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. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Hey, why dont texan girls wear mini skirts while cooking chili?!?

    Cuz their balls hang out.

    Ny chili king wrote on October 14th, 2011
  5. 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
  6. Just made this and it is simmering away. Smells awesome. Happiness in a pot! Thanks!

    Sam wrote on October 14th, 2011
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. Hello, Texans. What is the best chili powder to use for Primal?
    God Bless Texas.

    Lisa Koester wrote on January 27th, 2012
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. Tastes like pasta sauce…

    Joel bergeron wrote on May 14th, 2012
  22. Absolutely bad! Don’t try it…

    Joel bergeron wrote on May 14th, 2012
  23. Made it as written last night with the addition of some coffee to the cooking liquid and it was wonderful! Didn’t taste like pasta sauce to me, so I don’t know what joel did to his… It was TOTALLY YUMMY!!!! Going to make another batch this weekend and let it go for several hours in my big crockpot.

    Karen B. wrote on October 19th, 2012
  24. Just made this chili and it was very good. I did stray a little bit from the recipe by putting in half a cup or so of red wine. Really good though, a lot of flavor…and it’s really easy to make.

    Jeff wrote on November 11th, 2012
  25. Just made this recipe, it looked way too chunky to me as well. I made it with half ground venison, and half venison steak cut into 1/4-1/2 inch cubes. Had to add salt, a little honey, and a little aujus gravy mix to round out the flavors, but it made a fantastic base. The chili spices were right on.this will now be my go to chili recipe.

    Aaron T wrote on November 29th, 2012
  26. I made this with lamb today and it was SOOOOO good!!!

    Brittney wrote on January 2nd, 2013
  27. This is very good. I substituted whitetail venison instead of beef. The only other change that I made was using two cans of tomato paste instead of one, with one it had a taco meat flavor, adding that second 6oz. can of tomato paste gave it a good chili flavor.

    Snerb wrote on February 6th, 2013
  28. made this with some aubergine as well – served on a bed of curly kale. Delicious!

    Sophie wrote on September 27th, 2013
  29. Your chili recipe is a lot like the one used at diner’s on the road throughout Texas in the late 40s and all of 50s…

    As a kid we stayed overnight near San Antonia and there was a diner across the street that I hit early AM for breakfast and watched the cook make chili however she had chili from days ago that I went back and had for lunch…the new chili was being made as the old chili was almost depleted…I never could understand how 1 can of paste could make all that great sauce in the chili, reading your way of making it now I understand why – she did not use pinto or any other beans – I love TexMex pinto beans made with garlic chili powder and water and a large slice of salt pork and sugar…I can taste the flavor of using pinto beans would add to the stock of a good chili…thank you for sharing your chili ingredients

    Patricia Henley wrote on January 1st, 2014
  30. Made this tonight. It was great. For anyone thinking it was too much chili powder. I actually added more. I did also add cayenne but will add even more next time. Thanks.

    Jen wrote on January 21st, 2014
  31. Greetings from Scotland!
    Used your recipe and would just like to say thanks for sharing, truly an awesome chili recipe!!

    Wee G wrote on August 26th, 2014
  32. I would avoid using canned tomatoes or tomato paste, since the acidity of the tomatoes leaches quite of bit of BPA and other toxic chemicals from the can lining. I just use chopped, whole fresh tomatoes. You don’t need to add additional liquid and once it simmers down it has a beautiful texture and taste. But I appreciate the recipe; I never liked beans in my chili. Sometimes I throw in cubed butternut squash as a bean replacement. Also I would double or even triple the amount of spice.

    Dia wrote on December 14th, 2014
  33. Best chili I’ve ever made! Kinda tweaked the recipe to go for a little more spice- instead of using a whole can of tomato paste I used half of it and then added the sauce from a can of adobo peppers. I also added 3 chopped jalapenos with the onion & garlic. Once they softened I added 4 rough chopped chipotle peppers from the adobo can. SO GOOD! Thanks so much for laying the framework for a truly delicious meal :)

    Taylor wrote on March 4th, 2015
  34. I browned the meat and did what one reviewer suggested and added more than just the stew meat, I added a pound of grass fed burger and about a cup of chopped chorizo. I used 4 cups of beef broth and after browning the meat I threw it all in the crock pot where it currently resides. We will see what happens.

    Chris A wrote on October 30th, 2015

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