This Texas Chili Recipe Has a Secret Ingredient (We'll Give You a Hint - It Isn't Beans) (2024)

If your chili has beans, I'm simply not interested. Why take up space in a perfectly spiced homemade chili with beans? In my opinion, that's the difference between a good chili and a great recipe. The best Texas chili recipes say "No, thank you!" to the pinto beans and "Yes, please!" to lots of brown, seared beef and spicy chiles swimming in spicy sauce.

Yes, red chili is where it's at, and there are a ton of recipes out there. We scoured the internet to find the best of the best Texas chili recipes (and automatically disqualified any recipe that added beans). So pull out your Dutch oven or slow cooker, bake up a cornbread recipe, and get ready with your sour cream, green onion, jalapenos and cheddar cheese toppings. It's time for a beef chili cook-off!

1. West Texas Chili

This Texas Chili Recipe Has a Secret Ingredient (We'll Give You a Hint - It Isn't Beans) (1)

Southern Living

What makes this chili qualify? No beans (of course), huge chunks of tomato, and tons of ground venison (or, ground beef if you prefer). Spiced up with lightly-spicy ancho chili powder or a chili powder substitute, smoky ground cumin, and mild paprika, there's no lack of flavor in this recipe.

This Texas-style chili turns out so thick (thanks to the addition of masa harina corn flour), it's perfect for making Frito pie or making up chili cheese fries.

Get the recipe here.

2. Hot Rod Texas Chili

We all know it's about the awards - and keeping your recipe a secret is a part of winning in those chili cook-offs. The winner of the Terlingua International Chili Championship isn't hiding behind any secret recipe.

Debbie Ashman shares her secrets (including the spice "dumps" that she adds at three different times) for this incredibly flavorful, award-winning chili.

Get the recipe here.

3. Chili Con Carne

The secret to this incredibly flavorful chili? Huge chunks of beef. Well, that and a bunch of bacon! Beef chuck roast is a great choice for this chili, with its marbled fat and inexpensive price tag.

Stay away from anything labeled "stew meat" - you don't really know what you're getting there. Better to buy the roast and chop it up yourself.

Get the recipe here.

4. True Texas Chili

This chili recipe goes one step further in its pursuit of the beefiest possible bowl. It skips the tomatoes altogether - no crushed tomatoes, no tomato paste, no tomato sauce - in favor of simmering the beef directly in chili paste.

This recipe includes dried chilis, beef broth, diced yellow onions, garlic, and lots of cumin.

Serve it up with a side of sour cream and lime juice to add a little tang to the bowl, and you have yourself a seriously hearty bowl 'o red!

Get the recipe here.

5. Real Texas Chili Con Carne

This Texas Chili Recipe Has a Secret Ingredient (We'll Give You a Hint - It Isn't Beans) (5)

Serious Eats / J. Kenjij Lopez-Altreal

Everyone loves labeling their chili "real" or "true" Texas chili, but I think this one definitely hits the mark. This recipe uses a blend of dried chilies to create a spicy, earthy, and smoky flavor in the beef stock.

If you want to amp up the spice, you can add a can of chipotles in adobo sauce. Be sure you have a glass of milk on the side, though, because that spice won't mess around!

Get the recipe here.

6. The Only Texas Chili Recipe You'll Ever Need

That's a bold statement! But if anyone could make such a bold claim, it's the editors of Texas Monthly. These guys report on the best barbecue in the state, so I believe them when they say this recipe is iconic!

They freshly toast (before grinding) their cumin and coriander seeds, and this recipe has a ton of black pepper. The secret ingredient? A few teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa to add a depth of flavor.

Think of this on tacos! Game changer.

Get the recipe here.

7. Tyler's Texas Chili

Tyler Florence might not be from Texas, but his southern roots run deep. This guy knows how to make a great bowl of red! He toasts a bunch of spices before caramelizing his onions and browning the beef for this incredible bowl.

In the end, he has a few secret ingredients, too - Mexican chocolate and a cinnamon stick. Top it off with queso fresco and you can't go wrong with this bowl.

Get the recipe here.

8. Slow Cooker Texas Chili

This skinny Texas chili certainly doesn't taste healthy! It has all the flavor of a classic chili but uses fat-free Greek yogurt as the topper. Throw all the ingredients into the Crock-Pot and let it cook for a total time of 7-8 hours.

That lean beef chuck will break down and become super shreddable.

Get the recipe here.

9. Instant Pot Chili (Texas-Style)

I love, love, love my Instant Pot! There's almost nothing I can't do in that thing. Making Texas-true chili is no exception. What will take hours on the stovetop and 8 hours in the slow cooker only takes one hour in the electric pressure cooker.

The result is the same fall-apart-tender beef swimming in a spicy sauce.

Get the recipe here.

10. Texas Turkey Chili

Who says Texas chili has to be about the beef? Okay, a lot of people have said that, but this turkey chili recipe is the perfect way to use up leftovers. You could use any shredded meat - turkey, chicken, or pork - and the chili broth will breath new life into it.

This sauce has a few special ingredients to add depth. It not only uses spices and cocoa powder, but there's some brewed coffee in there, too.

Get the recipe here.

11. Texas Chili For a Crowd

This chili includes cocoa powder and cinnamon, adding a warm and sweet note to the delicious meal.

Get the recipe here.

Best Texas Chili Seasonings You Can Find

1. Truly Texas Chili Spice Mix

The best chili needs the right spice mix. Make your next batch of chili with an award-winning chili mix from Texas Truly. This mix won a Dallas Gourmet Market Golf Award for best soup and chili.

This Texas Chili Recipe Has a Secret Ingredient (We'll Give You a Hint - It Isn't Beans) (13)

2. Bear Creek Smokehouse Real Texas Chili Seasoning Mix

Located in Marshall, Texas, Bear Creek Smokehouse has been a go-to provider for fresh meats, seasonings, and sweets for over 70 years. For those who love spicy chili, this award-winning Real Texas Chili Seasoning Mix is for you.

This Texas Chili Recipe Has a Secret Ingredient (We'll Give You a Hint - It Isn't Beans) (15)

3. Carroll Shelby's Original Texas Chili Kit

Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit encourages you to get creative. It comes with several packets of spices, cayenne, and masa flour to create chili to your liking.

This Texas Chili Recipe Has a Secret Ingredient (We'll Give You a Hint - It Isn't Beans) (17)

Products featured on Wide Open Country are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

READ MORE: 12 Simple Ways To Thicken Watery Chili in a Flash

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Does Texas chili have beans or no beans? ›

What primarily distinguishes Texas chili from other chili recipes you might find is a lack of beans, but it also doesn't feature any tomatoes. It is, largely, a ground beef dish that's seasoned with a spicy chili paste made of dried peppers.

What is real Texas chili made of? ›

The original chili was made with dried beef pounded together with suet and dried chiles into a sort of pemmican-like dry mix intended to last a long time and be quick and nutritious for cowboys to rehydrate and stew up out on the range. These days, we've got refrigerators and fresh meat. So we use them.

Does real chili contain beans? ›

The ICS defines Traditional Red Chili as "any kind of meat, or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices, and other ingredients. Beans and non-vegetable fillers such as rice and pasta are not allowed."

Why do people say chili doesn't have beans? ›

No-beans side argue that beans distract your mouth from the beef and spices that chili is supposed to showcase. Texans in particular are likely to reject beans; in fact, the no-bean version is often referred to as Texas chili.

Who makes chili with no beans? ›

HORMEL® Chili No Beans adds excitement to any meal occasion. How about pouring HORMEL® Chili on hot dogs for a simple, easy dinner upgrade? You'll want to keep several cans of HORMEL® Chili No Beans on hand in the pantry because that same excitement can be poured on fries, chips, in the bowl—anything!

What's the difference between Texas chili and Chile Colorado chili? ›

And while Texas chili is usually all beef, people often cook their chile colorado with pork instead. I make Texas chili all the time. It's one of my favorite things. But even though I'm not from West Texas and didn't grow up with chile colorado, I enjoy it during the cold months, too.

What is Devil chili? ›

References: Devil is an F1 hybrid variety of serrano chilli. The plant produces heavy yields of very large 9½cm (3¾in) long by 1cm (½in) wide hot peppers.

Why is it called Texas chili? ›

In 1977, chili manufacturers and members of the Chili Appreciation Society International successfully lobbied the Texas state legislature to have chili proclaimed the official "state dish" of Texas “; in recognition of the fact that "the only real 'bowl of red' is that prepared by Texans.” Chili became the official ...

What does cinnamon do for chili? ›

Cinnamon. The beauty of ground cinnamon is that it brings a warmth to your chili, without being spicy. It works well with other flavors commonly found in chili (like tomato, cumin and chile powder) so you only need a little bit to achieve the desired balance.

What is the best liquid for chili? ›

Chili cooks low and slow, so you need enough liquid to tenderize the meat and keep everything from drying out. That liquid should also add flavor to the chili, so use chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or beer.

How do you add richness to chili? ›

Instead of using plain water (please, never just use water), consider using stock, broth, or bone broth as your base to add richness and depth. Not sure which broth to use? Luckily, there isn't a right or wrong answer. Beef broth adds a hearty, robust flavor, while chicken broth brings a lighter, more delicate taste.

Should Texas chili have beans? ›

Texas chili is unique from other chilis in that it does not contain beans or tomato sauce, or any tomato product. It is made primarily of meat and a thick and flavor chili paste made from dried peppers. It is more akin to a thick and hearty beef stew that most chilis with a focus on chili pepper flavor.

What state does not put beans in chili? ›

There's a little bit of sleight of hand going on in this, and it's not very deftly done, but the intent is clear: In Texas, it's not chili unless it's a bowl of red. The main rule of thumb is that it definitely cannot contain a filler of any kind, the most warned-against offender being beans.

Is chili supposed to have tomatoes? ›

Chili, also referred to as chili con carne is a hearty beef stew made with spices, peppers, meat, tomatoes, and beans (in some cases). Most homemade chili recipes are made up of the same basic ingredients like ground beef, onion, spices, beans, and some type of tomato product.

Did Cowboys have beans in their chili? ›

The earliest versions of chili, Guerra posits, would have been made with meats such as venison, rabbit and turtle. It was cowboys who brought beef to the dish, but those same cowboys also kept beans in it.

Does chilis have beans in their chili? ›

For my fellow Texans', you will love this chili, it has no beans. Chili's chili is a thick, rich chili that is very hearty. If you wanted to thin this chili out, I would add more water. This chili may be too thick and too spicy for some.

Can you get Wendy's chili with no beans? ›

Get the same delicious flavor you love—minus the beans—with this no-bean canned chili, inspired by the famous Wendy's chili recipe. Hearty seasoned beef, tender peppers, and savory spices come together in this flavorful favorite. Heat and enjoy.


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