2023 -Donna Foley’s Texas Red Hot Chili Recipe

byDonna Foley


Texan Donna Foley started competing in chili competitions more than 25 years ago. After enduring seven years of long Chicago winters, she grew tired of braving the cold and having to spend months inside due to the brutal winter weather. She was also longing for Texas comfort foods like Texas red chili and authentic TexMex cuisine. So, she packed her bags and moved back to sunny and warm Houston, Texas! When friends invited her to accompany them to a local chili cook-off, she knew that she had found the perfect hobby – enjoying an outdoor festival while cooking her beloved chili. She competed in her first ICS competition back in 2002 at the Texas State Chili Championship. She won that inaugural event–shocking herself as well as the others in attendance. After that victory, her husband Kevin (who she met at a chili cook-off) and Donna traveled to cook-offs all over the country, making fabulous friends along the way. She won some contests and lost many others. Over time, she recruited her father, sisters as well as nieces and nephews to join her out on the competitive chili cooking trail. Chili cook-offs became a beloved family tradition. Many of the friends she’s met along the chili trail are like family to Donna; to her that’s the best part of the chilihead lifestyle. She’s also been to places she never would have visited and found amazing out-of-the-way restaurants sprinkled all over the country. The 2023 ICS World Championship Chili Cook-off was her first time becoming a Red Chili Finalist. She was thrilled to be recognized as a Finalist and totally stunned to be crowned the 2023 Traditional Red World Champion!


2 lbs. cubed Tri Tip beef
½ tsp salt
½ tsp. black pepper
2 TBS. Vegetable Oil
1 14 1/2 oz can Swanson’s Low Salt Beef broth
1 14 1/2 oz can Swanson’s Low Salt Chicken broth
8 oz. spring water
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 serrano pepper

Spice Mix #1
2 TBS New Mexico chili powders like Mild Bill’s Gunpowder Foods Dixon or Hatch 1 TBS granulated onion
1 tsp Chicken Granules
1/4 tsp. All Things Chili Deadly Dudley chili powder

Spice Mix #2
3TBS chili powder blends like Gephardt’s or Mild Bill’s Gunpowder Foods San Antonio Original
1 TBS Mild Bill’s Gunpowder Foods Stockyard Special chili blend or Pendery’s Fort Worth Light chili powder blend
1 TBS ground cumin
1TBS granulated garlic
¼ tsp jalapeno powder


Brown cubed beef in salt, pepper, and vegetable oil and drain. In a 4-quart pot, add the 8 oz can of tomato sauce. Then use the 8 oz can as the measuring spoon and add one can of beef broth, chicken broth and water. Add the serrano pepper and drained beef and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the pepper. Add Spice mix #1 and simmer for 1 hour. Add Spice Mix #2 and simmer for 30 minutes. Salt to taste.