Texas Chuck Wagon Chili (with Venison or Beef) Recipe

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2 votes | 17101 views

I originally made this with chuck roasts that I would trim out and dice into 1/4 inch cubes. Yes, you will form a blister or two - but it is well worth it. In 1987, this chili, I'm pleased to say, was judged best by members of the Chicago Fire Department in a Chicago Chili Cookoff. This is truly a Texas Chuck Wagon Chili: no tomatoes no beans. Condiments were served a la carte - (Mexican) cheese, chopped jalapenos, cilantro and (Mexican) sour cream. I garnished the dish with slices of Maple Bacon Cornbread. Blue ribbon. This is not for the faint of heart and requires slow cooking over a med-low heat for a long time. I use venison most of the time now, and my ground venison is mixed with suet. It has the flavor of the finest organic Angus beef. This is based on a Texas ranch recipe. No cattle drive ever had a tomato or celery on the trail. It may sound like a lot of spices, and it is, but you need to let it cook down and the flavors to really marry and mellow, which they will. Beans are a side dish with their own recipe. This chili will get your attention at first, then back away and leave a most pleasant taste that should bring you back for more. This is the ONLY way I make a chuckwagon chili for myself and certain friends.

Of course, a great variation is to deglaze the pan and meat with 1 C red wine (like a Merlot) and dry it out a bit, then add the spices. For a milder chili, cut the cayenne - not the chili powder - back to your taste. The last 1/2hr, you may want to add a drained and rinsed 30oz can of black beans, or just add a scoop of heated black beans to each bowl and garnish each bowl with some chopped cilantro. It freezes well. Just sayin'...

Prep time:
Cook time:
Servings: 8+


Cost per serving $0.18 view details
  • 3 lbs ground venison with suet (or a 3lb. lean chuck roast, diced into 1/4 bits)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T chili powder (add more, if you dare)
  • 3 T oregano, dried
  • 3 T cumin, ground
  • 1/2 to 1-1/2 tsp cayenne (this is the heat - adjust up or down)
  • 1 to 2 tsp salt (kosher or coarse sea salt)
  • 1/3 C corn meal (coarse is really good)
  • 1/3 C cold, fresh water
  • 1 to 1-1/2 qt cold, fresh water


  1. Brown the meat - dry it out a bit
  2. Add the chili powder, cumin powder, oregano, cayenne and garlic and mix well
  3. Add 1 to 1-1/2 qt. cold, fresh water just to cover the meat
  4. Bring to a boil for one minute, then turn down the heat and
  5. Simmer for 1-1/2 hrs
  6. Add 1 to 2 tsp salt (taste as you add - the chili will sweeten with the addition of the salt, but you do not want it 'salty')
  7. Make a paste of 1/3 C coarse cormeal and 1/3 C cold, fresh water
  8. and stir until it is smooth
  9. Stir the corn meal paste into the chili gradually
  10. Simmer another 45 minutes
  11. Ladle into bowls
  12. Serve full with the condiments as separates, and let each diner dress their own bowl


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Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving %DV
Serving Size 181g
Recipe makes 8 servings
Calories 351  
Calories from Fat 130 37%
Total Fat 14.39g 18%
Saturated Fat 6.84g 27%
Trans Fat 0.0g  
Cholesterol 167mg 56%
Sodium 574mg 24%
Potassium 663mg 19%
Total Carbs 6.66g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0.6g 2%
Sugars 0.19g 0%
Protein 45.84g 73%
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  • Kent
    Great recipe. I use corn flour instead of corn meal though. Two tablespoons is all it takes and it makes a very thick chili.
    I've cooked/tasted this recipe!
    This is a variation


    • Richard Carpenter
      January 31, 2013
      Amos.... Great job.... and THANK YOU for not putting BEANS in the chili!!!!!
      REAL TEXAS CHILI NEVER has BEANS in it..... I know how popular beans are in most recipes but in TEXAS it's a No-Go!! Thanks again.... I'll be browning the meat in about 30 minutes..... Can't wait!!!
      • LeahB
        January 30, 2013
        Would you totally object to using ground chuck to avoid the blisters?
        1 reply
        • Amos Miller
          October 13, 2016
          I use grand venison almost exclusively. So ground chuck is just fine. (what ever happened to old Chuck... )
        • Amos Miller
          July 14, 2011
          Thanks very much, Kent! I appreciate that you tried it and enjoyed it as much as my guests do. It is the real deal and holds to Western tradition.

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