Low Carb Tex Mex Chili Gravy – El Fenix Chili Gravy Copycat Recipe

Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Gluten Free Recipes, Low Carb Keto Recipes, Sauces | Gravies | 9 comments

Low Carb Tex Mex Chili Gravy – El Fenix Chili Gravy Copycat Recipe

Fluffy Chix Cook translates Robb Walsh’s high carb chili gravy into a dreamy low carb version that tastes incredibly close to El Fenix’s famous chili gravy. Texans rejoice, low carb keto does not mean you must live without your beloved Tex Mex chili gravy any longer.







Spoonful of Low Carb Tex Mex Chili Gravy

Low Carb Chili Gravy—El Fenix Copycat Recipe is homage to the luscious chili gravy that tops El Fenix’s famous cheese enchiladas and tamales. And boy is this low carb version very close to the authentic high carb original, and muy delicioso.

original el fenix restaurant in downtown dallas

The original El Fenix Mexican Restaurant since 1913. Photo courtesy of The Dallas Whisperer. (Click on the image to visit this blog! It rocks!)

A Dallas landmark since 1913, El Fenix has been a Tex Mex Mecca for all Dallasites—rich and poor, when they are in need of a Tex Mex fix. They are known for cheese enchiladas and tamales and the chili gravy sauce those cloaks them in loving richness. People have been known to have El Fenix’s cheese enchiladas with chili gravy flown to them out of state. It’s just “that good.” But the bad news is, it’s also just “that bad if you’re a low carb ketoneer.” The sauce is too high carb to fit within our diet, no matter how tasty and filled with love. Texas Chili Gravy is different than enchilada sauce. It’s “brown” tasting, deeper flavored than red enchilada sauce. Don’t get me wrong, the Fluffys’ Quick Red Enchilada Sauce and the Beef Enchiladas with Red Sauce are amazing!!! But they aren’t the enchiladas of our youth. The enchiladas of our youth were topped with a “gravy” tasting sauce. Oh, they had plenty of chili flavor, but they also tasted like your mama stood at the stove stirring a roux. They had a distinctly gravy overtone of “brown.”



Palm Center - Photo Courtesy of Houston Chronicle Files, Photo by Larry Evans

Palm Center opened in 1955 and was one of the first suburban shopping centers in Houston’s history. The center was built by Oscar Holcombe. Later, Loma Linda Restaurant opened here.

We grew up eating the peculiarly unique Tex Mex chili gravy on top of cheese enchiladas and tamales. As kids in Houston, we got our Tex Mex on at Loma Linda Mexican Restaurant and Monterey House. We loved them and thought they were the quintessential source of chili gravy. But we were wrong, there was yet another stellar master of the chili gravy persuasion, because the piping hot, molten lava chili gravy at El Fenix makes them pale in comparison. (Just an aside: we recently found out our beloved Loma Linda, home of the puffy taco and puffy chile con queso made by making tortillas from fresh masa, then deep frying in burning hot lard, is still in business. They moved from Palm Center and are now located on Telephone Road around Wayside Drive! Score!)

When I went in search of chili gravy recipes I didn’t have to look far. Robb Walsh, bestselling author and respected connoisseur of Tex Mex cuisine has a chili gravy people swear tastes very close to El Fenix’s chili gravy. But dang, it is high carb and just doesn’t work at all! So we set our caps at making this Tex Mex nectar of the gods low carb. We were determined to have our cheese enchiladas in chile gravy and eat them too!


Low Carb Tex Mex Chili Gravy Close Up


The key to low carbing the chili gravy is replacing high carb flour with low carb fibers that brown and caramelize just like high carb wheat based flour. Coconut flour and oat fiber (oat fiber is pure fiber, super low carb and lower carb than oat bran or oat flour—but it isn’t certified gluten free; although, it doesn’t cause me to walk like a 90 year old either). It works great in the roux made of oil, coconut flour, and oat fiber, even though it won’t thicken like real flour (which is why you still need a low carb thickener).


Authentic Tex Mex Low Carb Chili Gravy


We also chose to use some of the chile puree we made for the Authentic Low Carb Texas Chili Red. We always make enough for several types of dishes. Bingo—pure delicious, deep flavor! In our opinion, the chile puree gives the chili gravy a much more authentic flavor. The chili gravy is VERY low carb. You won’t believe you’re eating low carb enchilada sauce. Thanks Robb Walsh for the inspiration and thank you El Fenix for all the fond memories of our youth.


Bite of Low Carb Cheese Enchilada with Low Carb Chili Gravy


Next up, we’ll bring you the Low Carb Cheese Enchilada with Chili Gravy recipe.


Low Carb Tex Mex Chili Gravy – El Fenix Chili Gravy Copycat Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 28 tablespoons

Serving Size: 2-4 tablespoons

Calories per serving: 22 per tablespoon

Fat per serving: 2g

Low Carb Tex Mex Chili Gravy – El Fenix Chili Gravy Copycat Recipe

Delicious low carb keto Chili Gravy. So rich, thick and authentic, you will adore it!!!



  1. In a heavy, medium skillet, make a roux with oil and flour. Cook over medium heat to desired level of brown, between 3-5 minutes. We shoot for the color of brown sugar or pecan color. Stir constantly to keep it from burning. If you burn the roux, throw it out and start over. There is no recovery from it. While we make the roux, we continually lift the pan off the fire to cool slightly; and then set it back onto the fire. It helps control the heat and reduces the chance of scorching the roux.
  2. Add next 6 ingredients through chili puree or powder and cook an additional minute or 2 while stirring constantly. The chili puree cooks off a little and gets very thick. Whisk in broth and stir until thickened and smooth. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes. If sauce thickens too much, add a little bit of broth (but it won't). Thicken with xanthan or your favorite low carb thickener. The sauce should not be “runny.”


This recipe is based on a Robb Walsh’s (Tex Mex food writer and bestselling author) chili gravy recipe. It is a copycat recipe for El Fenix Mexican Restaurant, a bastion of Tex-Mex cuisine and Dallas landmark. We grew up eating totally Tex-Mex cheese enchiladas (filled with American cheese), smothered in this rich brown sauce! What? I told you it was a total bastardization of authentic Mexican enchiladas! It's Tex Mex baby!!! 😉 This chili gravy works great on so many things from chicken and fish to enchiladas and rellenos! You may be tempted to make it with the chili powder, but try it with the chile puree…makes ALL the difference

Serving Ideas Serve over cheese or beef enchiladas or low carb tamales!

Nutritional Information

Per tablespoon: 22 Calories; 2g Fat (74.9% calories from fat); trace Protein; 1.21g Carbohydrate; 0.75g Dietary Fiber; 0.46g Effective Carbs

Copyright © 2012 Fluffy Chix Cook. All rights reserved.

Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin



3 Feast e-books by Fluffy Chix Cook

(click on the image to purchase)





Low Carb Keto Meal Plan HacksPt1by Fluffy Chix Cook

(click on the photo to order today) Learn how the Fluffys make low carb keto meal planning a breeze. Simple and quick 5 step low carb meal plan hack.







Copyright © 2014 Fluffy Chix Cook. All rights reserved.




We are not dieticians, nutritionists or medical professionals. The materials on this blog are for informational (and fun) purposes only. We do not fact check, nor do we worry about sources. Please do your own fact checking. We encourage you to look things up and check with your doctor or health care professional before acting on anything seen on Fluffy Chix Cook.   xoxo


  1. Amazing, delicious, beautiful!! Can’t wait to try. Another HUGE THANK YOU to you, Susie!


    • Awww! I really hope you like it. It will be an unfamiliar Tex Mex variety to you, but one I think you will favor. Make sure not to burn the roux, it will be bitter and think the sauce is a bad recipe! 😀

  2. Girl, you knocked it outta the park! I have six half-pints of the chili puree in my freezer, ready to go this weekend for cheese enchiladas, with chili rellenos. That Mrs. Somebody’s green sauce is otto-this-world as a garnish, too! Also your flour tortillas from FEAST. The best keto tortillas out there.

    I did tweak and put the gravy thru a fine mesh strainer….stupendous! And removed some of the jalapeno seeds from the green sauce, a wise move since my pepper was packing some heat. Your FEAST series is outstanding. LOVING spending time with these recipes!

    Just had two Mile High Biscuits and really feel back at home in Appalachia—especially accompanied by some ol’timey Ralph Stanley gospel. Not missing carbs at all, Praise Jesus!

    • Holy Guacamole! You just made my day!!!! I’m so thrilled you are loving the recipes and the FEAST series! (Pssst, I think the tortilla recipes in May FEAST are totally the best low carb tortillas out there. I know I’m biased, but still…) Mrs. Renfro’s Green Salsa rocks! 🙂 I always put my chili puree through a strainer. It makes it smoother. Worth the extra few minutes and elbow grease. 🙂 Haha on the Mile High Biscuits! Glad it tastes like home (only healthy). Love me some Ralph Stanley too! Love his son as well! Get ready, cuz we’re working on the Summer FEAST (due out end of July–good Lord willin’!)

  3. I am so much looking forward to your next FEAST series. I am charmed by your family folklore and with every recipe I try I think dayum this chix cooks better’n me!!

    Since I don’t do FB anymore, (tired out from political battles) I don’t have the up-to-the-minute on all things in my beloved Southwest. If I did all the social media I’d be doing all I could to sing your praises. If you’re not already writing for the Houston Chronicle, shame on them!

    Your writing style reminds me of me. Reveling in your chile gravy and recalling a piece I wrote (OMG, 15 years ago!) when I produced the FEAST (coincidence?) section of the Monterey County Coast Weekly Newspaper…I was astounded (astonied in the KJV—love that!) to find the article I was thinking of online….

    I am doing your food tomorrow night for a small dinner party (cheese enchiladas, chile gravy, chile rellenos with crab and Gulf shrimp. Hat tip to you, Girlfren!

    • What a great article CJane! I’m humbled that you think my broken writing is akin to your polished wordsmithing abilities! Thanks for the compliment! You know, some of my best friends are chileheads ;)–so I’m thrilled to meet a new friend! I don’t do politics. In Texas, as in the South, there’s no more fiery battle than that of politics. My gran’daddy paid the family debt on that one with all of his schmoozing with the politicos during the 20s-40s as he ran his saloon, the Interurban Buffet. As for writing for the Chronicle. I would have no idea where to begin or how to make that happen!

      I’m both thrilled and chilled at the thought of a dinner party made from some of the Fluffys’ recipes. Gosh I hope it goes well!! Serve mas tequila y cervesas! Please, please! Let me know how it turns out!

      -Sleepless in H-Town

  4. I will I promise! Your cucumber-lime-mint boat drink mix is chillin’ as we speak…had some xylitol that I made into a simple syrup, not gritty all, and not sure about the carbs (not as carb-friendly as erythritol, no?) but is it 5 0’clock somewhere yet??? Yum!

    ps….Just send that Chronicle editor some of your stuff! I bet my best adjectives they’d love you to freelance for them, especially with your long local family history. You’re a shoo-in!

  5. Still smiling at the good eats and fun times and what was a pretty ambitious menu starting with chili gravy enchiladas last Friday night. I could eat these every day! And who knew American cheese is hard to find?! I finally found a Mexican melting cheese at Walmart, which identified as American cheese in the ingredients. Really good and melty.

    Used your pork rind-Parmesan dredging mix for the rellenos and loved the resulting crust. A bag of medium Gulf shrimp made it easy on the budget and my Walmart always has them—we’re a LONG way from the coast, here in SWVA. A package of lump crab added to the luscious creamy filling—what’s not to love? Your best-of-it’s-kind flour tortilla from FEAST did double duty, both as wraps and chips, the perfect DDS for Mama Ninfa’s green sauce and pico de gallo. (I know you have another recipe for corn tortillas that I need to try next, but I’m thinking that a drop of the corn extract you have in your Amazon store would be amazing in this recipe! )

    A funny—since we were just among friends—side note: I used xylitol for the simple syrup for the cocktails. I used erythritol for the key lime custard I made for dessert, using the great recipe for sweetened CONDENSED milk, from All Day I Dream About Food blog. While I’ve been eating this way since January, I experienced no adverse gastric effects. However my husband announced the next morning that he felt like he’d had a colon cleanse! Our other dinner guests confirmed the same, saying they understood my great weight loss success! OMG!! I was mortified, LOLOLOL!!

    Chalk that one up to another great culinary adventure, this one with a surprise ending!

    • Hahaha! So glad to hear your update!!! 🙂 Smiling this morning reading it! It sounds like a spectacular party! And I bet you were exhausted after! The cheese enchiladas are SOOO easy as long as you have the flour tortillas and chili gravy made ahead (we always keep it made up for emergencies)! And the chiles relleno sound beyond fantastic! On the old archive site I have a recipe for the breaded and oven fried chiles relleno and it sounds like that’s what you did using the seafood? YUM! Total and utter, YUM!

      We get American Cheese as a “block” from the deli counter at the grocery store. We use either Boar’s Head or Land O’ Lakes (BH is better). You can add corn extract to the flour, the texture of the corn is a bit more “corny” if that makes sense? 🙂 But either one works great!

      Hilarious about the colonic with the recipe! Just an aside…I never bother making low carb condensed milk any more. I just use a can of Nestle Media Crema and a few drops of liquid stevia concentrate. Works great every time! 🙂 You may have to order the Media Crema online. We have it on our grocery shelves near the Goya food products or near the other canned milks. 🙂 But Carolyn’s recipe for Sweetened Condensed Milk rocks the casbah!!!

      Can’t wait to hear more of your hijinx!


Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: