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What's the Best Way to Make a Chili Recipe Spicier?

I have a recipe for chili that I like, but it's not nearly spicy enough for my tastes. What would be the best way to alter the recipe to give it a little more heat? Some of things I'm considering:

-Add chili flakes at beginning
-Add chili flakes when it's almost done
-Add cayenne pepper at beginning
-Add cayenne pepper when it's almost done
-Add hot sauce at beginning
-Add hot sauce when it's almost done
-Add raw hot peppers at beginning
-Add dried hot peppers at beginning

Any thoughts? Additional suggestions?

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  1. I would vote for none of the above; rather, please consider canned chipotle chilis, chopped (not the whole can! one or two to start if you are not familiar with them), quite spicy and quite hot (to me, spicy and hot are not the same but some folks use the terms interchangeably) and they also add some smokiness to any dish. You would add them in the middle after you brown the meat and as you add the wet ingredients, tomatoes, beer or stock and then let it simmer.

    1. Yes to the chipotle! I add some pepper flakes at the beginning and then 1-2 chopped chipotle and a little bit of cayenne and chili powder (Mexican and a red chili powder from East Indian stores-very hot), along with some drops of chili sauce (like Tabasco). :) Can't go wrong!

      1. I bought some scotch bonnet peppers and roasted them, then added one or two to a big pot of chili. Too hot for me! I always add some tabasco type sauce and lots of black pepper too, not to mention a big spoonful of horseradish to round it out.

        1. It depends on how hot you want it and which chiles you plan to use. Chipotles, as already mentioned, add smokiness. Most hot sauces have vinegar in them so you need to think about that effect on your chili. Raw chiles are more potent than dried, and there's a big range of heat from habaneros (highest Scoville rating) to jalapeno (low Scoville rating).

          If you're looking for a lot more heat, add raw chiles near the beginning of cooking. My favorites are habaneros not just because of the heat but also the full fruity flavor. I've also used Thai birds eyes and serranos but you need more to get the same degree of heat.

          Dried chiles have a nice mellowness and depth. Depending on which chile you choose, you can get a smoky flavor as well. I'm no expert in the large range of Mexican and New Mexican chiles but I've used anchos, New Mexicos, guajillos and pasillas, all fairly mild with good flavor. I've never used dried Thai chiles in chili, only for Asian cooking so I don't know how it would affect the dish. I would also add these at the beginning of cooking.

          I would add cayenne at the end, only if the chili were nearly finished and still in need of some spicing up. The other chiles have more flavor IMO as well as heat.

          1. The chipotles are a great idea.
            You can also take the leftovers and puree them to use as a hot sauce to crank it up even more when you plate it.
            I would also consider srirachi as a spicer. It's pretty powerfull stuff.

            DT