Texas Beef Chili (Chili Con Carne)

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With tender chunks of beef enveloped in a deep, spicy and smoky sauce, Chili con Carne is like a chili-flavored beef stew.

chili con carne

With tender chunks of beef enveloped in a deep, spicy and smoky sauce, Texas beef chili (or Chili con Carne) is essentially a chili-flavored beef stew. I can’t claim this version is authentic — I’ve never even been to Texas — but it is immensely satisfying, and everything I imagine the ultimate Texas beef chili to be.

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 on a lazy weekend. You might also consider 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. For a delicious side, try these easy Cornbread Muffins or Chile con Queso.

What you’ll need to make chili con carne

ingredients

Before we get to the recipe, it’s very important to select the right cut of meat, which is a chuck roast that is well-marbled. It should have a good amount of white veins of fat running through it.

Stay away from meat generically packaged as “stew meat,” especially if it looks lean — it will never get tender. You’ll need to trim the excess fat; don’t go overboard, just remove any large flaps like the one the knife is pointing to below.

trimming-meat

Next, let’s talk about chile peppers. Purists insist that Texas chili be made with whole dried chiles (the kind you see in plastic bags in the produce department), toasted and ground into a homemade chili powder. This is labor intensive, plus every grocery store carries different kinds of peppers — there are enough varieties to make your head spin.

So, rather than traipsing all over town searching for dried chiles, I use fresh jalapeños and a combination of two readily available pure chile powders: ancho and chipotle, which you can find at most large grocery stores.

chile-powders

Note that these are dried, ground chile peppers — not to be confused with standard chili powder, which is a blend of ground chilies and other spices. Ancho chile powder is made from dried poblano peppers and has a moderately spicy flavor. Chipotle chile powder is made from dried and smoked jalapeños, which have a smoky and spicy flavor. 

How to make chili con carne

spice-blend

Okay, on to the recipe! 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.

spice-paste

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

cooking-bacon

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

cooked-bacon

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-beef

Transfer the seared beef to a plate.

seared-beef

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.

deglazing-the-pan

Add a few tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat to the pan and cook the onions until soft and translucent.

sauteing-onions

Add the garlic and jalapeños and cook a minute more.

sauteing-garlic-and-jalapenos

Next, add the reserved spice paste and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, a few minutes.

sauteing-spice-mixture

Add the beef broth the pot.

adding-broth

And use a whisk to stir until all of the spices are dissolved into the broth.

whisking-broth-and-spices

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

adding-beef-and-bacon-back-in

Bring to a simmer.

simmering

Then cover and cook with the lid just slightly ajar for 2-1/2 – 3 hours, or until the meat is tender and the sauce is nicely thickened.

finished-chili

Ladle the stew into bowls and top with chopped cilantro and grated cheese if desired.

Texas-Beef-Chili-1

If you’re wondering about the spice level of this chili, it definitely has some heat but it’s not off the charts. I have even served it to kids, albeit ones with more adventurous palates.

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Texas Beef Chili

With tender chunks of beef enveloped in a deep, spicy and smoky sauce, Chili con Carne is like a chili-flavored beef stew.

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

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup ground ancho chili pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle chili pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 (4 pound) beef chuck roast trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes (see note below)
  • 8 ounces (about 8 slices) bacon, cut into 1/4-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 water, plus more for the chili paste and deglazing the pan
  • 1-1/4 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
  • Grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Mix the chili powders, cumin, oregano, coriander, cinnamon and cornmeal in a small bow and stir in 1/2 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 1/4 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, 2-1/2 - 3 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  7. Note: When selecting the meat, be sure not to buy anything generically labeled "Stew Meat." Also, you will lose about 1/2 pound after trimming the fat, so if you buy the meat already trimmed and cubed, you'll only need about 3-1/2 pounds.
  8. Tip: To make bacon easier to chop, try placing it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes first. The colder it is, the easier it is to cut.
  9. Note: If you touch the seeds of the jalapeño pepper, just be sure to wash your hands well and avoid touching your eyes.
  10. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The chili can be 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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Reviews & Comments

  • Thank you for sharing this recipe! I let it simmer for at least 4 hours. A cold front inspired me to make this. Your description is perfect: “With tender chunks of beef enveloped in a deep, spicy and smoky sauce… essentially a chili-flavored beef stew.“ I am a native Texan and can attest that this chili is immensely satisfying, and everything the ultimate Texas beef chili ought to be. It’s like a cowboy version of mole! Mmmmmm (I added an extra beer as the mixture reduced).

    • — Laurie Hoffman on April 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Stop believing these reviews. It had no taste whatsoever. Waste of 4 hours. Ingredients in this make no sense.

    • — Josh on February 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • The beef was really tender but I didn’t care for the overall flavor too much. I much prefer the flavor of Jen’s chili recipe with ground beef. I used the amounts of ancho and chipotle chili pepper as written in the recipe – I probably would have preferred the taste if I had used about half of what was called for. Additionally, I didn’t like how the cinnamon smelled, though I can’t say I could taste that spice.

    • — Christie on February 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is so good. I’m using this as my “go-to” recipe for Chili. The spices are delicious and the beer is perfect. My kids like it too. I didn’t use the exact kind of beef in the recipe because I didn’t have it. I ended up using brisket because I needed to use it up. In the future, I would probably try to use the recommendation from the recipe. Although I would use up what is around again too. Yum.

    • — Elizabeth B. on February 5, 2021
    • Reply
  • I thought it was delicious… but for some reason it tasted more Indian than it did anything else

    • — Hindi Fisher on February 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Oh my goodness, this chili was wonderful. My husband and I are both spice wimps so the only change I made was to reduce the number of jalapeños and then I followed your suggestion and added a generous dollop of sour cream when serving. Just wonderful. It took a little longer to get the meat as tender as I wanted, but it was worth it when my husband said the meat ‘just melted” in his mouth. Thanks again for another great recipe, Jenn!

    • — JanetW on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
    • Made this last night with a few variations:
      1. Used 1 large sweet onion instead of 2 small yellow onions
      2. Used maple syrup and brown sugar since my molasses had expired.
      3. Used 1 teas. of Chipotle chili
      4. Used my own homemade beef
      broth thereby cutting out alot of
      sodium. Was so delicious!!!

      • — Jennifer Oshiki on February 2, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is the best chili I’ve ever had! It’s a little expensive and time consuming but so worth it!!!

    • — Alana Downey on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Loved it. I made it with CostCo prime beef short ribs and followed the rest of the recipe to the letter. After 2 hours it was still thin and soupy, so added several courses of corn flour/water. It thickened up nicely and was declared done after 3 hours 15 minutes. Makes enough for 5 meals for two. Ladled it onto a baked potato, topped with sour cream, lime and cheddar cheese. Next time Cilantro too!

    • — Scootster on January 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Really liked this! Flavors were ‘different’ and a nice change from the typical chili I make (which varies depending on what I have available to me).
    Variations:
    I didn’t feel like dealing with the jalapeno peppers, so used canned jalapeno (I’ve only seen a small one and that is the equivalent to the fresh amount needed)
    Used the garlic ‘paste’ found in produce section instead of fresh
    The smallest amount of beer that I could find was a pint of Guinness. Had to drink the leftovers.
    Other:
    I had Masa, but bought cornmeal, seems Masa would work just as well.
    I did not have nearly the specified amount of bacon grease leftover, so used olive oil for the onions etc.
    I normally buy stew meat, but chuck roast was on sale. Cutting that up was very labor intensive with a lot of swearing and I am not good at it. Think I will stick to stew meat.
    I also thought it was a bit watery at the end, so added more cornmeal. Which now means the leftovers are very thick.
    I added beans. I currently live in Texas, I know it’s a sin to add beans, but my kids like beans in chili. 🙂

    • — TJ on January 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • It’s been a while since I commented on a blog but this was sooooo good I had to come back. I made just a few changes

    * family requires beans, so I added two cans of organic 3 bean blend during the last 30 minutes
    * used some stored bacon grease and not freshly fried bacon
    * simmered for closer to 5 hours

    It was so thick, rich, tender, and meaty. So delicious.

    • — Jessica on January 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • Loved this and will definitely be making it again! We’re wimps with spice, so we halved the jalapeño amount, and it turned out just right for us—super flavorful with just a bit of heat. Thanks!

    • — Dani on January 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Oh my gosh! I don’t like chili but I really liked this. We love all your recipes but my husband thinks this one is the best. I ran our of ancho chili powder so used 1/2 ancho powder and 1/2 mexican chili powder. I also used all of the jalepeno (including ribs and seeds) because my family loves spicy food. Topped it all with diced onion, mexican cheese and a dollop of sour cream (for me cause I am more of a whimp than my family) and served with honey cornbread. Will definitely be making this one often. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe!

    • — Janet on January 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi, quick question. We don’t use beer. Should I substitute more beef broth?

    • — Aimee on December 30, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Aimee, beef broth is perfectly fine. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 30, 2020
      • Reply
      • Made this last night with a few variations:
        1. Used 1 large sweet onion instead of 2 small yellow onions
        2. Used maple syrup and brown sugar since my molasses had expired.
        3. Used 1 teas. of Chipotle chili
        4. Used my own homemade beef
        broth thereby cutting out alot of
        sodium. Was so delicious!!!

        • — Jennifer Oshiki on February 2, 2021
        • Reply
  • So, 3 jalapeños, seeded and cored … there’s heat in the seeds, how much would give an enhanced heat? When you make it for you do you add any? Love your recipes by the way!

    • — Alissa on December 7, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you like the recipes! Depending on who’s eating it sometimes I will add some seeds (and if I do, I’ll usually add the seeds from one pepper).

      • — Jenn on December 8, 2020
      • Reply
  • Amazing!!

    • — Corena on December 5, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was outstanding! Had high expectations and was not disappointed. Used inside round oven roast because chuck roast wasn’t available. Cooked an a “hard simmer” for the full 4 hours and meat was fall apart tender. Definitely added to my repertoire!!!

    • — Sean Hagan on November 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • How long and at what temperature could this be made in the oven rather than on the stove top?
    I love all of your recipes Jenn!

    • — Mary on November 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Mary, this could be cooked in the oven after you’ve gone through the initial steps. I set the oven to 325°F and cook it for a total of three hours. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it (and glad you like the recipes)!

      • — Jenn on November 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi, I am new to cooking. A 1/4 cup is 2 ounces. I bought a jar of Ancho Chile Pepper (1.62oz). When I pour it in the measuring device it measures out to almost 4oz. It seems to be pretty dense and compact. Should put exactly 2oz in weight in the recipe?

    • — Daniel Ravary on November 14, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Daniel, The 1/4 cup here refers to volume not weight, so if you have dry cup measures, you’ll use the 1/4 cup size. (If it’s helpful for you to know, 1/4 cup in volume is also the equivalent of 4 tablespoons.) Hope that clarifies and that you enjoy the chili!

      • — Jenn on November 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Chili turned out amazing! I loved the heat, I thought it was subtle. However, my husband and son ended up with terrible heart burn, so next time I will have to turn down the heat. I am thinking maybe one jalapeno and a couple of poblanos. Recommendations welcome.
    I cooked it for about 4 hours, just because I had the time. I reluctantly added a can of chili beans and a can of Ranch style beans in the end. My family was insistent that chili wasn’t chili with out beans. Either way, it was wonderful and I will definitely make it again.

    • — Cristy S on November 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • OMG this is the greatest chili ever. Followed it to the letter and garnished with cheddar and diced onions. My only regret is not tripling this recipe. THANK YOU, you’ve given us a new family favorite.

    • — Jason W. on November 3, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can I make this in a crockpot?

    • — Jen on October 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jen, you can but you’ll need to cook the bacon, the meat all the vegetables on the stovetop, and then transfer everything to a slow cooker for 4 – 5 hours on high. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 28, 2020
      • Reply
      • Thank you! I LOVE all of your recipes. ❤️💕

        • — Jen on October 29, 2020
        • Reply
  • Made smaller amount (2.5 lbs meat). Replaced powdered chilis with actual dried chilis (1 ancho and 1 chipotle was right for us) Replaced stock with boullion cube and water. Added 1 can pink beans (a variety of kidney)at 2 hour mark. FANTASTIC. Boy child went back for 3rds. Took 2.5 hrs for meat to get to the shredding stage.
    Definitely going to the “make it again” file.

    • — Rebecca on October 4, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is a wonderful recipe and makes a delicious dish. I discovered it’s very adaptable as I did make quite a few substitutions. The first was that I used ground beef instead (it’s what I had). I also couldn’t easily find either of the chili powders so I used regular chili powder and chipotles in Adobo sauce. I have to say the chipotles were fabulous. Also, I didn’t add quite as much of the liquids since I didn’t want this to be a hamburger stew and I didn’t cook it the full 4 hours. It was yummy topped with shredded cheddar cheese, cilantro and sour cream. Next time I will make it with chuck roast.

    • — Ursula B on September 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • No such thing as “way too spicy” in my house! Loved this recipe, I did skip over the tomatoes though (not a fan) and used some stock I had in the freezer instead. Oh, and I threw in a couple Thai chilis just because they were hanging around. The spice paste plus the chocolate and molasses really gives this chili a great flavor – spicy, savory -ooh so good. Thank you so much for this recipe, making chili was never my thing – everyone else always made it better and I could never figure out how to get it right. This recipe nailed it!

    • — Kristina Burton on August 4, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was way too spicy! And I didn’t even add any peppers. I’d make it again but with regular chili powder.

    • — Laura on June 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • It’s not done yet, but does it thicken up?

    • — Libby on April 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Libby, If you continue simmering the chili with the lid off, it will thicken up nicely. You can always add a little more cornmeal too, if necessary (but not too much).

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2020
      • Reply
  • This is by far, the absolutely best meat chili I’ve ever had. The sauce is addicting and I keep going back just to dip a piece of bread in it!

    • — Ralph Perry on April 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was excellent! Just enough spicy kick without being over powering, with a nice smokey flavor in the background.

    Made a side of moist corn bread slathered with butter.

    I will make again!

    Thanks.

    • — Vi Moore on February 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • Considering doing this same recipe but having the butcher grind the chuck on “Chile” setting. Thoughts?

    • — Becky on February 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Becky, I’m not familiar with that setting, but I think large chunks of meat work best here. 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 20, 2020
      • Reply
  • Is a 7 quart dutch oven large enough?

    • — Johnny on January 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Johnny, that will be fine. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made this while camping in a dutch oven over a campfire. To cut some costs, I cut the beef amount in half and added smoked sausage. (I was feeding a boy scout troop on a boy scout budget. I also subbed polenta for cornmeal, since I had it around. It was delicious, and warmed everyone up on our Early January in Iowa “build-your-own-shelter” campout.

    • — Dan Tice on January 5, 2020
    • Reply
  • Really phenomenal. Getting the char on the steak is a game changer and critical. Would be good with crispy potatoes and carrots added at very end.

    • — Charles G. on October 27, 2019
    • Reply
  • This is the best chili I have tasted! The flavour is amazing. This is my go to recipe. I made it last month and am making it again today. Thank you!

    • — Sheri on October 27, 2019
    • Reply

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