Paleo Chili Recipe

In my Californian naïveté, I assumed that the great chili debate was simply a question of “to bean, or not to bean”. Apparently, I was wrong. Feelings run deep and they run hot over the “right” kind of chili powder, whether or not tomatoes can be added, to use ground meat or stew cuts, and don’t even get folks started on where chili actually originated.


Growing up, chili was one of the few things that came out of a can. My mother, being from France, wasn’t what you’d call skilled in the art of southwestern cooking. My dad, well he just wasn’t real skilled at cooking at all (except for the world’s best scrambled eggs, burgers, steaks, and potatoes). I can’t say where or when I first ate chili, but I know I’ve loved it since I was a small girl. The other kids ordered French toast or Belgian Waffles at our local breakfast spot (hey hey, Millbrae Pancake House). Me, I never strayed from my favorite breakfast, Chili Corn Pancakes.

I first started making chili when I became a vegetarian at 16. Spicy black bean chili was a major staple of my diet. It usually consisted of canned black beans, fresh tomatoes, chiles, onions, and spices. I still love black bean chili, though my recipe has evolved over the years to be a tad more complex.

Chopped Heirloom Tomatoes

My first taste of Texas style chili was in 2002 during a road trip to eastern Colorado. The savory spicy meat bomb was a revelation, and (I thought) a lark. It took me years to realize that Texas-style chili existed outside of that awesome diner in Colorado (I know, I know). Last March, for the very first time, I made Texas-style chili. It knocked my socks and the socks of my friends- off.

Paleo Chili Recipe

I promised in this post that I would make the chili again and share the recipe. I didn’t expect that I’d take nearly a year and a half to do it. I was inspired to make this chili by an amazing haul from my friend Annie’s garden. I stopped by for a visit and left with bags upon bags of the most succulent tomatoes, bright shiny chilies and freshly picked onions and garlic. I’m lucky to have a friend like Annie, and not just for her generous gifts of produce.

Paleo Chili Recipe

Paleo Chili Recipe

While chili in summer would have once a daunting thought, my slow cooker has made things much easier. I stood over a hot stove for all of 20 minutes- just long enough to brown my gorgeous grass-fed meats. If you don’t have a slow-cooker, you can do this on the stove top too. I love it served over a bed of mashed sweet potatoes which is decidedly un-Texan, but what can I say… I’m a California girl at heart.

Paleo Chili

  • 4lbs grass fed stew meat cut into 1.5 in cubes
  • 2lbs pastured pork shoulder cut into 1.5 in cubes
  • 2.5lbs tomatoes (I used a wide variety of organic heirlooms) coarsely chopped, juices reserved.
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1lb various fresh chilies (I used anaheims, poblanos, gypsy peppers, curly banana peppers, and a couple of very hot purple Chinese chilies), coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 dried chipotles finely chopped (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika (your choice of hot or mild)
  • 3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • (plus more salt and pepper for seasoning meat and seasoning at the end )

Paleo Chili Recipe

  • Season meat with salt and pepper then rest on the counter for about one hour so it comes to room temperature.
  • Working in batches or in multiple pans, sear meat over medium-high heat. Turning each piece every 3-5 minutes until all sides are browned.  Be sure not to crowd the pan.
  • In a large bowl, toss tomatoes and their juices with the garlic, chipotles, paprika, cocoa powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Place chopped onions at the bottom of the slow cooker, in another layer, add chilies, top with the browned meat, then finally top with the tomato and spice mixture.
  • Turn your slow cooker on low and cook for 10 hours. During the last hour, remove the lid to thicken the sauce. Give it one more taste and season as needed.
  • Serve with traditional chili toppings. We used raw milk cheddar, chopped fresh tomatoes, red onion, and cultured sour cream.

Paleo ChiliPaleo Chili

Want some ideas for Paleo & Primal Recipes, check out my board on Pinterest
Follow The Tomato Tart’s board Paleo & Primal on Pinterest.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Jodee Weiland September 12, 2013 at 6:13 PM

This looks delicious! I like the idea of the Texas style, actual chunks of meat, versus the ground meat version. Looks great!


The Tomato Tart September 13, 2013 at 10:11 AM

It sure is delicious. Also the meat is much leaner and stew cuts are inexpensive even when buying grass fed and pastured meats.


rona love September 24, 2013 at 10:34 AM

WOw..very yummy and interesting and at the same time very healthy!


Custom Cakes in Pune September 25, 2013 at 4:56 AM

All looks delicious, these are such a mouth watering…


rachelcotterill September 30, 2013 at 11:10 AM

I love making veggie chilli… and since I need to make it veggie anyway, I have to admit I've never worried too much about authenticity ;) But I was very interested to read your description.


Dieting Revisited October 3, 2013 at 11:11 PM

Wow!!! Great work on the photography! It urges everybody to eat. Thanks for sharing this interesting and healthy information with us!


Danny October 8, 2013 at 2:26 AM

Would you look at all this food…lol! Fantastic information here I can use for my own


BellaCucinaMaria December 4, 2013 at 10:22 AM

I am beyond excited about this chili … I made a few minor adjustments and can't wait to tell you how it works out! Since tomato season has come and gone in my neck of the woods I am using 3 – 14oz cans of Hunts Fire Roasted tomatoes and 1 cup of stock. I think that will get me close enough to the liquid portion of the fresh tomatoes all cooked down. The pepper combo I used was 2 red bell, 2 poblano and 2 jalapeño (seed removed!). Only after I started I realized I was out of dry chipotle, but always have the canned variety individually wrapper in the freezer – so 1 of those. All the other ingredients the same. The last change was doing it in a dutch oven … browning not only the meat but the peppers and onion too. It's in the oven right now and I can't even describe how my house smells!! I will report back later … but thank you again for inspiring me! I love your blog!!!


BellaCucinaMaria December 5, 2013 at 4:33 AM

AMAZING …. and so delish … the spice combo is perfect! Next time I'm leaving the seeds in the jalapeños and adding another chipotle … I was a little to judicious on the spice! lol


The Tomato Tart December 5, 2013 at 5:51 AM

Oh, I am so glad you liked it. I\’m headed out of town for a week, so I\’m putting this chili in the slow cooker for my hubby today. I may mix it up a bit too. I\’ll let you know the results.


The Tomato Tart December 5, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Thank you Maria! I\’m so thrilled you enjoyed it. I don\’t know how I missed this comment before, but I\’m so glad I saw it today. Thank you for your kind words. Enjoy the chili


Clowdy February 23, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Millbrae Pancake House!!!!! I are there all the time as a kid as well and always left with a can of French Fruit Flavored Pastilles and a Golden book.


The Tomato Tart February 28, 2014 at 7:29 AM

OMG, I totally forgot they used to sell Pastilles. The lemon were my favorite- oh and the violette with the fennel seed inside.
Are you from the area?


Danielle March 12, 2014 at 6:13 AM

Hi all! I'm not a huge fan of spicy food, and I know most Texan chilies of this sort are pretty hot. So, to ask the stupid question, is this recipe just as good if I drop some of the chilies out of the equation?


The Tomato Tart March 13, 2014 at 1:14 PM

I think you can totally drop some of the chilies and maybe replace with a variety of sweet peppers. I\’d love to hear what you think.


Becky November 7, 2014 at 11:26 AM

How many does this recipe serve? I have looked over the recipe multiple times and can't find that


The Tomato Tart November 7, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Hi Becky,
Great question, this fills a 6 quart slow cooker– almost to the top.
If you consider a serving 1/4lb meat (uncooked weight) per person, it will feed 24. I would be conservative though, and say it feeds 16-18.


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