Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
8 Oct

Primal Texas Chili

All too often a bowl full of chili is an uninspired blend of ground meat and canned tomatoes overwhelmed by beans. Ask anyone who follows the Primal Blueprint and they’ll tell you that the beans are unnecessary, but ask any Texan and they’ll tell you that putting beans in chili is an absolute travesty. In Texas, a bowl full of beans has no right calling itself chili, even when ground meat is thrown in.

Texas chili doesn’t let anything get in the way of and distract from the two main ingredients, chunks of beef and chili powder. Hearty, heavily seasoned and ranging from a bit of heat to fiery-hot, this is the type of chili that’s so thick you almost need a fork to eat it. Outsiders say it resembles stew more than chili, but it’s doubtful that this squabble over terminology has ever stopped someone from finishing a bowl. Texas chili is simply too good to pass up.

Using a brand of chili powder you like makes a difference – the better the chili powder, the better the chili. In Texas chili, it’s the main seasoning and gives the dish its nickname, “Bowl of Red.” If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own chili powder by toasting dried chiles for a few minutes in a pan on the stove then grinding them into powder (a coffee grinder works well for this.) Buy a variety of chiles like New Mexico, guajillo, pasilla, ancho and arbol and then combine the powder of each until the flavor and heat is to your liking. Most types of chili powder also have a bit of cumin, paprika, dried garlic and dried oregano thrown in, and even more of each is added to Texas chili to give the dish it’s intense flavor.

If you’ve never had Texas chili before, start with the recipe below. You won’t be disappointed, although keep in mind it’s only one version of this great dish. Some, but not all, Texas chili recipes contain a tomato product. Some use water as liquid, others call for beef broth. A splash of vinegar isn’t unheard of and either is masa harina, a type of corn flour that thickens the chili but isn’t necessary at all for flavor.

Like many regional specialties, no two recipes for Texas chili are exactly the same and each one claims to be the “real” version. Whatever your opinion is about the exact blend of spices or addition of tomato, one thing is for sure – Texas chili is likely to convince you never to put ground meat (and definitely not beans) in your chili bowl again.

4 –6 servings


  • 3 pounds chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons tallow, lard or olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • One 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Optional: cayenne pepper to taste and Tabasco sauce, to serve on the side


Lightly season beef with salt. Heat animal fat or olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Working in 3 batches, brown beef, about 3 minutes per batch.

Transfer beef to a plate.

Turn heat to medium. Brown onions and garlic, about five minutes. Return the beef to the pot and stir in tomato paste.

Cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, scraping bottom of pot. Add chili powder, oregano, paprika and cumin (and cayenne, if using).

Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 2 hours.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’m in the process of making this now. Pretty much completely as stated, but with beef and lamb and beef stock instead of water. Chili was some generic mix from Masterfoods so we’ll see how we go. I’ve never been a fan of any kind of legume so this recipe could have been written for me. Cooking it in the pressure cooker for 55 minutes. Hopefully it will turn out well!

    Linda wrote on October 11th, 2011
  2. It turned out well. Better than well. Fantastic!

    Linda wrote on October 11th, 2011
  3. Could you use beef cut for stew in this? Or would those be too tough to cook in the time alloted? I REALLY want to make this and beef for stew is what I have on hand. But I suppose a trip to the grocery wouldn’t be amiss. :)

    Emily wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • Aaaannnd….I read too fast. Excellent to know I can make this this weekend!

      Emily wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • I’d generally advise against stew cuts/casserole steak for anything, because its so stringy and hard you have to be a herbivorous dinosaur to chew through the stuff. I tried making a stew with some stew-cut steak, and despite the cooking time, still felt like chewing a slipper. grok on :-)

      Milla wrote on October 13th, 2011
      • Keep cooking it.

        scottindallas wrote on October 14th, 2011
  4. I made this last night and it was soooo delicious! The only thing I have to say about it is if you’re using a cast iron dutch oven like the picture shows, don’t put your stove on high heat, put it on medium-high. Those suckers get super hot super fast and you can either burn your dinner or set fire to your oild, as I found out. :)

    Bridget wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • Ah, so it was you that set off that fire alarm last night…grrr…;-)

      I generally try to avoid cooking anything on high-heat; it can make liquids boil over, and also food gets cooked on the outside and stays raw inside. Bad experience with some crusty almond chicken…
      Grok on!

      Milla wrote on October 13th, 2011
  5. Put a good burn/sear on that meat. High heat initially is good, but the long simmer needs to be at simmer temps.

    scottindallas wrote on October 14th, 2011
  6. Hey, why dont texan girls wear mini skirts while cooking chili?!?

    Cuz their balls hang out.

    Ny chili king wrote on October 14th, 2011
  7. There are SOOoo many good CHILI recipes and I make what I feel like. Texans seem to think that “Texas Style” is the ONLY chile. Wrong. Sometimes I feel like all meat (chili grind or little chunks.” Lately, since I started a diet, I made Turkey Chile with lots of cooked down celery, onions, carrots (little chunks) and Bells (red and green). I put a big handful of fresh green “hatch” (New Mexico Green Chili/fire roasted. Those narrow minded Texans just don’t know what they’re missing. It’s like a new Yorker never wanting to try Mexican Food. You’re loss, PAL. Personally, I like it all….It just depends what I feel like at the moment.

    cunno wrote on October 14th, 2011
  8. Just made this and it is simmering away. Smells awesome. Happiness in a pot! Thanks!

    Sam wrote on October 14th, 2011
  9. Chili is a trail food (stew/soup) using whatever meat was available (usually game shot on the trail) and whatever else veggies etc to extend it

    Beans (dried) were / are the most common food carried on the trail and hence would be used in any chili on the trail (any true trail chili)!!

    BTW i am from Texas and i make a very very popular chili in Texas

    Ming Bucibei

    Ming Bucibei wrote on October 14th, 2011
  10. Looks good. Here’s the one this Texan uses and you can pick which meats you use as “roadkill.”

    Best recipe I’ve found!!

    Clint White wrote on October 15th, 2011
  11. Call me ignorant but I have a feeling that chili comes from the same common ancestor as posole or menudo. Hunks of meat in a chili broth with or without little pellets of carbohydrates.

    Douglas Fletcher wrote on October 16th, 2011
  12. My mom’s chili has beans in it, and even though his grandmother lives in Texas and could probably set him straight, my fiancee is 100% convinced that chili MUST have beans. His mother made a turkey-pumpkin chili a few weeks ago (which was crazy delicious) and he insisted it wasn’t right because it lacked beans. Maybe cooking it this way will convince him that chili isn’t supposed to be so…musical.

    Kristina wrote on October 25th, 2011
  13. I made this tonight and it was delicious! I used stewing steak (I’m in the UK) and only used 1 tablespoon of chilli powder (it was still really hot!)

    Would make this again, it really was good :-)

    Purple Cat wrote on October 29th, 2011
  14. How does substituting tomato paste with tomato sauce sound? Have lots of tomato sauce I’d like to get rid of.

    Moktail wrote on November 2nd, 2011
  15. 1. For a better texture, cook for way longer on low heat, perhaps 6 to 8 hours but definitely to where the meat easily shreds. If I’m feeling lazy I put it in a slow cooker overnight.

    2. Tomato sauce would be fine – I often use tomato sauce and tomato paste together. The paste is more or less concentrated tomato, so you may want to cook the sauce down so your chili doesn’t become too watery.

    3. Chili does not require beans. I find that chili made with ground meat is somewhat uninteresting without beans. Chili with a firmer bit of meat shouldn’t require it at all.

    Ed wrote on November 3rd, 2011
  16. I’ve got a pot going right now. I used a beef roast/pork mixture and added some Cayenne and Cinnamon to the spice mixture, as well as some beef stock and red wine vinegar (out of wine at the moment) to the liquid. We’ll see how it turns out!

    Dustin wrote on November 8th, 2011
  17. When I make chili, I always use4 fresh chiles, as well as fresh tomatoes and fresh onions (shallots work good as well). When you slow cook it (I try for at least 2 hours), they will dissolve in the water and become a nice spicy and savory gravy.

    Joel Wilcox wrote on November 10th, 2011
  18. this looks good.

    i would still add some beans (properly soaked/fermented) even it becomes unorthodox by Texan standard. (hey, have to stretch meat; grass fed is $$$$)

    i’d also sneak in other stuff that Lord Grok does not want to know (don’t ask & don’t tell is his policy in terms of organ meat) XD.


    that is

    pam wrote on December 7th, 2011
  19. I am in love with these receipes .. the pictures are visually stunning .. as an O+ gal, I should be eating this way (no grain, dairy etc).

    I’ll order the Primal Blueprint soon :-)


    Monica P wrote on December 15th, 2011
  20. Hello, Texans. What is the best chili powder to use for Primal?
    God Bless Texas.

    Lisa Koester wrote on January 27th, 2012
  21. I finally got around to making this last night, and it’s every bit as delicious as you might expect. This one’s a keeper!

    Gina wrote on March 11th, 2012
  22. I can’t wait to make this..this weekend. This should freeze well right? Thanks for keeping the beans out of it! Until now, beans were the main ingredient in my chili.

    Yolanda wrote on March 26th, 2012

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