For years, I have protected my secret 'Dragon's Breath Chili' recipe like it was my life. To ensure no one ever knew what my "super-secret ingredients" were. I would strip the labels off the cans and then pour the secret ingredients into glass canning jars.

A couple of years ago, the local 1044 Abilene Fire Fighters Association used my chili recipe for the big chili pot at the Boy's Ranch Chili Super Bowl & Brisket Cook-Off and I swore them to secrecy. I was mortified when I saw on Facebook, pictures of firefighters holding up cans of one of my, you guessed it "super-secret ingredients".

So, today's your lucky day. How would you like to make your own pot of award-winning Dragon's Breath Chili? Here's the recipe, super-secret ingredient and all. Tell me how it turns out.

Dragon's Breath Chili - Family Size


  • 5 pounds lean, coarse ground meat (beef)
  • 7 heaping tablespoons of dark red chili powder (better known as New Mexico Red)
  • super-secret ingredient 3 - 32 oz cans of chicken broth (preferably low sodium)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely ground oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt ( I prefer sea salt but table salt will do)
  • 1 - 3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper (this will be added to taste depending on how spicy-hot you want your chili.)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (peel and puree with onions in a food processor)
  • 3 medium onions, onions (peel and puree with garlic in a food processor)
  • 3 - 14-oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 small bottle of red food coloring (optional)
  • 3 tsp of ground powdered cumin (the final ingredient)


  • In a bowl combine the dry ingredients of chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, plus the pureed garlic cloves, and pureed onions.
  • Fry the meat in a skillet while stirring in only half of the dry ingredients mixed with the pureed onions and garlic. after the meat is fully cooked, drain all the grease and meat juices.
  • In a large stockpot add the cooked meat and half of the tomato sauce, two cans of the super-secret ingredient chicken broth (saving a can of chicken broth for the second secret of my recipe as you'll read below), Add the rest of the dry ingredients mixed with the onions and garlic. As you add your (fried and drained) meat into the pot, the chili will begin to thicken, thin it down by adding the rest of the tomato sauce (this is a texture preference, so it’s your call as to how thick or thin you want your chili)
  • Cayenne pepper is added for heat only, as some like their chili spicy-hot and some do not. My game plan has always been I added only a half of a teaspoon because some of the judges may or may not like a spicy chili. (one year, I didn't use any cayenne and I still placed first, so it's up to you).
  • Let simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, stirring constantly to keep from scorching. You know that can of chicken broth I asked you to save? Add into the broth about seven to ten drops of red food coloring (or more as you see fit for coloration only) then stirring in slowly into the chili this second-super-secret ingredient of red goodness I called my red fruit punch ingredient.
  • As the chili is simmering, add more broth and/or sauce as you think it needs for consistency. Adding the final ingredient 20 minutes prior to serving, stir in the 3 tsp powdered cumin (it adds aroma and a bit of spice), then stir it like crazy for the next 20 minutes. Then serve and enjoy!

Chili is the official "State Dish of Texas" and according to CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International, Inc.) rules, chili does not have beans or any other legumes which are the fruits or seeds of a family of plants called Fabaceae. If you wish to add beans in the chili, it is no longer called 'chili' but rather "Northern Stew!"

Just remember, anyone can cook this recipe but no two chilis come out alike. When you have two cooks making the same recipe at the same time using the same exact ingredients, you'll end up with two totally different pots of Texas Red chili. In my opinion, it’s impossible for me to make the same chili twice. I say my recipe is 'chili by the numbers' doing, using, and measuring everything the same every time to make a 'no mistakes chili.' Good luck!

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