Dehydrated-to-Death Chili

image by trekkyandy

I tried a new chili recipe recently and decided to play around with it a bit.  I dehydrated the tomato sauce, kidney beans, added a few seasonings and stored it in my pantry for about a month.  When I decided one night to make one of my family’s favorite meals, Chili and Rice, I added four cups of water to the dehydrated chili mixture and was amazed!  I think it was one of the best pots of chili I’ve ever made!  Give it a try.

2 cans tomato sauce

2 cans kidney beans, drained

1/4 c. chopped yellow onion*

1 T. chili powder

1 t. cumin

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. garlic powder

1/8 t. ground black pepper

In a food dehydrator, dehydrate the tomato sauce, kidney beans and chopped onions.  To dehydrate the sauce, spread it evenly on two fruit leather trays and dry until it can be easily peeled up and no moisture remains.  The dehydration time for these three ingredients varies from dehydrator to dehydrator, but plan on at least six hours.

To store, combine the sauce, beans, onion and seasonings in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, a Food Saver bag or even a Zip-Loc bag, depending on how long you wish to store it.  The sauce can be rolled up or even torn or cut into small pieces to better fit into the jar.

Cooking the dehydrated chili is a dream.  Pour the dry ingredients in a large saucepan or pot, along with four cups of water.  Cook over medium heat for at least 15-20 minutes or until the beans are completely rehydrated.  You can add cooked meat or canned tomatoes at this point, if you wish.  As the chili heats, the sauce thickens quite nicely, but you may want to add a bit more water for a thinner consistency.  Of course you can cook this in your Sun Oven!  Just place the ingredients in a covered pot and set outside in your oven for a couple of hours. 

Serve alone, over rice, topped with grated cheddar cheese, saltines, tortilla chips, sour cream, or your own preferred chili toppings.

*As long as you’re dehydrating this amount of onion, you might as well dehydrate a whole lot more.  Chop enough onion to fill the rest of your dehydrating trays, and you’ll be a step ahead the next time you need chopped onion.

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  1. katzien says

    I bought a dehydrator on Craigslist but have yet to try it. I was doing some reseach on drying veggies and fruits, and it all of a sudden became complicated! Ways to keep things from turning brown, paturizing, etc. Do you have some step-by-step easy instructions??

    • says

      Kat, start out the easiest way. Begin with canned and frozen fruit and veggies. Dehydrated pineapple slices are terrific, and one of my friends said that dehydrated fruit cocktail makes a great snack. Just drain and rinse anything canned, place in a single layer on the trays and dehydrate. Bags of frozen veggies are even easier. Open bag, spread veggies on trays, and dehydrate! Check out the videos at for tons of great ideas. Have fun!

    • Barbara says

      Once you get the hang of it, even the complicated things will be easy things. Do you grow tomatoes? Thick slice them. Leave them sit in a colander to drip for an hour. Single layer them in your dehydrator until hard. Throw them in a blender a few at a time and make into powder. This powder will become instant tomato sauce by the cup, or by the spoonful. Just add to water or broth and simmer a few minutes.
      All sorts of stuff works very similarly simple. Good luck.

  2. says

    This is a great recipe. I would add what my family likes to call "burger rocks", or dehydrated lean burger. They resemble rocks when dry, but rehydrate easily even after long-term storage.

  3. Laura says

    Hi, would this work with soaking beans, cooking them, then dehydrating them.
    Also, I do not have a vacuum sealer, but I do want to keep these for long term storage. Currently we use ball mason jars for our storage as well as Ziploc bags. I see you recommend them above, buy only for up to about 6 months….any other suggestions.
    Also, If I am making powdered tomato sauce, should I store it with the on the other ingredients with of this chili? Do you have any tips on how to store this tomato sauce.
    Would you say I cut the tomato slices like an 1/2" thick and dehydrate for about 24 hours?

  4. Kimmer17 says

    Most canned tomato sauces have a shelf life of two years. What is the shelf life of dehydrated tomato sauce?

  5. Josh E says

    I know this is an old post but I am hoping to get a response anyway. How long does the tomatoe sauce last once dehydrated, if I put it in a sealed food saver bag with Oxygen absorber, and then put that in a sealed mylar bag?
    I am trying to get recipes I can pack away, but I only want to go through the trouble if I can get around 10 years shelf life.

    • says

      Josh, I don’t think you’re going to get that kind of shelf life from home-dehydrated tomato sauce. There is still a tiny bit of moisture that remains in the dried sauce and in time, you would probably end up with moldy sauce. I think you’ll be better off buying a can or two of tomato powder. Just be sure to keep it in a dry location and, if you live in an area with high humidity, add a dessiccant packet or two. Otherwise, it’s ready to be mixed in with water or any other liquid for quick tomato paste, sauce, and the base for soups, salsa, etc. Great product.

  6. says

    I was wondering, what if you made a pot of chili and dehydrated it that way, instead of separately dehydrating ingredients? I just dehydrated spaghetti and it turned out great. However, seeing this post makes me wonder if I should dehydrate my sauce and pasta separately because it would be more saucy. . .

  7. Vicki J. says

    Will the shelf life of a dehydrated food be longer if placed in a vacuum sealed Food Saver bag? I’m looking for long term storage for emergence purposes.

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