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18 February 2019

This Texas chili recipe is authentic, meaty, just the right amount of spicy, and not a chili bean in sight. Learn how to make your own Texas chili.

The first time I had Texas chili was, shockingly, down in Texas. I was in the middle of my military training and they let me off base. I’d never tried it, so grabbed a bowl at a local restaurant and…

BOOM! Eyes opened! Talk about flavor.

I’ve been making a version of that exact bowl ever since. Please note that I am NOT a Texas chili purist. There are different ways to make true Texas chili, but this is how I like to make mine.

You’ll find argument after argument about what exactly makes up Texas style chili, and as with any recipe, the ingredients and preparation varies from cook to cook. See my Recipe Variations notes below on this.

The main thing that practically everyone agrees on, however, is that Texas chili has no beans! This is very important. You don’t put beans in Texas chili. See my further notes on that below as well.

Texas Chili in a bowl, ready for you to taste

Let’s talk about how we make Texas chili, shall we?

How to Make Texas Chili – the Recipe Method

Start your chili paste first by lightly toasting the dried peppers in a dry pan about a minute or 2 per side. This will help to release the oils.

Remove from heat and cool enough to handle. Remove the stems and pour out the seeds.

Soak the peppers in hot water for 20 minutes, or until they are nice and soft.

Add them to a food processor with 1 cup of the soaking water and a bit of salt to taste. Process until nice and smooth. Set aside for now.

Making the chili paste for our Texas chili

Add the cubed beef to a large bowl and toss with the cumin and a bit of salt and pepper. Make sure everything is nice and coated.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat in a large pot and add the seasoned beef. Cook 6-7 minutes, searing the beef all over.

Browning the beef for our Texas chili

Remove the beef and set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil along with the jalapenos and onion. Cook them down about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and stir. Cook another minute.

Cooking down the peppers and onion

Pour in the reserved chili paste and stir. Cook it for 2-3 minutes to let the flavor develop a bit.

Stir in the beef broth (or beer), 2 cups of water, brown sugar, Worcestershire, and masa and bring to a quick boil. If you are using the optional additions (see my NOTES above), add them in now.

Texas chili simmering in a pot

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. It could take longer if you are using tougher cuts of beef (see NOTES above). Give it a stir once every 30 minutes or so.

NOTE: You could also transfer everything to a slow cooker or Instant Pot and let it cook low and slow. I usually use my Dutch oven.

The chili will thicken up nicely as it simmers.

If it becomes too thick, add in a ¼ cup of water and stir.

Serve with your favorite fixins! Get ready for an awesome “bowl o red”!

Texas Chili in a bowl, ready for you to taste

Now, I’m sure you have questions. Or comments. Let’s move onto the overall Texas Chili discussion, shall we?

Does Texas Chili Have Beans?

NO! Texas chili does NOT have beans.

However, as with any cook, you are the one making the recipe, so if you’d like to include BEANS in your Texas chili, go for it. Use just about any bean – kidney beans, black beans, several white bean varieties work nicely.

If you choose to include beans, though, be prepared for your Texas friends to tell you, vehemently, that it is NOT officially Texas chili. I’m sure you’ll be okay with that.

What Makes Texas Chili Different from Other Chilis?

Texas chili is unique from other chilis in that it does not contain beans or tomato sauce, or any tomato product. It is made primarily of meat and a thick and flavor chili paste made from dried peppers. It is more akin to a thick and hearty beef stew that most chilis with a focus on chili pepper flavor. Because of the reddish color from the chili, it is also known as Texas Red Chili or Cowboy Chili.

About the Dried Peppers

The chili peppers for our Texas chili

I used a combination of three different dried peppers – ancho, pasilla, and New Mexican peppers. 

The ancho pepper is the dried form of the poblano chili pepper. It has a mild paprika flavor, with sweet to moderate heat.

Pasilla peppers offer a rich smoky flavor. They’re often used as a powder in Mexican salsas as well as in mole and adobo sauces, though they make a wonderful addition to not only Texas chili, but any style of chili.

The New Mexican peppers are earthy and a little sweet. Together, they build the delectable chili paste that makes this Texas chili recipe truly authentic.

You can easily use other dried pods to form your flavor base, or try it with only a single pepper. I’ve made some chili recipes with only pasilla peppers and with only ancho peppers, and was not disappointed.

About the Fresh Peppers

I used both jalapeno peppers and serrano peppers for both flavor and heat. They break down nicely as you cook them up, and they’re readily available. 

Other peppers that would work very nicely here include the Anaheim pepper, cubanelle pepper, or the poblano

Hatch chili peppers would be outstanding in a Texas chili, in my opinion. If you’re looking to introduce a nice level of heat, bring in a habanero or two.

Either work with them from fresh, or roast them for a more robust flavor. Feel free to experiment.

Close up of Texas chili in a bowl

Choices of Beef

Chuck roast is always a popular option for Texas chili because it is a tougher meat that benefits greatly from the low and slow cooking process. All of that tough connective tissue breaks down and it becomes wonderfully tender and flavorful.

You can use any stew meat for this particular recipe.

I’ve enjoyed some Texas chilis with ground beef, and found them delicious, but it just isn’t the same in terms of taste and consistency. But if you’re in a bind, I say go for it. Better to have chili than NO chili.

It is still quite delicious.

Additional Ingredients and Recipe Variations

As mentioned, there are other ways to make Texas chili, and the recipe will vary from cook to cook. The largest variations I see involve the use of seasonings.

I rely mostly on the peppers, the meat, and a few simple seasonings to make my outstanding Texas chili (if I do say so myself!), but other ingredients I’ve encountered with other Texas chili recipes include:

  • Coriander
  • Mexican oregano
  • Hot chili powder or flakes (Yes!)
  • Vinegar (1-2 tablespoons usually)
  • Chocolate or cocoa powder
  • Coffee
  • Beer (used instead of broth, or both – I’ve done this and love it)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Brown sugar/sugar
  • Tomato paste/sauce/diced tomatoes/crushed tomatoes (usually a typical can or so)
  • Masa (as a thickener)

Note that I did not list BEANS among those ingredients. 

How Long Does it Take to Make Texas Chili

Once you’ve got your pot of Texas chili simmering, it will take a least a good two hours of simmering time for the meats to break down, depending on the type of meat you are using. The key is to let the flavor develop, and for the tough connective tissues (collagen) to break down and become tender.

I’ve had some of my chilis take nearly 4 hours for it to get to where I wanted it, flavor-wise. Just keep tasting and testing. 

If your chili becomes too thick from the simmering process and it still needs developing time, just add a bit of water here and there, about a quarter cup or so at a time, as needed.

Speaking of flavor and simmering time…

Try it the Next Day

Texas chili is GREAT right off the bat, but you can develop even MORE flavor by cooling it and setting it into the refrigerator, covered. Leave it overnight, then reheat it the next day.

It is even better this way.

Serving Up Your Texas Chili

I don’t see any real RULES here when serving up Texas chili. Serve it up with whatever fixings you prefer. Fritos are fun and crunchy (Frito pie, anyone?), as are crispy tortillas, but go for the regulars like diced onion, spicy chopped peppers, chili flakes, fresh chopped herbs, limes, crema or sour cream, shredded cheese and more.

How Long Does Texas Chili Last in the Fridge?

Properly sealed in a container with a tight lid, chili should last a week in the refrigerator. If you’d like to keep your chili longer, it is best to freeze it in proper freezer containers. That way your chili will last a good 6 months.

That’s it, my friends! I hope you enjoy your Texas chili! Let me know how it turns out for you!

TRY SOME OF MY OTHER POPULAR CHILI RECIPES

Meaty Texas chili in a bowl

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS.Also, please share it on social media.

Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

4.58 from 7 votes
Texas Chili in a bowl, ready for you to taste
Texas Chili Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs 40 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 50 mins
 
This Texas chili recipe is authentic, meaty, just the right amount of spicy, and not a chili bean in sight. Learn how to make your own Texas chili.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chili, recipe, spicy, Tex-Mex
Servings: 6
Calories: 447 kcal
Author: Mike Hultquist
Ingredients
  • 3 ancho peppers
  • 3 pasilla peppers
  • 3 New Mexican dried peppers See my NOTES above on the dried pepper choices – I prefer a variety
  • 2.5 pounds beef chuck cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 3 jalapeno peppers chopped
  • 2 serrano peppers chopped (optional for extra heat – use extra jalapenos for milder)
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 cups beef stock or use a dark beer
  • 2.5 cups water + more as needed (or use chicken or beef stock, or beer)
  • 2 tablespoons masa harina corn flour, for thickening, if desired
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • FOR SERVING: Chopped onion, spicy chili flakes, freshly chopped cilantro, lime wedges, crema or sour cream, Fritos or tortilla chips, whatever else you desire
Instructions
  1. Start your chili paste first by lightly toasting the dried peppers in a dry pan about a minute or 2 per side. This will help to release the oils.
  2. Remove from heat and cool enough to handle. Remove the stems and pour out the seeds.
  3. Soak the peppers in hot water for 20 minutes, or until they are nice and soft.
  4. Add them to a food processor with 1 cup of the soaking water and a bit of salt to taste. Process until nice and smooth. Set aside for now.
  5. Add the cubed beef to a large bowl and toss with the cumin and a bit of salt and pepper. Make sure everything is nice and coated.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot and add the seasoned beef. Cook 6-7 minutes, searing the beef all over. Remove the beef and set aside.
  7. Add the remaining olive oil along with the jalapenos and onion. Cook them down about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic and stir. Cook another minute.
  9. Pour in the reserved chili paste and stir. Cook it for 2-3 minutes to let the flavor develop a bit.
  10. Stir in the beef broth (or beer), 2 cups of water, brown sugar, Worcestershire, and masa and bring to a quick boil. If you are using the optional additions (see my NOTES above), add them in now.
  11. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the beef is very tender. It could take longer if you are using tougher cuts of beef (see NOTES above). Give it a stir once every 30 minutes or so. If it becomes too thick, add in a ¼ cup of water and stir.
  12. Serve with your favorite fixins!
Recipe Notes

Heat Factor: Mild-Medium, but Texas chili is HUGE on flavor.

Nutrition Facts
Texas Chili Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 447 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Fat 27g42%
Saturated Fat 10g50%
Cholesterol 130mg43%
Sodium 352mg15%
Potassium 987mg28%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 39g78%
Vitamin A 1910IU38%
Vitamin C 12.3mg15%
Calcium 67mg7%
Iron 5.5mg31%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

11 comments

  1. 3 stars
    My wife and I are both from Texas and our family’s have been in Texas since the 1800’s. Between the two of us we have lived in northwest, central, south, far west and southeast Texas and neither one of us has ever had chili with chunks of meat. We have always had chili grind meat, basically the same as hamburger but larger grind. The meat is about the size of your little finger. I’m not saying yours would not be great, but I have never seen it made that way. You are absolutely right, no beans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m going to give your recipe a try.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      5 stars
      Thanks for the input, Jim. Let me know how it turns out for you.

    2. My entire family is from houstin and weve been apart of several cookouts. Everyone’s Chili had chunks of meat in it, with the ground beef. I don’t think i’d call it a texan chili if it was just ground meat, that would just be regular chili without beans.

  2. Rich Beaudry

    5 stars
    I give you 5-stars without even trying your chili! It’s so much like mine that I know it’s great. (Sorry, but I love it with or without 2 cans of rinsed black beans.). As to serving, all you said but try my option. Split a potato, oil plus salt and pepper grill at 350-400 until ready (soft). Roughly dice the potato, pour over it at least a cup of the hot chili, add sour cream, shredded cheese, onion, diced cauliflower, cut up broccoli, corn or whatever you like. Just be sure the chili remains the dominant ingredient! One of my favorites and what I’m having tonight.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Haha, thanks, Rich! It’s such a GREAT RECIPE! I love it, and I LOVE your serving suggestion. Definitely going to try that next time I make a batch! Have a good one.

      1. Rich Beaudry

        Enjoy! I came up with that while trying to “improve” our company cafeteria chili. Starting with great chili, it’s amazing! BTW, a good way to improve any chili is to use better beef. My current choice was diced chuck and NY strip. I cut 1/2 – 3/4″ strips, coat with my “Cajun” spice (much less salt), sear on the grill and dice. Then your recipe. So many ways to up-level good chili.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          That’s awesome, Rich. I love it, and agree wholeheartedly. Keep on cooking, my friend!

  3. Gerald Hayes

    5 stars
    Another tasty Chili. I rendered some bacon end in order to brown the beef. Liquid was a can of IPA to deglaze and 2 cups of chicken broth. I used a slow cooker and found this to actually be too much. But a little corn starch solved that. Oh, and I refrigerated the entire batch for reheating the day after. It made a big difference!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Excellent, Gerald! Thank you. I love the addition of the bacon.

  4. 5 stars
    This is even better than my father’s old recipe. Believe it or not. It’s THAT good. I recommend Mike’s Texas Chili recipe wholeheartedly!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Wow, thanks, Mabel! That’s a HUGE compliment! Super glad you love it.

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