Tex-Mex Chili

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tex-mex chili recipe

What’s Up, Hungry People

Welcome, friends, to the best of Tex-Mex fusion. It’s a masterful blend of Mexican spice and robust American flavor.

On a gloomy day filled with gray skies and snowy winds, this chili is the culinary superhero that will rescue you from the cold. It’s the ideal comfort food, marrying rich flavors with a touch of heat that’s sure to warm you up from the inside.

tex-mex chili with tortillas

Here’s What You Need

  • Lean Ground Beef: Primary protein source, adds richness and texture.
  • Beef Broth: Enhances flavor and provides liquid base for the chili.
  • Mild Salsa: Adds a tangy, mildly spicy flavor and texture.
  • Refried Beans: Thickens chili and adds creamy texture and protein.
  • Colby Jack Cheese: Melts into chili for creamy texture and rich flavor.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: Adds sweetness and a burst of fresh, juicy flavor.
  • Frozen Vegetable Medley: Adds nutrition, color, and varied textures.
  • Onion: Foundation flavor, adds sweetness and depth.
  • Sweet Bell Peppers: Adds crunch, sweetness, and vibrant color.
  • Garlic: Adds aromatic depth and pungent flavor.
  • Cumin: Earthy spice, provides warmth and depth.
  • Coriander: Offers a slightly citrusy, nutty flavor.
  • Chili Powder: Adds mild heat and complex flavors.
  • Da Bomb Hot Sauce: Intense heat, use sparingly for a spicy kick.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Adds richness and balances flavors.
  • Salt & Pepper: Seasoning staples to enhance overall flavor.
  • Tortillas: For homemade chips, add texture and scoopability.
  • Cooking Spray: Prevents sticking, used for tortilla chips.
  • Fresh Lime: Adds a zesty, fresh finish.
making tex-mex chili

Let’s Cook!

To kick things off, grab a large saucepan to brown the ground beef. I opt for extra lean ground beef. Here’s a tip: rinse it in warm water once it’s cooked to remove excess fat. It’s all about keeping it healthier without losing the yum.

I love a good mix of frozen and fresh – think frozen corn, peas, and green beans coupled with vibrant sweet peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, and garlic.

Pro tip: hunt for colorful cherry tomatoes. I found a mix from red to purple – they add a pop of color that makes your dish not just tasty but visually appealing.

homemade chili in pot

Now, the heat. This chili isn’t just about warmth; it’s about a gentle fire that dances on your tastebuds. I’m talking atomic hot sauce – the kind that takes your senses on a wild ride. Just a drop is enough to set your mouth on fire.

da bomb hot sauce

But remember, tailor the heat to your liking. My boyfriend and I are spice enthusiasts (he’s brave enough to have this sauce straight – not for the faint-hearted!).

stirring chili in pot

As you let the hot sauce mingle with the beef, pour in your salsa and beef stock. I used a mild tomatillo and garlic salsa, balancing the heat from the sauce. And here’s the twist – cocoa powder. Yes, cocoa! It adds an unexpected depth and richness, tempering the spiciness just right.

hershey's cocoa powder

The chili might seem too liquid at this stage, but here comes another surprise – refried beans. Not only do they thicken the chili beautifully, but they also pack in protein. Let the chili simmer and do its magic, stirring occasionally.

refried beans in chili

When it’s nearly done, add half the cheese cubes. Cheese is what crowns this dish as a true Tex-Mex classic. Americans do love their cheese, and it melds perfectly in this dish, adding creaminess and a delightful gooey texture.

cheese cubes in chili

For a fun and crunchy garnish, I cut tortillas into strips, twirled them, gave them a light oil spray, and baked them till golden. This step is optional but highly recommended. It adds a playful twist to your chili experience.

homemade tex-mex chili

We served our chili with a dollop of sour cream, fresh cilantro, and, in a twist, used tortilla chips instead of spoons. It’s all about enjoying your food in a fun, unconventional way!

Tex-Mex Chili Tips

  • Brown Your Beef Well: The key to a flavorful chili is well-browned ground beef. Don’t rush this step; let the beef develop a nice sear for deeper flavor.
  • Balancing Spiciness: If you’re sensitive to heat, start with less hot sauce and gradually add more. Remember, it’s easier to add heat than to take it away!
  • Using Frozen Vegetables: They’re a time-saver and just as nutritious as fresh. Just make sure to cook until they’re mostly thawed before adding other ingredients.
  • Thickening the Chili: If your chili is too liquidy, let it simmer uncovered for a bit longer. The refried beans will also help thicken it as it cooks.
  • Cheese Matters: Colby Jack melts well and adds a nice flavor, but feel free to experiment with different cheeses like cheddar or Monterey Jack.
  • Crispy Tortilla Strips: Keep an eye on them in the oven; they can go from perfect to burnt quickly. They add a delightful crunch and are great for dipping.
easy tex-mex chili

And there you go, Hungry People! This Tex-Mex chili is more than just a recipe – it’s a warm, flavorful embrace on a cold day. It’s a testament to the joy of blending flavors and the satisfaction of cooking up a storm.

Whether you’re a spice lover or prefer things a bit milder, this chili is customizable to suit your palate. So, grab your ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and let’s turn up the heat in your kitchen. Here’s to hearty meals that bring smiles and warmth to our tables.

mexican tortilla chilli

Tex-Mex Chili

The Starving Chef
Unleash the warmth of this Tex-Mex chili, a perfect blend of spices, vegetables, and beef that's ideal for chilly days.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 6




  • In a large pot over high heat, cook and crumble the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Rinse the beef in a strainer under warm water and return to the pot.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the frozen vegetable medley and cook until mostly thawed. Stir in the onion, garlic, and sweet peppers. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Toss the whole cherry tomatoes into the pot. Season with cumin, coriander, and chili powder, stirring until the tomatoes have softened and begun to release their juices.
  • If using, add a tiny dab of hot sauce. Stir the hot sauce into the beef along with the mild salsa. Pour in the beef broth and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Add the refried beans to the chili and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the chili has thickened. Uncover and let cook for an additional 15 minutes on low heat.
  • Optional: Cut the tortillas into long, thin strips. Spray lightly with cooking oil, then roll into coils (optional). Preheat the oven to 375°F while the chili cooks. Place the rolled tortillas on a baking sheet greased with cooking spray and bake until crisp and golden, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Serve alongside tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
Keyword beef, chili, salsa
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