Texas Skillet Chili

Homemade Chili

Homemade chili is a breeze with easy Texas Skillet Chili that includes gluten-free options. Chili ingredients to gather up are: ground chuck, chili powder, cumin powder, garlic powder, onion powder, smokey paprika, Mexican oregano, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, can of crushed or diced tomatoes, can of chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, masa harina, salt, green onions (optional), and water. If you are choosing a gluten-free chili option then make sure all ingredients meet the gluten-free designation. **See recipe notes.

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Kay Keeton, Editor in Chief

This is such a versatile chili recipe with added sweetness, gluten-free options, and thickening options. It keeps well in the freezer for up to six months. I often make it and divide it into smaller containers and freeze it for quick impromptu meals and toppers.

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Gather Your Ingredients

Easy Recipe for Chili Newbies

We have created this recipe with newbies in mind. How to make chili from scratch is really an easy process. How to make chili for beginners requires a simple, basic recipe to be cooked in a cast iron skillet with minimal preparation and ingredients. Cooking should be a joy and this recipe is not only easy but very tasty.

Cooking chili is so easy, and this is the best easy chili recipe that you can make at home. Chili definition per the dictionary is a hearty stew that is also used as a topping condiment on other dishes and has varied recipes and ingredients. We have narrowed down the ingredients and offer gluten-free recommendations.

Texas Skillet Chili Potato Topper

Our Texas Skillet Chili without beans recipe stays true to the Texas chili practice that does not include beans. We have included tomato products and brown sugar since we want a slightly sweet chili. This chili is great as a stand-alone or served with other ingredients. Chili and cornbread go great together. It is also a great chili with rice.  

Gluten-Free Options for Texas Skillet Chili

Gluten-Free products we have used are:

  1. Fiesta spices
  2. Thrive Market spices
  3. Great Value can tomatoes
  4. Thrive Market brown sugar
  5. Embasa Chipotle
  6. De Nigris Balsamic Vinegar
  7. Maseca Nixtamasa Instant Corn Masa Flour
  8. Great Value Shredded Mexican Cheese
  9. Daisy Sour Cream
  10. Sazon Goya (con culantro y achiote), optional
Cast Iron Pan

Chili is best when cooked in a well-seasoned cast iron pan. This recipe uses a large cast iron skillet. It will retain its heat well allowing you to cook low and slow bringing out the flavors of the spices. If you do not have a large cast iron skillet then try to use a heavier skillet for cooking your chili. A heavier high-quality enamel skillet will also work well. If you do not have either, a cast iron skillet or other heavy skillets, then lower your temperature and cook slightly longer for a more flavorful chili.

What is chili in adobe sauce? We have added chipotle peppers in adobe sauce for added smokiness and heat. Chipotle peppers in adobe sauce are jalapeño chiles that have been dried, smoked, and canned in a flavorful sauce made of tangy tomatoes and spices. They should be diced and measured with some of the sauce when adding them to the recipe. This ingredient is optional and if you do not have it on hand omitting it will not alter the overall quality of your chili.

Texas Skillet Chili
Bowl of Texas Skillet Chili with Toppings

Cooking with chili is so easy and versatile. It goes well with so many other foods, complementing their flavors. You can use it to top hot dogs, chips, enchiladas, chili mac ‘n cheese, bean dip, breakfast bowls, and nachos; really the possibilities are entirely up to you. If it sounds good it probably will be, it is just a matter of taste. Gum drops might not work, but you never know, right?

Texas Skillet Chili Potato Topper
Baked Potato Topped with Chili, Sour Cream and Green Onions

Toppings are also optional. Toppings can include sour cream, diced green onions, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, salsa, a squirt of lime, tortilla chips, cornbread, peppers, and corn among others. Or you can do the reverse of topping your bowl of chili and using the chili as a topping. As in the photo below chili makes a great baked potato topping.

Where does chili come from? In Texas chili represents our culture and history. There are many stories and theories regarding where chili came from. It did not originate in Mexico as some might think. The first mention of a dish resembling chili was in the Canary Islands in the 1700s. The Spaniards created many new territories designated as New Spain after conquering the Canary Islands including many parts of Mexico and Texas.

Early Spanish immigrants brought these cooking techniques with them to San Antonio influencing the Mexican street vendors who eventually became known as the chili queens. The chili queens made a stew-like dish that included many spices similar to the Moroccan dishes of the Canary Islands, such as cumin, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, saffron, and turmeric. The stew consisted of beef and various peppers (including chili peppers) combined with spices. As it would have it though, chili powder was actually invented by a German immigrant.

Chili powder is said to have been invented in Texas by William Gebhardt in 1890. William a German immigrant opened a small cafe in the back of a saloon in New Braunfels, Texas. William found it difficult to keep fresh peppers and herbs on hand. He soon discovered that by drying chilis and herbs and then grinding them into a powder he could have them on hand whenever needed not just when they were in season. William quickly set up shop soon after and began selling his spices. He trademarked his business as Eagle Chili Powder in 1896.

Chili is the Official State Dish of Texas per house resolution No. 18 (HCR 18) on May 11, 1977. Read more about Authentic Texas Chili or Bowl ‘O Red as Texans call it, here.

How to make chili thicker you might ask? We have included a 1/2 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of Masa Harina (corn flour) to thicken our skillet chili. This only increases thickness slightly and can be reduced with additional water or additional corn flour can be added if you think your chili will be too thin. Of course, you can always increase cooking time to reduce it if you prefer. If you are in a hurry to serve your chili or just want a thicker consistency then Masa flour can be used.

If you are serving your chili with cornbread you might prefer a thinner consistency as cornbread will increase the bulk of chili. I do love cornbread crumbled in my chili but if you are using it as a topping you might want the Masa to add a little thickness. The general recommendation for chili is a ratio of 2 T. chili powder per pound of meat. You can add more if you like it really spicy. Remember spicy and hot do not necessarily mean the same thing. A recipe can be spicy without any hot peppers added. This recipe, as is, provides a medium heat scale. You can add some cayenne pepper if you would like it hotter.

This recipe uses a New Mexico chili pepper powder which is one of our favorites for chili. Our Texas Skillet Chili is a variation of our authentic Texas Chili. It is an easier version that has a slightly sweet aftertaste and goes so well as a topping for other dishes. It is easy to prepare and requires minimal ingredients and cooking skills. It does include tomatoes which are not usually included in authentic Texas Chili. The tomatoes complement the sweetness of this super easy chili recipe.

How much chili per person does our recipe provide? Our serving sizes represent a hardy serving so this recipe may serve 4 – 6 depending on the appetites in your family. In my family, it is definitely a 4 serving dish. This chili is slightly sweet which helps temper the spiciness making it a great choice for kids.

We are experiencing a cool spell in Texas at the moment with temperatures under 100 degrees. Fall is on its way, Yeah!! So cooking on the stove is an option.

Stay tuned for our custom chili powder recipes.

Texas Skillet Chili

This is such a versatile chili recipe with added sweetness, gluten-free options, and thickening options. It keeps well in the freezer for up to six months. I often make it and divide it into smaller containers and freeze it for quick impromptu meals and toppers.
5 from 76 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 491 kcal


  • 1 large cast iron skillet


  • 3 lbs ground chuck
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp smokey paprika powder
  • 1/2 tbsp mexican oregano
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 15 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp chipotle peppers chopped with adobe sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)


  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese
  • 6 green onions, sliced thinly


  • In a large cast iron skillet brown beef lightly and add chili pepper and brown again. Drain some of the fat if needed.
  • Add the remainder of spices to the chili along with the crushed tomatoes and chipotle peppers.
  • Add one cup water and allow to cook on medium until slightly reduced then lower temperature to low cooking for one hour. Add more water if necessary.
  • Before serving mix masa with ½ cup water.
  • Cook masa and water mixture on medium to low for 5 minutes until thickened slightly. You may add more water to get it to the desired consistency.
  • If you are eating with cornbread you may want it thinner. Top with sour cream, shredded cheese and chopped green onion, if desired


We are using Fiesta Brand gluten-free chili powder and cumin. All the spices we use are gluten-free but if you are preparing gluten-free chili be sure to check your packaging for GF designation. Some products that are gluten-free may not be marked and need to be verified online. Your cans of tomato and chipotle should state they are GF as well. 


Serving: 6ozCalories: 491kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 49gFat: 22g
Keyword Best chili recipe, best easy chili recipe, Best homemade chili recipe, Chili recipes no beans, Gluten free chili powder, How to make chili thicker, texas cooking
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.


8-qt Cast Iron Dutch Oven here.

Scoville scale for hot peppers here.

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What are chipotle peppers?

Chipotle peppers in adobe sauce are jalapeño chiles that have been dried, smoked, and canned in a flavorful sauce made of tangy tomatoes and spices.

Kay Keeton, Ed.

Editor in Chief, Kay Keeton - Texas Lifestyle Expert. Kay is a designer turned author, marketer, storyteller, and influencer. A sixth-generation Texan, Kay is both an authority as well as being passionate about sharing her home state of Texas's diverse culture and lifestyle. Kay is a content writer and editor of content for various local and national online publications.

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