5 BEST Masa Harina Substitutes in Chili

Have you ever wondered what it takes to make a perfect plate of Chili with Masa Harina?

With its unique combination of ingredients, Masa Harina is the perfect addition to any traditional Chili dish.

However, if you don’t have access to this grain flour, there are plenty of substitutes that can make your life easier.

Knowing how to use and substitute Masa Harina in a Chili dish will take your recipe to the next level.

Keep reading for more information about the dos and don’ts when it comes to Masa Harina, as well as five great substitutes that you can use in your next bowl of chili.

What’s Masa Harina?

If you’ve ever been curious about using masa harina in your cooking, you should know what it is.

Masa harina is a coarse corn meal made from ground corn that has been soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution.

This process, known as nixtamalization, makes the nutritional content of masa harina more readily available to the body.

In terms of flavor and texture, masa harina tastes slightly sweet with a coarse texture that can hold its shape when cooked into dishes like tortillas and pupusas.

If you’d like to make these dishes at home, all you need to do is combine masa harina with water and salt, then knead the mixture until it’s the right consistency to form into desired shapes – simple as that.

5 BEST Masa Harina Substitutes in Chili

If you are looking for the perfect substitute for masa harina in your chili, you’ve come to the right place.

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Masa harina is a staple ingredient in many Latin American and Mexican recipes, most notably tamales or enchiladas.

It adds a unique flavor and texture that can be hard to replicate.

Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives that can provide a similar experience in your chili.

Here are our top 5 choices to get you started.

1 – Cornmeal

Cornmeal has been a popular ingredient for centuries, with evidence of it being used as far back as 50 BC in Mexico.

Today, it is valued for its multi-functionality in the kitchen.

It has a grainy, slightly sweet taste and works well for bread, porridges, and batters.

One popular way to use cornmeal is in chili – you can substitute masa harina (a form of corn flour) with cornmeal.

Simply rehydrate the meal with twice as much water overnight before adding it to your chili recipe.

If you’re looking for a unique twist on traditional chili, swapping out your masa harina with cornmeal will give you an interesting alternative worth trying.

2 – Corn Flour

Corn flour is made from ground corn, usually by the process of drying and grinding.

It has a fine, powdery texture and a nutty, slightly sweet flavor.

It’s great for making tortillas, muffins, and cornbread — or added to any recipe that could use a touch of richness and sweetness.

This versatile flour can also be used as an alternative to traditional masa harina in chili dishes such as Ancho Chili with Pork.

To give chili an intriguing gluten-free twist, simply substitute the masa harina with equal parts of corn flour – you won’t miss the masa harina flavor.

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Try experimenting for yourself: grab some corn flour today and explore new possibilities in your kitchen.

3 – Ground Tortillas

Ground tortillas are a revolutionary ingredient in Mexican cuisine, providing an alternative to traditional corn masa harina.

Ground tortillas are made by milling whole wheat or white flour tortillas, producing fine-textured flour that is perfect for crafting a wide variety of dishes.

They have the same texture as durum semolina and an authentic taste that resembles that of the popular street food snack: tacos de harina.

When cooked into dishes such as chili, ground tortillas help to create a thick consistency without becoming too soft.

By substituting them for masa harina and combining them with other ingredients like tomatoes and spices, you can make a flavorful and comforting meal.

4 – Regular Flour

Regular flour, milled from wheat, is one of the most versatile ingredients in modern cooking.

Its unique flavor, creamy texture, and a multitude of uses make it a staple for any home pantry.

Regular flour can be used for baking bread, thickening stews or soups, or even as a coating for deep-frying meats.

For those looking to add Latin American flavors to their meal, regular flour makes a great substitute for masa harina when making chili.

Simply stir an equal amount of regular flour into the chili before bringing it to a boil to give it extra heartiness and authentic flavor.

Be sure not to overcook after adding the flour – remove it immediately once boiling so as not to overpower the dish with its distinct taste.

5 – Polenta or Grits

Polenta and grits may sound like two similar dishes, but they are quite different.

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Polenta originates from Northern Italy and is made from coarsely ground corn which is cooked in boiling water or broth until it thickens.

On the other hand, grits are a Southern dish made from ground hominy (dried maize kernels with the germ removed).

Grits can be found in white, yellow, or instant varieties – all of which have a fine grain consistency compared to polenta’s coarser cornmeal texture.

Additionally, polenta has an earthy flavor, while grits have a subtle sweet corn taste.

Both dishes are extremely versatile and make great accompaniments to meals such as pork chops or beans.

On top of this, you can substitute one for the other in certain recipes – for instance, when making chili by following a traditional Mexican recipe that calls for masa harina, you can use a blend of equal parts polenta and regular cornmeal instead.


In conclusion, there are numerous alternatives to using traditional masa harina in your Mexican dishes.

Whether you’re looking for a gluten-free option or something with a distinctly regional flavor, cornmeal, ground tortillas, regular flour, polenta, and grits all make excellent substitutes for masa harina.

So go ahead – get creative in the kitchen and explore the many possibilities of Latin American flavors with a range of masa harina alternatives.

5 BEST Masa Harina Substitutes in Chili

5 BEST Masa Harina Substitutes in Chili

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 – Cornmeal
  • 2 – Corn Flour
  • 3 – Ground Tortillas
  • 4 – Regular Flour
  • 5 – Polenta or Grits


  1. Choose a preferred substitute from the provided list.
  2. Follow the cooking instructions for the selected substitute.
  3. Use the correct proportion of ingredients when preparing the substitute.

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