Rich and savory Terlingua Chili, also known as Terlingua Red Chili, is a simple and delicious beef chili—there are no beans in Terlingua Chili recipes, and you'll quickly be corrected if you refer to any chili containing beans with the Terlingua moniker.
Beef broth, tomato sauce, and ground beef combined with our Terlingua chili mix (no packet needed!) do the heavy lifting here, and simmering over low heat for at least an hour does the rest.
Terlingua Chili has a convoluted half-century history involving Texas real estate, dueling chili cook off competitions (Tolbert and CASI), a big cheating scandal involving a fake cook with a false identity, and lots of cowboy hats.
This tasty chili also has a prominent place on the menu of the Hard Times Cafe restaurants, where Terlingua Red was one of the four chili offerings which you get to sample before ordering (the other three are Texas, Cincinnati, and vegetarian). Terlingua was always my go-to choice at Hard Times, and this recipe is inspired by their version.
For the chili:
- ground beef (either regular grind or chili grind is fine)
- beef broth
- tomato sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- seasoned salt
- Terlingua Chili mix (see below)
- shredded cheddar cheese
- spaghetti, if desired
For the seasoning:
- chili powder
- cayenne pepper
- garlic powder
- dried minced onion
See recipe card for quantities.
Start by making the Terlingua Chili Mix—combine all of the spices for the mix, stir gently, and set aside.
Brown the ground beef in a large soup pot until no longer pink. While the meat is browning, add the Worcestershire sauce and the seasoned salt and stir well.
Add the tomato sauce and beef broth to the pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.
Add the chili seasoning mix to the pot and mix well.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavors. About 15 minutes before the chili is ready, cook the spaghetti as directed on the package. Drain and rinse. Serve chili over spaghetti and garnish with shredded cheddar cheese.
- Gluten-free - Terlingua Chili is gluten-free if you use a GF seasoned salt like Lawry's and GF Worcestershire sauce like The Wizard’s™ Organic Gluten Free Vegan Worcestershire (affiliate link). Instead of serving the chili on pasta, serve it on corn chips for a gluten-free Terlingua Frito Pie.
- Just the chili - serve Terlingua Chili by itself in a bowl to enjoy the rich flavor without distraction
- Two-way - chili over pasta
- Three-way - chili over pasta garnished with shredded cheddar cheese
- Four-way - chili over pasta garnished with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped fresh onion
- Frito pie - serve chili over corn chips with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped fresh onion
- Chili Dogs - serve chili over hot dogs in buns and top with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped fresh onion
Terlingua Chili will last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator (not that we have ever had chili leftovers for that long in our house!) and freezes well. Store leftover chili separate from pasta and toppings.
Don't be tempted to skip the slow simmer. Reducing the liquid concentrates the flavors and is what makes this chili a winning recipe.
If you prefer, you can move the chili to a slow cooker after the beef is cooked through and all of the ingredients are added. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or until liquid is reduced by half.
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 20 ounces beef broth
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish
- 16 ounces spaghetti, optional
Terlingua Chili Mix
- 3-½ tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1-½ tablespoons garlic powder
- 1-½ tablespoons dried minced onion
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Mix together the Terlingua Chili Mix spices in a small bowl and set aside.
- Brown the ground beef in a large soup pot until no longer pink.
- While the meat is browning, add the Worcestershire sauce and the seasoned salt and stir well.
- Add the tomato sauce and beef broth to the pot.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.
- Add the chili seasoning mix to the pot and stir.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavors.
- About 15 minutes before the chili is ready, cook the spaghetti. Drain and rinse.
- Serve chili over spaghetti and garnish with shredded cheddar cheese.