Texas-Style Chili Con Carne

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Tender chuck roast in a deeply-flavored and smoky sauce, Texas-style chili con carne is the ultimate beef chili.

Wooden spoon in a pot of chili con carne.

With tender chunks of beef in a thick, deeply-flavored, and smoky sauce, this chili con carne is essentially a chili-flavored beef stew. It’s not the fastest or easiest chili to make (for that, try my ground beef chili recipe), but it’s what I consider the most authentic beef chili. If you’re looking for a recipe for a chili cook-off, this is the one! What makes it Texas-style? Mainly, it’s made with cubed beef rather than ground beef and no beans (true Texas chili also does not contain tomatoes, but I like the flavor they add).

The recipe requires over an hour of prep and active cook time, plus several hours to simmer on the stove, so it’s best to make it over the weekend. I would suggest doubling the recipe; you can freeze some for another night (you’ll be so glad you did!) or use leftovers for tacos, burritos, or topping rice or baked potatoes. Serve chili con carne with cornbread muffins or cornbread.

“Legit. Great chili.”


What You’ll Need To Make Texas-Style Chili Con Carne

Chili ingredients including bacon, spices, and onion.

  • Spices (Ancho Chile Pepper, Chipotle Chile Pepper, Cumin, Oregano, Coriander, Cinnamon): These spices create a rich and complex chili flavor profile.
  • Cornmeal: Used as a thickener, cornmeal gives the chili a hearty texture and a subtle corn flavor.
  • Beef Chuck Roast: A cut of meat that becomes tender and flavorful when cooked slowly. It adds body and a rich beefy flavor to the chili.
  • Bacon: Provides a smoky element that enhances the overall depth of flavor.
  • Yellow Onions, Garlic Cloves, Jalapeño Chiles: This trio forms the aromatic base of the dish.
  • Low-Sodium Beef Broth: Adds moisture and a savory depth, allowing the flavors to meld together while keeping sodium levels in check.
  • Canned Crushed Tomatoes: Contribute a tangy and slightly sweet foundation, essential for a good chili’s texture and taste.
  • Molasses: Brings a rich, dark sweetness, balancing the spices and heat.
  • Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: A secret ingredient in many chili recipes, cocoa powder adds a unique depth and a hint of bitterness, complementing the spices beautifully.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by combining the spices and cornmeal in a small bowl. The cornmeal is used to thicken the stew. Add a bit of water to form a paste, then set aside.

spices and cornmeal in bowl

Next, fry the bacon until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp.

frying the bacon in a Dutch oven

Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

draining bacon on plate

Pour all but a few teaspoons of the bacon fat into a small bowl, then sear the meat in batches (the meat should be in a single layer) until well browned on at least one side, adding more of the reserved bacon fat as necessary. This process creates a depth of flavor and adds wonderful dimension to the stew.

searing the beef

Transfer the seared beef to a plate. Add some water to the pan – it will smoke – and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits. This is called deglazing. Pour the flavorful liquid over the beef.

seared beef on plate

Reduce the heat to medium and add 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat to the pot. Add the onions.

adding the onions to the pot

Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeños and cook 2 minutes more.

adding garlic and jalapeno pepper

Add the reserved chili paste and sauté until fragrant, a few minutes (it will look clumpy and stick to the bottom a bit – that’s okay).

cooking the onions

Add the beef broth the pot.

adding the beef broth to the pot

Use a whisk to stir until all of the spices are dissolved into the broth, then add the water, beer, crushed tomatoes, molasses, cocoa powder, seared beef and cooked bacon.

Adding the water, beer, crushed tomatoes, molasses, cocoa powder, seared beef and cooked bacon to the pot

Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook with the lid just slightly ajar for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is tender and the sauce is nicely thickened.

Wooden spoon in a pot of chili con carne.

Ladle the stew into bowls serve with shredded cheese, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between ground ancho chile pepper and ground chipotle chile pepper?

Ground ancho chile pepper, made from dried poblano peppers, imparts a mild, sweet, and smoky flavor with a subtle heat. It’s known for its deep red color and earthy tones. On the other hand, ground chipotle chile pepper, derived from smoked and dried jalapeños, offers a more intense smokiness with a noticeable heat and a hint of chocolatey undertones. The combination of both provides a complex and layered chili flavor.

What is chuck roast?

Chuck roast is a cut of beef that comes from the shoulder area of the cow. It’s known for its rich beef flavor and marbling of fat, which contributes to its tenderness when cooked. Look for meat with a good amount of white fat veins running through it. This marbling ensures that the meat stays tender and flavorful during the slow cooking process. Avoid using generically packaged “stew meat,” especially if it appears lean, as it’s unlikely to become tender. While preparing the chuck roast, trim off the excess fat, but avoid over-trimming. Removing only the large flaps of fat is sufficient, as some fat is necessary to enrich the chili’s flavor.

Can I make chili con carne ahead of time?

Yes, the dish can be made up to 3 days ahead of time or frozen for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost it in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.

chili con carne in bowls with shredded cheese and limes

Video Tutorial

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Texas-Style Chili Con Carne

Tender chuck roast in a deeply-flavored and smoky sauce, Texas-style chili con carne is the ultimate beef chili.

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Hours 35 Minutes
Total Time: 4 Hours 20 Minutes


  • ¼ cup ground ancho chile pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle chile pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 (4-pound) beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1½-inch cubes (see note below)
  • 8 ounces (about 8 slices) bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces (see tip below)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 small yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 jalapeño chiles, cored, seeded and finely diced (see note)
  • 4 cups (32 oz) low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups water, plus more for the chili paste and deglazing the pan
  • 1¼ cups lager beer
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon molasses, such as Grandma's Original
  • 2 teaspoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

Optional Garnishes

  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • Lime wedges


  1. Mix the chili powders, cumin, oregano, coriander, cinnamon and cornmeal in a small bow and stir in ½ cup water to form a thick paste; set aside.
  2. Season the beef with the salt; set aside.
  3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently so it doesn't stick, until the fat renders and the bacon crisps, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour all but a few teaspoons of fat from the pot into a small bowl; set aside.
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high. Sear the meat in three batches (it should be in a single layer), until well browned on one side, about 4 minutes per batch, adding more of the reserved bacon fat as necessary. (Hint: Once the meat is in the pan, don't stir or touch it – leaving it alone will allow it to develop a nice brown crust on one side.) Place the seared meat on a plate. Add about ¼ cup of water to the pot (it will smoke), and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to release all of the flavorful brown bits. Pour the dark liquid over the seared meat.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and add 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat to the pot. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeños and cook 2 minutes more. Add the reserved chili paste and sauté until fragrant, a few minutes (it will look clumpy and stick to the bottom a bit – that's okay).
  6. Add the beef broth and stir with a whisk until the spice mixture is completely dissolved. Scrape the bottom of the pot with the whisk to release any spices. Stir in the the water, beer, crushed tomatoes, molasses and cocoa powder. Add the reserved bacon and seared beef (along with the juices from the beef on the bottom of the plate) back to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover, leaving the lid just barely ajar. Simmer, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn't burn, until the meat is meltingly tender and the juices are thickened, 2½ to 3 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Ladle the chile con carne into bowls and serve with cilantro, cheese, and lime wedges.
  7. Note: When selecting the meat, be sure not to buy anything generically labeled "stew meat." Also, you will lose about ½ pound after trimming the fat, so if you buy the meat already trimmed and cubed, you'll only need about 3½ pounds.
  8. Tip: To make bacon easier to chop, try placing it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes first. The colder it is, the easier it is to cut.
  9. Note: Always be careful when handling jalapeño peppers. Wash your hands well when done and avoid touching your eyes.
  10. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The chili can be made up to 3 days ahead of time or frozen for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost it in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 644
  • Fat: 32g
  • Saturated fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrates: 22g
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 66g
  • Sodium: 1648mg
  • Cholesterol: 195mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Outstanding chili recipe Jenn, sure hit the spot on a cold snowy day in Montana. I dd adjust meat using 2 lbs lean ground beef & 2 1/2 lbs of cubed chuck for texture, we thought the flavors were amazing, the heat just right, I might even throw it on the Traeger next time for the simmer for a few hours.

    • — Marina on February 4, 2024
    • Reply
  • This may be the best chili I have every had. I used a rump roast because it was on hand—totally worked. The meat was tender within 2.5 hours….Unfortunately, I am the only one here who enjoys spicy, so I substituted the jalapenos for sweet peppers. And added some paprika. ..It was a HUGE hit at house. I would make this for company. Maybe superbowl.

    • — Carol Cuevas on February 4, 2024
    • Reply
  • I made a double batch of this today. I followed the recipe precisely except, like other reviews I read, I thought it was a bit thin. So, I added a little E-Z Gel at the end…doesn’t change the beautiful color or change the flavor. It’s delicious! I’ll be making it again and, again! And, there will be plenty in the freezer for more meals. Great recipe.

    • — Donna Schneider on December 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • Made this over the weekend – guests really enjoyed it, not too spicy, layers of flavor, seemed like a mole’ of sauce, I used Costco stew meat – was delish! A keeper.
    Leah – CT

    • — Leah M. Fonte on November 27, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this today for a chili cook off in two days. Possibly too spicy for the cook off, but I personally love the rich flavors. Also, I wanted to know if I’m suppose to flake the meat once it’s tender or just break it apart into smaller pieces? Also I think I either want to thicken it, or change my mind and add beans (but wanted just a meat chili). If I flake the meat that would make it thicker as well I’d imagine. I used polenta instead of corn meal in the recipe as it’s the only thing I had. I could use more…. Could you give me advice?

    • — Patty on November 14, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Patty, I neither flake the meat nor cut it into smaller pieces after the chili is done cooking as the meat shrinks while cooking, and should be quite tender. That said, feel free to break it into smaller pieces if you’d like. I do think that will help to thicken the chili a bit as well. And, yes, you can add a bit more polenta if you’d like, or just simmer the chili, uncovered, until it gets to your desired thickness. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 15, 2023
      • Reply
      • To foot stomp Jenn on the thickness… Yes, continue to simmer until it reaches your desired consistency. Also, if you let it sit in the fridge overnight, not only will the flavors blend into a much better flavor that the day you cooked it, but the sauce will thicken up. You could always start with less liquid and add more if you want it thinner. Additionally, all of the fat will float to the top and congeal, making it easier to skim off, if you want. Personally, I just take off enough to make it less greasy. I like to leave some of that fat. Fat = flavor.
        If you want to add beans, cook the beans separately and add them when serving. Don’t add them to chili when cooking. I like pink beans. They are softer than kidney beans and have more flavor.
        *Ramblings from a 15 year cook at an award winning chili parlor.

        • — Doug on February 10, 2024
        • Reply
        • It was delicious. 1/4 cup of ancho chili seems a lot so I cut it down quite a bit. Beef is very tender. After 3 hours, I cooked it uncovered for abt an hour and it thickens nicely

          • — Caroline on May 8, 2024
          • Reply
  • I used a 2 lb chuck roast, so I halved everything else. I used a pressure cooker. Followed all the recipe steps until the stewing, and then cooked it under pressure for forty minutes. Then I cooked it uncovered for 15 minutes over medium heat to reduce and thicken the broth.

    My house smelled like a sin. I served it over cornbread squares, a dollop of sour cream, and topped everything with shredded cheddar and a cilantro garnish.

    The meat melted in your mouth. The broth had a rich body, and the flavors were deep…just short of mole. I’m not a fan of mole because I think it is just “too much”. But this was amazing.

    My husband was over the top. Gave it a 9.9.

    Great recipe. It calls for a bit of commitment, so maybe not for cooks looking for an easy chili. But if you follow it to a T for ingredients and results, it is a repeat recipe.

    Thank you for posting.

    • — Lori on October 2, 2023
    • Reply

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