Original Tommy’s Chili Copycat Recipe

Original Tommy’s is a restaurant here in California (founded in 1946 by Tommy Koulax) that makes the most AMAZING chili I have ever tasted. The restaurant serves their world famous chili on burgers, fries, hot dogs or you can even order it as a side. I will say, it is most certainly NOT healthy, but it is a guilty pleasure I love to enjoy every now and then.

A few years ago, I wondered what made this chili taste so incredible and decided to look to see if anyone had developed a copycat recipe. Sure enough someone had done the work for me. I have saved the recipe but unfortunately I am unable to find the same link where I originally found the Tommy’s Chili recipe (about 3-4 years ago) in order to provide proper credit (if anyone knows who I can thank, please post it in the comments below).

Here is the recipe, slightly adapted from the source where I originally found it. When I made it, I thought tasted just like the chili I enjoy from Tommy’s.

I hope you enjoy it too!

Original Tommy’s Chili Copycat Recipe

  • 1 lb. ground beef (80%/20% is what I used)
  • 1 1/2 c. flour (1/4 c. in one bowl and 1 1/4 c. in another bowl)
  • 1 1/3 c. beef broth
  • 4 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 medium sized (or about 2 tbsp. grated) carrot grated and chopped

Spice Mixture:

  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. dehydrated minced onion
  • 1 tsp. paprika

Preparation Instructions:

Feel free to watch the YouTube video above to supplement these instructions.

  1. In a large saucepan, brown the meat and crumble it as it browns.
  2. Once it is completely browned, drain the fat in a separate bowl (don’t discard the fat – you’ll need it)
  3. Return the strained brown meat to its original pan.
  4. Take the drained fat from step 2 and pour it in another large saucepan or a dutch oven (which is what I used). Turn to Medium heat. We are going to make a roux, which is a French gravy made from fat and flour. This is what makes the chili nice and thick.
  5. Once the fat begins to warm up, you can add in 1/4 cup of flour and stir constantly. Try to get all of the lumps out of it and keep stirring, otherwise if you leave it alone it will probably burn. If it burns, it may ruin everything so be careful! Keep stirring for about 10-15 minutes, until it reaches a caramel color.
  6. Add the beef broth to the roux and stir. Turn off the heat.
  7. Return to the original pan with the ground beef. Turn the heat back onto Medium and add in the 4 cups of water and the remaining flour (1 1/4 cups).
  8. Combine the beef mixture with the roux mixture together in the dutch oven and add in the remaining ingredients: grated carrot, spice mixture (garlic, salt, sugar, chili powder, cumin, minced onion, and paprika), and vinegar. Mix together until it’s all nice and smooth. (Don’t forget to turn off the heat from the empty saucepan.)
  9. Cover and let the mixture continue to simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  10. Serve on top of burgers, fries, hot dogs, nachos or whatever you want! This chili is awesome!!! ENJOY!

Note: The flavor will continue to develop, so if you make it one day and reheat it the next day the flavor will get even better.