Chilli con carne

Chilli con carne

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(928 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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clarecook's picture
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I have made this many, many times and it is always an absolute hit. I double up all the spices as we like things nice and spicy!

lawoo's picture

Just had this for tea, delicious! Maybe add extra chilli powder if you like it hot, just the right amount of meat and beans to sauce. Great as burrito filling.

Jodysheff's picture

Will be making this again but with a lot more hot chili powder or some fresh chilies as there wasn't much spice to it. Added more powder before serving but think fresh chili would be nicer. Easy to do even with all the steps. Served on rice with warm pitta bread and none was left!

daddyscooking's picture
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Lovely recipe. I always add a bay leaf or two and some fresh/frozen sweetcorn near the end. Delicious with rice and even tastier with pasta shells (but VERY filling). I could eat this every day. :)

Angelica Mercieca Ciantar's picture
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I have been making this for a while now. It is an excellent recipe though I do add a few extra ingredients to it like some balsamic vinegar, a couple of carrots grated, chopped celery, red wine instead of the stock, ground coriander and coriander leaves (dried) as well as some oregano and a bay leaf. I also add a little bit of strong coffee and some habanero paste and cayenne pepper of course add this with caution depending on how hot you like your chilli. To finish off I do like to add a small square of dark chocolate too ;)

caz21b's picture

It is a great recipe but your comment did make me chuckle as all those additions make it a completely different recipe ;) - going to try the coffee though!

simjai's picture
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This recipe was easy to make, as well as tasty I even had a request for more of it

Butterfly92xo's picture

This chili con carne is absolutely gorgeous. I used Quorn mince instead of beef as my partner is a vegetarian and it still tasted absolutely fab! I used coriander and chives instead of marjoram and chili kidney beans instead of red kidney beans. Was beautiful! Definitely making this again (and again, and again).

mumto3girls's picture

Substitute minced turkey (or chicken) to avoid red meat. It is always fun to try adding cinnamon to a chilli con carne recipe....either ground cinnamon or else add a cinnamon stick to the pot while simmering. Can be served with shredded cheddar cheese on top and over spaghetti to make a heartier meal.

bec00au's picture
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Great, easy recipe -- very tasty. Goes well with crème fraîche and some lime juice mmm
I also made this with red lentils instead of beef (removing the beans too, of course!) and it was so good.

felicityd's picture
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My husband loved this. I usually do Delia's recipe but that uses steak instead of mince and we had mince in the freezer. Husband says he much preferred this version and it takes half the time!

angelaosei's picture

I've made this recipe several times & it always goes down a treat. I use fresh chilli instead of powered & fresh thyme instead of marjoram (as I didn't have any the first time I made it). I add a Cinnamon stick at the same time as the rest of the spices & use dark chocolate instead of sugar. I usually serve it with rice, a jacket potato or wedges.

doxdeb's picture
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Absolutely delicious. Never made chilli con carne before but looking through all the recipes online, this one stood out. Making my second batch now. This is a keeper

LarryBG's picture

Please, people, Chilli, or Chili as some spell it is NOT a Mexican dish. It may use some flavors that are used in Mexican cuisines, but the dish and the process is distinctly American. Other than mythological nuns having chili visions, a displaced group of Caribes that found themselves
somehow in the Arizona or Arkansas regions that supposedly were the first to make the bowl of red, etc. What is known that many of the cookies (camp cooks) where of German and Luxembourgish ancestry scraps of ideas with bizzare names where the "cookbooks" of these men, with out any quantitities given and sometimes even ingredients, because things were learned on the go. Cookies also came up with the first chili kits. Chilibricks for hard times when traveling to and in the California gold fields and around Texas. They pounded dried beef, fat, pepper, salt, and the chile peppers together into stackable rectangles which could be easily rehydrated with boiling water. Finally to put a point on it, here is If there is any doubt about what the Mexicans think about chili, the Diccionario de Mejicanismos, published in 1959, defines chili con carne as (roughly translated):
“detestable food passing itself off as Mexican, sold in the U.S. from Texas to New York.”
Now having said all of the above, the recipe here is pretty good, but real chili does not have beans, or tomatoes, or soured cream (no sour cream on the trail now). What it does have is a goodly amount of mild chille like Anaheims, dried and ground, a good bit of salt and pepper, ton of onion and garlic, spices like cumiin and corriander toasted and ground, a hotter chille to taste like cayenne or hotter, and very strong beef broth. Chopped fresh sweet red paprika can be added, a lot of it if you like, but no tomato.
Visit the different chili(chilli)cookoff websites for more info.

xixjimxix's picture

No one really cares. If this recipe is good then why be so critical? I understand it might not be ethically correct but seriously. It's a recipe, not a history book.

jeanieh's picture

This is my favourite chilli recipe. I make it time and time again and never tire of it. It's so easy and the longer you let it rest, the tastier it is as the flavours marinade. I usually make a big pot of it and then freeze individual portions. It's also great with a dollop of sour cream and grated cheese, served with tortilla chips. Yummy!

Vendee France's picture

Fantastic recipe there is nothing else to say.

Vendee France's picture

This is the first time I have made this recipe. We have used another for years so I thought we would have a change. This has just been put on the wood burning stove where it will stay for 3 to 4 hours,cheaper than on the electric hob!!!! Will post again when it has been sampled.

chloehodges44's picture

I make this all the time and it's always fab. I have altered to our taste by adding about half a tsp more of each spice than in the recipe and also a fresh chilli. I make it with chocolate instead of the sugar and this gives it a lovely rich flavour. We have in wraps with salad and sour cream, yum!

ros-bridges's picture

Best Chilli recipe ever. I make it with stewing steak rather than mince and cook it for ages, and it is fab. The chocolate adds an amazing depth of flavour too