Mr. Mason's Chili


My grandmother used to care for the Masons. Mr. Mason was a pioneer in the roadside food industry. He owned cafes in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas that served chili and apple pie. He kept his chili recipe secret for decades. He lived to be 107 years old, and my grandma finally got his recipe.

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs 55 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 5 mins
4 servings


  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (such as Gebhardt®)

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 cup water, or as needed


  1. Place the ground beef and half the chili powder into a large saucepan over high heat, and cook until meat is browned, breaking the meat apart into crumbles as it cooks, about 10 minutes. Mix in the onion, and cook and stir until onion is softened, about 10 more minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in remaining chili powder, cumin, oregano, tomato paste, and cocoa powder, and cover pan.

  2. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until meat is tender and flavors have blended, mixing enough water to make a thick chili, about 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally.

Cook's Note

Mr. Mason served his chili spooned over pinto beans that were cooked with ham hocks. He insisted that you had to use Gebhardt Chili Powder. He died in about 1965. I have used the same recipe, substituting game, pork, chicken, and turkey for the beef, with excellent results.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

399 Calories
31g Fat
10g Carbs
21g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 399
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 31g 40%
Saturated Fat 13g 63%
Cholesterol 97mg 32%
Sodium 137mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 8mg 38%
Calcium 67mg 5%
Iron 4mg 23%
Potassium 494mg 11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.