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Texas Chili

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Real Texas chili is like a spicy beef stew and one you need to try.

When I was young, my family used to go camping up in the Sierras in northern California. This Texas chilli would always be on the menu at least one day. Our Texas chilli would slowly simmer over the campfire and I remember it being very difficult to wait for the evening meal.

Finished Texas chili

Chili does not get any better!

What is Texas chili?

Unlike the chili con carne you might be familiar with which usually calls for ground beef, Texas chilli is prepared with bite sized pieces of beef chuck or brisket.

Another difference is that there are never beans or tomatoes added to the thick broth. Texas chilli relies on the delicious dried chillies to flavour what is essentially a beef stew.

Is this Texas chili recipe authentic?

You’d have to ask a real Texan to get that answer but I’m pretty sure it is. Quite a few Texans have tried my recipe and I’ve never had any complaints. The thing is, there are many different recipes for Texas chili. Mine includes a cup of coffee which might sound strange but believe me it is good.

That’s something my dad used to do. He’d add a cup of coffee to our Texas chili just like he was told to do by his real Texan cousin. Other versions call for dark chocolate which is good too.

From what I’ve been told, this Texas chili is as authentic as they come.

How to make Texas chili…

Surprise! You make it just like you would any beef stew but with different ingredients.

The dried chillies: First you tear open the dried chillies and remove most of the seeds. Then you toast them in a frying pan to soften until they turn fragrant. A couple of minutes will do. After that, you soak them in water for 20 minutes.

Any remaining seeds should fall out in the water. Take the soaked chillies and blend them with just enough of the soaking water to make a thick paste and set aside.

The Beef: It is important to sear the meat. Depending on the size of your pot, you should probably do this in batches to get a good sear.

Everything else: With the chili paste made and the beef nicely seared, you can just get on with the recipe by frying the onions, bell peppers and garlic. Then you add the chilli paste to the pan followed by the seared beef and the remaining ingredients except for the corn chips. You just need to let it simmer for a few hours until the meat is tender. You’ll be in Texas chili heaven!

Working ahead

This is a great recipe if you want to get things done early. The chili paste can be prepared a few days ahead of cooking and kept in the fridge. Even the beef can be seared a few days earlier!

For that matter, you could make Texas chili 3 days ahead of cooking. Then just heat it up to serve. The flavours will develop as it sits in the fridge and the flavour will be even better.

The chilies require for this recipe

Outside of the US and Mexico, these dried chilies may not be familiar. You can find them in the UK at supermarkets now and online pretty much wherever you are.

What do you serve Texas chili with?

You could just serve Texas chili on its own and not be disappointed. Corn or flour tortillas are always a good option.

Of course, you do want to top the chili with some nice and tasty garnishes such as cheese, sour cream, diced onion and coriander (cilantro). 

Texas chili in step by step photographs

Ingredients for Texas chili

Get your ingredients together before starting. It is a lot easier.

Toasting dried chilies

Remove the seeds from the chilies and dry fry them for a couple of minutes until fragrant.

Soaking the toasted dry chilies

Soak the toasted chilies for about 20 minutes to soften. Then blend them with the chipotles in adobo with a little water to make a thick red paste. 

Searing the meat

Fry the meat to brown it. I recommend doing this in batches. Do not overcrowd the pan or the meat will not sear.

Frying onions, garlic and chili paste

Fry the onions and bell pepper for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and the prepared chili paste.

Adding stock and meat to the pot.

Return the meat to the pan and add the water or stock and coffee if using. Stir in the ground spices and bring to a simmer.

Adding corn chips to the pot.

Once simmering, you can add the corn chips. They will break down and thicken the sauce as it cooks. Cover the pan and simmer until the meat is tender. About 2 hours. 

Texas chili simmering to thicken.

Once the meat is tender, uncover the pot and continue cooking to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the vinegar and oregano.

Texas chili with garnishes.

Garnish with your ingredients of choice. I always add cheese, sour cream, diced onion and coriander (cilantro).


Yield: 6

Texas Chili

texas chili
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes


  • 4 dried ancho chillies
  • 4 dried guajillo chillies
  • 2 chipotle chillies in adobo
  • 2 tbsp of the adobo sauce
  • 1.5 liters (10 cups) beef stock or water
  • 1 cup of black coffee (optional)
  • 2 kg (4 lbs) brisket, cut into bite sized pieces with most of the fat removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil or beef dripping
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 handful corn chips (crisps)
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Warmed corn or flour tortillas
  • Grated Cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Jalapeño chillies, thinly sliced
  • Finely chopped red onion
  • Coriander (cilantro), finely chopped


  1. Tear open the dried chillies and remove as many of the seeds as you can. No need to work too hard on this as they will all come out later.
  2. Place the chillies in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat and toast them for a few minutes, turning from time to time until fragrant and soft. Place the toasted chillies in a bowl and cover with water. Allow them to soak for 20 minutes. Any remaining seeds usually fall to the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Remove the chillies and place in a blender with the chipotle chilies and adobo sauce and blend with just enough water to make a thick, red paste. Set aside.
  4. Now place a large saucepan over a high heat and add the oil or dripping. When visibly hot, add some of the cubed beef and sear it for a few minutes or until nicely charred on the exterior. Do not overcrowd your pan or the meat won’t sear correctly.
  5. Transfer the seared beef to a bowl and set aside.Pour the chopped onions and bell pepper into the pot and fry for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Stir in the chopped garlic and fry for another 30 seconds and then add the prepared chili paste and ground spices and stir it in to combine.
  6. Return the beef to the pot and add just enough stock or water to cover. If using coffee, add it at this time too but you will not need to add as much stock or water. Bring this to a simmer and cover the pan. Simmer over a medium heat for about 2 hours or until the beef is tender and you have a nice thick sauce. If your sauce is still thin when your beef becomes tender, just take of the lid and cook it down. Stir in the corn chips by breaking them into small pieces over the chili and the oregano. Simmer for a further 10 minutes and then season with salt and pepper to serve.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 242Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 308mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 4gSugar: 10gProtein: 10g

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