John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.
There are as many chili recipes as there are Texans. To say that this recipe is the world's best may be a little difficult to prove, but it's pretty darn good!
The secret to great chili is using the right ingredients and taking your time. You've got to let it bubble away for several hours to get the real experience.
I'm going to give a recipe for a Texan style chili. Now, a lot of Texans might say that true chili should never include beans, and I can't help but agree with them—but this is pretty good, and using black beans makes the recipe a whole lot healthier, not to mention a lot cheaper!
It may seem like this recipe has a lot of directions, but it's really quite simple, and most of what you see is my effort to explain the hows and whys of what you're doing as you prepare the dish.
This makes enough for a big family meal, with lots of leftovers!
- 2 onions
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 5 green or red peppers (a mixture of the two works well)
- 2 lbs of beef chuck cut into 1-inch cubes
- 10 big (or 15 medium or 20 small) tomatoes, all coarsely chopped up. (Use fresh tomatoes if they are in season and local tomatoes are flooding the market. Fresh tomatoes in season can't be beat! If they are not in season, you might be better off using a large can of tomatoes.)
- 2 TBSP chili powder
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 3 cups of cooked black beans (A common mistake is adding uncooked beans into the chili figuring that they'll cook in the chili liquid as it simmers. They will, but the acidity from the tomatoes will keep the beans kind of crunchy no matter how long you boil them for, and I think that the beans are better when they almost disappear into the mixture.)
- Salt and sugar and dried chile powder* or flakes to taste.
*Homemade Chili Powder
I think another often overlooked secret to this dish is homemade chili powder. Store-bought chili powder is too aggressive, and I don't much care for the taste. Make your own by combing three spices, and see how much better your chili tastes!
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin seed
- 2 tablespoons hot chile powder or flakes
That's it. Just mix it up and you've got a great homemade seasoning that's going to make a big difference in your next batch of chili.
- Add a couple tablespoons of oil to a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pot on medium heat.
- Add the onions and peppers and sauté until slightly softened, for about ten minutes.
- Add the chili powder and stir for about a minute. Then add the garlic and stir for an additional 30 seconds.
- You don't want the garlic to start burning, so after the garlic is ready, immediately add in your chopped tomatoes.
- Transfer everything out of the pot into another pot or bowl as you get the beef ready.
- Now, add a couple more tablespoons of oil to your saucepan on medium heat, sprinkle salt and pepper onto the beef, and add about half of it to the pot to brown.
- This is one of the most critical steps on the road to great chili. You want to take your time and get that beef nice and brown all over. You want it brown, not just grey-cooked looking, as that deep brown gives a lot of beefy flavor to your chili. Keep the heat moderate and just keep at it. The rest of the chili cooking is effortless, so it's worth it to spend the time here. Repeat with the second half of the beef.
- As long as the bottom of the pan has not burnt (By cooking at medium you should be fine. That crusty stuff on the bottom is like chili gold!) add all the stuff you just put into a second pot or bowl back into the cooking pot.
- Add about a quart of water to the pot and set the heat down to low. You want to see the chili just barely simmering away. You want to get beef so tender that it literally just melts apart into the chili, and the secret to that is "low and slow!"
- You'll want to keep this simmering slowly away for about 6 hours total, but there's really little effort required. Every hour or so, check to see that there is enough water to just cover all the ingredients. And what's better than a Sunday afternoon spent watching football with the smell of your chili perfuming the house?
- After you've been simmering for about 4 hours, add the cooked beans into the chili, and keep that the pot trucking away for another couple of hours, stirring occasionally.
- You'll know it's done when it looks like real Texas chili! It should have a uniform mixture. You won't see bits of beef and bits of tomatoes and bits of beans. You'll just see your reddish-brown masterpiece!
- Now you're ready to season! Add about 2 teaspoons of salt, black pepper, and as much extra chile as you'd like. Keep tasting it and adding more salt until it tastes like it should. You can also add a tablespoon or two of sugar if you think it's too sour. If you think it needs more of a chili kick, add more chili powder by the teaspoon until it's where you like it.
Great chili is all about harmony and balance. You want a perfect union of flavors, so nothing should be too dominant.
This chili recipe is a great basic chili, and once you make it once, it might become your family's new favorite!
NaNoska on March 26, 2017:
This chili is a huge hit with me and my family! I have been making it this way for four years now!
2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on October 17, 2012:
I've always used minced beef to make chili. I think it would be better as you suggest - thanks for an interesting recipe.
I am adding this to my Recipe Index for HubPages.
vtop on September 05, 2012:
From Australia. Huge Texas taste recipe. Thanks for the effort of getting it out there. Looking forward to cooking this for six hours and into it with fried polenta. Many thanks.
Tryshia on March 30, 2012:
ok im only 16 and this recipe was so easy for me to make and my family loved it when they came home from work thank you so much
DESIREE on January 22, 2012:
Wow... I'am soo glad I found this recipe. Finally, a recipe that uses fresh tomatoes :-) Thanks for taking the time in sharing your receipe to us. This was one of the best dishes I've ever made.
tom stephenson on January 21, 2012:
How long will Texas Chili keep unfrozen in the fridge?
EvaThomas30 from Washington on January 12, 2012:
This recipe sounds great. I have my beans soaking right now so I can make it tomorrow. Some people mentioned adding cinnamon to their chili. I don't think I'd do that but I do know that a good combination is; cinnamon rolls (preferably homemade) and chili. Try it some time. It might sound strange but it's amazing. Or as a quick sub you can make cinnamon toast. Yum!
Diana on October 02, 2011:
Thank you for sharing your recipe, I've never made chili completely from scratch. I cooked the beans overnight, kidney, pinto, and pink beans. Almost 4 cups - knowing that I would be removing a third for the vegetarian batch.
My "beef batch" just had the beans added,and should be ready in two hours. The vegetarian version has been finished for a couple of hours, and everyone keeps snitching at my daughter's dinner.
My chili powder version was red pepper flakes, ground cumin and cumin seeds (to equal 2 tbls), and dried oregano, and a grind or two of chipotle pepper.
Very good flavor
Frank (the big hurt) Thomas on September 15, 2011:
This chili made my girlfriend's farts intolerable.
Elena Dmitrieva on June 02, 2011:
I love your recipe. I used minced meat, because I couldn't cook chili for so many hours as in the recipe. I'm sure it'd taste even better if I cooked it longer than I did. Anyway the result is fantastic. All my ingredients were organic. Thank you for inhancing comments. I'll keep them in mind in my cooking.
amber on May 17, 2011:
Omg. Yes this recipe awesome ty so much!!
GrantGMcgowan on May 11, 2011:
THanks for the recipe, I love it.
Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on March 15, 2011:
I have never made chili this way, though I love chili and I do make it. Gotta try this recipe...worthy of being cooked on Diners,Drive-ins and Dives!
loves2cook from Portland, OR on January 24, 2011:
This version looks delicious, thanks! Very entertaining to read as well.
texan on November 19, 2010:
made this chili for a chili cook-off and won. cooked chili during day, put it in refrigerator overnight and then reheated in crock pot the next day. on second day, added two additional tablespoons chili powder and one tablespoon black pepper. also, I didn't use the recommended quart of water since there was so much water from the 7 pounds of tomatoes I used. thanks for the great recipe and instructions!
falada on November 01, 2010:
Fantastic fart medicine!
John D Lee (author) on October 14, 2010:
That's great Angel - your version sounds tasty!
Angel Esperanueva on October 11, 2010:
Thanks for the recipe. Made it yesterday and it came out fantastic. I used pinto beans cooked in ham hocks to give it a hint of smoke. It came out great!
Eddy Browning on July 03, 2010:
I enjoyed your blog especially the good tip on chili powder. I'm going to try it tonight in fact. Hope you and yours have a great 4th of July Celebration!
John D Lee (author) on June 15, 2010:
Hi Don - your chili sounds great - thanks for the comment!
Don on June 11, 2010:
I stumbled upon this recipe and absolutely loved it! added two pounds of ground beef around the same time as the beans, and i also added some corn, and at the start, when i added the water , i also added a 1/2 cup molasses.
Holle Abee from Georgia on April 17, 2010:
Hubby will love this!
raven on February 28, 2010:
i do the same but i add corn lol
John D Lee (author) on February 08, 2010:
Thank you for letting me know about your chili success Tanya!
Tanya on February 08, 2010:
Great Chili! My family loved every bowl. Making my 2nd pot right now.
John D Lee (author) on February 03, 2010:
You are welcome Augusto! Glad to hear you enjoyed the chili.
Augusto on February 03, 2010:
Awsome chili! I just enjoyed one bowl of the best chili ever. Hey thanks John Lee for sharing your recipe.
John D Lee (author) on January 25, 2010:
I sometimes use a mixture of fresh and dried chili peppers in the chili, but there is no real substitute, in my opinion, for at least some dried chili powder - it has a taste that isn't replicated by fresh chilies. Of course, that's only my opinion, try it for yourself and see!
deb on January 24, 2010:
I am not a fan of chili powder either, I like the idea of homemade or, even better, why not try using fresh chili peppers. I haven't tried this but I am about to. I figure you could use different hot peppers depending on what flavour you like or how hot you like it.
La donna on December 05, 2009:
I made some chilli but it tastes blah what's wrong
John D Lee (author) on October 24, 2009:
Kidney beans will work too - I just happen to prefer the flavor of black beans. Hope you get a chance to try it out soon!
ManlyPoetryMan from (Texas !) Boldly Writing Poems Where No Man Has Gone Before... on October 18, 2009:
Loving this chili recipe (good touch with the black beans...I usually use kidney beans)...Although it made me very hungry while reading it!
stuart747 from Colchester, Essex, UK on October 13, 2009:
sounds tasty, thank you for sharing, I will give it a try
California_Dreamin on September 14, 2009:
This chili sounds great, I'll have to give it a try some time. Black beans instead of kidney beans sounds like a good idea, though recently I've been making my chili Texas style--with no beans.
Monica on July 29, 2009:
Do you think that this recipe would taste the same if I use pinto beans instead of black beans?????I made pinto beans and i am going to try it and let everyone know if its good or not.
Ashley Joy on March 26, 2009:
Chili is such a wonderful comfort food. The best thing is that you can personalize it to your tastes.
jim10 from ma on February 04, 2009:
I love chili. Thanks for the great recipe. Once in a while I will had some cinnamon, chocolate or peanut butter for a change. Most people really like and comment on the cinnamon.
rambo87 on February 03, 2009:
Sounds like a great recipe, definitely going to try this, nothing better than a nice big bowl of chilli!
Die'Dre' from The Great Pacific Northwest on January 21, 2009:
I had a friend who was married to a Navy Lt. He had a Texas chili recipe, and this sounds a lot like it. He always had three meats in his. Looks like a perfect recipe for a cold winter night.
trish1048 on January 06, 2009:
Sounds like another winner! I've bookmarked this page, it sounds absolutely yummy.
Thanks for sharing!
Evan on November 02, 2008:
I am making chile right now and used your recipe for the chile powder. For Jeremy's comment I have added tomatoe paste close to the end to help thicken the chile up. I know that kinda takes away from the whole scratch thing but it works for me and it doesn't seem to altar the taste. Good Luck
Sue on October 10, 2008:
This recipe sounds great, I am making it today. I have my beans soaking now, but am using a mixture of kidney, black and pinto beans. We like the beans in our chile. I wrote down your recipe for the chile powder and will try it. This is the first recipe I looked at for Homemade Chile from Scratch, made with dried beans, and I am done looking. Thanks!
Barb Lee on October 04, 2008:
Thanks John for the information on cooking the beans. I was wondering why my dried kidney beans never seem to soften in the chile. I'll try cooking them fully before I made the chile. Chile is perfect with cool fall weather!
trakker14 from franklin on December 11, 2007:
Oh my gosh was this chili great, all my guests thought it was supurb!!! I wont alter a thing..Thanks again
John D Lee (author) on November 09, 2007:
Hey thanks Jeremy,
Good ideas for the modifications... always fun to perfect that chili recipe!
Jeremy Lauderdale on November 06, 2007:
I made your chili yesterday and I love it! It took me about ten hours to cook but it came out great! I would suggest using more meat (maybe one or two more pounds) and more chili powder. I also added 1lb. of Italian sausage. I also added a dash of cinnamon and some choped green onions and about two cups instead of one of the black beans. My batch came out a little more liquidy than I normally like my chili. This a great recipe and I give it a 10. Thank you!
John D Lee (author) on September 06, 2007:
Thanks Angela...and since by my calender the first week of the NFL equates to chilli season, it's time to start thinking about it once again!!!
Angela Harris from Around the USA on September 06, 2007:
Sounds like a fantastic chili recipe, and thanks for the homemade chili powder.
John D Lee (author) on May 23, 2007:
I think that you'll really notice an improvement by making your own. I think that store bought chili powder is too aggressive, and never seems to blend in well with the overall tastes of the chilli.
Good luck, and thanks for the comment,
Melissa Ray Davis from Swannanoa, NC on May 22, 2007:
Ooh. I like your tip on homemade chili powder. We'll have to try that next time we make chili. Thanks!
Barb Lee on May 12, 2007:
I like the idea of making my own chile powder.