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Oct 19, 2009 10:31 PM

BEST Prepackaged dry chili mix?

I would like to get a pre-made chili mix....
any suggestions ?

I hear CinChili has a good one....


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  1. Wick Fowler, one of the founders of the Terlingua International chili cookoff, makes simply one of the best - if you must go prepackaged.

    I am preparing to attend the event as I write this.

    11 Replies
    1. re: DallasDude

      Yeah, if you gotta go pre-packaged, Wick is the one. Although Penzey's chili con carne blend (a chile-free seasoning blend to which you add your preferred style and amount of chile) is also worthy.

      1. re: DallasDude

        You should read the book about it "The Great Chili Confrontation" by H Allen Smith. came out in 1967, I think.

        1. re: DallasDude

          Hey DD,

          I have seen that stuff for years, but never knew it was the founder of the cook off. The fact that it says 2 Alarm on the package has always made me ignore it - not that I buy a mix for my chili (have my own recipe), so is it really that spicy?

          I am so jealous that you are going. I would love to go to that cookoff at least once in my lifetime. Have fun and taste for me.


          1. re: danhole

            Tahnk you danhole. We will be logging the adventure somewhere in Chow. It is my first time as well.

            The 2 Alarm includes a cayenne packet that can be used whole or in moderation. I have used this stuff and it is extremely fresh and quality. The few times I have used the box, I beefed it up spice wise.

            Which begs the question... I am from texas where beef is king. However \, I use savory cuts of chunked pork in my chili. The end result is more flavorful and consistent. I have never had a complaint, and the only comments i get is "damn, I am going to use pork next time".

            Any thoughts? Pre-ground chili meat is horrid. Hamburger makes little sense to me.

            1. re: DallasDude

              The Wick Fowler approach is to package the components separately - a large envolope of mild chile, a small one of cayenne, another of salt, and even one of masa for thickening. I think the cumin and oregano are combined, though. I think it is a good way of getting started with a Texas competition style chili. It is easy to move on and use your own ingredients. You can pickup all these spices, for example, from the rack of spices in cello packages in the Mexican aisle of your grocery.

              I can't say anything about CinChili, other than what one can glean from the Throwdown episode.

              1. re: DallasDude

                So far I have used ground chuck, or ground round. Now that I have my recipe perfected I want to try it with chuck steak or round steak. I would have never thought to put pork in it, but there is a place here in Houston that makes a good burger with pork and ground beef.

                1. re: danhole

                  The cubed pork is greatness. They are firm on the outside and explosive juiciness on the inside.

                  1. re: DallasDude

                    I'd like to know more about the pork. Not sure this is the right board for that. Maybe you could mosey on over to the Home Cooking board and explain your pork method for chili.



              2. re: danhole

                I reiterate my note of the book about the is hilarious and the Big Joke (that is to say, the "whole scheme") is wonderful.

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  I need to find that book. I googled it and found an article from Texas Monthly in 1992 about the chili cook off, that was great. Sounds like a rowdy bunch! Amazing how the art of chili can cause so much turmoil.

                  1. re: danhole

                    Smith, who was once a well-known humorist, went looking for the fight. He and Fowler squared off in Teralingua. You will see why rather quickly. There is chili history in it, beans v. no beans, fights about masa, etc. Smith lived, at the time , in Mount Kisco NY and much of the fun is the invective hurled back and forth from NY to Texas.[It is not giving away too much to report that Smith retired to Texas.]

            2. Actually, that looks pretty good. I was a bit concerned that it would be some kind of Cincinnati Chili mix, but if she won the Terlingua cookoff 2 years in a row, then I know for sure it isn't like that!

              7 Replies
              1. re: danhole

                Dani, CinChili comes from her name, Cindy Reed, a Houstonian, like ourselves. I've used it several times and will again if it ever gets cold. I'm lazy and use ground chuck, but other than that I follow it closely. It makes excellent chili. By the way, the last fifteen years of Terlingua recipes can be found at

                1. re: James Cristinian


                  I figured that out when I went to the site! Glad to hear about someone who has actually used it. Can you buy it in town?

                  I think I have the in my bookmarks, but thanks. If it wasn't there before it will be now. Oh, and it is supposed to get cold very soon - wet & cold.

                  1. re: danhole

                    Dani, I make it from scratch, but she does sell mixes on her website, see op.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      From scratch? Where did you get the recipe? On I saw the mixes. Just wishful thinking that I could find it in Houston.

                      1. re: danhole

                        Right, on The main reason I picked her recipe, other than she's from Houston, was I had most of the ingredients on hand.

                        1. re: danhole

                          Cin Chili is available at Spec's downtown; doesn't she list other retail locations on her website? I've used it but it's too mild for me while Wick Fowler's overdoes the ancho.

                          I used WF for years but now make my own blend. The best ready to use mix I've found is Pecos Red, also made here in Houston, but very limited availability at retail, even here (Spec's has that, too). It's about twice as expensive as Cin which is more expensive than WF. Both call for hamburger grind meat but I ignore that and cube or use chili grind.

                          Both Cin and Pecos Red are more nuanced than WF.

                    2. re: James Cristinian

                      The cubed pork comes out quite awesome, try it if you can. Firm on the outside, explosively juicy on the inside. It takes less time to achieve the tenderness beef would.

                      The Cin threw me off, I had images of Cincinnati floating about my brain.

                  2. Carroll Shelby's mix is the best in my book. Oh so good. My mother took some to a chili party once, not realizing it was a cook-off. She won! Had to turn the prize down because she didn't make it from scratch, and everyone was shocked when she told them it was from a mix.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: tzurriz

                      Second vote for Shelby's. Although I deplore the calmed-down (okay, dumbed-down) instructions - no more telling you to cut meat into pieces the size of your little toe - the ingredients include the best premixed chili powder I've ever tasted. Only thing is they tell you to add the chili powder after the liquid, while anyone who knows what's what knows enough to fry the powder in with the meat at the end of the browning process and THEN add the liquid. I made a pot of this with TURKEY one night for a club meeting, and our token Texan helped himself to three bowls anyway.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Another nod to Shelby's here. Makes chili fast and simple. And tasty!
                        Yes you add the liquid after the spices. Even this NYer knows that!

                    2. A strong vote for Morton's Chili Blend here.

                      1. I will add my vote for Wick's 2 Alarm Chili. I have been using it for years, when I want a quick chili. I don't use ground meat though. I finely dice some stew meat. I have also used diced venison steaks. Also where the instructions call for water I use beer.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ChrisOC

                          Last time I used Wick's was with 'oriental cut' short ribs, and black beans. I don't normally use beans in my chili, but have found that with fattier cuts, such as the ribs or oxtail, the beans absorb much of the excess fat.