Texas Style Chili

If you know anything about Texas chili, then you know for certain the one thing that is NOT in this recipe.

Texas Red Chili / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

No Beans in Texas Chili!

If you have just yelled “BEANS!” loudly then you are correct (and also you knew you were correct, and you did not need me to tell you that you were correct, because you knew this perfectly, thank you very much.

Best Texas Red Chili Recipe / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

If you did not know that the chili in Texas never, ever contains beans, then you have not discussed chili with a Texan. Or conversely, someone with strong opinions on the other side, who think beans are an integral part of chili, and that Texas chili is well….more like a stew.

Wait, stop, put down those pitchforks! I didn’t say it was a stew, I just mentioned that I have read that other folks from other parts of the country have said such things.   I think it’s chili!  Really, I do! (I also think other types of chili with beans are chili, so I don’t think I’m winning any big fan base in Texas).

Texas Red Chili No Beans / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

Look, I’m not here to solve the great chili debate. I do know, however, that the guys in my family love all kinds of chili, but are happiest when it is at its meatiest. And Texas beef no-bean chili, or as it’s also know a “Bowl of Red,” well, that’s meaty all right. There is debate about whether true Texas chili has any tomato products in it, or just a chile powder base. I went for some tomatoes in mine,

Texas Chili Con Carne or Bowl of Red

Here are some tips for making this meat-based Texas chili the best it can be:

Cook this chili low and slow so the meat can become very soft and the liquid thickens into a sauce, and doesn’t just evaporate. The sauce that binds together this chili is thick—if it gets too thick, stir in ½ to 1 cup water towards the end, especially if it starts to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Easy Texas Red Chili Recipe / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

I also like to shred some of the big cubes of super tender beef at the end, to give the sauce some more texture.

True Texas chili also starts with a homemade chili paste, usually made from dried chilis. This recipe takes a shortcut with a generous amount of chili powder.

If you did not know that the chili in Texas never, ever contains beans, then you have not discussed chili with a Texan.

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Homemade Texas Chili Recipe / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

Rules for Texas Chili

Chili was declared the official state dish of Texas on May 11, 1977. The annual Terlingua Chili Contest, held in Terlingua, TX says in its densely written three page rules document that “No beans, pasta, rice or other similar items are allowed.” That’s not a suggestion, friends, that’s a bona fide rule. (And P.S. store-bought chili powder is allowed).

Texan author Markham Shaw Pyle wrote, “Lean closer and I will whisper to you a horrific, soul-shattering secret: there are actually people so lost to any sense of decency that they put beans in chili. (I hope you sent the children of tender years out of the room before we discussed that horror, lest they be warped for life).”

Authentic Texas Red Chili / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

But then there’s this, from writer Calvin Trillan: “I like chili, but not enough to discuss it with someone from Texas.”

What to Serve with Texas Red Chili

I serve my Texas Red Chili over rice with what I think of as traditional chili toppings—cheese, sour cream, avocado—which I also gather are somewhat debatable toppings in Texas.

Best Texas Chili Recipe Ever / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

Other Chili Recipes:

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Texas Red Chili

A "Bowl of Red" — If you did not know that the chili in Texas never, ever contains beans, then you have not discussed chili with a Texan.
Yield: 8 People
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Diet: Gluten Free


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 pounds cubed 1 to 1 ½-inch stew meat such as beef chuck
  • Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 red or yellow onions chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
  • 2 cups less-sodium beef broth
  • Hot cooked rice to serve

To Serve (As Desired)


  • Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large soup pot, or a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the beef in batches, and brown a few sides, about 8 minutes per batch (not every side has to be browned, better to caramelize a few sides well and let the rest just be). Transfer the meat with a slotted spoon to a plate as it finishes browning.
  • Drain off all but a couple of teaspoons of the fat from the pot, and add the onions and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onions are tender. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute, until you can smell the garlic. . Add the chili powder then stir in the tomato puree and the beef broth, return the browned beef cubes to the pot, and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered for about 3 hours, until the beef is very tender. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of water towards the end of the sauce is too thick or the mixture looks too dry. When it is all tender, you can remove a cup of two of the beef cubes and shred them with two forks and then stir that back into the pot to add thicken up the sauce a bit, if desired.
  • Serve hot in bowls, with the accompaniments of your choice.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 370.56kcal | Carbohydrates: 10.42g | Protein: 35.68g | Fat: 21.59g | Saturated Fat: 10.05g | Cholesterol: 117.37mg | Sodium: 380.22mg | Potassium: 1023.12mg | Fiber: 2.39g | Sugar: 5.55g | Vitamin A: 235.44IU | Vitamin C: 11.75mg | Calcium: 72.37mg | Iron: 4.92mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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  1. This is a delicious recipe, thank you! What would you recommend to serve as a vegetable side dish?

    1. you can just serve it as is over rice, with all of your favorite chili toppings, you you might consider:
      Roasted Carrots
      Baked Squash with Chili and Maple Syrup
      Easy Pesto Crescent Rolls
      Arroz con Gandules
      Chopped Winter Salad
      Best Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
      Roasted Broccolini with Lemon
      Warm Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Mustard Vinaigrette – all of which can be searched for on this website!!

  2. Very good Katie – I’ve made it twice this month. The leftovers didn’t last long in the frig

  3. Best chili I’ve ever had. Though being born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area. I added 1 can of kidney beans. We thought that was perfect. The beans did not over shadow the beef. The beef was so tender. This recipe is now our #1 go to. . Dave

  4. One thing about chili is that there is no right or wrong way to do it – just personal preference. My family had two chili restaurants in the 60s. Our recipe came from an old San Antonio family. Actually, Texas red chili is usually served with beans. However, it is served over, or with beans on the side, rather than having the beans mixed in. Either red kidney beans or pinto beans are usually cooked slowly on the stove top in water, cooled, then cooked a second time, so they are softened, but not mushy, and in a thick sauce. The typical serving is 2 oz of well-seasoned, hot/spicy meat mixture over 4 oz of beans. The person eating it usually mixes the beans and the meat when he eats the chili. What is not typically in Texas chili is tomatoes. Also, the fat the meat is cooked in is usually beef kidney suet or lard. The meat itself is typically chuck or sirloin tip – not too lean.

    1. Actually, official Texas Chili has no beans. Those concoctions with beans in them actually are chilly but they are not Texas Chili. Your contention that chili in Texas never has beans is false. Only chili that is named Texas Chili has no beans. You make Texans are close-minded, and that is not the case. There are as many recipes for chili in Texas is there are people in Texas who like to make chili. The rules for the chili cook-off in Terlingua Etc say no beans because those are contest For Texas Chili. Stop thinking you know everything about everyone.

      1. Texas Chili does not have rice or tomatoes in it. This is got to be some Yankee version of what they think Texas Chili is.

  5. Sorry, but it ain’t chili unless there are chili beans included plus kidney beans! I know, I know. There are a lot of versions. Mine is w/veggie burger, onions, garlic, chopped green peppers, diced tomatoes, chili powder, s&p. Delish dish!

    1. Yup, lots of versions (and lots of opinions!) . I’m a bean person myself, but don’t tell the Texans! Veggie burger sounds really interesting….

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