Original Tommy’s Chili No Beans (BEST Copycat recipe)

4.84 from 31 votes

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Make Instant Pot chili for dinner tonight. This Original Tommy’s chili recipe has no beans or tomatoes. As a result, it’s thick and hearty – the perfect chili for hot dogs!

close up of an Original Tommy's copycat chili on a hot dog

What is Original Tommy’s?

This Instant Pot chili is a favorite of Dave’s, as he grew up in the LA area where Original Tommy’s Hamburgers started. Los Angeles natives have been eating this up for years and if you lived there and moved away, this is one of those meals you’d miss.

Thomas James “Tommy” Koulax opened the first location in 1946, on the corner of Beverly and Rampart boulevards, and it grew from there.

Known as the best place to go for a chili dog or burger at the end a late night of festivities, it is also a great lunch spot.

Coming from San Francisco I had never heard of it until I was taken to one restaurant in San Diego. I had to have it all, too, as instructed; a hamburger with chili and a chili cheese dog with pickles.

bowl of Instant Pot chili recipe no beans or tomatoes - chili for hot dogs

I make a great Tex Mex Chili con Carne that’s chunky and delicious, but it’s a complete opposite of this chili recipe.

Tommy’s chili sauce, as it’s known, is a smooth, thick chili recipe, no beans or tomatoes. I think this copycat recipe comes pretty darn close to the original. Plus, it’s made in an Instant Pot for a quick meal in no time.

Thick, almost spreadable, my copycat Original Tommy’s Chili is made using no tomatoes, no beans, uses several chili powders and masa harina to hit the spot. Perfect to top hamburgers, hotdogs, fries and my favorite, crispy tator tots!

overhead of 4 hot dogs with Instant Pot chili, cheese, onions, and yellow mustard

Uses for Instant Pot Chili

Because it’s so thick and spreadable, I think the best use for this is chili for hot dogs.

What could be tastier than a chili dog with Original Tommy’s chili, cheese, a squirt of yellow mustard, and onions?! The kicker are dill pickles, a MUST to have on the dogs, as the brine from the pickles counters the heat and richness of the chili.

Other delicious ways to enjoy this chili include:


Another benefit of this chili recipe having no beans or tomatoes is, it’s lower in carbs than many others. This isn’t to say that it’s low carb chili, because it’s not. There is a little bit of brown sugar in it, as well as a tiny bit of carrot and masa harina (corn flour).


Instant Pot chili recipe no beans on a hot dog with cheese, onions, and yellow mustard

This recipe first appeared on Kevin Is Cooking June 2015 and has been updated with new photos and video.


Watch how to make the Instant Pot chili below!



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close up of hot dog in bun topped with the works

Original Tommy's Chili (Copycat recipe)

4.84 from 31 votes
Thick, almost spreadable, my Original Tommy's Chili (Copycat recipe) is made using no tomatoes, no beans, uses several chili powders and masa harina to hit the spot.
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 50 minutes



  • Peel and cut the carrot into 2 inch pieces. Peel and quarter the onion. Cut the stem off the jalapeños and cut lengthwise. In a food processor add the carrot, onion, garlic and pepper. Pulse until almost a paste.
  • To the Instant Pot add the vegetable paste, 3 cups of water, ground beef, chili powders, cumin, paprika, salt, sugar, Mexican oregano and black pepper. Stir to mix and break up the ground beef (See Note 3).
  • Close lid and vent. Select Manual Pressure (High) and set timer for 18 minutes. Allow natural pressure release (10 minutes) not a Quick Release.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the flour, masa harina and 2 cups of water. Pour this in the chili mixture, stir to mix in and press the Saute option. This will sputter,so if your IP has the option, choose Saute Low, if not cover. Set for 10 minutes, stirring often. This will thicken considerably. Stir in the vinegar and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
  • Spoon over hamburgers, hotdogs, French fries, tator tots, or baked potatoes. I also like to have diced onions, mustard and dill pickles alongside.

Slow Cooker Method

  • Follow Steps 1 and 2 above. Add ingredients to a slow cooker EXCEPT the flour, masa harina, 2 cups of water and vinegar. Cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high in the slow cooker.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the flour, masa harina and remaining 2 cups of water. Pour this in the chili mixture in last 30 minutes of cooking, stir to mix thoroughly and cover. This will thicken and sputter. Stir in the vinegar and let rest 5 minutes before serving.


  1. I get a 80/20 ground beef, If you can find it at your market, or ask the butcher, use a "chili grind" ground beef, it's finer consistency than regular ground beef and perfect for this.
  2. Feel free to substitute Chimayo chile powder with any New Mexico red chile powder if you can't find it. I order online. 
  3. By adding the ground beef to the liquid and NOT browning it allows it to break down easier and the result is a smooth chili.


Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 1025mg | Potassium: 393mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3660IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 4.3mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Chili, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southwest, Western
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    Gathering all the ingredients took a minute, but so worth it! This recipe is so right on the money I shared it with my San Fernando valley fb group! I also don’t have a pressure cooker or food processor, finely grating carrot and onion and simmering it in a lidded pot worked just fine!

    1. Fantastic! Love reading comments like this. Thanks for trying and for taking the time to come back and let me know Christel!

      1. I knew Tom. We were competitors in Burbank, CA. I owned “The Hot Dog” on Verdugo and Hollywood Way. We both bought our chili base from RC Provisions in Burbank. The carrots were added to help the flavor. I will have to try your recipe and update my comments. Thank you.

  2. Okay, I’ve tried this recipe 6 times now. It’s extremely spicy and I never get the redish coloring or texture of what is shown in the pictures. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE spicy, so I’m okay with that…but the texture and look is just not the same. It doesn’t taste like Tommy’s chili to me…HELP! I need a solid chili recipe because there are no good chili places, that I’ve found, in Idaho!

    1. Oh man, I love this recipe and think its pretty spot on myself. Feel free to add a tablespoon of guajillo chile powder instead of the Ancho, but the Chimayo should give you that rich red color. As for the texture, maybe you’ll need to add more or less masa harina to get the desired texture you prefer?

      1. I will play with it more, and take those suggestions! The batch I made the other day was the best yet but still didn’t get that red color. It’s a mental thing for me now haha! Thank you!!

  3. 5 stars
    We have a local Tommy’s knock-off that has been around for like 27 years. I notice they put a lot of carrots in their chili. I have made this recipe (thank you for it Kevin) about four times now, and it is best when I triple the carrots: perfection.

  4. 5 stars
    Can you explain what the flour does? Trying to make a GF version and I’m now living outside of the US and have no access to GF flour substitute. Is it just to thicken it up? If that’s the case any natural thickener should suffice (chia, flaxseed, potato starch, cornmeal, etc).

  5. If I double the recipe and use 2 lbs of meat, do I need to double/extend cook time in instapot/crock pot?

    1. You should be good! Let me know how you like it! If you scroll over the serving quantity on my recipe card and double it your ingredient amounts will update for you too!

  6. 5 stars
    This looks amazing. I am a little confused on the water measurements. The recipe says 3 cups water divided. Step 2 instant pot says 3 cups water and step 4 instant pot says the remaining two cups wich would equal a total of 5 cups water. In the video looks like only one cup water with flour and massa which leads me to believe that step 2 should only be 2 cups water which would equal a total of 3 cups divided. Is that correct?

    1. Originally I had 5 cups with “divided” in the recipe and to avoid confusion separated them in the recipe card. Sorry the (divided) was still next to the first 3 cups Matthew! It 3 cups in the meat and 2 cups with the masa part.

  7. 5 stars
    The Tommy’s nutrition information looks like their chili is gluten free. Do you think perhaps they use cornstarch and masa harina instead of flour and masa harina? We always noticed when Tommy’s chili gets cold it gets that gelatinous corn starchy consistency. It also lists egg as an allergen, so is egg somehow incorporated as a binder? Sorry, just some copycat detective work! We’re not gluten free, just in the name of accuracy wondering how much cornstarch would you use instead of flour? We moved from CA years ago and are absolutely craving Tommy’s pretty much every day! Awesome recipe!

    1. 4 stars
      They just use masa harina. The key to the consistency is to hit it with an immersion blender once it’s cooked.

  8. 5 stars
    Also, for the hot dogs, steaming is the way to go if you want to be true to Original Tommy’s. Until a few years ago, Tommy’s used the all-beef franks from San Francisco-based Evergood. They now go with the all-beef franks from LA-based Papa Cantella’s.

    The hot dogs from both companies use natural casing for that satisfying snap when you bite into it. As far as I can tell, the flavor is very similar. Cantella’s is probably a little bit saltier. But, they’re both authentic to Original Tommy’s.

    The Evergood franks are easy to find in Northern California, while I can’t find Cantella’s products anywhere. I assume that Cantella’s franks are easier to track down in Southern California.