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

Chilli con carne recipe

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(1105 ratings)

Prep: 50 mins - 1 hr, 10 mins

Easy

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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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion
    Onion

    Onion

    un-yun

    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
    Paprika

    Paprika

    pa-preek-ah

    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
    Sugar

    Sugar

    shuh-ga

    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

Method

  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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Garth Mac
29th Jun, 2017
5.05
Excellent and simple recipe. I made this version for a few years until my wife became vegan. I now make it as a vegan recipe, using Asda meatless mince and a vegetable stock cube and it works really well too!
PKaurK
22nd Jun, 2017
5.05
Very nice dinner, will be making again. The only changes I made were oregano for marjoram and sugar instead of chocolate. Seasoning was just right for me but some people may find it a little bland.
leight79
20th Jun, 2017
5.05
The best chilli recipe I've tried. Really comforting with a great depth of flavour.
genericjanedoe
2nd Jun, 2017
5.05
I double the amount of this recipe and do this in the slow cooker after browning some really good quality steak mince. I then add 2-3 ready roasted red peppers (no skin), smoked paprika, replace the marjoram with a good helping of oregano, LOTS of crushed garlic and about a teaspoon or two of liquid smoke to give it that true smoky Texas chilli flavour. I also put in a generous helping of cinnamon instead of chocolate or sugar (adds a touch of sweet without the actual "sweet") and substitute the stock cube for Swiss vegetable bouillon powder. My "secret" ingredient added before I set the slow cooker on is about a tablespoon of fermented fish sauce. Yes, I know it sounds weird but you don't taste any fish - it just adds that "umami" depth to the flavour, especially as tomato based dishes tend to be more sweet than savoury.
TineLu
8th May, 2017
2.55
If you're unsure how to season this is not your recipe. Measurements given will leave you with a bland chilli. Seasonings need to be doubled at least . Also don't be shy with the chocolate- 3-4x as much to give the chilli more depth.
ndemelo
1st May, 2017
5.05
Super chilli, I've made it several times exactly as instructed using hot chilli powder and hot smoked paprika, and it always delivers.
TheFlyingPotato
26th Apr, 2017
5.05
My go to chilli recipe! I double the recipe and then freeze it into portions for work dinners, it reheats wonderfully. I add extra spices and simmer it for around 2 hours or so for it to thicken and the flavours to develop- I've never had an issue with it drying out, but I do add a little extra water at the sauce stage and check it regularly. I also add an extra can or two of kidney beans to bulk it out- it still tastes great and I can usually get approx 10 serves out of the doubled recipe!
eliselauren3's picture
eliselauren3
25th Apr, 2017
5.05
This is really yummy. I don't like it too spicy and so 1tsp of hot chilli powder was fine for me. I also added some cinammon, mixed herbs and kidney beans which are already in a chilli sauce, which just gives something extra to the dish. Served with baked potato and a squeeze of lime.
Guster
22nd Apr, 2017
Just my personal opinion, but I would say 1 tsp of paprika is not enough, you need at least a table spoon to get the flavour. Also, half a tsp of marjarom is hardly worth bothering with. Again, I'd say a table spoon, and use oregano instead. Without these changes a lot of people will find it a bit bland.
Tedsville's picture
Tedsville
21st Apr, 2017
Protip: Make this in a large cast iron casserole dish, then when it comes to the simmering stage, beforehand had a bit more stock (400ml) and a glass of red wine, put the lid on and put it in the oven at 170 for 2 hours. Check on it every half hour and give it a stir. Comes out so much nicer this way, and you don't have to worry about it catching.

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ooki
10th Sep, 2015
Hi, I'm not a fan of red kidney beans Can you suggest anything else for me to substitute?
Jage
11th Oct, 2015
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
21st Mar, 2015
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
11th Oct, 2015
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
25th Aug, 2015
5.05
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
goodfoodteam
23rd Mar, 2015
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
11th Nov, 2014
How would you do this in the slow cooker?
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
26th Nov, 2014
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
17th Sep, 2014
Hi, I'd like to make this for the freezer - should I add the beans before freezing or at the reheating stage? Thanks
geordielass78
21st Sep, 2014
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.

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mattb27
22nd Aug, 2015
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
21st Sep, 2014
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
Votadini
4th Sep, 2014
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
22nd Aug, 2014
5.05
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
20th Jul, 2014
5.05
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
2nd Jul, 2014
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
12th Jun, 2014
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
2nd May, 2014
5.05
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
21st Apr, 2014
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
11th Apr, 2014
5.05
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

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