Texas-Style Chilli con Carne

A delicious winter warmer

While I can’t claim that my recipe is 100% authentic, it does subscribe to two of cardinal rules of Texas chilli: it doesn’t contain any beans and it uses beef chuck pieces rather than mince. Where it does diverge from traditional Texas chilli is in the spice department. Proper Texas chilli is made with beef, chillies and not a whole lot else. My recipe calls for a combination of chipotles chilli flakes, chilli powder, smoked paprika, cumin and cinnamon, as well as a little bit of dark chocolate at the end to round it all off. Authentic or not, it’s absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself!

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Meat


  • 1 kg beef chuck, cut into to 2-inch pieces
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped (optional)
  • 3 tbsps mild or hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 500 ml beef stock
  • 1 x 400 g tin of good-quality whole peeled plum tomatoes, hand-crushed
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 30 g dark chocolate (55% cocoa), grated or finely chopped

To serve:


  1. Pat the beef dry and season generously with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
  2. Heat a splash of vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven (or pot) over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the beef, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Each batch should take around 5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate or shallow bowl.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low. If necessary, add another splash of oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 7 to 10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the chilli powder, chipotle chilli flakes, smoked paprika, cumin and cinnamon and cook for 30 secs, stirring constantly, then immediately add the beef stock, tinned tomatoes, brown sugar and bay leaves. This will ensure that you don’t burn the spices, which would make them, and thus the whole dish, bitter.
  5. Season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, stir to combine and turn the heat up to medium-high. Bring the chilli to a simmer.
  6. Braising method 1 (if you’re using a Dutch oven): cover and transfer the Dutch oven to a preheated oven and bake at 150℃ until the meat is nice and tender, around 4 hours. This is my preferred cooking method because the oven environment helps the beef braise more evenly and the sauce doesn’t risk drying out.
  7. Braising method 2 (if you’re using a non-ovenproof pot): reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer until the meat is nice and tender, around 4 hours. Give the chilli an occasional stir to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pot. If it starts to dry out before the beef is tender, add a little bit of stock or water.
  8. After the 4 hours, or once the beef is tender, remove the Dutch oven from the oven/pot from the heat and stir in the dark chocolate until melted – it will add richness and glossiness. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Taste and adjust the salt level to your liking. Garnish with the fresh coriander and serve with your favourite chilli con carne sides and toppings. I like mine with tortilla chips and guacamole (get my recipe here) or with rice.

Did you make this recipe?

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