Ultimate Texas Chili

Do you like Chili? Of course you do!

A man looking over peppers, tomatoes, spices and and meat for chili. His apron reads "She married me for my cooking".
Me surveying the chili landscape

I won't bore you with a bunch of stories about how I created this or why. Just know it won some awards and then try it for yourself!

This is the first of my "Cooking Dad" series. I'll post some more recipes from time to time. I'm a dad, and I cook.

The final result:

A black pot with a plastic liner full of meaty chili
A pot of delicious chili

You need:

  1. A slow cooker (Crockpot)
  2. A blender (optional, but it's easier)
  3. Some creativity and imagination

Measurements are based on 4 lbs. (1800 grams) of meat. Divide or multiply as you see fit. The spices are to taste. This is what I do but don't take it as gospel. Change it to your liking!

PREP TIME: 1 - 2 Hours

COOK TIME: 12 hours if you want it to be good.


4 lbs. (1800 grams) ground beef. I use coarse ground "chili" beef. Lean is better 90/10 fat content is a good ratio. You can substitute ground turkey, bison, venison, sausage or blend a few.

12 whole tomatoes (3 tomatoes per pound)

4 fresh jalapeños (1 per lb.) You can substitute poblanos, serranos, hatch chilis or whatever for different flavor or heat (but don't ruin it with bell peppers please)

4 - 6 dried or smoked peppers ("chipotle" style or other roasted whole peppers.)

Optionally for extra heat add a fresh habanero or two

1 large onion

1/2 cup (118 ml) of vinegar

1 T (15 ml) of honey

1 tsp (6 grams) of baking chocolate

1 tsp (5 ml) of fish oil (I promise it won't taste fishy)

4 cloves of minced garlic, or 4 tsp (24 grams) of garlic powder, or 4 tsp (24 grams) of garlic from a tube (I use this for convenience)

4 tsp (24 grams) of cilantro, fresh or from a tube

2 T (34 grams) of ground cumin (or more. It's good!)

1 T (17 grams) of black pepper

4 tsp (24 grams) of salt

1 cup of beer (239 ml). Darker is better. I use Shiner Bock

Optional: Substitute chicken or beef broth for beer if you want it to be gluten free. (beef broth is better for beef or sausage meat, chicken broth is better if using a birb based meat)
Optional: 1 - 2 cups of pinto or red beans (if you don't want "Texas" Chili). I do recommend adding beans if using a lean meat such as turkey. Let dried beans soak overnight before adding them to the mix. (If you don't want to soak, canned beans are ok ... I guess)


Lightly brown the meat but don't over cook. It can still be a little pink. The point is to remove the fat. Drain the meat and set aside

Boil water in a large pan (dutch oven). While boiling fill a large bowl with ice water.

Once the water is at a rolling boil place the whole tomatoes into the water. After a minute or so cracks will appear in the skin. Carefully remove the tomatoes one by one and place in the ice water. The skin will slide off easily. Set prepared tomatoes aside.

A bot ona  stove full of tomatoes
Boiling tomatoes

Prepare your fresh and dried peppers by cutting off stems and opening them up. I split the pepper length wise to remove the seeds and the heart depending on how spicy you want the result. More seeds and pepper-hearts = more spice. I recommend removing at least half of them. You want flavor and heat, not just heat.

Prepare the onion by removing the ends, outer layers and then cut into quarters

Place tomatoes, peppers, and onion into the blender along with the vinegar. I usually add the garlic and cilantro at this step as well. Blend some for a chunky result, blend more for a smoother, less chunky chili (I usually make it smoother) If your blender is too small, you can add half the veggies and half the vinegar to do it in two stages.

Place your meat into the slow cooker. Add the blended veggie mixture on top and stir.

Add Honey, chocolate, fish oil, salt, cumin and black pepper. Add cilantro and garlic if you haven't already

Add the beer or broth. You may not need the full amount (it really depends on how much of the beer you want to drink while prepping)

Stir everything to make it well blended.


Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 4 hours. At this point the meat should be cooked enough to be safe to taste. I often will add a little more salt, cumin, or garlic depending on the flavor.

If you're chili is too spicy on taste, add a little more honey to the mix. It will cut the spice.

Continue cooking, stirring every few hours. Taste again. The flavors will come out more the longer it cooks. I recommend a total of 12 hours.

In the end you should have a bold, meaty chili with a hint of sweet and a bit of kick.

Final tip: If you can, put your slow cooker outside (but where it can't get rained on!). If you cook indoors your home will smell like chili for days.

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Jamie Larson