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. Lein says:

    Chili powder is pure ground chilis right? Or is it a mix of herbs? Overhere chili powder is ground chili peppers

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Chili powder is typically a mix of ground chilis. This is a spice mix used to make chili. :)

  2. Pamela says:

    The best chile spice blend ever!!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so glad you like it! Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave a comment!

  3. Mark says:

    Definitely make and use this chili seasoning recipe.  It is MUCH better than the prepackaged store bought stuff.  I used slightly more cocoa powder for a touch mellower flavor and less red pepper flakes.  Next time I’ll try some smoked paprika and a bit of brown sugar.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave a comment, Mark. I love a little brown sguar and smoked paprika in my chili!

  4. Emily says:

    Love the spice! Nice job!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

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

  5. Sharon Lipe says:

    Rachel, we love this Chili Seasoning Mix. My husband is on a sodium restricted diet so this allows us to adjust to our needs. We also keep a batch of your Taco Seasoning mix on hand. Both are awesome. Please keep cooking and posting your wonderful suggestions. It is great to see a website where everyone is respectful to one another and kind in the critique of your recipes.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m glad you’re enjoying my recipes and they’re making your life easier. Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave a comment!

  6. Chandra says:

    I use this recipe all of the time when I make chili. It is a family favorite – my son has even bragged to his friends that his mother makes the best chili and that’s because of this spice blend. I make a big batch, so I use the entire recipe in one go. The cocoa and cinnamon are that something extra that sets this recipe above the competition.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I love it! Your comment made my day.

  7. Kayla says:

    What Liquid should I use?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      For chili? Depends on what you like. Sometimes I use beef broth, sometimes just tomatoes, sometimes beer and tomatoes.

  8. Paula says:

    I have made this 3-4 times. Each time my family is thrilled with the results!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

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

  9. Jodie Charney says:

    I have always added unsweetened coco powder and cinnamon to my chili! With this recipe I don’t have to add anything else! So perfect! Thanks! I’m making this for dinner tonight.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Perfect! I’m glad you like it. Thanks for leaving a comment!

  10. Lisa Irvine says:

    Hi! I’m dying to try this recipe, but as a clueless Aussie I’m guessing that the 3 tbsps of chilli powder is the American chilli powder, with paprika and other filler spices, rather than the Aussie ground chilli powder? I think I’ll kill myself and my hubby if I put in 3 tbsps of our version of chilli powder haha.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Haha, yeah I’m not familiar with Australian chili powder. You might want to start with less, and then you can always add more.