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Chilli con carne

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(942 ratings)

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Cooking time

Prep: 50 mins - 1 hr, 10 mins

Skill level



Serves 4

This great chilli has to be one of the best dishes to serve to friends for a casual get-together

Nutrition and extra info

  • Can be frozen
Nutrition info

Nutrition per serving

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  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder (or 1 level tbsp if you only have mild)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 410g can red kidney beans
  • plain boiled long grain rice, to serve
  • soured cream, to serve

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  1. Prepare your vegetables. Chop 1 large onion into small dice, about 5mm square. The easiest way to do this is to cut the onion in half from root to tip, peel it and slice each half into thick matchsticks lengthways, not quite cutting all the way to the root end so they are still held together. Slice across the matchsticks into neat dice. Cut 1 red pepper in half lengthways, remove stalk and wash the seeds away, then chop. Peel and finely chop 2 garlic cloves.
  2. Start cooking. Put your pan on the hob over a medium heat. Add the oil and leave it for 1-2 minutes until hot (a little longer for an electric hob). Add the onions and cook, stirring fairly frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft, squidgy and slightly translucent. Tip in the garlic, red pepper, 1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder or 1 level tbsp mild chilli powder, 1 tsp paprika and 1 tsp ground cumin. Give it a good stir, then leave it to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Brown the 500g lean minced beef. Turn the heat up a bit, add the meat to the pan and break it up with your spoon or spatula. The mix should sizzle a bit when you add the mince. Keep stirring and prodding for at least 5 minutes, until all the mince is in uniform, mince-sized lumps and there are no more pink bits. Make sure you keep the heat hot enough for the meat to fry and become brown, rather than just stew.
  4. Making the sauce. Crumble 1 beef stock cube into 300ml hot water. Pour this into the pan with the mince mixture. Open 1 can of chopped tomatoes (400g can) and add these as well. Tip in ½ tsp dried marjoram and 1 tsp sugar, if using (see tip at the bottom), and add a good shake of salt and pepper. Squirt in about 2 tbsp tomato purée and stir the sauce well.
  5. Simmer it gently. Bring the whole thing to the boil, give it a good stir and put a lid on the pan. Turn down the heat until it is gently bubbling and leave it for 20 minutes. You should check on the pan occasionally to stir it and make sure the sauce doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan or isn’t drying out. If it is, add a couple of tablespoons of water and make sure that the heat really is low enough. After simmering gently, the saucy mince mixture should look thick, moist and juicy.
  6. Bring on the beans. Drain and rinse 1 can of red kidney beans (410g can) in a sieve and stir them into the chilli pot. Bring to the boil again, and gently bubble without the lid for another 10 minutes, adding a little more water if it looks too dry. Taste a bit of the chilli and season. It will probably take a lot more seasoning than you think. Now replace the lid, turn off the heat and leave your chilli to stand for 10 minutes before serving, and relax. Leaving your chilli to stand is really important as it allows the flavours to mingle and the meat.
  7. Serve with soured cream and plain boiled long grain rice.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, May 2002

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farside's picture

I made this a few times and was a bit disappointed - a bit watery and no depth of flavour. I now make it with beef stock (bovril) without the water. Much better results for me. I regularly get comments like 'this is the best chilli I ever tasted'. I add the chocolate and eat the rest of the bar whilst waiting for it to cook. Usually leave it overnight to improve - if I can keep my hands off it.

Lulipie's picture
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I've made this chilli time and time again and it's always very tasty and a proper nice no messing chilli con carne. I never add sugar though but always add a small amount of dark chocolate as recommended in the tips. I always find it tastes even nicer the day after cooking if you can stop yourself from eating it all in one go! I also rarely add the red pepper as I never have them in and no one ever notices!

Gemallen1985's picture

I've been using this as a basic recipe for a while now but just tweaking it to our taste. It's no where near hot enough in my opinion. There's also no need for the extra water, just crumble the cube in as is. I also add 2 extra chillies, a teaspoon cayenne, 250g passata, 1 tbsp Worcester sauce, 6 extra garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon oregano, and I use 750g steak mince. After frying off in the pan add it to the slow cooker for a few hours on low. Make sure you add the square of dark chocolate. Beautiful!

pippa154's picture
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This is a lovely recipe. In my opinion it doesn't need the sugar and I add more chilli for an extra kick.

Hhwwbb's picture

Can I use lamb instead of beef?

tan14's picture

I found this far too sweet and not spicy. I would recommend leaving out the sugar and adding more chilli.

Dan2926's picture

Excellent recipe for a tasty chilli con carne. I added 5 chillis finely chopped to add a bit more kick. Very tasty

JW Inspiration's picture
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Nothing to add. Perfect chilli. I've tried all sorts of recipes. Nothing beats this.

JoanneMat's picture
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Easy to make and tastes delicious!!! My partner likes to eat it with tortilla chips instead of rice!

rkbyrne's picture

One of our families favourite dishes. Easy to make with lots of flavour.

ants82's picture
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This is a very tasty, straightforward and reasonably quick to prepare chilli. Defo my go-to chilli for rewarding, everyday cooking.

hiyamod's picture

This is a recipe been making for over 6 years .. i make it in big batches and freeze for mad days when things are crazy. I usually dont add red pepper as my kids like to eat them raw so dont bother chopping them in here. also dont add the chilli powder again for the kids but mt husband add some chillies in his plate and that work for him!! its soooo easy this recipe and so good we all love it. and if we dont have rice we just scoop the chilli with tortilla chips :-). and ohh yes the chocolate instead of the sugar add somehow more depth to the dish. try it you!! its worth it x

Samsonite90's picture

If you are after a no fuss, simple and tasty chilli, then look no further, just follow the recipe to the t and you will not be disappointed. There are many variations on the good old chilli con carne and others have posted earlier how they have added this or not added an ingredient and that is what cooking is all about. I personally would use fresh chillis, but I have made this with a good quality chilli powder and it was great. Highly recommend this recipe.

Umbereleanor's picture

'Put your pan on the hob' threw me a little. I may be a bit of a dummy, but I'd never made chilli before and had no idea what kind of pan to use. I ended up using a big frying pan because it's what I'm more used to using. The chilli turned out really nice, although you will need to add more spices if you would like it hot. Served is with rice, tortilla chips and sour cream. Shame I'm so terrible at making rice!

MrsK121's picture
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This is my favourite chilli recipe. I add the dark chocolate, a bit less water and a chilli to make it a little hotter. I've made it loads of times and it always works really well

CalMamaCook's picture
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I looked this up realising I didn't have a packet sauce in but had everything for this recipe... however now realise this is the way forward - it was delicious. I agree with other reviewers, it's not that spicy (I used mild chilli powder and smoked sweet paprika rather than hot versions) but I added a bit more of the key spices and it was superb. I may tinker with the spices in future - but definitely ditching the packet version! I also wanted to add this is far the best version I have made and I have made many from cookbooks - with very mixed results.

bexeday's picture
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We have used this recipe multiple times, with and without various ingredients and in various orders and it is foolproof and fab every single time, the dark choc really adds something extra but it is still lovely without.
Definitely one to add to the recipe book!

julieigg1962's picture

Excellent recipe. Easy to follow and makes a really tasty chilli. I use the Waitrose "Easy on the Crushed Chilli" and put in a heaped teaspoonful which makes it just perfectly hot without burning your mouth. This has fast become a regular for me to make now.

mellowfellow's picture

This recipe is heavenly yet so simple to make. I make this at least twice a week and serve it with boiled basmati rice. It has become a family favourite. I follow this recipe word for word, the only thing I do differently is I use smoked paprika instead of regular paprika; gives it a nice little twist.

nursenicky13's picture

I substituted the marjoram with ground coriander & it still tasted as good.
Lovely taste.