Some of the most satisfying chili around is the most basic: a beef and tomato base with a little heat from chiles to create excitement. This recipe calls for a combination of fresh and dried chiles to infuse the dish with an incredible depth of flavor. Avocado and tortilla chips temper the spice.

Martha Stewart Living, October 2009


Recipe Summary

Makes about 8 cups


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Toast dried chiles in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant and blistered, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove stem and seeds; discard. Transfer chiles to a large measuring cup or bowl, and cover with hot water. Keep chiles submerged with a small bowl, and let soak for 30 minutes. Remove from water, and puree in a blender with 1/2 cup soaking liquid.

  • Heat a large heavy pot over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Season beef with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Brown beef in batches, adding more oil as needed, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

  • Add remaining tablespoon oil, the onions, garlic, and minced chiles to pot, and cook over medium-high heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. (If the pan gets too dark, add a little water, and scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon to deglaze.) Add cumin and oregano, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

  • Stir in browned beef and chile puree. Add tomato puree, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently, partially covered, until meat is very tender and juices are thick, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (Check pot once an hour for excessive evaporation; if chili seems dry, add a little water.) Season chili with salt, and stir in vinegar. Serve immediately (or refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months; reheat in a pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally).

Cook's Notes

The dried chiles, oregano, and cumin can be replaced with 1/2 cup chili powder. Skip step 1, add powder to onion mixture, and cook for 1 minute.


Reviews (6)

79 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 23
  • 4 star values: 30
  • 3 star values: 18
  • 2 star values: 8
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
I have been making this chili for at least 10 years. I might get around Halloween and it's known as my Halloween from scratch chili. It is always awesome no matter what little changes I make. I make two batches one with beans, which Texas chili doesn't have, and one without because some people like beans. This is a great idea for families or groups with trick-or-treating kids. When they are done everybody can come back at 8 this wonderful chili. We like and a couple intimate Fritos and sliced avocado
Rating: 5 stars
I’ve never liked beans, just one of the kid things I never grew out of completely: so I never liked chili. I mean I loved chili - the smell is always amazing, and have had variations of chili but not real chili and loved it. I love sauces and spices and it always bummed me out that I couldn’t get myself to eat it because I couldn’t get past the beans. This is my chili recipe now and forever.
Rating: Unrated
This is wonderful! I will definitely make this again, and soon. It's especially good on a cold winter day. It's also great for making a Frito pie - pour chili over Fritos, and add cheese. For those of you wanting to add beans: you may end up with chili, but it won't be Texas Red. True Texas Red never, ever, ever has beans in it.
Rating: Unrated
tasty, but I wouldn't make again - still looking for "perfect" chili! I'd never made chili with anything but ground beef, and I really liked the diced chuck. It cooked up very tender. I did add some pintos and thickened it with a little masa as it was pretty soupy, even after 3 hours.
Rating: Unrated
Wonderful nuances and layers of flavor from the different peppers. We resisted the urge to add beans. Very flavorful, highly recommend.
Rating: Unrated
This is very delicious! Next time, however, I will also add some kidney beans. I think it could use the balance. We added some extra sharp cheddar and that was a nice touch, too.