Texas “Chili Queen” Chili

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

There must be as many recipes for chili as there are cooks in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona—and every one will declare that theirs is the best. Most chili aficionados will agree, however, that the “chili queens” of San Antonio, Texas, were responsible for making the dish popular. In the 1880s these women cooked up chili in big clay pots during the day and sold their wares from rickety chili stands on street corners all night long. This recipe is our version of the classic San Antonio chili. Health-conscious cooks should prepare it the day before, chill it, and skim off any fat that rises.

6 to 8 servings


Total Timeunder 2 hours

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together, game day

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free



Taste and Texturegarlicky, hot & spicy, meaty, savory


  • 6 dried red New Mexican chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 3 ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 pounds coarse ground beef or sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound coarse ground pork or pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 chiltepin or piquin chiles
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 quart beef broth
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans (optional)


  1. Place the New Mexican and ancho chiles in a bowl and cover them with very hot water. Allow them to steep for 15 minutes to soften. Drain the chiles and discard the water. Place the chiles in a blender or food processor along with some water, and puree them until smooth. Strain the mixture to remove any remaining pieces of chile skins.

  2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add the meat, and sauté until browned. Drain off any excess fat. If using the cubed meat, add a little vegetable oil to the skillet and then brown the meat. Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and continue cooking until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan or stockpot.

  3. Heat the pan over medium heat, crumble the chiles over the mixture, and add the oregano, cumin, sugar, broth, and tomato sauce. Simmer the chili for 45 minutes.

  4. Stir in the chile puree, season with salt and pepper, and continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

  5. To serve, ladle the chili into bowls and serve the beans on the side.



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This is a terrific recipe. It's simple and authentic. This one you don’t add pre-made chili powder, all the flavor comes from the recommended chili’s. We added some beans and served over rice with chopped onion and Monterey jack cheese. Just a great meal.


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