Texas Chili

published Sep 24, 2021
Texas Chili Recipe

This "bowl of red" is made with cubed chuck roast that’s slowly braised in a purée of dried chiles and garlic.

Serves6 to 8

Prep30 minutes

Cook3 hours to 3 hours 30 minutes

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texas chili in bowl
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Texas chili is often associated with hard-and-fast rules: no tomato product, cubed stew meat instead of ground beef (although this is up for debate depending on who you talk to), and, most notably, absolutely no beans under any circumstances. But when I was growing up in Texas, I ate all types of chili — yes, even some with beans in them — and enjoyed them indiscriminately. That’s because Texas chili recipes really do vary from region to region, and household to household.

This recipe is my take on the most classic “bowl of red” that most people think of when they think of Texas chili. It’s made with cubed chuck roast that’s slowly braised in a purée of dried chiles and garlic, along with a few rule-breaking additions that might make purists upset. In my view, some tomato paste is necessary for a deep, rich flavor — this gets caramelized along with onions that are cooked down until dark brown, and the combination of the two creates a beautiful umami that this dish requires.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

What’s the Best Beef for Texas Chili?

While I generally prefer the flavor and texture of a stew meat here, you could easily cut down on the cooking time by substituting ground beef (although it still needs at least an hour of simmering time to develop the right flavor and consistency.)

Do I Need Dried Chiles for Texas Chili?

Yes! In my opinion, the dried chiles are non-negotiable. A combination of pasilla, guajillo, and ancho chiles is ideal, but you can use whichever ones you find. The complex spicy, sweet, smoky flavors these add are not something you’re going to get from chili powder alone.

What Are the Best Toppings for Texas Chili?

Those who are used to beans and vegetables in their chili may be perplexed at the bare-bones nature of this chili — but that is where the toppings really shine. I always go with a generous handful of corn chips, some mild shredded cheddar, and sliced fresh jalapeños. But feel free to add sour cream, cilantro, a squeeze of lime … whatever you want! There are no rules in this house.

Texas Chili Recipe

This "bowl of red" is made with cubed chuck roast that’s slowly braised in a purée of dried chiles and garlic.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 3 hours to 3 hours 30 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4

    dried guajillo chiles

  • 2

    dried ancho chiles

  • 2

    dried pasilla chiles

  • 5 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 (32-ounce) carton

    low-sodium beef broth (4 cups)

  • 1

    medium white onion

  • 4 1/2 pounds

    boneless chuck roast

  • 1 tablespoon

    kosher salt

  • 4 tablespoons

    vegetable oil, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    water

  • 2 tablespoons

    tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons

    chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle

    dark beer, such as Shiner Bock

  • Serving options: Corn chips, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced jalapeños, chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Cut the stems from 4 dried guajillo chiles, 2 dried ancho chiles, and 2 dried pasilla chiles with kitchen shears. Shake out the seeds and discard. Place the chiles in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the chiles are fragrant and toasted, about 2 minutes per side.

  2. Add 5 garlic cloves and 1 (32-ounce) carton low-sodium beef broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to keep the chiles mostly submerged. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop 1 medium white onion (about 1 1/2 cups). Trim any large chunks of surface fat from 4 1/2 pounds chuck roast, then cut the roast into 1 1/4-inch cubes. Transfer to a large bowl, season with 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and toss to coat.

  3. When the chile mixture is ready, pour into a blender and blend until smooth. Leave in the blender.

  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a very large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot (preferably at least 6 quarts; see Recipe Notes) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 1/3 of the beef and sear until evenly browned on a few sides, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a bowl. Sear the remaining beef in 2 more batches, adding 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the pot before each batch and transferring the seared beef to the bowl.

  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and 1/4 cup water to the pot and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Cook until onions are softened and browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

  6. Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Pour in 12 ounces dark beer and repeat scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the beer is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

  7. Pour in the blended chiles. Return the beef and any accumulated juices to the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef is fork-tender but not falling apart, about 2 hours. (The beef should always be submerged in liquid; add water if needed.)

  8. Skim off any surface fat if desired. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Serve with desired garnishes.

Recipe Notes

Non-alcoholic: You can substitute 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth for the beer. Add a splash of white vinegar when the chili is ready.

Equipment:
If you have a 5-quart Dutch oven, sear the meat in 4 to 5 batches. If you have a very large Dutch oven, such as a 7-quart, you can sear the beef in 2 batches.

You can use a food processor instead of a blender to make the chile mixture. Process the chiles and garlic first until chopped, then add in the cooking liquid and continuing processing until smooth.

Make ahead: The chili can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Reheat over medium heat, adding a splash of water or beef broth as needed.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight before reheating.