The Sweet Ingredients Bobby Flay Loves Adding To Chili

Is your favorite chili recipe feeling a little flat lately? When you're in a rut flavorwise, a great source of inspiration is the dishes of celebrity chefs. Bobby Flay is known to love chili and he crafts his versions with two sweet ingredients you might not think to add to your spicy, savory meal.

Depending on the recipe, Flay adds either honey or maple syrup. His beef and black bean chili uses the former to balance the heat and smokiness of other seasonings like chipotle pepper puree and several types of chili powder. Meanwhile, he's also published other chili recipes (like the one recreated in Mashed's vegetarian Bobby Flay's Chili Recipe With A Twist) that use syrup instead in addition to a few tablespoons of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Longtime fans may have noticed these ingredients before and wondered why Bobby Flay uses so much honey in savory dishes. He's on the record saying it helps "balance out the big strong flavors," something hard to argue with if you've made his recipes.

Small but significant flavor boosts

To be sure, home cooks need to be careful with these distinctly sweet additions. Both honey and maple syrup provide a subtle flavor of their own that some sweeteners, like traditional sugar, don't. Bobby Flay's recipes typically use just a tablespoon or two per batch, which makes about six servings. However, these versatile ingredients can keep for a long time when stored properly, so it's easy to have them on hand whenever needed.

That means it's worth investing in higher-quality versions of both. Ideally, this is 100% pure maple syrup with no flavorings or high-fructose corn syrup. For recipes like these that don't need a strong maple flavor, buyers should opt for bottles marked "Golden color," "delicate taste," or some combination of similar terms. Honey should also be raw, with no preservatives or additives, and sourced locally if possible. 

So the next time you're simmering up a batch of mouthwatering, spicy chili, think like Flay and add a touch of these sophisticated sweeteners. One taste and you'll not doubt why Flay is such a respected chef.