Chilli con carne

Chilli con carne

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(987 ratings)

Prep: 50 mins - 1 hr, 10 mins


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: per serving

  • kcal387
  • fat17g
  • saturates6g
  • carbs25g
  • sugars1g
  • fibre6g
  • protein36g
  • salt2.32g
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  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 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



    A spice that's central to Hungarian cuisine, paprika is made by drying a particular type of…

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp sugar



    Honey and syrups made from concentrated fruit juice were the earliest known sweeteners. Today,…

  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 410g can red kidney beans
  • plain boiled long grain rice, to serve
  • soured cream, to serve


  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.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (1012)

ntanswell1's picture

Very nice indeed. Cooked 'slow and slow' - turned the heat right down and lengthened the cooking time. Very flavoursome and perfect consistency - added a dash of tabasco as well!

Rose22's picture

Made this last night for my relatively picky parents and they loved it!! Just a few little tweeks like less beef stock, no extra water. Added extra chill powder than stated. I also used a little dark chocolate but still didn't find it too sweet. Paired it with chunky sweet potato wedges (for the sweetness) and sprinkled some fresh coriander and a little cheddar cheese over the top! Beaut!!

greglentz's picture

Best con carne I've ever had.

grimcooking's picture

Very good. Usually make this dish the wrong way by adding spices to the meat instead of the onions, but this method really brings out the flavours, especially if you forego the water for your stock, as suggested by others. Added heaped teaspoons for every spice, selecting cayenne pepper, and added a small piece of dark chocolate rather than sugar. Added water when mixture became too dry and let the spices mingle before serving. Really tasty con carne you can tweak to your taste. Great lifesaver for all occasions!

CarryR's picture

Just made this and it was delicious! I basically doubled all the spices and added crushed red pepper flakes as my chilli powder wasn't very strong. I went a bit ott on the salt so go easy until tasted!

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.

Ellie9510's picture

Lovely chilli recipe! Needed to be spicier for my taste, doubled spices and added a fresh red chilli. I browned the mince and softened veg then transferred to the slow cooker then added the tomatoes etc. Crumbled in the stock cube as another reviewer suggested.

Lulipie's picture

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!

Clodine's picture

I love tat recipe and I use it every time I want to make a good chilli. I like to put some casserole beef with the mince beef so I have to cook it for longer but its very tender and delicious.

pippa154's picture

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

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

JoanneMat's picture

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

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.


Questions (32)

maryblack297's picture

Mash a few beans on the side of the pot, that should do it.

nickernow's picture

Cook it for longer uncovered.

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi Charlotte, thanks for your question. If you're unhappy with the amount of liquid just simmer it uncovered until the excess has evaporated and the sauce will thicken. Simmer for as long as you need to get the desired consistency. Best wishes, BBC Good Food team

motorsportgirl's picture

Make sure you boil it down enough so the liquid evaporates. It should be noticeably thicker once you come to adding the kidney beans - if it's not, just let it boil for a few extra minutesbefore adding the kidney beans. You could also try adding more tomato puree as this helps to thicken the chilli. If all else fails just use less stock.

sfabri's picture

Maybe a silly question but just wanted to make sure since the taste is absolutely different between the two. For this recipe the red pepper would be a hot - like chilli red pepper or a bell pepper?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there, thanks for getting in touch. You could use a red bell pepper or a long pointed red pepper in this recipe - both would work well. Best wishes, BBC Good Food team

motorsportgirl's picture

You use a bell pepper, although I use both as I like my chilli spicy!

vlatus's picture

I use ordinary red peppers (either the long pointy sweet red peppers, or the regular red ones). When I have them in the fridge, I occasionally used a fresh chilli pepper as well but as you've got chilli powder in there it's not essential.

mrsohara's picture

Ignore my last question - I've just noticed the tip!

mrsohara's picture

This sounds lovely and I plan to make it today. Quite a few of the comments mention dark chocolate but I can't see it in the recipe. How much chocolate did you add and at what stage of cooking did you add it? Could I use cocoa if I don't have dark chocolate? Thanks.

sarahlou26's picture

I added about 25g, but did have to google other chilli recipes, a lot say use unto 75g, but seeing as it was the first time id done this I played it safe! i added it for the last ten mins when I added the kidney beans, then left it to rest for ten mins...yummy

goodfoodteam's picture

Try can stir through a few squares of dark chocolate to enrich the dish before you season and taste. If you like, add a little more!


Tips (21)

oldnick21's picture

Great chilli but used three green chillies instead of chilli powder and browned off mince separate so as not to have it to greasy


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