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

4.84 from 31 votes

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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!



Still Hungry?

Subscribe to my Newsletter, follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for all my latest recipes and videos.

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!

Free Bonus
5 Secrets to True Tex Mex
Essential recipes & tips for delicious Tex Mex cooking!

email image

Explore More

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 5 stars
    Thank you Kevin! I made this yesterday and it was perfect. Mine didn’t pour, you could have patched a dent your car with it, but why waste it. It was exactly like I remembered. 3 other ex LA transplants agreed! Take the time to do it right. Thanks Again.

  2. This is nothing like Tommy’s chili. Even the video shows it being poured, which you simply can’t do with Tommy’s. It doesn’t even taste like it. There’s a knock-off Tommy’s in LA whose chili is runny like this so maybe this recipe is for that chili? It’s not bad, just not Tommy’s.

  3. 5 stars
    I made this today and it is so similar to the Tommy’s chili. For those who are criticizing the recipe, if you want the real deal, then go buy it? There’s no such thing as an exact recipe unless you actually have the exact recipe and ingredients.
    I have a pretty extensive spice collection so I had the ancho chili powder. I used Schiling Chili spice packet and instead of 3 cups of water, I used 2 cups of unsalted chicken broth and 1 cup of water. I didn’t want my chili to be super thick so I used a touch less masa. This recipe is a keeper and you can play around with it!

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve made this several times and the recipe is pretty close to the original Tommy’s.(I used to go after Lakers or Kings games while living in the L.A. area)
    Another good thing is that the chili freezes well!
    A very good substitute for a person now living in Seattle.

    1. So glad to read this Bob. Thanks for reminding me, too. I’m going to pull out a frozen backup out now for dinner!

    1. I make large batches all the time and freeze for up to 6 months Noah. Guess I’ll thaw a portion out and have this for lunch. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    1. Masa harina is NOT wheat flour. While corn flour can be used in this recipe, I prefer masa harina. Note that while both corn flour and masa harina are flours made from corn, masa harina is milled from corn kernels that have been soaked in a slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) solution to remove the hull. Hope this helps.

  5. 4 stars
    I’m not thrilled with the sweetness. I am glad I backed way down to a scant teaspoon of the sugar. The Tommy’s chili I have from the Valley is not sweet. But overall, a great recipe.

    1. The sweetness also comes from the carrot, but I don’t find it too sweet. Glad you gave this a go and for coming back to let me know Gary.

  6. 4 stars
    Hi Kevin, your version looks much more runny and chunky than real Original Tommy’s. this pic of a real Original Tommy’s. Can yours be made thicker?

    1. Trust me, this does continue to thicken. You could also use an immersion blender to get any desired consistency.

    2. 5 stars
      Wow, man. I just made this again, and it is thick as peanut butter. You maybe didn’t cook long enough or have the heat high enough.

  7. 5 stars
    Taste and consistency were very close to Tommy’s!! Thank you for sharing!!! I couldn’t find all the spices though. Do you have alternatives to the Homemade Chili Seasoning? You also mentioned 12 ancho chiles, but approximately what size are they? I found that they can range in size from 3 in. to 6 in.

    1. Angela, feel free to use whatever chili powder/seasoning you prefer if not making my blend. I just use 12 dried ancho and don’t measure as they are so varied in sizes. Hope this helps.