Texas Chili, or sometimes called Texas Red Chili, is a classic and authentic chili recipe from heart of Texas. Texas chili is thick and chunky, made with real chilis such as dried ancho, arbol and guajillo chilies (not just chili powder), along with tender chunks of beef steaks and tomatoes. And very importantly: no beans!
This is a recipe from my native Texan husband, who is born and raised in Texas. And yes, he is extremely proud of his chili recipe. 😉 If you are looking for a tried and true Texas style chili recipe, you have come to the right place. Prepared to be blown away by its big bold flavors!
Looking for more classic Texas style foods and recipes? Don’t forge to check out my Easy Queso (Velveeta Queso), Easy Texas Sausage Kolache and Breakfast Tacos – three of my favorite foods from Texas.
An Authentic Texas Style Chili Recipe
What I’ve learned being married to my native Texas husband is that 1) Texans take pride in their chili, and 2) Texas chili is truly a signature dish of Texas.
There are so many variations of chili, from Cincinnati chili to Colorado Chili. They are all unique and distinct. So you may ask – what makes Texas chili Texas chili? Most Texans would agree there are a few key trades that makes up Texas chili…
What is Texas Chili?
- No beans – this is kinda a big one – there should be no beans in Texas chili!
- Real chilis – multiple actual dried chilis such as Ancho, Guajillo and Arbol chilies are used, in addition to chili powder! These chilies bring complex dimension of flavors to Texas style chili, which has a distinct flavor profile.
- Beef steaks instead of ground beef – gotta love the tender pieces of melt-in-your-mouth steaks.
- Cooked for a long time – most of the time, it has to be simmered and cooked so that beef chuck becomes tender and easily falls apart, and it takes time for flavors to come together and get absorbed into the meat.
For our Texas chili recipe, we are slowly cooking cubes of beef chunk with three types of chilis – Ancho, Guajillo/Cacavel, and Arbol. We cook it for hours until beef is tender and falls apart easily. The flavors are big, bold and complex, and the chili comes out thick, chunky and hearty.
It is a satisfying meal perfect for Fall and winter. Enjoy it by itself, or serve it with toppings such as cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, and cilantro.
Let’s first walk through the ingredients you will need to make Texas Chili:
- beef chuck – we are using a tougher piece of meat because we will be cooking it for hours, slowly breaking down the fibers until they are tender. There’s no need to spend lots of money on expensive cuts because it will be tender after cooking for a long time. You can use cubed stew meat for this as well.
- Dried ancho chili – this is actual chilis that is dried (not chili powder) that you can get from the grocery stores. If you cannot find it in your regular grocery stores, Mexican grocery stores will carry them. Avoid substituting with powder form for best taste.
- Dried guajillo chili – also known as cacavel chili, this is another important ingredient.
- Dried arbol chili – similarly, avoid substituting with powdered forms.
- Crushed tomatoes – this comes in canned form. An important ingredient that balance out the flavors from the chilis and spices.
- Onions – use fresh while or yellow onion, not onion powder
- Garlic – use fresh garlic, not garlic powder
- Beef Bouillon – I use Better than Bouillon’s beef bouillon. Do not substitute with beef broth – beef bouillon is more intense in flavor. Beef broth is simply too watered down.
- Masa harina – corn flour can be used as well. This is used to thicken our Texas chili.
- Smoked paprika
- Mexican oregano – if you can’t find this, regular oregano works just fine
- Chili powder – yes, we are also adding a bit of regular chili powder to give it additional dimensions of flavors.
- Ground cumin – another spice to bring on those big complex flavors.
- Cayenne powder – if you prefer your Texas style chili less spicy, omit or use less of this.
- Salt and granulated sugar – used to open up and balance flavors
How to make Texas Chili
Texas chili does have specific ingredients that makes it what it is, and those are important to note. But once you familiarize and get a hold of those ingredients, the process to make Texas style chili is not complicated and totally doable at home.
So let’s make some Texas red chili!
Step 1: Prepare Chiles
Start by slicing the stems off dried arbol, guajillo and ancho chilies, and then slicing them into half lengthwise and remove all seeds inside the chilies.
Add 1 1/2 cups of water to a a small pot, add chilis, and bring to a boil. Once it is done, let chilies sit in the pot for 15 minutes. We are trying to soften the dried chilies.
Next, add chilies and water from the pot into a food processor and blend until it becomes a paste. Set aside.
Step 2: Cook Chili
Once the chili paste is ready, grab a large Dutch oven 6 qt or larger or large pot and we are going to make the Texas style chili on the stove top.
Sear the ingredients below separately in the Dutch oven:
- Beef chuck: season beef cubes with salt and black peppers on all sides, then sear beef in oil in the Dutch oven. Once the outside of the beef cubes are no longer pink, remove from Dutch oven and set aside.
- Onions and garlic: add more oil into the Dutch oven, and sear onions and garlic until fragrant. Avoid burning.
Add chili paste, ground cumin, smoked paprika, Mexican oregano, chili powder and cayenne to the garlic and onion mixture. Stir to combine. These is the aromatics – the spices and herbs that will bring on all the amazing flavors.
Then add crushed tomatoes. Return beef cubes back into the Dutch oven. Add beef bouillon. Bring to a boil.
Lower meat to medium low. Cover and cook on low medium heat for 4 hours or until meat is tender.
Check halfway through to see if meat is submerged in liquid. If chili looks dry at any point, add 1/2 cup of water at a time.
Step 3: Thicken Chili + Final Touches
Once the meat is tender and chili is done cooking, thicken chili by removing ~ 1 1/2 cup of liquid from the chili into a cup. Add masa harina or corn flour to the cup and whisk until there are no clumps. Then return masa harina + liquid mixture back into the large pot of Texas chili.
Stir to combine, and you’ll find your Texas style chili is now thick and chunky.
Finally, add salt and sugar, and taste the chili to make sure the flavor balance is right. If chili taste bitter, you can add more sugar and salt to balance the flavor.
Serving Texas Red Chili
There are many ways to jazz up and enjoy Texas Chili:
- Add garnishes such as cheddar cheese, sour cream, cilantro, tortilla chips, avocado, jalapeños.
- Serve it on baked potato or on hot dogs as chili cheese dog.
- Top it on top of tortilla chips and turn it into a chili nacho.
- By itself! With its big bold flavors and textures, you don’t need anything to make your bowl of Texas chili crazy yummy!
Other Cooking Methods
Slow Cooker: Prepare dried chilis by boiling and blending them in food processor, brown meat on stove top, sear onions and garlic on the stove top, then bring everything into slow cooker and cook on high for 4-5 hours. Once chili is cooked, thicken it using masa harina or corn flour as instructed. Add salt and sugar to taste.
Instant Pot: Prepare dried chilis by boiling and blending them in food processor. Brown meat and onions/garlic separately using the ‘saute’ setting on Instant Pot, then bring everything into the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Naturally release pressure when done. Once chili is done, thicken it using masa harina or corn flour as instructed. Add salt and sugar to taste.
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditionally, Texas chili does not have beans. That’s why we did not include beans in this recipe.
Absolutely! Chili freezes really well. Bring it to a cool and store in air tight container in a freezer for up to 2 months.
You can find it in some of the mainstream grocery stores, if not, Mexican grocery stores carry them. These are crucial ingredients to make a true authentic Texas red chili so avoid substituting with chili powder.
DID YOU ENJOY THIS RECIPE? Please comment below and give us a 5-star rating! This will help others find this recipe on Google and Pinterest. We very much appreciate your help! 🤍
More Chili and Stew Recipes
- 2-3 dried ancho chile
- 4-6 dried guajillo or cacavel chili
- 3 dried arbol chili
- 2.5-3 lbs beef chuck cubed, or stew meat
- 4 tsp salt or more to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 white onion diced
- 6-8 cloves garlic minced
- 30 oz canned crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup masa harina or corn flour
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground cayenne or more to taste
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp beef bouillon
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar or more to taste
- Prepare chilies: Cut ancho, guajillo and arbol chilis and remove the seeds/stems. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to a saucepan, add chilis, and bring to a boil. Take off heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes. Pour chili and water into a food processor and blend into a paste. Set aside.
- Sprinkle ~2 tsp salt and ~1 tsp black pepper on both sides of all beef cubes.
- Add vegetable oil to a large Dutch oven or pot. Set on medium high heat. Once oil is heated (a few minutes), lightly brown beef in oil, then remove from dutch oven (including liquid).
- Brown the onion and garlic in oil until fragrant (or for 1-2 minutes). Avoid burning.
- Add chili paste, ground cumin, Mexican oregano, smoked paprika, and cayenne. Stir thoroughly.
- Add crushed tomatoes, return beef to Dutch oven, and add beef bouillon. Stir and bring to a boil.
- Lower meat to medium low. Cover and cook on low medium heat for 4 hours or until meat is tender.
- Remove 1 1/2 cups of liquid from chili and place in a separate bowl. Slowly mix Masa harina into the separate bowl until thick, but not clumpy. A few tbsp of water may be added to avoid clumps.
- Return the masa/water mixture to the chili and stir thoroughly.
- Add granulated sugar and 1-2 tsp salt (or to taste) to chili and stir. If the chili is still too bitter, add more sugar and salt to balance out the flavors.
- Serve and enjoy!