Original Tommy's Chili Recipe

Tommy's Original 1946 Chili-Cheeseburger Recipe.
I've now been to over eleven countries, and still today my favorite hamburger that I've ever tasted comes from a little restaurant in Los Angeles called Tommy's. "If you don't see the shack, take it back."- is their mantra, referring to the tiny red building on all their signs and homage to the original Tommy's location that this burger legend began from.

Named after its inventor: Tommy Koulax, the Tommy's Original chili cheese burger is as much of a part of Los Angeles as the Hollywood sign is. Indeed, the location on Hollywood Boulevard became my second home while living in Southern California. Tommy's is famous for one thing in particular: their chili. It's a robust, tangy combination of chili that's undeniable the world's best condiment chili. You can get it on a cheeseburger, french fries, or even a sausage breakfast sandwich in the morning; however, you can't get any of this if you don't live in California (or Vegas). For a longtime, I like many of my fellow displaced Los Angeleans, craved a Tommy's Burger without a way of subduing the addiction. Then one day I entered the kitchen, and I didn't come out till I fabricated the perfect clone to Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers. This latest version of the recipe is the best tasting version I've ever made, and I hope it will help you, my friends out there on the Internet, to end your chili suffering.
Original Tommy's Chili Recipe v. 6 (9 November 2015)
Ingredients (can be doubled):
  • 1 LB of ground beef (80/20% fat content) 
  • 1 can/box of beef broth (13-14.5 oz)
  • 1 food processed  raw carrot
  • 2 Tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of Masa flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • dash (1/8 teaspoon) of cayenne
  1. Food process (or in a pinch, grate and mince) carrot till only tiny flakes remain.
  2. In a large pot or cast-iron pan over medium high heat, add beef, carrots, and begin to brown.
  3. Reduce heat and add all seasonings (including broth) but flour and vinegar.
  4. Add vinegar, followed by flour in tablespoon quantities, mixing chili as you go.
  5. Simmer and stir on an extremely low heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Carrots in chili? Called Mirepoix Cuisine, its an aromatic used to enrich the overall flavors of the beef broth flavors. It's also used in the base of a very popular West coast provision chili (a wholesale base), which is believed to be the base of Tommy's chili. The sweetness balances out the peppers, and balance is what makes recipes good.
  • The Best Version Yet: I really feel that this is the closest (and simplest) version ever posted online for Tommy's Chili. I went back to the beginning, even researching Tommy's distributor for its chili, and obtaining label ingredients. Of course we're not producing this in a manufacturing plant, so you may find minor differences. This chili becomes even better when refrigerated overnight, and then re-heated like Koulax likely did in he original restaurant.
The Secret to Chili-burger Success:

I take no responsibility if you go mucking up perfection, so be-careful chili-warrior in your quest for
the perfect chili-burger.
At this point I think we need to discuss how to construct a proper burger. In this case you need to be thinking "double cheese" unless you have some medical rubber band around your stomach whereby this recipe is sure to kill you. In fact, a trick I learned here in the south is to plop a huge 1/2 inch thick slice of melted Velveeta on the sandwich. Try it, you can thank me later. If you're going for authenticity, according to Tommy's own website they use Extra Sharp American Cheese.
Think of the Mustard as a salad dressing, French's being the standard in the hamburger business. You want it around your vegetables to bring out their taste. The onions should be placed on top of the chili so that the heat can permeate into them and release their onion goodness. I should also note, on this type of burger the onions should be diced not sliced. On a chili burger, the onion should be white, yellow, or sweet.
One last note is pickles: DILL people, DILL! If you're one of those people who destroys their burger art with some other variation of pickle on their burger, then I'm forced to wish you ill, and curse your sexual organs to dry up and become sterile (just kidding, I'll still love you... I just won't understand your wicked ways). I remember going into restaurants as a child and occasionally getting a "burger" that had been raped with a sweet pickle. Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no... I weep tears of sorrow and pain for those who indulge in such blasphemous pickles.
Good luck, Godspeed and party on dudes.

Now where did I put those Cascabella peppers? 


  1. I will try this in the very near future and as a cook of many many years I can look at the list of ingredients until this is a simplistic yet super delicious combination to make someone smile and walk away from the ordinary and enter a new era of taste from an old tried-and-true recipe.THANK YOU!

  2. Did anybody else give this recipe a try?


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