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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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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

Fridays cook's picture

Delicious ! I make this with couple tsp chipotle paste instead of chilli powder.

rosievimes's picture

This has to be one of my all time favourite recipes that I make on a very regular basis. Requires some time and attention, but the results are so worth it! Follow the advice and subsitute the sugar for a few squares of quality dark chocolate, it really adds to the flavour and consistency. I also add a few fresh chillis into the mix to give it that extra kick. Make sure you follow the instructions and leave it to stand for a good 10mins at the end of cooking to really allow those flavours to come out. Natural yogurt works just as well as sour cream as an accompaniment. Go for it, you won't regret it!

Cooking Freak's picture

Fantastic chilli recipe, I'd got a bit fed up with my usual chilli recipe so decided to give this a go. Everyone in the family including my kids enjoyed this, will definitely be making again. I also added a couple of squares of green and blacks 70% dark chocolate at the end which gave the chilli an extra rich depth of favour.

emsie_jp's picture

I have made this chilli time and time again and it's always a big hit! I like to add chopped chorizo which I fry with the mince beforehand then add to the slow cooker to simmer away. Such a tasty meal!

Mshel24's picture

This is a great recipe. I prefer it bait thicker so would add flour and simmer for a bit longer. Its also great with habanero chills, gives it a fruity spice.

Lulipie's picture
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What a great recipe! I opted for the dark chocolate rather than the sugar and it was delicious. Very easy recipe to follow and it's super tasty. Big thumbs up :) I did find the tsp of hot chilli powder had quite a kick although my spice tolerance levels aren't great. If you prefer milder food then I'd put a bit less but for the spice lovers you can probably put a heaped tsp. Enjoy!

motorsportgirl's picture

Love this recipe! I make it pretty much every week. The first time I made it I didn't have majoram but didn't notice it one bit. I tried it with the chocolate and it was really nice too (although I prefer using sugar but that's personal taste). I've also made it with veggie mince and it's pretty good too - just add the veggie mince, frozen or not, when you add the meat mince and then continue on as normal.

vlatus's picture
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A huge hit with the family, this is a staple in our house, being served either with rice or in taco shells. I add whatever veg I have to hand (carrots, courgette, peppers) and also a generous splash of Worcester sauce. Never any leftovers, need a bigger pan to have any to freeze!!!

blademansw's picture

I made this the other night, I didn't have any paprika so I replaced that with Cayenne pepper.

Very tasty, but I cooked it for longer than specified, as I always do with chilli.

sarahlou26's picture

I made this for the first time tonight and it was lovely. I didn't have any marjoram so left that out, didn't seem to make any difference to the taste. I was confused about the chocolate part as its not in the method, so just had to guess how much & when to add it to the pot! only used about 25g of dark choc for the last ten made such a difference i wouldn't make without now. I also think next time i would add more chilli

MrsSJL's picture

Really quick, easy and TASTY! I didn't add sugar of chocolate but I did add half tsp of cinnamon. One heap teaspoon of chilli powder gives it just the right amount of kick.

chefbf's picture

This is a brilliant recipe, I use it all the time and always goes down well. As I make it for two I usually halve the quantities, expect I use the same 400g tomatoes to keep it from being too dry and also the same amount of cumin and paprika. Leaving it to stand at the end makes taste even nicer.

neilphillipson's picture
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I've made this dish hundreds of times now and it is always a hit with the family and with friends. Easy to follow recipe and inexpensive. I usually double up the ingredients and freeze half for an other time, which is usually tastier because all the spices have a chance to infuse.

irezumiouja's picture

This recipe is simply the best simple chili recipe you will find. Personally I add some flour to thicken it up, maybe a tbsp, and also a tbsp of chipotle paste.