There have been chili lovers who’ve dedicated their lives to finding the perfect chili recipe. This is what I’ve discovered: no tomato, no beans, and just a whole lot of chili. And this chili is hot, of course, but it’s a kind of muffled rumbling heat, almost caressing. These beef chili tacos are what happens when spicy chili con carne meets all of your fave taco fixings.–Jonas Cramby

Beef Chili Tacos FAQs

Why is my braised beef still chewy?

The short answer is just that you haven’t cooked it long enough. This recipe calls for your piece of beef to be diced before braising and that cuts down on the cooking time considerably. At the two-hour mark, test a piece. If it’s not tender enough yet, let it continue to cook, checking every 20 minutes. Don’t give in to the impulse to turn up the heat, you’re just going to dry out the sauce. If it’s starting to look dry, add a little more beer and bouillon.

What other cuts of beef can I use in these tacos?

There are a few options for braising steak that will work well in these tacos. Chuck, skirt, top blade, and flank are all great. Chuck roast is primarily used because you can get a nice-sized piece of meat for a decent price but any of the leaner, tougher pieces will do well here.

Four beef chili tacos and two lime halves in a basket, with bowls of pickled onions, slaw, and a beer on the side.

Beef Chili Tacos

5 from 1 vote
When chili con carne meets all your favorite taco fixings, the result is these beef chili tacos. The taste? Incomparable.
David Leite
CuisineTex Mex
Servings6 to 8 servings
Calories413 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time2 hours 45 minutes


  • 1 dried chipotle chile
  • 1 to 2 dried chiles, such as ancho or guajillo
  • 1 cup cold water
  • About 2 1/4 pounds braising steak, such as chuck shoulder or blade, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch (12- to 24-mm) dice
  • Mild vegetable oil or olive oil, for frying
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried coriander
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 fresh chiles, such as jalapeño, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups beer, such as Modelo
  • 1 beef bouillon cube (optional)
  • Small corn or flour tortillas
  • Lime, crème fraîche or sour cream, chopped cilantro, chopped onion, pickled red onions, diced avocado, and Cheddar cheese, for serving


  • Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chipotle and ancho chiles. Toss the chiles in a small saucepan, cover with 1 cup (237 ml) water, and boil for about 15 minutes, until most of the cooking liquid has been absorbed.
  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil. Add 1/3 of the beef and cook until the meat is well seared on each side, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and repeat with the remaining meat in 2 more batches, adding 1 tablespoon oil to the pan after each batch. When the meat has been seared, toss the garlic in the pan and cook until golden brown on all sides.
  • Return the seared meat and any juices that may have collected in the bowl to the saucepan or Dutch oven. Sprinkle the meat with flour, chile powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the fresh chiles into the saucepan, too.
  • Pour the boiled chiles and their cooking water into a blender or food processor and purée. Pour the chile mixture over the meat and spices. Add the beer and the bouillon cube, if using. The liquid should just cover the meat. Cover and gently simmer the meat for at least 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and the sauce is slightly thickened and silken.
  • Serve the beef chili with the tortillas, wedges of lime, crème fraîche, or sour cream, cilantro, onion, avocado, and grated cheese.
Tex-Mex From Scratch Cookbook

Adapted From

Tex-Mex from Scratch

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 413 kcalCarbohydrates: 9 gProtein: 36 gFat: 25 gSaturated Fat: 11 gMonounsaturated Fat: 12 gCholesterol: 104 mgSodium: 278 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 3 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Jonas Cramby. Photo © 2015 Roland Persson. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This beef chili taco filling was easy to put together and super tasty. It didn’t pack a punch in the spiciness department but it was still delicious. So delicious. The meat comes out very tender after cooking for 2 hours. The acidity of the lime on the tacos makes this tender meat pop with flavor.

I only used one fresh jalapeño, and would definitely use a second one next time. I also used Japones instead of anchos. I think anchos are not as hot as Japones but I still didn’t find the meat spicy. I used a chuck blade roast and the beef bouillon cube. The meat was completely done and very tender after 2 hours of simmering.

This recipe is quite possibly the holy grail of taco meat. Amazing. The aroma of the chiles filled my kitchen and transported me back to Texas. I thought this would be a drier result, like carnitas, but you are left with a deep red silky sauce that coats your tortilla in comforting heat. It doesn’t get any better than this.

I used guajillo chiles and Modelo beer. I didn’t spoon off any drippings or oil (there wasn’t much). The chiles and water became a paste in the food processor because much of the water evaporated during the boil. The liquid barely covered the meat. I considered adding more beer but didn’t. It proved to be just right in the end.

The meat was tender after 2 hours and the liquid turned into an amazing deep red gravy-like sauce. It was the perfect amount and consistency to envelop the meat. We used small corn tortillas warmed one at a time in a small pan barely rubbed with oil. Served with pickled jalapeños; a relish mixture of cilantro, onion, and lime juice, pico de gallo, and crumbled Cotija cheese.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. Hi there, Can someone please tell me how you make the sliced onion for the taco, I can see it is a red onion but how has it been pickled or prepared please? We have had some from a food truck and it is delicious, it appers sort of pickled but does not have the spiciness and tartness of vinegar etc. HELP please.

      1. What can I substitute for the flour? We’ve got one person with GF dietary needs in the household. Otherwise, this would be perfect for family dinner.

        1. Nisha, there are a lot of one-for-one gluten-free flours available in most supermarkets. That should do the trick nicely.