Real Texas Chili: The Genuine Article

Raw chuck roast

Steve Cohen / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Total: 105 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
320 Calories
13g Fat
7g Carbs
46g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 320
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 4g 21%
Cholesterol 135mg 45%
Sodium 777mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 46g
Vitamin C 4mg 19%
Calcium 59mg 5%
Iron 6mg 32%
Potassium 691mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Texas lays a lot of claim to chili. Whether it was first introduced by Spanish immigrants to San Antonio in the 18th century or conjured up in the 19th century by cowboy cooks on Texas cattle drives to cover up the taste of sometimes nearly inedible range meats at hand, it's a Texas story. Their idea of a bowl of red adheres as closely as possible to the dictates of these legends. If it's not authentic, it's not Texas chili. 

So what's the difference between a real Texas chili recipe and other chili recipes? What makes it authentic? Common knowledge in Texas says real chili recipes use cubed chunks of meat instead of ground beef and also don't call for beans. Cutting the chuck into cubes gives this chili recipe a more stew-like texture than the more common ground beef recipes.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 3 pounds boneless​ beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 teaspoons cornmeal

  • 1/4 cup chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • 3 cups beef broth

  • 1 cup tomato puree

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Sear the beef in the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until browned. Do this in batches if necessary.

  2. After the beef is browned well, add the onions to the pot and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cornmeal and cook for 1 minute.

  3. Add all the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add water as the chili cooks to make it thicker or thinner, as desired. 

Leftover Ideas

It's easy to make a big batch of Texas chili so you have yummy leftovers for a couple of days. Plus sitting overnight in the fridge lets the flavors really bloom, and it is often even better than when first cooked.

Besides just serving again with the usual accompaniments of tortillas or crackers and cheese, you can make a whole new meal. For easy and quick eats on a weeknight, use leftover chili as the meat filling for enchiladas, empanadas or tacos. It works especially well since it does not include beans. Alternatively, stir into macaroni and cheese for homey comfort food. For a totally unhealthy but hugely satisfying -- if guilt-laden -- meal, make chili dogs, with the buns folded open, holding cooked hot dogs and topped with a generous dollop of chili covered with shredded cheddar.