Chilli con carne

Chilli con carne

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(981 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

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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.

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Comments (1006)

ameliacooks's picture

Enjoyed it but would prefer more sauce!! Might half the amount of meat next time but that's just personal choice, the recipe is fab!

Jenoircha's picture

Family favourite; we all love this recipe. I grate in carrots and sometimes courgette, depending on what's in the fridge, to add some hidden veg for our toddler. She loves it, especially the kidney beans. I don't add sugar or the marjoram but everything else is spot on. It's incredible served with the chunky guacamole recipe. Yum yum yum!

paulascoble's picture

this chilli is a firm favourite in my house, easy enough to make and tastes delicious. i don't use as much water but add a tin of baked beans as i find it tastes great and no need for sugar. give it a try and see for yourself

pinksmitty's picture

This is my go to chilli recipe, easily adjusted for heat lovers or just a tingle people. Made it so many times I know it off by heart. Love it!

MooseLady's picture

I don't usually like making the same recipe too many times, but I just about always use this recipe for chilli, it's so awesome and makes a fantastic hearty dish. I'm constantly getting nagged at by the family to make it and to be honest I don't blame them! Great recipe!

jofranks's picture

Best recipe of the whole website. Never fails, just a tweak of heat required.

NickFord86's picture

Hands down, best chili con carne recipe ever. even better the next day! No need for rice, just pile on the Greek yoghurt (essential) and spoon in!

sarahlouisenz's picture

Best recipe ever, have made this about 6 different times since first trying it, only thing I would change is to use less stock as at times can get a bit watery especially if you have doubled the recipe. A favourite for sure and freezes great.

katrinaridout's picture

Absolutely delicious! Flavours developed well and created a hearty dish that would be great for a make ahead meal. I will definitely be making this again!!!

Gunilla1's picture

Delicious recipe, the kitchen smelled so so good whilst it was cooking!

CRBear's picture

Nothing to add that others haven't already said- delicious chilli!

little_lady's picture

Easy to cook, and always goes down well in my house. I often make up a large batch of this when I have friends and family coming over. It says it serves 4, but it can stretch much further. Perfect served with rice, nachos, or jacket potatoes. I added a small tin of lentils to bulk it out and up the fibre intake.

Phil100969's picture

This is a cracking recipe and, like many others, I have tweaked it to suit me and my family. Rather than put the stock in without water I just cook it longer which works well as does increasing the spice level. Fresh chillies give a better taste than chilli powder but I still use powder if I find it a little light on when I taste it close to serving time. I also use a couple of fresh tomatoes rather than tinned ones and add a decent handful of chopped parsley. I love the internet .... Without it recipes like this are difficult to find.

Mattymoo65's picture

After reading some comments decided to make a big batch and freeze. This is the best chilli I have had and will be making again maybe using the slow cooker. Used the Chocolate instead of sugar. Freezes and reheats very well.

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.


Questions (32)

ChuckLoyola's picture

Need to double (or treble!) the recipe. Any advice?

goodfoodteam's picture

This is a very easy recipe to double or treble, keep all the quantities in the same proportions, but the frying process will take you a little longer. You might find it easier to make in 2 pans at the same time unless you have really large ones. This is a great favourite for batch cooking and easy to portion into freezer bags too. For your info it will keep for 2 months in the freezer.

Jage's picture

I've used lamb for a chilli bolognase and that was nice so I don't see why it wouldn't work with this

ooki's picture

Hi, I'm not a fan of red kidney beans
Can you suggest anything else for me to substitute?

Jage's picture

I use a tin of sweet corn and add an extra green pepper it's particularly nice with the sweet corn. Hope this helps, let me know what you think.

Ian.w's picture

Ok done this twice now each time watery and quite bland.

Any ideas?

Seems like the 300 ml of water and tinned tomatoes seem to be too much liquid?

Jage's picture

Perhaps boil it longer without the lid or perhaps you've got the heat too low when simmering I also double up on all the spices

rkbyrne's picture

Use good beef.
I use a Knorr beef stock pot
Don't cover with a lid as this keeps moisture in
Make sure you season with salt and pepper

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi Ian.w thanks for getting in touch and sorry to hear you did not have success with this recipe. In step 5 you need to let the mixture boil then simmer so that the water evaporates which means it will reduce right down and thicken - don't add the beans until this has happened. With regards to the blandness, please do taste it at step 6 and add salt and pepper to your liking. Hope this helps and please do let us know how you get on if you do decide to try this recipe again. 

lf14's picture

How would you do this in the slow cooker?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there, thanks for your question. Brown all of your ingredients first, then add to the slow cooke. Cook on low for 8 hours, then finish with the kidney beans as per the recipe. 

peonycrafts's picture

Hi, I'd like to make this for the freezer - should I add the beans before freezing or at the reheating stage? Thanks

geordielass78's picture

I've made this for the freezer a few times and had no problems with adding the beans before I freeze it - they don't break up or go mushy or anything.

peonycrafts's picture

I'd like to make this for the freezer - should I add the beans before freezing or at the reheating stage?

gtaang's picture

How easy would this be to convert to a slow cooker recipe?

kbarge's picture

Is the nutritional info per 100g or per serving or per pot of chilli?

goodfoodteam's picture

Nutritional info is per serving, so per 1/4 of the recipe.

Zoe123456789's picture

Could someone please tell me if the nutritional information includes the rice?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there, thanks for getting in touch. The nutritional information is just for the chilli and doesn't include the rice. Best wishes, BBC Good Food team

CharlotteL83's picture

I made this for the first time last night and while I really enjoyed the taste and flavour, I felt that there was too much liquid in my chilli. Can anyone suggest how to avoid this?


Tips (21)

paulascoble's picture

I made this but left out the water as really didn't need it. I added a tin of baked beans swell as kidney beans. I felt there wasn't much taste to the chilli and as one daughter felt it was just right for her i portioned hers out then added a couple of fresh green chillies which added some heat. Recipe was easy to follow and will certainly make again .

JC1818's picture

I omitted the salt when I made this,and used low sodium beef broth. It was still excellent. This could easily be a low sodium recipe, for those watching their salt intake.

Bad Ham's picture

To stop it drying up I added more water. Then it went a bit bland. So I added more Puree, Cumin and spice and it all tasted very nice!

mattb27's picture

I also find that this isn't that hot. I usually add 1-2 teaspoons of harrisa paste into it to give it a good extra kick.

geordielass78's picture

For those who think this isn't hot enough I find chilli flakes are probably a bit better in that respect than chilli powder - a very heaped teaspoon gives it a good bit of "kick" without being overwhelming. I also use more tomato puree than the recipe (3-4 tbsp instead of 2 tbsp), otherwise it seems rather watery and has to be reduced and reduced and reduced to make the sauce reasonably tomato-y. Lastly, I add a half tsp of coriander along with the other spices. All of this just adds extra depth to the flavour.

Votadini's picture

Try substituting the teaspoon of paprika with a teaspoon of either hot smoked paprika (if you like it hot) or sweet smoked paprika (if you like it not so hot). I found, in my opinion, it made a subtle improvement in the background flavour of the dish.

ruthpatricia's picture

Definitely use fresh chillies for a spicy kick also fry the mince in a separate pan then add as stated in recipe, making sure it is sizzling,yummy!

maryblack297's picture

Having made this a few times, I rather fancied tweaking it. I made it last week with a stick of celery and a carrot, chopped very fine. I added a glass of red wine, 1sp each of the following dried herbs - oregano, rosemary and thyme. Instead of a stock cube, I added beef Touch of Taste (Nigella and I swear by it). I then cooked it at 140 for four hours. This creates a fantastic depth of flavour.

Oh and if your sauce is a bit thin, mash a few beans against the side of the pot to thicken it.

nickernow's picture

Nice basic recipe but not enough flavour or heat for me. I zinged it up wit two fresh chilis and a drop of peri peri sauce a half teaspoon of mustard powder, using half beer and half water with the stock and half a teaspoon of Marmite. Then it's a proper chilli!

artie's picture

Having followed the recipe precisely previously, I made a slight adjustment for extra zing by adding 2 fresh chillies (as well as the ground spice). I also added 2x tbsp of worcester sauce and 1/2 tsp of tabasco sauce (habanero) when adding the stock and toms. After it had all mixed in and come to the boil, I added 250ml passata. The outcome was inevitably hotter than what previously I considered far too mild a recipe for a chilli con carne. Each to their own of course! If filling tortilla wraps with chilli mix I suggest some natural yoghurt accompanies it.

vicksfizzy's picture

Made this once with beef and once with Quorn mince, couldn't taste the difference. Very nice recipe and a hit with all the family.

atettmar's picture

Lovely recipe!! If looking for a healthier alternative to rice or nachos, try roasting half a butternut squash, scooping chilli on top, sprinkle with some cheese and grilling it for a few minutes!! Works a treat!!

mrspinnywinny's picture

Fab recipe for vegetarians: fry a stalk of diced celery with the onion at stage 1; fry spices, 2 chopped leeks, 1/2 pack mushrooms, chopped, 1 red pepper, 1 cooked potato, 2 tbspn red lentils at stage 2, then use 1/2 pint veg stock, 400g passata, oregano, tomato puree (1 tbspn only) and about 1 tsp of Willie's Cacao, grated, (Waitrose) . Serve with sour cream or Turkish yoghurt (Lidl) and chilli cornbread.
Agree with @Luccin: Smoked paprika and oregano

Belnahua's picture

If you don't like kidney beans, 2 tins of baked beans (drained as best you can in a sieve) in place makes a nice alternative.

peteryyz's picture

"If you don'y like Kidney Beans" does that mean??..Who wouldn't like Kidney Beans if they're making a Chilli con carne!??. It's like having Fish n Chips with no salt and Vinegar. Please people,either develop an adult palate or just stick to McDonalds as usual.

JoJo7's picture

In some schools of thought kindey beans are a no-no in chilli, so calm down people are entitled to tases that differ from yours. Surely people should be encouraged to make recipies for good food fit their tastes rather than be discouraged and sent for the very unhealthy alternative. Please poeple, either develop an adult mentality or just stick to unhelpful posts on social media.
I find fresh chillies and the chocolate tip work.
Also if using veggie mince I put a dash of red wine in the stock.

alternapop's picture

The first time I made this was my first attempt at making chili ever. I took it to a friend's chili cook off where there were about 8 entries. They had blind voting and I took first place, surprisingly.... mainly because I rarely cook.

I modified it by using 1/2 pound of breakfast sausage and 1/2 pound of ground beef.

The secret ingredient could've been a handful of dashes of my all-time favorite hot sauce, Yucatan Sunshine Habanero. It's not too spicy and has a nice sweet flavor due to it being made with carrots. :)

I just made it again and put it twice as much hot sauce... 10 dashes or so. It's simmering now. Can't wait!

Luccin's picture

OH, and if you don't have marjoram - oregano works well too!

geordielass78's picture

because oregano is dried marjoram!

Luccin's picture

I use this recipe but add a large chuck/casserole steak chopped up into 2cm cubes and cook in the over in a crockpot for 1.5/2 hours @ 180c - additionally I add another tin of 400g tomatoes so it doesn't dry out + an extra tsp of sugar.

Additionally, I add 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and the paprika I add is the smoked kind - it just gives it that great flavour. I also add 1-2tsp of cocoa at the end - and serve with fresh salsa (tomato, red onion, coriander & little lime) and some homemade Guacamole (avo, lime, red onion, garlic, coriander, salt) & of course the sour cream.


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