Texas Red Chili

5 from 3 votes

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A "Bowl of Red" — meaty, beefy, and absolutely not a bean in sight inside Texas chili.

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

If you know anything about Texas chili, then you know for certain the one thing that is NOT in this recipe. 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.) Texas beef no-bean chili is as meaty as can be. It’s also known as “Bowl of Red” or Texas Chili Con Carne.

Bowl of Texas chili on table with glasses of beer.

And 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 thinks 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. Really, I think it’s chili! (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.)

Serve with Easy Cornbread or Sweet Potato Spoonbread for a starchy side to complement this meaty dish.

Beer glasses on table with bowls of Texas chili.

Texas Red Chili: Meaty and bean free, this is a rich and beefy chili.

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Ingredients

  • Meat – I use beef for this recipe. The guys in my family love all kinds of chili but are happiest when it is at its meatiest.
  • Onions – You can use red or yellow onions for this recipe. The flavor will mellow down as the onions cook down.
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes – 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.
  • Chili powder – 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.
  • Broth – I use beef broth to bolster the meaty flavor of this chili.
  • Hot cooked rice – To serve.
Table set with bowl of Texas chili and beer.

How to Make Texas Red Chili

  1. Prep beef: Cook the beef in batches in a Dutch oven and brown a few sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer the meat with a slotted spoon to a plate as it finishes browning.
  2. Add onions and tomatoes: Sauté the onions in the same pot over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the onions are tender. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add the chili powder, tomato puree, and beef broth.
  3. Simmer: 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 ½ to 1 cup of water towards the end if the sauce is too thick or the mixture looks too dry.
  4. Serve: Serve hot in bowls with the accompaniments of your choice.
Dishing Texas Red Chili Recipe with a spoon.

FAQs

Is chili a Texan dish?

Chili was declared the official state dish of Texas on May 11, 1977. The annual Terlingua Chili Contest, held in Terlingua, Texas, 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).” But then there’s this from writer Calvin Trillan, “I like chili, but not enough to discuss it with someone from Texas.

Are there beans in Texas chili?

Not if it’s true Texas Red Chili!

Homemade Texas Chili Recipe in bowls with various toppings.

Pro Cooking Tips

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

  • Not every side of the cubes of beef has to be browned. You can just caramelize a few sides well and let the rest just 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.
  • Shredding some of the cubes of super tender beef at the end gives the sauce some more texture.
  • 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.

What to Serve With Texas Red Chili

Using a fork to eat Texas chili.

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5 from 3 votes

Texas Red Chili

A "Bowl of Red" — meaty, beefy, and absolutely not a bean in sight inside Texas chili.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8 People
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Ingredients 

  • 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)

  • Guacamole or diced avocado
  • Lime wedges
  • Minced onions
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro leaves

Instructions 

  • 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, 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 ½ to 1 cup of water towards the end if 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 thicken up the sauce a bit, if desired.
  • Serve hot in bowls, with the accompaniments of your choice.

Notes

  • Not every side of the cubes of beef has to be browned. You can just caramelize a few sides well and let the rest just 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.
  • Shredding some of the cubes of super tender beef at the end gives the sauce some more texture.
  • 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.

Nutrition

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
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. Kristiina Stoddard says:

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

    1. Katie Workman says:

      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
      Tostones
      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. Billy Douglas says:

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

  3. Dave Goodwin says:

    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. Crabby Hayes says:

    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. Jim says:

      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. RAB says:

        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. marlene smith says:

    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. Katie Workman says:

      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….