Texas Beef Chili (Chili Con Carne)

4.5 stars based on 112 votes
Tested & Perfected Recipes

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

  • This recipe looks amazing. My question is how to adjust it to not lose flavor, but lose some heat. We are not spicy food eaters, but like the chili flavor. Any suggestions ?

    • Hi Kim, First, when using jalapenos, make sure to seed them as that’s where all the heat is. Also, you can cut back on both of the chili powders, especially the the chipotle chili powder, which is pretty spicy. Keep in mind that there is a lot of variation in different brands of spices. The ones I use (McCormick) aren’t that hot, so you may want to go with those. Hope that helps!

  • I have been making chili for Halloween for 25 years and this is by far the best ever! I followed the recipe to the T and it turned out absolutely perfect. The paste is the key and again make sure you use a chuck roast and not stew meat. The chuck roast we used definitely made a big difference. Served it with a side of jalapeno cornbread – Barefoot Contessa’s recipe. YUM Can’t wait until next Halloween.

    • — Janet Skochdopole
    • Reply
    • I just bought “stew” meat before reading your review. Will it really be that bad? Any suggestions?

      • Hi Marie, It really is much better with chuck. The stew meat just won’t be very tender. Sorry!

  • Is the quarter cup of ancho correct? It sounds like a lot compared to a tablespoon of chipotle.

    • Yes, Dave – I know it sounds like a lot but it’s correct.

  • I’ve made this with ground beef on hand. The spices are perfect and my husband loves a few squeezes of lime on top!! Yum

  • Big hit! So much better than chili made with ground beef. Followed recipe except I left out the cinnamon.

  • My new favorite chili recipe, the flavors are wonderful, everyone in my family loves this chili! Takes some time to make but well worth it!

  • We started looking for a chili without beans and ran across this one. Wow! Amazing.

    I pulled the reins on the onions and jalapeños using 1 onion and 2 small peppers with the hope that my children would eat it and it worked!

    Thank you Jenn for the recipe. I look forward to cooking more of them.

    • — Allan Anderson
    • Reply
  • We enjoyed this dish! Loved the tender meat, great flavor, & the sauce thickened beautifully. A great change of pace from my usual ground meat chili. I didn’t have any molasses, so I just substituted real maple syrup. I plan to try the molasses next time. Also, I had to watch the heat for my kids, so I used 2 jalepenos & reduced the gd. chipotle chili pepper to 1 tsp. I followed everything else as directed. Thanks so much for sharing, Jenn. It’s much more fun in the kitchen now!

  • I wanted to make some home made chili. I Googled it and all these recipes come up calling for – dig this – canned beans and ground beef. Canned beans and hamburger meat, does that sound like good home made chili? Then I says to myself, maybe Jenn has something… Yep she comes through again! It came out great. I followed it pretty close, only adding about 3 cups of cooked organic red kidney beans. I wanted beans in my chili but not canned. Also I cut back on the jalapeño pepper using one rather than 3. But these peppers I have are very hot. Finally I use homemade beef stock rather than box grocery store stock. My sons love it. One of them commented saying, this is good chili, you ought to make some again. Jenn is da bomb!

  • Can you make this a day ahead?

    • — Barbara J Hamel
    • Reply
    • Yes, you can definitely make it ahead. Enjoy!

  • Bravo! Thank you Jenn for posting this recipe! I made it today and my family devoured it with requests that I make it again this week. The flavor was perfect!

  • Hi Jenn. My community is having a chili cook off at the beginning of the boating season. Do you mind my using your recipe if I give you credit for it? I’ll let you know if you’re a winner. ?

    • Definitely– hope it wins :)!

  • This is the best chili I have ever made! The flavors are so rich and bold…it is just luscious!

  • My husband said it was the best chili he has ever eaten!

  • I had to modify just a bit to suit the varying degrees of heat we can tolerate and cut the cinnamon in half but the rest I followed to the letter. This chili is to die for, which doesn’t surprise me. All of Jennifer’s recipes are wonderful. The molasses and chocolate give such a great depth of flavor. This is my new go-to when I want to impress someone with chili. Thanks again, Jennifer!

  • Hi, made this a few times now and the whole family love it. One of the things I enjoy about cooking your recipes is the challenge of the different ingredient names, eg cilantro = spring onions. Also, when I cook the bacon I get nowhere near the quantity of fat coming out that you describe, I always end up adding more oil later rather than having an excess. Differences in the ingredients I suppose. Never used Ancho chilli powder before but love the levels of flavour and heat you get from adding different chilli powders now. Afraid I had to leave the chipotle out though, when opening the packet it had that distinct “ashtray” odour and I didn’t want to risk it tainting the whole dish. Subbed it for a similar amount of hot chilli powder instead. Love it!

    • Just realised I got that wrong. It was Scallions that I eventually found out were spring onions, Cilantro is coriander

  • My husband and I absolutely love this chili. Hands down best. I am planning to make a large batch for a party (and of course we want leftovers). Could I simply double the recipe.

    • Yes. She says it in the first paragraph.

  • I made this, and it killed it! Best chili I’ve ever had. 2 modifications that I think definitely improved it:
    1. I used Dried Mulato Chiles about 8, reconstituted and blended using beef broth.
    2. I used canned Chipotles in adobo sauce. I put in 3, also blended.

    Thanks a ton for the recipe

  • I was delighted to find your recipe, as I was tired of my family recipe for “real chili” and was intrigued by your choice of spices for the paste. It was very good but way too spicy. Jalapeños can vary in heat, so I wish I had gone with my instincts and just added one. The flavor profile was so good, but the heat spoiled it. It was also a bit more complicated than it needs to be. I will definitely use it again, though, with some adaptations. That’s the fun part of cooking – personalization! Love your recipes and website. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  • Jenn-
    The chili has been simmering on the stove for about 2 hours. It tastes great but isn’t thickening…can I add some cornmeal or do you have another suggestion? I’m not serving it until tomorrow so will it thicken overnight in the fridge? Thanks again for all of the great recipes! Amy

    • Hi Amy, It should thicken towards the very end, and it will also thicken as it sits after it cooks. But if you’d still like it thicker, go ahead and add some cornmeal or finely crushed tortilla chips and simmer until thickened. 🙂

  • Made this yesterday, it is excellent! Didn’t change a thing, has a little kick, but it is soooo good. We liked the lime squeezed on with a little cheese. Reheats well the next day.

  • Hi Jen,

    Do you mind sharing what brand of stainless steel cookware do you use?

    • Hi Lu, I love All-Clad or Anolon Tri-Ply Clad Stainless pieces. Check here for more info on some of my favorite tools for the kitchen.

  • In San Antonio, Texas and can’t find this type of chili (everyone uses hamburger).
    I have been craving and looking for a recipe and this one nailed it! Made this last night and ate it today! Absolutely delicious!!
    Used dried Anchos and chopped in the food processor because our store didn’t have a powder. Thank you very much for sharing your gift and talent!

  • Loved this recipe, bit of work to get it started but totally worth it. the smokey hearty sauce really works great. Will be making it again.

  • Can’t wait for dinner tonight! It’s been simmering away for a couple hours now, but I would like to be a little thicker. Could I use a water/mesa slurry?

    • Hi Nicole, Yes, but it will continue to thicken as it cooks so I would definitely wait til it’s done.

      • Thanks! I added just a little at the end and it came out absolutely perfect.(Right up there with your Peruvian Chicken…our favorite dinner!) Even the kids gobbled it right up!

  • Do you think this could be done with pork instead of beef?

    • Hi Bonnie, Yes, I think that would work well.

  • Not the greatest chili I have made or eaten. It was lack complexity of flavors and wasn’t at all chili like. The color wasn’t red, but more brown. There was no heat. It was more like a beef stew. I am going to doctor up the leftovers with roasted carrots and potatoes and see if that helps.

  • If making this in advance, can it be refrigerated in the Le Crueset pot it was made it or should it be transferred to an airtight container?

    • Hi Susie, It will be fine in the Le Creuset pot. Enjoy!

  • I’m making this now, it’s simmering and me and my wife can’t really wait to taste. But, we have to. The house smells awesome. I adjusted the recipe a bit for we had no chipotle chile, but, I guess everything will be fine in the end. This is so much different then we use(d) to make our chile. Thank you so mucho for sharing this great recipe.

  • Can I use boneless short ribs instead of chuck roast in this chilli recipe

    • — Bernice chesley
    • Reply
    • Hi Bernice, Chuck roast works best.

  • This is how my grandfather always made it (hunks of beef, no beans!) but he sprinkled a little cornmeal in to thicken it.

  • Hi there. This looks amazing and I’m going to try it this Saturday for a church chili cookoff. I’m wondering about using the ancho chilis in the adobo sauce instead of the ancho chili powder. Would I also use about 1/4 cup?

    • Hi Teresa, That sounds about right but I can’t guarantee it won’t be too spicy; you might want to hold off on adding some of the seeds until the end, then add to taste. Hope you win 🙂

  • This makes a big quantity, but was completely eaten up by my boys and their 4 friends. I tried finishing this off in the slow cooker, but it didn’t work too well. This is a dish that needs to simmer on the stove so that all of the flavors blend. It’s important to taste it at the end to adjust the seasonings. I added more spice.

  • This is so delicious and a much different change from regular plain old beef Chili!

  • This is an excellent recipe. I spiced it up a bit by adding a couple of dried chiles to the pot being careful not to let them break and removed them before serving. The cilantro is a very nice addition, I served some sour cream on the side as well. This is a keeper.

    • Hi Jenn!
      I usually only ever make your recipes at home without altering. However my husband and friend are vegetarian and I was hoping to make two batches of this tomorrow for Superbowl. Do you think that without the meat in here adding beans instead would result in enough flavour or taste okay? I can easily find a vegetarian chili recipe but this one looks so good I don’t want them to miss out. Thanks in advance 🙂

      • Hi Tara, While it may be fine, I’m not sure this is the best recipe to make vegetarian as it’s so meat-centric with the chuck roast and the bacon. Sorry! (But I’m thrilled you like the recipes :))

  • Awesome!
    Had no bacon, so replaced it with chorizo. One of my best recipes ever. Made it last sunday and making it now (5 days later) again.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Hi Jenn. Loved the flavour in this recipe but found it a bit too spicy for our taste. Any advice for what to cut back on – ancho chili pepper, chiptotle powder or jalapenos – to maintain the flavour but reduce the heat? Thanks!

    • Hi Janet, A few thoughts…Did you seed the jalapenos? That’s where all of the heat is. Otherwise, you can cut back on both of the chili powders, especially the the chipotle chili powder, which is pretty spicy. Also, there is so much variation in different brands of spices. The ones I use aren’t that hot, so you might try those. Hope that helps!

  • This recipe looks fantastic and perfect for my office Chili Cook Off tomorrow. Going to put it together late tonight and let it cook in my slowcooker overnight to be ready in the morning.

  • I made this as my first recipe in a new clay pot and it is wonderful!

    I did use Masa Harina instead of cornmeal – I live in rural NW Montana and have been able to buy it for years. I think the Mexican Masa has a more corn-y taste as well as a smoother texture and I use it as a binder instead or with flour or cornstarch.

    Also, I had dried ancho chiles so softened and blitzed with water instead of the ancho powder.

    Another reviewer nixed the cinnamon, but I prefer a wee bit of cinnamon in a tomato sauce-ish dish. To me, the right amount enhances and cuts some of the tomato acidity.

    I wish I’d doubled the recipe but fortunately chuck is on sale this week at my grocery!

    Thanks, Jenn.

  • Hey jennifer, came across ur website by accident. Saying you’re recipes look mind blowing is an understatement. Is there a substitute that I can use instead of bacon fat?

    • Hi Ruwayda, Thank you! Just skip the bacon and add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil instead…will still be delicious 🙂

  • Made this for the Super Bowl last weekend and it was a HIT! Great flavor!

  • I made this chili for a party, and it was well liked. I felt like the meat wasn’t tender. Do you have suggestions for what may have caused the meet to become tough rather than tender?

    • Hi Heather, Happy to help troubleshoot. Did you use chuck? Oftentimes, meat sold as “stew meat” is not the right type of meat and it does not get tender, no matter how long you cook it.

  • Made this yesterday. The flavors were exceptional. It takes some time, but was fun to make with my husband.

  • Having never tried real Texas chili, I couldn’t wait to give this recipe a try. All I can say is WOW – so good and sooo much better than the ground beef chili I usually make. It took me quite some time to prepare but it was worth every minute!

  • Hi Jenn, this looks so delicious! Can it be made without the beer, and what would you suggest substituting in its place?

    • Hi Katie, It can absolutely be made without the beer; just replace with water.

      • Thank you! We had this for dinner tonight and my family devoured it. Your white bean and chicken chili is also a favorite in our house 🙂

  • Can this be made in a slow cooker?

    • Hi Brenda, I suppose it could, but you’d still have to go through all the initial steps of cooking the bacon, searing the meat, sautéing the veggies, etc, so I’m not sure it’d really make sense unless you need to leave the house to let it cook.

  • The recipe looks good but is not a Texas chili. Remove the bacon and use chipotle peppers instead of the powder. The flavor difference is incredible. Great basic recipe to use to add your own zest to tho.

    • Cinnamon needs to be axed. We like spicy.

  • Here in Texas we would use canned ancho chilies in adobo, and masa (corn) flour rather than straight cornmeal. Masa is what’s used to make tamales. Both ingredients are readily available in Texas grocery stores, or Mexican groceries everywhere. While chocolate and coriander are used in interior Mexico (chocolate in mole sauce), you won’t find them in Texas chili.

    • Hi Dave, I knew I get in trouble calling this Texas chili 🙂 I opted for cornmeal because masa is not easy to find in many parts of the country — and cornmeal does the same thing. And the chocolate adds nice depth, even if it’s not traditional.

  • I would like to try this dish.however my family and I do not eat pork. What can I substitute for the bacon?

    • Hi Euclid, Go ahead and just leave it out; you’ll just need to add vegetable oil for searing the beef and vegetables. It will still be delicious.

  • Can I add beans to this chili?

    • Hi Ann, Yes, there is plenty of sauce if you want to throw in some beans.

      • When should one add the beans?

        • Hi Kerry, I’d add cooked/canned beans after about 2 hours.

          • What kind of beans would you suggest? Have you tried any other vegetables?

            • — Julie
          • Hi Julie, Really any beans will work; whatever you like best. I haven’t made it with vegetables but no reason you can’t throw some in at the end — wouldn’t be traditional chili, but I’m sure it would be delicious 🙂

            • — Jenn

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