Rancher’s Texas Chili (Chili con Carne)
Learn how to make real, Texas chili! This is a bowl of chili made with chunks of beef and is so hearty and filling! Perfect for fall!
It’s chili season!
And today I’m bringing you a Texas Chili that’s loaded with all the seasonings, onion, and peppers! Texas-style chili has the most amazing deep and rich flavor. A bowl of this stuff will stick to your ribs and keep you warm on the chilliest nights.
September is the month of chili for me. It’s the kind of thing you look forward to at the end of the day when it’s still slightly warm in the afternoons, but that crisp autumn air starts to creep in during the evening time. When you casually reach for a cozy throw because you can feel the nip in the air and you know that fall is right around the corner. The air just smells like fall. September reminds me of the brisk morning air, warm days, and breezy evenings.
Of course, none of that happens in Houston until about November, but still, a girl can wish. It also happens to football season, and it’s the perfect thing to toss together on Sunday morning, and by the afternoon you’ve got a slow-simmered Texas Chili that’s just waiting to be topped with all your faves and served straight from the dutch oven.
Chili is nothing new around here. I’ve shared an instant pot version, a pumpkin chili, one that comes with a cornbread crust, a chili dip, and a vegetarian butternut squash chili. This goes without saying, but clearly, comfort food is my spirit animal.
Most of the recipes I’ve shared in the past start with ground beef, chicken, or turkey. Today’s Texas chili or chili con carne as it’s called down here is made with chunks of beef rather than the ground meat.
Does Texas Chili have beans?
If you ask a Texan, they’ll tell you it’s a hard NO. But over the years, I’ve come to find that when I’m making chili, I need a little more than just the meat so totally going against the grain here, but I do make the deliberate choice to add a couple of cans of pinto beans into the mix. I know, I know, am I serious right now? Yes, I need beans in my chili, and I’m not ashamed to say it.
Now before I start getting hate mail, let me just say YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO THIS. I’m just letting you know it’s an option if you’re not on board with a 99% meat-filled chili recipe. For 2 lbs. of meat I’m using one can of beans. To me, that’s still a lot more meat to beans ratio. Most of the time when I’m making chili, I do a 2:1 ratio. That’s two cans of beans to one pound of meat.
The Chili Paste Starter for our Texas Chili:
Texas-style chili is thickened two ways: cornmeal or pieces of corn tortilla. I usually opt for option #1 and make a chili paste starter. I can’t remember if I’ve ever made chili with corn tortilla pieces before. I’m a texture person, so that wouldn’t sit right with me. To make the chili paste starter, we’ll mix all the dry ingredients in the recipe like cornmeal, chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika and a few others mixed with a bit of water to form a thick paste. This is the stuff that containers the flavor bomb.
Selecting the beef for Texas Chili:
Texas chili is all about that meat. You want to use something that’s well marbled and can withstand a longer cooking time. Chuck roast or stew meat are both good options. I slightly prefer chuck roast over the stew meat because it usually has better marbling (the fat that runs through the meat.)
If you decide to use a chuck roast, just be sure to trim as much of the fat as you can. You don’t need that. The natural marbling is more than enough. If you leave on the extra fat, the chili will end up being really oily at the end and you’ll need to skim most of it off.
But know that stew meat can also work here. Just be sure to take your time in selecting the package. If you see nice chunks with a generous amount of fat running through it, it’ll do the job!
Be sure to make or have your butcher make even chunks. You want them to be in the 1 – 1 ½ inch range so that all the meat cooks up evenly.
What we need to make Texas Chili:
Once the paste is ready, I like to take a couple of minutes to sear off the meat. The brown bits that are left behind in the pot are because of a Maillard reaction that occurs when you sear the meat. That’s free flavor that only costs about 5 minutes of your time.
After that, it’s basic chili protocol. Remove the meat, cook the onions and peppers and scrape down the pot to get all those brown bit flavors then come the garlic and right after that, we’ll add our cooking liquids.
Oh, one thing I want to add, most Texas chili recipes call for a bottle of beer, beef broth and some form of tomato. I use all beef broth, a bit of water and tomato sauce. Diced tomatoes aren’t something you commonly find in Texas chili. You want to use passata or low or no sodium tomato sauce. I’ve even used brewed coffee in my chili recipe after I read about it somewhere. I don’t think I’ve ever had chili like that before. It had the most amazingly smoky, rich flavor.
Let chili con carne simmer.
Here’s the deal, let this hang out and simmer on low and slow. Trust me; it will be extra rewarding. All you need to do is walk by every ½ hour or so, give it a stir so that the cornmeal doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot and make sure there’s enough cooking liquid in there for the meat. That’s it! If you generally prefer a thicker chili, just let it simmer for a bit uncovered at the end so that some of that liquid evaporates, that’s about it!
How to serve Texas Chili:
I keep this pretty simple. A handful of Fritos, because tortilla chips don’t do it for me, a dollop of sour cream, chopped sweet onions, and a sprinkle of cilantro. Sometimes a hint of lime just to brighten it all up. Okay, I know, it’s not really that simple. But you know what I mean, right? No fancy cornbread, none of that. Just a girl, her bowl, and a few simple toppings.
I need to reiterate this. Texas chili demands corn chips. They’re thicker than tortilla chips so they hold up better. Plus, you can make Frito pies with the leftovers!
Texas chili freezes incredibly well, so it’s easy to understand why I made such a large batch here! You can halve the recipe if you’re cooking for just a couple people but when you can make a big pot and freeze half for later, why wouldn’t you?
Leftover chili can also be shredded up and served over pasta. It’s Texas meets Cincinnati. Can you imagine anything served over pasta tasting bad? We loved it this way.
I know it’s way too early to talk about next years Super Bowl menu (or is it?), but Texas Chili would surely please any chili fan that’s out there!
Enjoy guys! This one’s a home run or err… I mean a touchdown, for us!
Ranchers Texas Chili (Chili con Carne)
Learn how to make real, Texas chili! This is a bowl of chili made with chunks of beef and is so hearty and filling! Perfect for fall or super bowl!
Chili Paste Starter:
- 3 tablespoons EACH: ancho chili powder AND cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon EACH: chipotle chili powder, ground cumin, cocoa powder AND smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoon EACH: ground coriander AND Mexican oregano
- 3 ½ -4 pounds stew meat (or chuck roast cut into 1 - 1¼ inch chunks)
- 2 tablespoons EACH: oil AND Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 poblano peppers, diced (or bell peppers)
- 1-5 jalapeños, minced
- 8-12 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4 cups beef broth*
- 1 (14-ounce can) tomato sauce
- 2 (14-ounce) cans rinsed/drained pinto beans (OPTIONAL)
- PASTE: Combine the ingredients for the paste in a small bowl and slowly stir in 1/2 cup of hot water. Mix and set this aside for now.
- SEAR THE MEAT: Season the meat with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Heat a large chili pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pot and add a few pieces of meat at a time. Sear the meat on all sides, about 2-3 minutes and remove it to a plate. Repeat the process until all the meat is seared. You may need a little more oil than what's listed just depends on how well marbled the meat is.
- CHILI: If you need it, add another drizzle of oil to the pan along with the chopped onions and the poblanos. Use a wooden spoon to help scrape any brown bits left behind by the meat and cook for 5 minutes. Then, add the garlic and jalapeños and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the prepared chili paste to the pot and stir it in so that it coats everything nicely. Allow the paste to cook for 1 minute before adding the brown sugar, Worcestershire, beef broth, tomato sauce, 1 cup water and ½ teaspoon salt. Use the wooden spoon to scrape the bottom so that none of the chili paste is sticking.
- COOK: Add the seared meat and allow the chili to come to a boil before lowering the heat to low and allowing it to cook for 2 ½ - 3 ½ hours. Set aside 1 cup of water and add in a ¼ cup every time you stir the chili if it's thickened. Stir the chili every 30-45 minutes to make sure it's not sticking. You may not need all of the water if you're going bean-free, with beans you generally need a little more. I like to add the beans around the 2-hour mark so that they have a chance to cook for at least half an hour before serving. Serve topped with all your favorite chili toppings!
- If you decide to use a chuck roast, just be sure to trim as much of the fat as you can. You don't need that. The natural marbling is more than enough. If you leave on the extra fat, the chili will end up being really oily at the end and you'll need to skim most of it off.
- You can also replace some of the water/beef broth with a bottle of beer or brewed coffee. It just comes down to preference.
I always use ground meat in chili, so I’m excited to try something new! 🙂
This is some amazing chili, long, slow cooking with beef and loads of perfect spices. I need a bowl of this right now.
This looks so good I am planning on making it for dinner tonight. I do like to have corn bread with chili and saw your Jalapeno cheddar corn bread recipe which looks yummy. I was wondering if I can cook the corn bread in a skillet or loaf pan by itself so I can serve it on the side. I will let you know how the chili turns out. Everything I have cooked from your site has been wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
This dish looked so good I had to try it out. My son loves chili and has a recipe he always wants me to make for him but after making this last night he said he liked it better than his recipe. It was very spicy, The only changes I made was I used 2 jalapenos and removed the seeds and only used 1 T Worcestershire sauce as I am not a big fan that. I did buy corn chips but forgot to use them because I made your Jalapeno cheddar cornbread. I used a 10 inch cast iron skillet for that, cooked it at 375 for 20 minutes. It was delish! I really love your recipes, thank you so much for sharing them.
Five star chili recipe. My new favorite
Can this chili recipe be made in a slow cooker? I’m not real handy in the kitchen, yet. But getting better with a slow cooker. Thanks. Jim
Hi Jim! I think this recipe could be adapted for the slow cooker however it will require a few minor adjustments. I suggest searing the beef as listed on the recipe card. I’m not exactly sure you’ll need the additional water listed under the ‘chili’ section of the recipe as the liquid won’t evaporate as rapidly in the slow cooker as it does on the stove. However, you’ll want to check it and stir often just to make sure the chili paste isn’t sticking to the bottom of the slow cooker. For the best flavor, I suggest cooking it on the low setting for roughly 7-8 hours or until the meat is tender. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂
This should be named “The world’s best Chili,” it is that good!!! Love it!!!
Loved it. I was concerned about the cocoa powder because I’m not a fan of mole or savory recipes with cocoa but there was no chocolate flavor to it. I used masa instead of cornmeal because I was afraid of grittiness. My husband prefers a tomato based chili but he’s from West Virginia, bless his heart. I thought it was fabulous.
Your comment made me chuckle. I am from WV, planning to make chili for some Texans. Decided I better look for a Texan recipe
This Texas chili is a new family favorite – beans included. Tonight is my second time making it – it is simmering as I write. My daughter doesn’t like my ground beef chili; however, she loved the first batch of this recipe I made – as did my husband. I followed your directions explicitly, with the exception of the different chili powders that I don’t own…other than that, it was and is going to be such a delicious and hearty comfort food.
I saw someone else’s post about your cornbread recipe. I think I will look it up while the chili is simmering. Thanks for a great recipe. p.s. also sharing with friends with whom we swap recipes….I am sure they’ll love it too.
I love this recipe! I get it all together, bring it to a low boil and then pop it in a 275 or 300 oven with the lid slightly tilted for 4-5 hours – that way I don’t have to stir it more than once or twice. Don’t skip the chocolate (I don’t even like chocolate) and try adding 1/4 c of black dark roast coffee. Both add a subtle complexity to the dish.
This is a great chili! Love it Love it Love it! I just want to say (and I’m NOT complaining), with beans it’s NOT a TEXAS CHILI!!! So let’s just call it a chili… It’s still in my chili top 3 ???
Hi! The recipe doesn’t stare at what point to add the Worcester? And then I got a little confused on 2 other things- the ingredients say tomato sauce, but the instructions say to add “tomatoes” along with the brown sugar. I added sauce but now I’m wondering if that was wrong bc mine isn’t as dark as yours. And is it 1 cup of water total or 1 cup and then 1 cups reserved? I added in the water with the brown sugar bc it sounded like that was when i supposed to add. Sorry for so many questions!!
How about converting this one for instant pot!!!?? I’m not seasoned enough with mine to know exactly the way to convert it myself, but I’d love to today— super bowl!! I’m a Texan living in New England:-)
Hi Laura! I’m glad you’re interested in making the chili recipe; unfortunately, converting this to an IP friendly recipe would require additional recipe testing as I’m not sure how the cornmeal mixture will react in the instant pot! It could work as written, or it may burn and stick. If you decide to give it a go, I’d love to know how it went. It would probably take in the ballpark for 35-37 minutes of high-pressure cooking.
De-lish-ous! I made this for our chili cook off at work and guess who took home the prize? Me! Thank you for the winning recipe. Everyone loved it. As for the spices- I didn’t have any of the chili powders, smoked paprika, coriander, or cornmeal, however I was able to find them at a specialty store. Heavens the price… But well worth it. Great addition to my pantry. Thank you!
This looks amazing!! Would you be able to provide the nutritional breakdown? Thank you ?
Thanks so much! I don’t have the NI calculated for this recipe, but if you’d like, you can paste the URL of this page into MyFitnessPal (there’s also an app) and it with calculate it for you. You can also customize the ingredients (with brands you’ve used) and it will give you a more accurate nutritional breakdown 🙂
Would Masa Harina work in place of cornmeal? This looks like a killer recipe and I’m planning on making it tomorrow.
I think masa harina is more similar to corn flour rather than cornmeal. Unfortunately, without further recipe testing I’m unsure whether it would make for a good substitute in this recipe. If you decide to try it, I’d love to know how it goes!
I made this for my office chili cookoff and it WON! Thank you for a great recipe. One of the things that a lot of people like about was the tender chunks of meat instead of ground meat.
Really! That makes me so happy! Congrats on the win! 🙂
How long would it take in the pressure cooker? ?
I too would like to know insty pot
Probably 40 minutes for the meat and then slow cook after that.
Loved the recipe as it’s similar to a favorite restaurant chili that I’ve been trying to copy for a while now. I used one can of beans and next time I would use two. We do like our chili thick, so I added some corn starch to the broth to thicken it up a bit. Would definitely make it again. Thank you.
I agree with portmoody gal re: cooking in a low oven (300 degrees) partially uncovered but mine only took 3 hours. I used around 2 pounds of trimmed and cubed chuck but otherwise kept mostly the same ingredients. I did omit the jalapeños as I find them so unpredictable regarding their heat level and used half of a tablespoon of chipotle chile powder as it is quite hot (and I love hot, spicy food). I really liked the silkiness and smooth mouth feel of this chili.
OMG! BEYOND DELICIOUS!
Quite labor intensive, but so worth it!
Hi Felicia! So glad to hear you enjoyed it. Appreciate you circling back to leave a review 🙂
So fantastic! This is my new favorite chili recipe. I’ve been homesick for my home state of Texas and this was the comfort I needed. Traditional chili – rich with depths of flavor and amazingly tender chunks of beef. I especially appreciated that I could use ancho and chipotle powders instead of having to roast dried chilis first. Thank you for posting this – I will be making it again for sure!
Holy cow!! This has become my favorite chili as well as my go to. Sometimes I add the pinto beans and other times I don’t. I had always used my own recipe and always loved it. However, I was in the mood to try a Texas red so I made this recipe. This is pretty much the only chili I make now. The flavor is phenomenal and my wife and son love it! Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Omg, made this today. Had to rehydrate whole ancho, since i couldn’t find the powder, and used 100% chocolate rather than cocoa powder and masa harina instead ofcornmeal, and sadly bell pepper instead of impossible-to-find-in-Britain poblano. Did splash out on a $7 bag of fritos though. And you took me right back to my days in Texas. THANK YOU.
Thanks for the recipe! I’m going to try it but plan to pressure cook the meat first in my Ninja – any advice on the pressure cooking part? I just got the Ninja for Christmas and I have no idea what I’m doing!
My kids have an aversion to beans…so we switched to making texas chili. We have tried lots of different recipes, but this is our family favorite!
Thank you for sharing!
I’ve searched a long time for a good chili con carne recipe. I don’t like the german chilis with ground meat, corn and beans. I stumbled over yours and tried it. Now the search is over. Thanks for the great recipe! Of course, I pimp it with some bavarian beer 😉
This was soooo good! I followed this pretty much to the letter with the exception of the meat. I instead smoked the chuck! Cut into bite sized pieces, coated in some seasonings and smoked until each piece had a nice bark. I was always a ground beef, beans, tomatoes, peppers onions kinda gal. Which is still good. But this is next level. It won me second place out of 13 in a friends annual chili cook off and I’m sure I can take it to first place next year with a couple of small tweaks. One bit of advice about this one is, you may think that the base is too thin while it’s simmering. Don’t be tempted to fuss with it. It’ll reduce and be that nice, thick consistency after you’ve let it simmer. So good. Great recipe!
This was delicious!!!
I made this recipe while visiting my son and his family in Ohio. I followed the recipe to a tee and we cooked it in a large cast iron pot suspended over an open fire. IT WAS INCREDIBLE!
My son requested the recipe stating “When anyone mentions chili around here this is what they’re talking about!”
I’m making it again today for a “tailgate” party tomorrow. Thanks for bringing a little “Texas” back in our lives!