Beefy Tomatillo Chili ♥

Beefy Tomatillo Chili, the 'sour' of tomatillos totally works with chili. For Weight Watchers, #PP4. #LowCarb.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's chili recipe: A big pot of rib-sticking chili made with chunks of beef and tomatillos. Low Carb. Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

Shake it up, baby! Who says chili has to be the same thing, every time, every pot? Come cold weather, every couple of weeks, you'll find a big pot of chili simmering away here in our kitchen. To shake it up, to not get bored, we mix up the chili recipes. Often, of course, we follow no recipe, just kinda make it up as we go along. Luckily, chili likes that! We were enamored with tomatillo chili, the distinct "sour" of tomatillos really works in chili. So maybe you want to follow this recipe (it's a good one, I promise) or maybe you just want to tuck some tomatillos into your own make-it-up-as-you-make-chili. Either way, tomatillos belong in chili.

MEAT? Really, at A Veggie Venture? Yes, A Veggie Venture is about vegetables but it's not 100% vegetarian. And while 95 percent of the site is veg(etari)an, occasionally I post a recipe for the readers who, like me, are vegetable-crazy omnivores. (Note to Vegetarians)


Hands-on time: 40 minutes
Time to table: 7 hours
Makes 16 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt & pepper

Splash water
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 poblano chili, diced small
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husked and quartered
1 tablespoon garlic
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
15 ounces canned black beans, drained and rinsed
15 ounces canned spicy chili beans with liquid
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
15 ounces canned tomatillos, drained, rinsed and puréed in a blender

Fresh cilantro

MEAT In a large Dutch oven (or a large skillet if using the slow cooker later), heat the oil until shimmery, add as much meat as can be cooked in a single layer (it should sizzle) and season with salt and pepper. Let the pieces brown on one side for two to three minutes before tossing, repeat until all sides are browned. (Really let the meat brown, a few pieces can even take on a little burn.) Set aside (in the slow cooker if cooking in a crockpot). Repeat with remaining meat pieces.

VEGETABLES & BEANS In the same pot, heat the water, then add the onion, pepper and tomatillos as they're prepped and cook just until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

To COOK in the OVEN Set oven to 200F/100C. Add the meat back into the pot, then stir in tomatoes, beans, cumin, chili powder and canned tomatillos. Stir together and bring to a boil. Transfer to the oven to slow cook for 5 – 6 hours. About an hour before serving, check the chili; adjust the seasoning and if needed to thicken, uncover for the last hour.

To COOK in a CROCKPOT In the slow cooker, combine the cooked meat and the onion-poblano-tomatillo mixture, then stir in tomatoes, beans, cumin, chili powder and canned tomatillos. Cook on high for 6 hours or 8 - 10 hours on low. About an hour before serving, check the chili; adjust the seasoning and if needed to thicken, uncover for the last hour.

graphic button small size size 10 VOLUME This recipe makes one huge pot of chili – be sure your pot is big enough! Or divide between a couple of pots. It does freeze beautifully too.
graphic button small size size 10 BEEF Be sure to cook the beef into bite-size pieces, otherwise they'll get lost in the chili. You could sure use ground meat here too, no problem. The chili is sauce-y enough that it could manage more meat, up to another pound and a half or so. It depends on your taste. Oh – and would this be fantastic with pork? You bet! (We just have a freezer full of beef ... I miss pork!)
graphic button small size size 10 CANNED TOMATILLOS These are kind of hard to find! I did find some the first time we made this chili, but it turns out more green than red in color with tomatillos. (The chili in the photo was made with extra tomatoes instead of extra tomatillos.) But they're not essential. You could leave them out entirely or hmmm, maybe use a jar of green chili sauce which usually has tomatillos in it. Or you could purée a can of diced tomatoes. (I wouldn't use tomato sauce though, I don't know, it's too sauce-y or something.)
graphic button small size size 10 TIMING Consider making this chili the day before serving. Both times, I was surprised how long it took for the flavors to really develop.
graphic button small size size 10 HEAT & SWEET As written, the chili is on the mild side, those who really like heat will want to ramp up the chili powder and hot sauce. With the second pot, I also found myself wanting just a little bit of sweetness to balance the tomatillos and added about a quarter cup of barbecue sauce.

A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic

Still Hungry?


~ Vegetable Chili with Sweet Potatoes & Chipotle ~
~ Vegan Chickpea Gumbo ~
~ Quick Green Chile Stew ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Chillin': Favorite Chili, Chowder & Cornbread Recipes ~
~ Chocolate Chili ~
~ Crockpot Chili with Spicy Sausage ~
~ White Chicken Chili ~
~ more chili recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

A Veggie Venture is home of 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2015

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. HOO BOY! I made this tomatillo chili last night and my husband said , after tasting it this morning, "best chili you have made yet..." great praise indeed! Anyhoo, I just wanted to let you know, it is DEEEEELICIOUS! I just happened to have a few pork loins and I cut them into bite-size pieces and after "the sizzle" I put all into the crockpot overnight. LOVED your idea of the BBQ sauce ... gave it just that little extra bit of ... yum! Fortunately where I am in Central America at the moment, tomatillos in cans are easily available. Thanks for yet another WINNER.

  2. Ms Patricia ~ You are AMAZING! And call me thrilled that the recipe called to you too and that it turned out so so well! I just knew pork would be great in this chili! Thank YOU so much for taking the time to let me (and other readers!) know!

  3. I think I'd opt for pork -- tomatillos and pork just combine so well, don't you think? We love chili -- gotta add this one to the list!

  4. John ~ Yeah, pork! Now if I only had a freezerful of pork, you’d see recipes for IT!

  5. I have a pot of this in the oven right now. It tastes great so far. I am curious why one needs to include a can
    of canned tomatillos. I live in Dallas and we can get fresh any time. They were not available at the store I shopped
    at, so I added canned green chiles instead. I could add more fresh tomatillos or just omit. Just curious as to what the canned variety adds. Thanks!

    1. TejasMom ~ Y’know, I’d never thought about this before until you asked but I do believe we see fresh tomatillos all the time now, which we didn’t before -- and in fact, we nearly always have some on hand for one thing/another.

      But in answer to your question, no doubt we used canned tomatillos for the number one reason most cooks use ingredients: because they happened to be on hand and happened to sound good. :-)

      But on second thought, I also like the relative soft/wetness of the canned tomatillos, they (and to a lesser extent, the tomatoes) are the only source of liquid in the chili. And yes, fresh tomatillos would get soft/smushy since the chili cooks so long -- but I don’t think that’s the same as “being” the cooking liquid.

      To use fresh tomatillos, I’d be tempted to drop them into enough boiling water to cover, then let soften for a bit, then run the tomatillos/water both through the blender.

      In fact -- as these things go, I have everything in my fridge for another batch -- including fresh tomatillos, no canned.

      Thanks for asking the question, I hope the chili turns out great for you! Green chiles will make a great chili, by the way, but it won’t have that wonderful, distinctive sourness of tomatillos.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna