Texas Chili

This Texas chili is a no tomato and no bean chili recipe that is rich and flavorful with chile peppers, chipotle peppers, beer, and chuck roast that are simmered together until the beef is tender. Add all of your favorite toppings for a cozy, cold-weather dinner.

bowl of Texas chili with toppings

Someone on social media once chastised me for making beef chili with tomatoes, and, at the time, I was so confused. No tomatoes in chili? That’s not how my mom used to make it. Growing up, every chili I ever had had a big helping of diced tomatoes in every batch.

Time passed and as I grew wiser in the ways of chili, I wondered if that commenter was from Texas because in Texas, red chili doesn’t have any tomatoes or any beans.

In my research, I learned it’s similar to Mexican Chile colorado, but instead of pork, it’s made with beef, and while there are many variations, as a rule, there are no beans or tomatoes. Although, apparently, even Texans argue over what is a true Texas chili, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

So, thank you, angry social media commenter. While your approach could use some finessing, your point was eventually taken. Although, at the risk of encouraging more inflamed comments, I do think there are many ways to make a bowl of chili. Texas chili is just one of them and one worth trying because it is delicious.

Chile Sauce

Instead of using dried chili powder, we’re making a homemade chile sauce with red dried chiles, chipotle peppers, and seasonings like oregano, ground cumin, and kosher salt. And, of course, there are no crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, or other tomato anything.

ingredients for the chili sauce.

What I like about making your own sauce is that you can control the heat. In this case, by the type of dried chile peppers you opt for or the number of chipotle peppers you add. I went with mild red chile peppers and just enough chipotle peppers to add a subtle heat kick.

sauce ingredients in the blender and then pureed in the blender.

All you do is soak the peppers until they’re soft and then whirr them in a blender or food processor with the other sauce ingredients. You end up with a beautiful red sauce with some smoky flavor from the chipotle peppers.

Chili Ingredients

Once you have your sauce, there are just a few more ingredients to prep.

  • Vegetable oil
  • Chuck roast (or beef chuck), cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • Diced yellow onion
  • Chopped garlic
  • Beer
  • Masa harina
  • Lime juice
ingredients for the chili.

For the beer, I go with a lighter lager type. You have many options in this department, so choose one you like to drink.

For the beef, go with chuck roast, which takes really well to a long, slow cooking time.

The chili is flavored with simple onion and garlic and thickened with masa harina. It’s like a very fine corn flour that is absorbed into the chili as a thickener.

How to Make It

Texas chili is easy to make but requires patience while it simmers. It takes a while for the beef to cook, so it’s tender and delicious. So, consider this a weekend chili recipe – it can’t be rushed.

photo collage of browning the beat, cooking the onions, and combining both in the pot.

Start by browning the beef in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in a couple of batches. That way, you get a nice sear on the beef.

Take it out of the pan, then cook the onion and garlic in the beef’s fat and juices left behind. Then, bring it all back together.

photo collage of the chilli being added and the beer being added,

Add your chile sauce, water, and beer, and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and leave it to do its thing for a few hours. You can thin it with more water or beer if it gets too thick. Give it a stir occasionally, too.

How to Thicken Chili

Just at the end, once the beef is tender, add the masa harina. This will thicken the chili and give it a velvety texture. Cook it a little longer, then stir in lime juice to wake up all the flavors.

photo collage of the masa harina being added and the thickened chili.

This Texas chili is delicious straight from the pot but even better the next day. While it sits in the fridge, the flavors develop even more and marry together. You might need to thin it with a little more water or beer when you reheat it.

Topping Ideas

Don’t forget to add some toppings when you serve it – here are some of my favorites:

  • Chopped cilantro
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Diced jalapeno peppers
  • Diced red onion
  • Shredded cheese
  • Diced avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Tortilla chips
  • A dollop of guacamole

Serve it up in bowls with some flour tortillas or cornbread on the side. Or use it to make nachos, Frito pies, or spoon it over flour tortillas with cheese and an egg on top.

photo of the chili in a pot garnished with cilantro

If you like the idea of a no-bean and no-tomato chili recipe, then this Texas chili recipe is for you. It’s rich and delicious, with hints of beer and lots of tender beef. The perfect weekend cooking project that you can enjoy throughout the week.

Happy Texas-style chili cooking!

April
overhead shot of two bowls of chili with tortilla chips, sour cream, and tortilla chips on the side.
Print

Texas Chili

a bowl of texas chili.

This Texas chili is a no tomato and no bean chili recipe that is rich and flavorful with chile peppers, chipotle peppers, beer, and chuck roast that are simmered together until the beef is tender. Add all of your favorite chili toppings for a cozy cold-weather dinner.

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 dried red chiles, stems and seeds removed (see note)
  • 3 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1 chipotle pepper, plus 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided (see note)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds chuck roast, fat trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 12 ounces bottle of lager-style beer
  • 1/4 cup masa harina
  • Juice of one lime
  • Chili toppings like cilantro, diced onion, cheese, or sour cream

Instructions

  1. Place the chiles in water and soak them for 30 minutes. Drain off the water and place them in a blender or food processor along with 1 1/2 cups of water, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, cumin, oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Process until you have a smooth sauce.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot or pan. Season the beef with 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Place the beef pieces in an even layer in the pot (you may need to cook them in two batches) and brown them on both sides, about five to eight minutes. Once browned, remove them from the pot.
  4. In the same pot, cook the onion and garlic for a few minutes, or until they start to soften. Add the browned beef back to the pot and stir to combine.
  5. Pour the chili sauce into the pan along with the beer and two cups of water. Stir and increase the heat to bring the liquid to a boil. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat to medium-low and let the chili simmer and reduce for three to four hours, stirring occasionally. The chili should only lightly bubble as it cooks, if the heat is too high it will thicken quickly. If needed, add more water or beer as it cooks to keep it from thickening too fast. I usually add 1/4 of liquid at a time.
  6. Once it’s cooked and the beef is tender, add the masa harina and stir. Cook the chili for another 15 minutes or so. Add the lime juice, stir, and serve with the toppings.

Notes

For the chiles, you have a lot of options. I like to use mild New Mexico dried red chiles but you can choose spicier ones or do a mix of chiles.

Feel free to double the chipotle peppers if you want a bigger kick of heat and smokiness.

I recommend starting with the amount of salt listed in the ingredients and adding more at the end if it needs it. Because the chili simmers and reduces you don’t want too much at the beginning otherwise it will get concentrated as the chili cooks. So start small and add as you go to your taste.

Recipe adapted from Homesick Texan

Nutrition

  • Calories: 358
  • Sugar: 8.9g
  • Sodium: 220.8mg
  • Fat: 17.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 9.6g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4.9g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 17.4g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 31.8g
  • Cholesterol: 89.4mg

Keywords: Texas chili, beef chili recipe

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

The nutrition is an estimate only. It was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.

FAQ

Can you make Texas chili in the slow cooker?

I haven’t tried it in the slow cooker, but I think it will work. Make the sauce and brown the meat and veggies first, and then combine everything in the slow cooker. Cook it on low until the beef is tender (at least 6 to 8 hours). Add the masa, and then let it cook a little longer to thicken. If the chili is not thick enough, leave the slow cooker lid off to allow steam to escape before serving it.

Can you make it in an Instant Pot?

I haven’t tested the recipe in a pressure cooker. The amount of liquid will need to be adjusted, and the cooking time will be very different – if you try it, please let me know how it goes!

What kind of chili peppers should I use?

The first thing to consider is how spicy you like your chili. The dried chiles at the store should indicate whether they are mild or hot on the package. As far as types, there are quite a few – ancho, pasilla, guajillo… those are just a few. Your store may have other chilies. Saveur has a good article about dried chile peppers you might find helpful.

Can you use ground beef?

Yes, it should work fine – I would use two pounds of ground beef. You won’t have to cook the chili as long – I would simmer it for an hour so it can thicken and the flavors can develop.

Do you have to use beer?

No, you can use chicken stock, beef stock, beef broth, or vegetable broth instead, but the flavor will be different.

How long does it keep?

It will keep well in the refrigerator for three to four days. It will thicken up, so add a splash of broth or water to loosen it when you heat it up. You can also freeze it for up to two months.

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2 Comments

  1. This has many elements of my Grandma’s Farris Family Chili that is over 150 years old. She got the recipe from her mother in law who was from (originally) the Oklahoma Territory, but is now Texas. I use the cut up chuck roast and like to add coarse ground venison or elk to it as well.

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