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. Sara says:

    5 stars
    This is a wonderful blend! Thank you for sharing!! Is there a large batch version of this like the taco seasoning???
    Also, I made your pumpkin spice seasoning and it’s definitely a stronger flavor than store bought!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I don’t have a large batch version of this, but I’ll work on that! I’m glad you like it!

  2. Diane Perkins says:

    5 stars
    I was a little taken back with the cocoa and cinnamon, it was amazing! My husband really liked it as well. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So happy to hear you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  3. Todd E Straw says:

    5 stars
    Surprised my wife with this. Never had any cinnamon or cocoa powder in my chili before but this was really good.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  4. John A. Terpack II says:

    I have used cocoa in chili before, it is phenomenal. I also never cook beef of any sort without a dash of cinnamon. So I’m looking forward to trying this blend.

    I tried something different the last time I made chili and it turned out phenomenal. Chili always gave me indigestion. The problem seems to be tomatoes. So how do you make chili without tomatoes? Well, for starters, a cup or two of strong coffee gives the acidity. But the bizarre bit is a can of un-spiced pumpkin. It thickens the mix and adds just a mild “something” to it. It does seem to need a bit more salt to balance the sweetness. Well worth a try.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Thanks for leaving such a helpful comment!

  5. Lew Bowling says:

    I made this chili seasoning mix, and it was great! I did omit the cayenne & red pepper powder because we avoid “hot” seasonings, but it still had an ok kick.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

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

  6. Melissa says:

    WOW. Wow. I don’t know if it’s a redhead thing, but it’s been a struggle for me to find a chili recipe that has grear flavor without the burn of a lot of pepper. I just can’t eat it, and usually give up on a lot of chili I cook because it ends up too spicy. This, however, is perfect. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. I will be making it over, and over, and over again

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Ahhh, yay! Your comment made me so happy! I’m glad you liked this recipe!

  7. Cam says:

    I am never sure if chilli powder in Australia is different to the US. Here in, Australia, the chilli powder we get at the store is purely ground up birdseye or cayenne chillies so is very hot. 3 tablespoons of that is blow your head off. I did it with just two tablespoons and it was still really hot. I loved it when I made a batch of chilli but was too hot for everyone else. So I am wondering if the chilli powder you mean in the above recipe is the milder US version that is a mix of spices? And then you add the other spices as well to make the chilli seasoning? Thanks

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      From what I’ve heard, I believe it is different. Our chili powder is more of a blend of spices.

    2. Maryann says:

      The basic chili powder ingredients are as follows; Ancho powder, Cumin, Garlic, Oregano, Onion, and Salt. If you can order Penzeys, McCormick, Badia, or Simply Organic are just a few of my favorite brands that I use.

  8. Andrea says:

    Today I was out of chili seasoning, so I tried to find a recipe. I stumbled upon this one and was a little worried about the cinnamon and cocoa powder but I did indeed trust you lol and it turned out fantastically! The chili was delicious and now I never have to buy the seasoning again. Thank you so much for this recipe. ☺️

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Your comment made my day! I’m so glad you liked it!

  9. Melinda McLaren says:


    Followed the list to a tea.
    I did it in my Instant pot.
    Cooked beef
    2 cups water
    Put the seasoning together and mixed in
    Whole diced onion
    Whole diced pepper
    2 cans of white beans
    1 can of red bean
    1 can of tomatoes paste on top
    Pressured for 15 mins

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

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

  10. Drew schwartz says:

    Nice recipe! Want another secret ingredient that will knock your chili out of the park? Throw a spoon full on peanut butter in. 

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Oooh sounds yummy! My kids are very allergic but hopefully someone else who reads your comment can give that a try!

      1. Courtney Chin says:

        Sunflower butter is a great substitute for peanut allergies, but I’m not sure it would taste as good. But sunflower butter has the same nutty flavor as peanut butter.

        1. Rachel Gurk says:

          True! That would be a good substitute. I’ll have to try it some time!