Chili Better Not Have Beans

By Diego Mantelli

Beans are terrible.

There, I said it. I, Diego Mantelli, self-proclaimed foodie, can not stand beans. The only acceptable way to eat beans should be in hummus or green beans, but that’s an article for another time. Instead, I want to focus on a much more concerning issue. True, traditional chili con carne should not have beans. 

Before I get ahead of myself, here’s a brief history of chili. Chili con carne, or simply just chili, became the dish we know and love today as a result of cowboys during cattle drives across the great plains. Adapted from stews based around chili peppers from Mexico, cowboys changed the recipe slightly to provide more nutritional value while using the ingredients on hand, which typically involved a broth made of beef stock, chili peppers, onion, garlic, and pieces of beef. The recipe varied from region to region, but it was largely agreed upon that beans were not put in chili, and stayed that way until the 1920’s, when the Great Depression hit. As more and more people started to have financial issues, people started adding beans to chili to increase its nutritional value, while making it cheaper, by replacing some of the beef with beans. Recipes for this new regional variety spread like wildfire, and as chili became more and more popular across the country, beans became associated with chili. 

Now, the tradition of putting beans in chili is now a common theme among regional chili, however, Texas style chili, the original chili, has no beans. In fact, the Chili Appreciation Society International, the governing organization of Chili cooking competitions around the world, forbids the use of beans in any chili submitted in competition. So, chili should not have beans. If you enjoy beans in chili, make baked beans, and add it to a bowl of chili, just as one adds cheese or sour cream as a condiment. However, beans do not, I repeat, do not belong in a pot of chili, no matter where you are from. Here’s a recipe for chili so you too can enjoy the joys of chili without beans.


  • 4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast trimmed of excess fat, cut into ½ inch chunks
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 3 jalapeno peppers seeded and diced
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups beef stock or broth
  • 2 bay leaves

Seasoning Mix

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Season the beef with kosher salt and black pepper.
  2. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat and brown half of the meat. Repeat with remaining beef. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the jalapeno peppers and onions and saute for about 10 minutes. The onions are softened. (Do not brown them).
  4. Stir in garlic and seasoning mix and cook for 30 seconds or just until fragrant.
  5. Add the beef back into the pot along with remaining ingredients.
  6. Bring the chili to a boil and then turn the heat down to low.
  7. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 3 ½ hours stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. If it becomes too thick, add more stock as needed.
  8. Before serving remove the bay leaves and serve plain or covered with sour cream, shredded cheese, or green onions.