Pedernales River Chili Recipe

Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing.
One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red.
There is simply nothing better.”

– by Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States

Pedernales River Chili recipe was President Lyndon B. Johnson’s, 36th President of the United States, chili recipe. The chili was named after the location of his Texas Hill Country ranch.  This chili recipe is so good and so very easy to make!

Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson had cards printed with the LBJ’s “Pedernales River Chili” recipe.  The recipe was apparently so popular that Mrs. Johnson had it printed and mailed to satisfy the thousands of requests fielded from around the country.  She was quoted as saying that this recipe has been almost as popular as the government pamphlet on the care and feeding of children.

Pedernales River Chili in a bowl with onions

Learn about the history and legends of Chili, Chili Con Carne.

Pedernales River Chili Recipe:
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Keyword: Pedernales River Chili Recipe
Servings: 12 servings
  • 4 pounds beef, coarsely ground (chili-grind)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 6 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, cut up
  • 2 to 6 dashes hot sauce, or to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups hot water
  1. In a large frying pan, brown meat with onion and garlic until meat is lightly browned; transfer ingredients to a large heavy kettle or cast-iron Dutch oven.

  2. Add oregano, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, hot sauce, salt, and hot water.  Bring just to a boil; lower heat and simmer, covered, for approximately 1 hour.

  3. Remove from heat.  Skim off grease and serve.

  4. Serves 12.

Sources:  Pedernales River Chili Recipe is from the Lone Star Legacy, a cookbook put out by the Austin Junior Forum in 1981.  Photo by Evans Caglage of the Dallas Morning News, October 16, 2007.


Beef Chili Recipes    Chili Recipes    Dinner    Southwest Beef Recipes   

Comments and Reviews

7 Responses to “Pedernales River Chili Recipe”

  1. Steven Gordon

    This is the ONLY chili recipe you need. And true to Texas…NO BEANS!

    Simply the BEST chili recipe ever. LBJ would NOT eat anyone else’s!

    Even better when slow cooked in a crock pot.

    • Kayla

      How do you go about cooking it in the crock pot?

      • Linda Stradley

        Basically the same as cooking over your stove top, but just letting it simmer in the crock pot most of the day. I do this all the time.

  2. David Wright

    The one that I learned was to put it in the fridge and skim off the congealed fat the next morning.

  3. Cindy Lloyd

    Lady Bird admitted in 1963 that her “secret” ingredient was Rotel. It is what gave it the special flavor. Try it and you’ll see. Growing up in Texas I quickly learned that Rotel is the only canned tomatoes to use in anything Tex-Mex. It does make fabulous chili. I use Frank’s hot sauce but I believe Tobasco is the traditional hot sauce.

    • Nancy

      Thanks for adding your tip and bit of history.

  4. Randy t

    Buy 4 or 5 kinds of chili’s and seed. (about 1 1/2Lbs and put in hot water) . Let rehydrate. Purée and use instead of chili powder. That’s a bowl of Red!


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