Not Quite Texas Slow Cooker Chili

texas inspired beef chili no beans

A Texan chili (and the only true chili to some people) has no beans, tomatoes, or vegetables.  It consists primarily of meat and chili peppers, as the name suggests.  Here is a slow cooker version of what I’m calling an almost Texan chili, as I’m not sure how orthodox it is to use onions, garlic, or beer as ingredients and cheddar cheese as a topping.

When I made this I used a combination of different dried chili peppers plus canned chipotle peppers.  The latter can be found in most of the supermarkets around here.  As for whole, dried peppers, try a local Latin American market or buy them online.

Is this chili more expensive than serving ground beef and kidney beans in tomato sauce?  Yes, of course.  But it’s well worth it.  It’s sweet, spicy, smoky, and full-bodied.  Spread this chili out with a big chunk of cornbread or some rice if you are worried about the cost (and your personal regularity).


Not Quite Texas Slow Cooker Chili

Adapted from Butter Than Toast

Serves: 4
Time: 30 min + 8 h + 30 min

  • 1 large handful of dried chili peppers
    (such as ancho, arbol, guajillo, casabel, chipotle)
  • 500 ml boiling water
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.2-1.5 kg / 3 lb beef chuck or blade roast, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 165 ml amber beer or pale ale (1/2 bottle / can)
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 3-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, from a can
  • 2-3 Tbsp corn meal
  • salt, to taste



Clockwise from top: cascabel, ancho, and guajillo peppers.  No pesky little arbol for me today.

  1. Remove the stems and as many of the seeds as possible from the dried chili peppers.
  1. Rehydrate the chili peppers in the boiling water for 10-15 minutes.  Remove the chili peppers and set aside, also reserving the liquid.
  1. In a large pan over high heat, sear the outsides of the beef cubes in the oil.  Do this in batches so that each piece of meat has direct pan contact.  The goal is not to cook to meat but to provide flavour, so only take 30-60 seconds per batch.


Something like this, or even more browned.  But not fully cooked.

  1. Once all the meat is browned, turn the heat down to medium and use the pan to sautée the onion and garlic until golden brown.
  1. Deglaze the pan with the beer.  Stir and scrape until the pan is ‘clean’ at the bottom and let mixture come up to a boil.  Then turn off the heat.


One could also use beef broth, but I highly recommend the beer.

  1. Place the onion, garlic, and beer mix at the bottom of the slow cooker.
  1. Place the browned meat on top of the onion and garlic.  Then sprinkle the sugar, cumin, coriander, oregano, and ground cloves onto the meat.
  1. Place the rehydrated peppers on top of the meat, along with the canned chipotle peppers.
  1. Add the reserved liquid from the rehydrated peppers, being careful not to pour in any dirt that might have settled.
  1. If there were any bones in your meat, clean them and add them in too.  They’ll add great flavour.  I browned the bones just after I browned the meat, then set them aside until this step.


Ready to launch.

  1. Set the slow cooker to Low and cook for 8 hours.
  1. Remove all the chili peppers from the top of the chili and place them in a large bowl or a food processor.  Remove any bones and discard.  Carefully ladle out some of the liquid in the slow cooker to cover the chili peppers.
  1. Blend the chilis using an immersion blender or the food processor until there are no large chunks.
  1. To add the chilis and liquid back to the slow cooker, place a mesh strainer on top of it and pass the liquid through using a rubber spatula.  This prevents any seeds or tough chili pepper skins from getting back into the chili.


Look familiar?  This technique is also in my recipe for slow cooker carnitas.

  1. Gradually add and stir the corn meal into the hot chili, then let sit on Low heat or Warm for 10 minutes to thicken.
  1. Add salt, to taste.  I added almost 1 tsp.
  1. Serve chili with a nice starch like cornbread, wheat bread, or tortilla chips.  You could also top the chili with sour cream or diced, raw onion or cilantro.

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