to make a quick pot of chili. There are a couple surprises that set this spice mix apart!

Spices in chili seasoning in a white bowl with a blue towel in the background.
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You guys. It’s snowing in Michigan right now. I’m not talking a few little flurries snowing. I’m talking scrape off the car, shovel the driveway, salt the porch, put up the Christmas tree snowing. I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life, and yet snow in April never ceases to annoy me a little bit.

Our plants were all starting to pop up, and now they’re covered with snow. 

I debated not writing this post, because frankly, I just don’t really feel like doing much of anything at all. I just want to curl up under a blanket and watch movies. The kids are grumpy, I’m a little grumpy (okay, fine, a lot grumpy), and we’re all just over it. 

Spices in a white bowl with a blue towel in the background.

Alright I’ll be honest, I wrote those first few paragraphs and then decided to push this back a day. Sunday was a long day, my kids were so grumpy, and by the time they went to bed, I was completely spent. I could have done it, of course, but I decided to give myself a break and relax a little before bed instead of working late. 

So, instead of writing, I laid in my bed, ate popcorn, and watched Schitt’s Creek. I’ve heard everyone raving about it recently, and I have to admit, it is pretty funny.

I am excited to share this chili seasoning with you, though. It’s a recipe that a couple of readers have requested over the years, so I’m excited to finally share it.

There are a couple of surprising ingredients in this chili seasoning. You have two choices: 

  1. Trust me, and make it as it is written.
  2. Leave them out and have a more basic chili seasoning. It will still be absolutely delicious and taste 100% like chili, but people probably won’t be asking you for the recipe. They won’t be saying, “Oh my gosh, this is the best chili I have ever had, is that cinnamon I taste?”

Either way, your call. This is a no-judgement zone.

Overhead view of spices in a bowl.

What you need

So much good stuff in this spice mix! Here’s the rundown: 

  • Chili Powder, and lots of it.
  • Ground Cumin
  • Paprika (use smoked paprika for a great smokey flavor!)
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Cocoa Powder (TRUST ME)
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Cayenne
  • Cinnamon (TRUST ME AGAIN)

The cinnamon and cocoa powder might sound strange at first glance, but they add a great depth of flavor that sets this apart from typical store-bought seasoning mixes.

Overhead view of spices in a white bowl.

You’ll also notice a few omissions that are often found in store-bought spice mixes. 

Where is the salt?

I leave the salt out of my spice mix for a couple of reasons. The first being that I like to add the salt (and pepper, but that’s next) when I’m sautéing my vegetables and cooking my meat. I also want you guys to be able to control the amount of salt you put into your chili. Add a little while you sauté your vegetables and meat…and then when it is all said and done, give it a taste and add more as needed. 

Where is the ground black pepper?

Again, I like to add this while I sauté my vegetables and meat. I find it’s the best time to layer in this flavor. I don’t go heavy on the black pepper when I’m using this spice mix, though, because it already has red pepper flakes and cayenne. I also often add diced jalapeño to my chili (my favorite chili recipe is coming to you this week!) so I don’t find that a lot of black pepper is needed. 

Where is the thickener?

Many store-bought seasoning mixes contain some sort of thickener. I like to add masa at the end, but some people like a thinner chili, or they might just use less liquid to begin with. Again, I want you to be able to control this aspect of your chili, which is why I didn’t include it in the seasoning mix. 

Obsessed with spice mixes?

I have a lot of choices on my site, and I’ve made a list of all my favorite homemade spice mixes. But here are some of my favorites:

We adore chili with cornbread. Try this healthy cornbread or cornbread muffins with herbs and cheddar,.


Chili Seasoning Recipe

4.41 from 410 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
This chili seasoning recipe is a perfect blend to have on hand when you want to make chili. There are a couple surprises that set this spice mix apart!
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  • Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl or jar. Store in a small airtight container.
  • After cooking meat and vegetables for chili, stir in spice mix and toast for 1-2 minutes before adding liquid ingredients to chili.


  • I use this entire spice mix with 3 pounds of meat in a beanless chili. Since each chili recipe is different, it’s hard to say exactly how much to use. Start with half if you’re unsure, and you can always add more.
  • Makes about ⅓ cup.


Calories: 9kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 0.4g, Fat: 0.4g, Saturated Fat: 0.1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Sodium: 35mg, Potassium: 55mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 0.2g, Vitamin A: 654IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 13mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.41 from 410 votes (391 ratings without comment)

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  1. Jodi says:

    I have used this recipe 2 times now we love it I wouldn’t change a thing. First time I made it my partner said wow new recipe this is the bomb!! 

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so glad to hear that! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, it means a lot!

  2. Colleen O'Leary says:

    I did. The cinnamon added a nice flavor! I usually use a chili packet and your recipe for seasonings chili seasonings saved me!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked it! It really does add another subtle layer of flavor.

  3. Tanja says:

    I made a chili sin carne this weekend and used a slightly modified version of your seasoning mix. I left out the onion powder because I had 2 large onions in the dish already. I also left out the chili flakes and to make up 3 tbsp of chili powder I took 1 tbsp of hot chili powder (3 pepper rating) plus 2 tbsp of mild chili powder (1 pepper rating) because my children don’t appreciate the “afterburn” :-)

    The dish was absolutely spot on, incredibly full of flavour and my other half and I love it. The children not so much – note to self: next time use only mild chili powder! – however on the second day my eldest had the chili in a wrap and was converted.

    I’ll definitely use this again in both my con and my sin carne versions – I noted your seasoning mix on the back of my sin carne recipe so I can’t loose it. Fully recommended also for a vegetarian option!! Thank you for posting it.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you like it! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, it means a lot!

    2. Jennifer says:

      I couldnt find my boyfriends homemade seasoning mix so i came online and read the reviews first then the added tidbits from the person that posted. I was like ok new receipe adding some stuff that doesnt sound like it goes but hey ive pulled off some amazing meals under these circumstances before. Its sweet, it turned my beans sweet even. I didnt think 1 fourth tps cocoa would sweeten anything it shouldnt of since if not sweet itself but that’s the flavor I’m getting its a cinnamon hot chcocolate chili with a heat after the swallowed bite. Its unusual. I’m waiting for the comments from the bf when he tastes it. I’m sad to say I cant eat this whole pot by myself and I know he doesn’t do sweet. He will try because of his love for me and the effort I made but the dog or the wild possum is going to love this. Its just not for me.

      1. Rachel Gurk says:

        Hi Jennifer! Did you use unsweetened cocoa powder? There shouldn’t’ be any added sweetness from the cocoa.

  4. MOLLY says:


    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      It depends on your chili recipe and how thick you like it. I like to add it when my chili is done cooking (not to the spice mix). Start with a couple of tablespoons and if you want it thicker, add a little more.

  5. Monica Martin says:

    I’ve made chili seasoning with cocoa powder before but I wasnt able to tell the difference in the flavor. However, this recipe with the other seasonings I can totally tell the difference! I was like Cinnamon?! I’ve also not used paprika in chili before either. This recipe is divine and oh so delicious. I premade 2 packets of this recipe. Just had it tonight and delicious! Thank you for sharing. I only used 1 1/2 pounds of hamburger and 4 cans of light red kidney beans. I know its not “chili” with beans but I like it that way. I will add a little salt next time I actually forgot to add some. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so glad you liked it! The cinnamon really does add so much flavor. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  6. Leah says:

    . Didn’t have cayenne seasoning but we just skipped it. Tuned out I needed the whole amount for 2 lbs beef and 1lb beans. Highly recommend.

    Don’t taste the cocoa or cinnamon but maybe it’s to soon. Still in the crock pot lol. Yes I’ve been sneaking “tastes”

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked it! The cocoa and cinnamon are definitely more of undertones rather than overt flavors. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  7. LeAnne says:

    This is now how I make chili, it is probably the best tasting chili ever! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so glad! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  8. Lee Brauer says:

    Rachel! Wow-what a great recipe for chili seasoning. I just made it and my husband loved it. I loved it, too. Thanks so much!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So happy you liked it! Thank you for taking the time to come back and leave a comment and review, it means a lot!

  9. Kelley clifton says:

    Easy and yummy.. And I appreciate you adding other seasons mixed. Like for tacos fajitas, etc!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Thanks Kelley! So glad to hear you liked it. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  10. Sherei says:

    Easy recipe. My family didnt care for the cinnamon so I made it without the 2nd time. It was a hit with extra cayenne.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Glad you liked it, thanks!