How To Make Authentic Texan Chili

Texan chili is a beloved dish that embodies the heart and soul of the Lone Star State. With its rich history, bold flavors, and hearty ingredients, authentic Texan chili is a culinary masterpiece that has captivated taste buds for generations. In this article, we will explore the essential steps and ingredients to create a mouthwatering bowl of Texan chili that will transport you straight to the heart of Texas.

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How To Make Authentic Texan Chili

The Origins of Texan Chili

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s take a brief look at the origins of Texan chili. Chili con carne, often simply referred to as chili, has a fascinating history dating back to the early 19th century. It’s believed to have originated in the Mexican-American communities of San Antonio, Texas. The dish initially consisted of beef, chili peppers, and various spices, and it was a staple food for cowboys and settlers. Over the years, Texan chili evolved, incorporating new ingredients and techniques while maintaining its fiery spirit.

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Ingredients for Authentic Texan Chili

To make a truly authentic Texan chili, you’ll need the following ingredients:

2 pounds of beef chuck: Opt for a tough, flavorful cut of beef that will tenderize during the cooking process.

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil: For browning the beef and sautéing the vegetables.

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1 large onion, diced: Adds depth and sweetness to the chili.

4 cloves of garlic, minced: For a robust flavor base.

2-3 dried ancho chilies: These provide a smoky, earthy flavor.

2-3 dried guajillo chilies: Adds a mild heat and fruity undertones.

1 can (14 ounces) of crushed tomatoes: A common addition to Texan chili for its rich, acidic flavor.

2 cups of beef broth: Adds depth and richness to the broth.

2 teaspoons of ground cumin: For earthy warmth.

2 teaspoons of chili powder: To intensify the chili flavor.

1 teaspoon of dried oregano: For a touch of herbal aroma.

Salt and black pepper to taste: Adjust according to your preferences.

Optional toppings and garnishes:

Shredded cheddar cheese

Chopped fresh cilantro

Chopped green onions

Sour cream

Sliced jalapeños

Cornbread or tortilla chips for serving

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Steps to Prepare Authentic Texan Chili

Prepare the dried chilies: Remove the stems and seeds from the dried ancho and guajillo chilies. Toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few seconds on each side until fragrant. Then, soak them in hot water for about 20 minutes to soften. Once softened, blend them into a smooth paste.

Brown the beef: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef chunks and brown them on all sides. This step is crucial for building flavor.

Sauté the onion and garlic: Add the diced onion and minced garlic to the pot with the browned beef. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.

Add the chili paste and spices: Stir in the chili paste, ground cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper. Cook for another 2-3 minutes to bloom the spices.

Incorporate the tomatoes and broth: Pour in the crushed tomatoes and beef broth. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the beef is tender and the flavors have melded together.

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Adjust the seasoning: Taste the chili and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper, if needed.

Serve and garnish: Ladle the hot Texan chili into bowls and garnish with your choice of toppings, such as shredded cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, green onions, sour cream, and sliced jalapeños. Serve with cornbread or tortilla chips on the side for a complete Texan experience.

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What is Real Texas Chili Made Of?

Real Texas chili is typically made with beef, specifically beef chuck, and a rich blend of spices. It often includes ingredients like chili peppers, garlic, onions, and sometimes tomatoes. The hallmark of Texan chili is its simplicity, focusing on the quality and flavor of the beef and spices.

What Makes Texas Chili Different?

What sets Texas chili apart is the absence of certain ingredients that are common in other chili recipes. Authentic Texas chili does not contain beans or other fillers like pasta. It’s all about the meat and spices, allowing the flavors to shine through without distractions.

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How is Original Chili Made?

Original chili, or chili con carne, is made by browning beef, then adding a mixture of chili peppers, spices, and often garlic and onions. Some recipes include tomatoes and broth to create a flavorful base. It’s simmered slowly to allow the flavors to meld together.

What is the Trick to a Good Chili?

The trick to a good chili lies in patience and balance. Slow-cooking the chili allows the flavors to develop and intensify. Balancing the spices and adjusting the seasoning to your taste is also key to achieving the perfect chili.

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Why is it Called Texas Chili?

It’s called Texas chili because it originated in Texas, particularly in the Mexican-American communities of San Antonio in the 19th century. Texans take great pride in their chili, and it has become a symbol of Texan cuisine.

Does Authentic Chili Have Beans?

Authentic Texas chili does not include beans. Traditional Texan chili is all about the meat and spices, and beans are considered optional or even a deviation from the authentic recipe.

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What is a Secret Ingredient to Making the Best Chili?

While there’s no single secret ingredient, many chili enthusiasts believe that using dried chilies, such as ancho and guajillo, and preparing a chili paste with them can add depth and complexity to the flavor profile. Additionally, using high-quality beef and a dash of something unexpected, like a small amount of unsweetened chocolate or coffee, can elevate the taste.

What Gives Chili a Rich Flavor?

A rich flavor in chili comes from a combination of factors. The quality of the beef and slow cooking to tenderize it are important. The blend of spices, including chili powder, cumin, and oregano, also contributes to the richness. Additionally, simmering the chili over time allows the flavors to meld and develop depth.

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What Gives Chili More Flavor?

Chili gains more flavor from the variety of spices and seasonings used. Ingredients like garlic, onions, and chili peppers infuse their distinct flavors. The use of dried chilies, which are toasted and blended, adds complexity. Longer cooking times also enhance the flavor by allowing the ingredients to meld and intensify.


Authentic Texan chili is more than just a dish; it’s a culinary journey through the history and flavors of Texas. With the right ingredients and a bit of patience, you can recreate this iconic Texan comfort food in your own kitchen. So, roll up your sleeves, gather the ingredients, and prepare to savor a taste of the Lone Star State with a steaming bowl of homemade Texan chili.

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