Michael’s “Texas Red” Chili

Texans call their chili a “bowl of red” or “Texas Red”. Unlike most other chili, real “Texas Red” Chili never contains beans.

This is a recipe I have tweaked and tuned over the last 30+ years. It started as LBJ’s favorite, Pedernales River Chili, and has evolved from there.


  • 5 pounds lean beef (brisket, rump roast), coarse chili grind
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium toes garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 32-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with juice, remove stems
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 6 Tbsp. red chile powder (mild, medium, hot, extra hot, or a combination)


  1. Brown the meat in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Break up any lumps. Place cooked meat into a large pot.
  2. Cook onion in olive oil until translucent. Do not let brown, so stir often. Add garlic near the end. Add mixture to the pot.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, except red chile powder, to the pot. Mix well.
  4. Gradually stir in the ground red chile powder, testing until you achieve the degree of hotness and flavor that suits your palate.
  5. Bring to boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for an hour or longer. Stir occasionally and add additional liquid if needed.

Makes lots! Serve with grated cheddar cheese and crackers or fresh bread. Chili may be refrigerated or frozen.