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EDIT: It turns out, the meat alternative I highly recommend (Beef Not! from Dixie Diners Club) is indeed oil free. Thanks for the heads up Mike.

These Sacred Things

In Texas, there are a few things that we hold sacred:

  • chili
  • spring football
  • fall football
  • The Alamo
  • God
  • country


The order of these things is not by accident. Seriously. You get to know Texans and they take chili very seriously. Real Texas red is a pretty traditional food. Chili is a very traditional peasant food. It’s got rough ingredients and can be made easily and most importantly cheaply. There is a reason it’s practically a religion.

Most authentic Texas chili has no beans but a LOT of meat. That’s disgusting but it does taste good. This recipe is as close to legit Texas Red as I’ve come to find. Like most recipes, it’s a base that you can experiment and play with.


How To Serve

Chili is usually served just in a bowl, all by itself. Good chili doesn’t need anything to accompany it. This isn’t Cincinnati where you hide your shame of the addition of weird seasonings with onions and cheese. This isn’t California so you don’t see it being served with avocado.

That bit of Texas hyperbole being said, there are a few ways I really like to eat my chili.

  • Over Cornbread – Put some mealy and corn-rich cornbread at the bottom of the bowl and pour your steaming chili over the top. The cornbread will soak up some of the juice from the chili, if there is any, and also can help cut the heat. This also helps enhance the tamale flavor that the chili recipe I gave has. I’m going to upload my cornbread recipe soon.
  • Rice – You can always serve your chili with rice. This is probably the more traditional way to eat it since boiled rice was traditionally easier to come by than cornbread. Rice is also very cheap and will last longer if you do meal prep and bulk make chili dishes in advance.
  • Frito Pie – Yes, Fritos are vegan. They are not healthy, but they are vegan. In Texas, you traditionally get an individual sized bag of Fritos slice along the side. The chili is then poured into the Frito bag which now serves as an ersatz chili bowl. This is actually kinda fun and brings back memories of my childhood.
  • Baked Potato – It tastes great over a baked spud.
  • Crackers – You can put Saltines on the side. This was how my dad preferred his chili served.
  • Pasta – I know that some people like chili served over pasta but this chili recipe doesn’t lend itself to that. Go with a less bean filled and more lentil style chili.


Can I do XYZ with the recipe
Yes. Chili is really versatile. I really like a bit of tamarind in mine. A Mexican friend introduced me to it in chili and I came to love it. I’ve had it with chocolate as well. It basically becomes a mole at that point in my book. You can also add in sliced avocado for a more CaliMex feel to the recipe.

You can top it with shredded onions, or even vegan cheese.

I’ve seen people put finely shredded carrots over the top to cut the heat as well as things like shredded celery or bok choi.

Note: You can’t top it with ketchup. That is against the law. It’s one of the most common uses of the death penalty in Texas for good reason.

Chili never has beans dangit!
Again, see my earlier comment about Texas chili traditions.
What about [insert fruit name] in the recipe
Please, just get off the internet.


Never log on again.

Seriously, who the hell puts dates in their chili?! I can’t believe how many times I’ve seen that.

But soy curls or Beef Not! is highly processed...
Yes they are. They aren’t healthy since they are so ridiculously processed but they really do an amazing job replacing meat in this recipe.

If you do WFPBNO then just leave them out and substitute lentils instead.