James Coney Island Chili is famous in Texas. Don’t miss out on your chance to have a taste of what Texans enjoy. What makes their chili so special is that they use diced chuck steak instead of ground beef. The diced meat really adds a nice rich flavor to this chili. Use this chili to make your favorite chili dog, Frito pie, or simply enjoy a bowl of it.
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What Makes James Coney Island Chili So Good? Full Flavored Beef Chili
Hot and filling, a bowl of chili is the perfect dinner on a cold winter’s evening or really any time you want a hearty meal. This recipe is made from diced chuck roast and not ground beef like most chili recipes and doesn’t contain a single bean.
Like any other good chili, this one takes time to develop the best flavor. Start cooking the chili in the mid-afternoon, and by the time dinner rolls around, the wonderful smells will bring your family to the table before you have a chance to call them!
Not All Chili is the Same
What makes a great chili depends on where you live. This chili recipe falls squarely into the Texas-style chili category with its use of cubed meat, beef stock, and lack of beans.
Other regions of the country have their own favorites such as Cincinnati-style chili made with ground beef, cinnamon, and, most surprisingly, chocolate powder.
Springfield-style chilii, yes, with an extra ‘l’, they like to do things their own way in Illinois like using ground turkey, bacon, beans, and beer to cook up their regional variation.
And you can’t forget the Coney Island-style chili from New York City. This beanless version is more of a sauce than a stew, and it is usually served up on hot dogs known as Coney Dogs.
The Origin of James Coney Island Chili
This recipe is inspired by the classic chili served at James Coney Island, a downtown Houston tradition since 1923. When brothers Tom and James Papadakis opened up their tiny stand on the corner of Walker and Main they couldn’t have known it would grow to become the multiple-location chain it is today.
While some things have changed (you won’t find goose liver and Roquefort sandwiches on the menu today, sorry), others, like the chili, have not. That is why Houstonians are just as crazy about James Coney Island food now as they were close to a hundred years ago.
Stop by one of the JCL grill locations, like a native Houstonian, or cook up a big batch of the recipe below.
James Coney Island Chili Recipe Ingredients
Here’s a list of what you need:
- Chuck roast
- Beef broth
- Vegetable oil
- Canned whole tomatoes
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Seasoned salt
- Garlic salt
- Cayenne pepper
- Saltine crackers
- Masa harina
How to Make James Coney Island Chili
Here are the steps for preparing this delicious Texas chili:
- Cut the chuck roast into small bite-sized pieces.
- In a large saucepan of high heat, brown the diced chuck roast in vegetable oil, stirring frequently until lightly browned.
- Add beef broth and water.
- Simmer the beef for 1 hour on medium-low heat.
- Place the tomatoes with juice in a blender and blend until pureed.
- Strain the tomatoes to remove the pulp and seeds.
- After the beef has been simmering for 1 hour, add pureed tomatoes.
- Add the spices to the meat and tomatoes and stir well.
- Simmer the meat mixture for 45 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Combine crushed saltine crackers, masa harina, and water to make a thickening sauce.
- Slowly pour enough of the thickening sauce into the meat and tomato mixture while stirring constantly.
- Simmer on low heat and stir until chili reaches the desired consistency and is ready to be served.
Coney Island Chili is great over hot dogs or served alone with your favorite accompaniments.
Extra Hints For Making and Serving James Coney Island Chili
- Toast your spices to really bring out the flavor. Heat a dry heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat. Add the paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper to the hot pan. Heat slowly while continually stirring until you can smell the toasted spices. Remove from the heat immediately to avoid burning.
- Serve the chili right. Toppings are almost as important as the chili itself. Favorites to serve chili include topping with sour cream, chopped green onions, or shredded cheese. James Coney Island chili also makes great Coney Dogs or to use as a sauce for spaghetti.
What to serve the chili with?
You can enjoy this hot dog sauce to make your favorite cheese coney, or you may want to serve this as a regular chili and serve it with some corn chips, tortillas, or crackers. You could top it with some freshly chopped white onions and top with a bit of Cheddar cheese.
How to store hot dog chili
1. Cool Down: Allow the homemade hot dog chili to cool down to room temperature before storing it. Placing hot food directly in the refrigerator can raise its internal temperature and potentially affect other items in the fridge.
- Choose a Container: Transfer the chili to an airtight container. You can use plastic containers, glass jars, or even resealable plastic bags. Make sure the container is clean and dry before adding the chili.
- Refrigeration: Homemade hot dog chili should be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40°F (4°C). Place the container on a shelf, away from raw meats and other potentially contaminating items.
- Freezing (Optional): If you don’t plan to use the chili within a few days, consider freezing it. Frozen chili can last for several months. Use a freezer-safe container, leaving some space at the top for expansion, as liquid may expand when frozen.
- Thawing: When you’re ready to use the chili, you can thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting on your microwave for smaller portions. Reheat it thoroughly before serving.
- Use Within Safe Timeframes: For refrigerated chili, it’s generally safe to consume it within 3-4 days. For frozen chili, it can remain safe for 2-3 months or longer if stored in a deep freezer.
If you can’t get enough chili, try these favorite recipes!
- 2 Alarm Chili Kit
- Chili Cheese Burrito
- Chili Cheese Tater Tots
- Chili Con Queso
- Chile Verde
- Cincinnati Chili
- Easy Chili Recipe
- Frito Chili Pie
- Instant Pot Wendy’s Chili
- Steak and Shake Chili
- Weight Watchers Chicken Chili
More James Coney Island Copycat Recipes
James Coney Island Chili
- 2 1/2 pounds chuck roast (tenderized and diced finely)
- 21 ounces beef broth
- 30 ounces water
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 29 ounces whole tomatoes with the Juice (food process, strain seeds and pulp, measure two cups for Chili, save remainder for another recipe)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 5 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon season salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 5 tablespoons Saltine crackers finely crushed
- 4 tablespoons masa harina
- 1 cup water – more or less, just enough to make a medium thick, smooth sauce
- Cut the chuck roast into small bite-sized pieces (diced).
- In a 4-quart saucepan, brown the diced chuck roast in vegetable oil, stirring frequently until lightly browned.
- Add beef broth and water.
- Simmer beef for 1 hour on medium-low heat.
- Place tomatoes with juice in blender and blend until pureed.
- Strain the tomatoes to remove seeds and pulp.
- After beef has been simmering for 1 hour, add 2 cups of the pureed tomatoes.
- Add all the spices to meat and tomatoes and stir well.
- Simmer for 45 to 50 minutes on low heat, stirring from time to time.
- Combine the finely crushed saltine crackers, masa harina, and enough water to make a medium thick, smooth mixture (thickening sauce).
- Slowly pour enough of the thickening sauce into meat and tomato mixture, to bring it to a thick state, stirring constantly. Depending on how much the liquid has been reduced, you may need less of the thickener.
- Simmer on low heat and stir until chili reaches the desired consistency and ready to be served.