This Texas chili recipe takes the classic chile-infused, no-bean red chili and elevates it with Texas-style smoked chuck roast or brisket. It’s packed with protein and can be customized to fit just about any nutrition or calorie needs. If you need a meal prep chili recipe, this would be my first choice!
Ingredients for Texas Chili
Right off the bat, I’ll say this Texas chili recipe has lots of customization options, whether it be for the sake of simplicity or saving a few extra calories. I’ll run you through all the ingredients I used and cover ingredient substitutions as we go through the recipe below.
Optional: Homemade Chili Powder
My spin on Texas chili draws inspiration from a few different sources. First, I put a spin on homemade chili powder from America’s Test Kitchen’s ground beef chili recipe. If you want to use the chili powder that’s in your spice cabinet, that’ll work just fine. But it’s worth mentioning, homemade chili powder is easier to make than you’d think and really takes things up a notch.
Optional: Smoked Chuck Roast or Brisket
The second inspiration source was Matt Pittman of Meat Church’s Texas Chili. I used a pound of Traeger smoked chuck roast in addition to ground beef and a reduced fat breakfast sausage similar to his recipe. The smoked chuck roast makes this Texas chili ridiculously hearty and adds a ton of flavor.
I used this recipe for Texas-style smoked chuck roast with a slight change of using a double batch of seasoning from my air fryer steak bites recipe. You could use smoked brisket or another protein in place of the chuck roast, and you could always pick some up from your favorite BBQ spot if you didn’t want to smoke your own.
I’ve also included notes in the recipe card for a version that’s ground beef and breakfast sausage only. That version is a bit easier to make and a lot lower in fat and calories, in case you are balling on a calorie budget. If you skip a smoked meat of some kind, you’ll definitely want to salt to taste before serving, as you’ll lose some saltiness.
The rest of the lineup is pretty standard. I did use a non-alcoholic cerveza from Athletic Brewing, but you could use any beer you’d like or even beef broth if that’s all you have on hand. And if you can get fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic or green chiles, that’s the move.
Making the Slow Cooker Texas Chili
Once you have your ingredients sorted, it’s time to cook. I used an 8-quart Instant Pot for slow cooking, which has the ability to sauté and slow cook all in the same pot. If you’re using a more traditional slow cooker, you can simply use a skillet for the first portion of the recipe. You can also use a Dutch oven and finish in a low oven instead of slow cooking.
Brown and fully cook ground beef and reduced fat breakfast sausage.
If you have the time, you can brown the meat separately (or in two pans on the stovetop) for optimal browning. I kept the olive oil light since the chuck roast packs a punch in the fat content department, but you could increase the olive oil for better browning if you’d like.
Transfer cooked meat to a bowl and cook diced onion until soft before adding minced garlic and chipotle peppers in adobo.
This recipe makes a big ol’ batch of Texas chili, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about the spice level from an entire can of chipotle peppers. That said, you could scale back if you’re overly sensitive to spice.
Add chili powder, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, cooked meats, and a non-alcoholic beer.
Once the meat is cooked and chipotle onion mixture is ready, it’s as easy as adding in everything else, mixing, and figuring out what activity you’ll do to keep your mind off eating chili for the rest of the day.
Stir everything together and slow cook for 6-8 hours.
Everything is fully cooked so there’s really no right or wrong cook time. If you want to speed things up, cook on a high setting for a reduced time period. But the longer everything has to get to know one another, the more flavorful your Texas chili will be. That said, you’re probably going to have better chili on day 2 and 3 anyway. So don’t sweat the perfect cook time too much.
Since we’re using an Instant Pot, you might be curious about pressure cooking. While I’ve not pressure cooked this Texas chili, you could probably get away with something like a 30-60 minute pressure cook. You want to give the chuck roast time to start breaking down in the chili. If you go the ground beef and sausage only route, you can speed things up. My Instant Pot turkey chili, for example, has a 15-minute pressure cook time.
Serving Your Slow Cooker Texas Chili
You can’t go wrong with the tried and true shredded cheese, corn chips or tortilla strip, and fat free Greek yogurt (or sour cream). But like I mentioned, this recipe makes a beaucoup of Texas chili. Here a few ideas for using leftovers:
I love a chili cheese spud. You can poke russet potatoes with forks, rub with a tiny bit of oil and sprinkle with salt, and toss them in an oven or smoker at 450ºF for around 45-60 minutes until for tender (around 200ºF inside). Or you can use my Ninja Foodi baked potatoes recipe to make them in the air fryer.
For chili cheese tots, I air fried frozen tater tots from Trader Joe’s for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Then I added 1 1/2 oz of shredded cheddar followed by 1 to 1 1/2 cup of the Texas chili and another 1 1/2 oz shredded cheddar. I air fried all that for another 2-3 minutes and voila, Texas chili cheese tots. You could also use my air fried Mexican potatoes in place of tots or my crinkle cut fries recipe to make chili cheese fries.
Other things to serve with Texas chili include healthy cornbread or biscuits, grilled cheese, or pasta. You could also make recipes like these leftover chili stuffed peppers or chili cheese enchiladas.
For a few more ideas, check out the recommendations from my high protein turkey chili recipe like chili cheese burritos and chili mac.
However you end up serving your slow cooker Texas chili, I’d love to hear about it. Come back and let me know what you thought in a recipe review. Those are always appreciated! And as always, if you have a question about the recipe I forgot to cover, drop a comment at the bottom of the post.
- 1 lb Ground Beef (96/4)
- 1 lb Reduced Fat Breakfast Sausage
- 1 lb Smoked Chuck Roast, Brisket, etc., cut into bite size pieces*
- 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
- 1 White Onion, diced
- 6 cloves Garlic, minced
- 4 oz can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo
- 2 14-oz cans Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
- 28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
- 12 oz can Beer (I used a non- alcoholic cerveza)
- 6 Tbsp Chili Powder**
- 1 large Jalapeño
- Brown the ground beef and breakfast sausage in a large skillet (or in a slow cooker with a sauté function) over medium-high heat with 1/2 Tbsp (8g) of olive oil. Once fully cooked, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1/2 Tbsp (8g) olive oil in the skillet and add the onion. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes, before adding the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds, before adding the chipotle peppers.
- Transfer the cooked ground beef, sausage, smoked chuck roast, and onions mixture to a slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients. Stir everything together, place the jalapeño in the center, and cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
*Smoked Meat Note
You can use any smoked/cooked beef here. You can also use fresh chuck roast by cutting it into bite size pieces, seasoning with salt and pepper, and browning with 1-2 Tbsp oil before browning the ground beef and sausage. OR you can swap for an extra pound of ground beef.
Nutrition facts per serving with 2 lbs of ground beef instead of smoked meat: 225 calories, 20g protein, 15g carbs, and 9g fat
**Chili Powder Note
For a homemade chili powder, remove the seeds and stems from 1.5 oz dried guajillo chiles and 1.5 oz dried ancho chiles. Toast them in a pan over medium heat for 5 minutes until fragrant (no browning) before blending to a fine powder with the following:
- 1 oz Tortilla Chips (thickener)
- 2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
- 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
- 1 Tbsp Paprika
- 1 Tbsp Dried Mexican Oregano
- 2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
This makes about 1/2 cup of chili powder. You can use the 6 Tbsp called for or the whole thing for an extra kick.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 14 Serving Size: 9 oz (about 1 cup)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 360Total Fat: 21gCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 25g