Chasen's Chili (Hollywood Nostalgia Recipe)

"This delicious, long-kept-a-secret, recipe represents a bit of old Hollywood history. Dave Chasen started his restaurant in 1937 as a BBQ shack that featured ribs and chili. His business evolved into one of Hollywood's most famous resturants. It featured American cuisine. By 1940, his famous chili was dropped off the menu but was available if one asked for it; however Dave kept his recipe a dark secret. Eleanor Roosevelt asked for the recipe and was told "no", however Dave sent her a complimentary order. Liz Taylor had an order of his chili flown to her in Rome when she was there making Cleopatra. Before the restaurant closed in 1995, the secret recipe and other memorabilia was given to the Los Angeles Public Library. The recipe is available in the archives of the main library, located in downtown Los Angeles. After the restaurant closed, the building was sold. The building is now occupied by a grocery store, which has a cafe in the store. Some of the old booths are still there along with photos and memoribilia on the walls. They serve Chasens chili; and the store caters to a celebrity clientel."
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Ready In:




  • Cook dry beans according to package directions.
  • Stir the tomatoes with juice into the cooked beans, and simmer 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the bell pepper for 5 minutes.
  • Add the onion, reduce the heat to low, and cook about 15 minutes until tender, stirring frequently.
  • Stir in the garlic and parsley; add this mixture to the beans.
  • Using the same skillet, melt the butter and saute the beef and pork, in two batches, if necessary, until browned. Drain.
  • Add meat to the bean mixture along with the chili powder, salt, pepper to taste and cumin.
  • Simmer mixture, covered, for about an hour.
  • Uncover and cook to the desired consistency, about 5 minutes.
  • The chili should not be too thick.
  • Skim off excess fat and serve.

Questions & Replies

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  1. I'm lucky enough to tell you that I've had the Original Chasen's Chili recipe given from Mr.Chasen.. although ALL the recipes for it show pinto beans. Dave never used pinto or any beans of any kind!<br/>There is also two other issues, Dave always froze that famous chili reheating it before serving. It intensifies the flavors.. (try it if you have time).<br/>There is a "secret ingredient" no recipe posted has that he used. I know what it is..<br/>Can anyone guess what it could be? Hint: Starts with a 'K"!
  2. This is such a wonderful chili recipe! I have been making it for a few years now and don't make any other recipe for chili. Sometimes If I'm in a hurry i will not use fresh pinto beans and just use canned and drained instead and just add 1 (15) oz can beef broth. Both ways are excellent. Nice to see the REAL recipe for Chasen's Chili. Thanks for posting!!!!!


I live in a wooded hillside area of Los Angeles where it feels like being out in the country. I grew up in Rhode Island, and came to LA after graduating from URI. I recently retired from my job as an environmental specialist. So now I have time to collect internet recipes. My hobbies & interests are aquatics, shell collecting, my cats, feeding stray cats, home improvement projects and cooking. I love to travel and, years ago, lived in Mexico for several months. My favorite cookbooks are the ones written by Diana Kennedy; they are all great; and I have them all, some signed by her when I was enrolled in her cooking classes. I have a lot of cookbooks; some of my other fave authors and their books are: Madhur Jaffrey (especially World Vegetarian, World of East Vegetarian Cooking and A Taste of the Far East), Faye Levy, Martha Rose Shulman (especially Mediterranean Light, Provencal Light and Mexican Light) and Paula Wolfert.
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