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Best Homemade Texas Chili Recipe

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As they say, ‘Everything’s bigger in Texas,’ and that includes the flavor of our beloved Texas chili.

I’ve spent countless hours refining the perfect blend of ground beef, spices, and no beans, creating a bowl of rich, smoky goodness that’s sure to warm your soul.

I’m going to share my best Texas chili recipe, walking you through each step in detail so you can recreate this classic dish in your own kitchen.

Get ready to roll up your sleeves and immerse yourself in a culinary adventure deep in the heart of Texas cuisine.

Key Takeaways

  • Texas chili is a spicy, smoky, and beefy chili con carne known as ‘Bowl o Red’.
  • Texas chili does not contain beans and gets its flavor from ground chuck and a flavorful chili mixture.
  • Texas chili cook-offs are held to determine the best recipe, with criteria varying between competitions.
  • Toppings, spices, and different types of peppers can be used to customize Texas chili.

Texas Chili

While I’ve always been a fan of various chili recipes, the unique characteristics of Texas chili really caught my attention. Its origins trace back to the 1800s, emerging as a rich culinary tradition in the heart of the Lone Star State.

The recipe was popularized by the so-called ‘chili queens’ in San Antonio, but its exact roots are a subject of heated debate, with some attributing its creation to a Spanish nun.

The ingredients of Texas chili are deceptively simple, yet they yield a flavor profile that’s robust and satisfying.

Ground beef, often a hearty chuck roast, forms the backbone of the dish, complemented by onions, garlic, and, most importantly, chili powder.

What sets Red Chili apart is its no-bean rule, a tradition that purists staunchly uphold. Any beans are served strictly on the side.

The result is a dish that’s smoky, spicy, and deeply beefy.

The flavors are bold, with the heat of the chili and the savoriness of the beef taking center stage, underpinned by the subtle sweetness of the onions and the aromatic tang of the garlic.

It’s a gastronomical journey through Texas in a bowl.

Participating in Chili Cook-Offs

In my years of cooking, I’ve attended numerous chili cook-offs, where die-hard chili enthusiasts gather to showcase their best Texas chili recipes.

These Texas chili cook-offs provide a platform for passionate cooks like myself to share the secrets of their culinary success.

The secrets to winning chili cook-offs often lie in the subtle nuances of the recipe.

Paying attention to the quality of your beef, sourcing the freshest ingredients, and patiently nurturing your chili as it simmers can make all the difference.

It’s also important to balance the smoky heat of the chili with the savory depth of the beef.

Tips for perfecting Red Chili include using a thick cut of beef, often chuck, and slow-cooking it to tender perfection.

The choice of chilies is also crucial. I prefer a mix of ancho, pasilla, and New Mexican peppers for a complex, layered heat.

Chili cook-offs are more than just competitions; they’re a celebration of the rich culinary tradition that Red Chili embodies. But remember, the ultimate win is the satisfaction of creating something delicious.

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step Texas chili recipe.

Step-by-Step Texas Chili Recipe

Let’s get started on the step-by-step process of creating a mouthwatering Texas chili.

  1. Preparation:
  • Begin by gathering all the ingredients.
  • Notably, you’ll want a variety of different chili peppers to give depth to your dish.
  • Experimenting with spices such as cumin, oregano, and coriander can truly elevate the flavor.
  1. Cooking:
  • Brown your meat in a heavy-bottomed pot, then set it aside.
  • In the same pot, sauté your onions and garlic until they’re translucent.
  • Add your spice mix and cook until fragrant.
  • Return the meat to the pot, pour in your beef broth, and let it all simmer.
  1. Finishing:
  • After a couple of hours, once your meat is tender and flavors have melded, it’s time for the final touches.
  • A dash of vinegar can brighten the flavors, while a spoonful of masa harina, or cornmeal, can thicken the stew.
  1. Serving:
  • Dish up your chili in deep bowls, and let everyone customize their meal by adding toppings.
  • Whether it’s shredded cheese, diced onions, sour cream, or fresh cilantro, the choice is theirs.

Creating Texas chili is all about balance, heat, and personality. Enjoy the process and the flavorful result!

Variations on Classic Texas Chili

Although I’m partial to the classic Texas chili recipe, there are endless variations you can try to switch up the flavor or accommodate different dietary needs.

For instance, you can experiment with toppings for Red Chili. Traditional choices include shredded cheese, diced onions, or sliced jalapenos.

But why not try something different? A dollop of avocado cream or a sprinkle of crushed tortilla chips could add an unexpected twist.

Spicy modifications are another way to personalize your Red Chili. If you love heat, consider adding more cayenne pepper or throwing in a diced habanero for a fiery kick.

Conversely, if you’re catering to those with a milder palate, reduce the chili powder and increase the cumin for a warm, smoky flavor without the burn.

Throughout my culinary journey, I’ve greatly valued reader feedback. It’s a fantastic source of inspiration and often leads me to try modifications I hadn’t considered.

So, whether you’ve added a secret ingredient or adjusted the spice levels, I’d love to hear about your Texas chili experiences.

Now that we’ve explored some variations, let’s move onto storing and reheating Texas chili, ensuring your leftovers taste just as good as the day you made them.

Storing and reheating Texas chili

After enjoying a hearty meal of Texas chili, it’s important to know how to properly store and reheat any leftovers to ensure they maintain their delicious flavor.

Chili safety is crucial to preventing foodborne illnesses, so you must handle your chili with care.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to proper chili storage and reheating:

  1. Cool it down: Allow your Red Chili to cool at room temperature, but no more than two hours to avoid bacteria growth.
  2. Refrigerate: Transfer the chili into airtight containers and refrigerate. It’s safe for consumption for up to three days.
  3. Freeze: For longer storage, freezing leftovers is a great option. Red Chili can be frozen for up to four months. Just make sure your containers are freezer-friendly.
  4. Reheat: When you’re ready to enjoy your chili again, thaw it in the fridge overnight. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until it reaches a safe temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The History of Texas Chili

I’ve discovered that the origins of Texas chili go back to the 1800s, making it an integral part of Texan heritage for over a century.

Known as the ‘Bowl o Red’, its creation is often credited to the Chili Queens of San Antonio, a group of women who served up the hearty dish in the city’s plazas.

However, the specific origins of Red Chili are hotly debated, with some tales attributing its inception to a mystical Spanish nun.

Here’s a glimpse into its fascinating history:





Origins of Texas chili

Believed to be created by Chili Queens in San Antonio


Chili Cook-offs

Competitions popularized Texas chili


Modern Interpretations

Chefs continue to experiment with the classic recipe.

From the rugged cowboys of the frontier to the bustling chili cook-offs of today, Red Chili has stood the test of time.

Its meaty goodness, sans beans, is a testament to the state’s rich cultural history and culinary prowess. As we continue to explore the nuances of this dish, let’s delve into the art of serving and enjoying Chili Con Carne.

Serving and enjoying Texas chili

Enjoying a bowl of Cowboy chili involves more than just savoring the rich, meaty flavor; it’s about exploring different accompaniments and toppings that can enhance the overall eating experience.

As I dive into my bowl, the cornbread pairing is always a must.

The sweet, grainy texture of cornbread complements the hearty, robust flavors of the chili, creating a perfect harmony on my palate.

Toppings for chili aren’t just garnishes; they add an extra dimension to the dish. Here are my top four:

  1. Shredded cheese: The heat from the chili melts it, creating a creamy layer.
  2. Sour cream: It offers a cool contrast, toning down the spice level.
  3. Chopped onions: They have a crunchy texture and a sharp taste.
  4. Fresh cilantro: It adds a pop of color and a refreshing note.

When thinking about side dishes for chili, consider those that can balance the spiciness of the chili. A fresh, crispy green salad or a cooling cucumber salad can do just that.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Origin of the Term ‘Bowl O Red’ in Reference to Texas Chili?

“Bowl o’ Red” is a term coined due to Texas chili’s vivid color and thick consistency. The language evolved, linking chili connotations with red symbolism, encapsulating the dish’s essence in a catchy phrase.

Can I substitute the beef in Texas chili for another type of meat?

Sure, you can swap out beef for Red Chili. Poultry alternatives, like chicken or turkey, could work. Lamb incorporation might add a unique twist. For the adventurous, seafood experimentation is an uncharted but exciting territory.

Are there any health benefits associated with the ingredients used in Texas chili?

Absolutely! Texas chili’s nutrition profile is robust. It’s packed with protein from beef and contains spices like cumin and chili powder, which have health benefits like aiding digestion and reducing inflammation. Always consider dietary restrictions, though!

How Can I Make a Vegetarian or Vegan Version of Red Chili While Staying True to Its Flavors?

I’d swap meat with hearty plant-based proteins like lentils or tempeh in a vegan Red Chili. Vegan chili ingredients include traditional spices to maintain that authentic flavor while adapting to a meat-free recipe.

Can I pair Chili Con Carne with any specific type of drink to enhance its taste?

I’d recommend pairing Red Chili with either a cold beer or a spicy margarita. The cold drink temperatures contrast with the chili’s heat, and the flavors in these chili cocktails complement the spicy pairings beautifully.

How to Make the Best Texas Chili Recipe

This guide reveals secrets for crafting a robust and hearty chili, packed with spices and rich flavors, true to Texas tradition.
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, texas
Servings 4
Calories 350 kcal


  • 2 lbs. beef chuck cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper adjust to taste
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 can kidney beans drained and rinsed (traditional Texas chili doesn’t include beans, but they can be added based on preference).


  • Brown the Beef: In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef cubes and brown them on all sides. Remove the beef and set it aside.
  • Sauté Vegetables: In the same pot, add the onion and garlic, cooking until they are soft and fragrant.
  • Add Spices: Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes to release the flavors.
  • Combine: Return the beef to the pot. Add the crushed tomatoes and beef broth. Stir well.
  • Simmer: Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the beef is tender.
  • Final Touches: Stir in the apple cider vinegar and add salt and black pepper to taste. If using, add the kidney beans and heat through.
  • Serve: Serve the chili hot. It can be garnished with shredded cheese, sour cream, and chopped green onions, if desired.


  • Beef Selection: Beef chuck is ideal for chili as it becomes tender and flavorsome when cooked slowly.
  • Spice Adjustments: Adjust the cayenne pepper and chili powder according to your heat preference.
  • Simmering Time: Longer simmering times lead to more flavor development. You can simmer for up to 3 hours if time allows.
  • Resting: Letting the chili rest for a while after cooking can enhance its flavors.


Calories: 350kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 30gFat: 20gFiber: 4g
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