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San Antonio Chili Queen’s Chili

April 2, 2024

Recipes  |  Roast  |  Stew

From the 1860s to the 1930s, the Chili Queens were the main attraction across the San Antonio’s city plazas, cooking up Mexican American delicacies with flare and finesse. Though the Chili Queens are credited with popularizing what we know today as Tex-Mex, there is one dish they made that became legendary: chili con carne.

My brother in law and I, who both love to tweak old recipes, spent the day adjusting, advising and having so much fun recreating this Chili Queens inspired dish. And better yet? Our best critics came for dinner (family) and gave us the gold star—or should I say Texas star—of approval.  

San Antonio Chili Queen’s Chili


  • 5-6 dried Ancho chiles
  • 3 Tbsp bacon grease or safflower oil
  • 3 lbs Big Lost chuck roast or Big Lost stew meat, cut into ½ inch to 1 inch cubes
  • Black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Flour
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds, toasted or ground
  • Chipotle in adobe sauce, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp Mexican oregano (use regular if you don’t have it)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Cornstarch or masa
  • Garnishes: shredded cabbage, cotija cheese, scallions, jalapeños and/or cilantro


  1. In a dry skillet heat Ancho chiles on high for about 10 seconds, turning once. Then, fill the skillet with enough water to cover chiles, once the water starts to boil, turn off heat and soak for 30 minutes until soft.
  2. In mixing bowl combine a little flour, salt and pepper with meat, then sear in oil until lightly browned.
  3. I do this in batches.
  4. Next, put the meat back in the bowl, then brown your onions in same pan as the beef (scraping any left-over beef bits with the onion), add garlic and continue to sauté until soft.
  5. Once sautéed, add garlic/onion mixture, honey, vinegar, chicken broth, oregano, cumin, Chipotles and chiles into blender. Blend until smooth.
  6. Once blended, place everything into a pot and return to boil. Then, let simmer for 2-3 hours. Adjust seasonings to taste and thicken with cornstarch or masa as needed.
  7. Set out garnishes and serve with warm tortillas.

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