A close up of cooked chilli con carne in the pan with chocolate melting on top

Chilli con carne recipe

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(1264 ratings)

Prep: 50 mins - 1 hr, 10 mins


Serves 4

This great chilli recipe has to be one of the best dishes to serve to friends for a casual get-together. An easy sharing favourite that uses up storecupboard ingredients.

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.

  7. Serve with soured cream and plain boiled long grain rice.

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Comments, questions and tips

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18th Jul, 2018
Cooked this for the first time and my wife absolutely loved it - followed the recipe exactly as written and came out perfect - however I did add a chopped red chilli which gave it a nice kick - thanks
27th Jun, 2018
Lovely recipe! I also tend to make a few tweaks here and there!! Instead of pepper I add chopped celery - this really adds flavour to chilli con carne. I fried chorizo and pancetta with the mince too to make it more ‘smokey’. I also put in a cinnamon stick and bay leaves while it’s simmering. Passata and squeeze of tomato puree works as well as the canned tomato! If you’re on a health mission (like me at the moment) you can have it with curried coconut quinoa instead of white rice.
Саша Иванова's picture
Саша Иванова
16th Jun, 2018
First time I made a chilli con carne recipe! Absolutely delicious! I did make a mistake when adding the spices, and when I tasted it while cooking, it tasted like the devil's butt - but I managed to mild it down a bit. Moral of the story: read what the instructions say. But, I am so happy I found this recipe because when made correctly, it tasted yummy!!!
27th May, 2018
This is a great recipe. I made it without the red pepper and used beef stock instead of cubes. I had to add 50% extra spices except the sugar to give it thr amount of flavour I was happy with. I also left out the chilli powder for the kids. Excellent result. I was surprised this dish was relatively quick to make.
Dot Cotton
19th May, 2018
I batch cooked this recipe so multiplied everything by 4 except for the chilli which I put in 2 tspns of chilli flakes. Fried everything quickly in a pan & put into the slow cooker with the liquids for about 8 hours. Once done I added the kidney beans, chocolate & also some chickpeas & red lentils to thicken. Cooked on high for another hour with the lid off. Absolutely gorgeous. A little heat from the chilli & so flavoursome from the spices. Am serving it for dinner tomorrow & will freeze the rest. Highly recommend.
10th May, 2018
Absolutely delicious and even better made a day ahead. I also add a chopped chilli for a little more heat. Chocolate instead of sugar is definitely a better option in my opinion.
Sarah Brennan's picture
Sarah Brennan
1st Apr, 2018
Amazing!! My two sets of twins gobbled this down!! I didn't add the sugar and I think it was perfect without it! So easy and quick to make that I can still pick the boys up from soccer after! I will definitely be making this again
Steve Chilton's picture
Steve Chilton
14th Mar, 2018
Very good. I skipped the sugar, used fresh chilies and served with brown rice.
Jill Davis's picture
Jill Davis
22nd Feb, 2018
My first time making any chilli ....it was excellent!!! I did tweak the recipe a bit. I added hot chilli beans & pinto beans. Then I had to double the water/bullion cube mix & the tomato puree. The trick with chilli is to season to your taste. I ate it with toasted chibata bread. Will definitely be making this for company to try!
12th Mar, 2018
"My first time making any chilli" "The trick with chilli is to season to your taste" Nice to hear someone giving inside tips when they've never made it before... are you for real?


13th Jan, 2018
So, I've just made this and followed the recipe to a T (except the quantity of spices), and the end product is not thick at all. It's really quite watery. I tried simmering it down for longer but to no end. Any suggestions for thickening it up? Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
22nd Jan, 2018
Thanks for your question. Simmering for longer with the lid off is the best way to thicken a dish like this. We hope you enjoyed it all the same.
13th Nov, 2017
Hi, Would I need to make an adaptions in order to cook this in a slow cooker? Thanks Kim
goodfoodteam's picture
15th Nov, 2017
Thanks for your questions. For tips on how to adapt our recipes for the slow cooker, check out our slow cooker guide: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/10-top-tips-using-slow-cooker. We also have a family-friendly slow cooker chilli recipe here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/slow-cooker-child-friendly-chilli
9th Nov, 2017
Was wanting to use smoked paprika, do I use this smoked instead of the paprika or in addition to it?
goodfoodteam's picture
16th Nov, 2017
Thanks for your question. You can use it instead.
6th Aug, 2017
Was thinking of cooking this but I like a lot of sauce in my chilli , so wanted to ask if this recipe makes a nice thick sauce. Thanking you in advance. Sue
26th Jul, 2017
Can I cook this the day before and reheat the following day in the microwave?
goodfoodteam's picture
31st Jul, 2017
Absolutely or reheat it on the hob, either will work. Enjoy!
11th Mar, 2017
Is this healthy when I leave out the sugar, sour cream, meat and rice?


Dominika Gawlinska's picture
Dominika Gawlinska
22nd May, 2018
I must have made this chilli a hundred times now and a little tip: swap the red kidney beans in water for the ones in chilli sauce (most supermarkets have them).. and you won't look back! adds tons of flavour :) In this instance I skip chilli powder and I don't drain the beans.. give it a go and you won't regret!
3rd Dec, 2017
Increase the paprika to 1 tbsp. I used half normal and half smoked - the difference in flavour was incredible!
24th Oct, 2017
Good recipe! Swapped the beef for turkey mince for a healthier version. Halved the garlic, threw in a fresh red chilli in addition, really good.
apopstar's picture
9th Aug, 2017
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! 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!
6th Jul, 2017
This chilli turned out really great and was super easy to make. Don't go lightly on the chilli powder, I added in just more than it said and could hardly taste it. That said, it was still delicious, but I'll be adding a lot more chilli next time!
14th Feb, 2017
Great recipe, however, the cooking time has to be vastly increased to yield a good consistency. I've found when doubling every ingredient, that given the amount of liquid I had to simmer for around 2 hours to get a thick chilli, otherwise it is insanely liquidy and not great. Other than that this is my standard recipe.
Mr Chewie
23rd Dec, 2016
Absolutely brilliant recipe, made this a few times now. However, as has been mentioned, it's useful to add additional spices as the mix can become bland, I also put a bit of ground coriander and a little bit of oregano in too. It's a brilliant recipe and if you find it's got a lot of liquid, simply boil without the lid to reduce the mixture down and then pop the lid on and simmer to allow the flavours to mix together. Towards the end I would definitely suggest adding a little more of the spices, but regardless, this remains an excellent recipe!!
whutom's picture
3rd Sep, 2016
I have made this about 5 times now but never made it hot enough ( my fault ) my tip is to to add chorizo and slow cooking the lot before adding kidney beans, then serve on top of nachos with cheese sprinkled oved and chopped jalapenos with a twist of pepper, i also added birdseye chilli to give it that extra kick,obviously not enough but still very tasty.
16th Aug, 2016
Have made this recipe numerous times - husband sick of it! If freezing, I suggest not cooking the beans at all or they will be mushy when you defrost. However, do let your chilli stand in fridge for day or two before freezing so flavours develop. If you've overdone the chilli, add baked beans. The sweetness will balance it out.
David G
14th Aug, 2016
I have replaced the powdered chilli with 4 x Fresh Birdeye chillies and added two large Porterhouse mushrooms at the same time as the peppers. very nice indeed and the spice is not quite a raw.