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

Chilli con carne recipe

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(1106 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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Tedsville's picture
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.
19th Apr, 2017
I have made this many times and know it off by heart. I add loads more chilli powder and also chopped red chilli as we love it much hotter. Perfect Chilli con carne and easy to make. Never lets me down!
11th Mar, 2017
At first I wasn't really sure if it was going to taste good because it looked like all kind of leftovers mixed together or should I say vomit, but in the end it tasted really good and i'm glad that I gave it a try! I sure do recommend this recipe.
air003's picture
2nd Mar, 2017
Excellent instructions to follow for this recipe but unfortunately I found it far too wet and quite bland. As a beginner cook I didn't really know what else to add re spices but next time I'll take more note of the tips.
23rd Feb, 2017
Made this tonight with 1Kg of lean mince and added a couple of fresh chillies to pimp things up a bit. Served it up with Jacket potatoes and it was excellent, can't wait for round 2 tomorrow.
22nd Feb, 2017
This is THE best chilli recipe I have ever used and I've been using it now for years. Tips: use cumin seeds and grind them if you can be bothered and defo use dark choc instead of sugar and don't be shy with the choc. If you like your chilli with a bit of a kick then increase the amount of chilli its not at all hot per the recipe guidelines. I never add the red pepper as I'd ran out once and found the taste much more authentic (for my taste) without it. If you follow this recipe to the letter you simply cannot go wrong. Tomato puree is ESSENTIAL for the thickening so don't skip that bit! Wash it down with a nice cold beer or two. Tastes even better the day after cooking.... enjoy! :)
17th Feb, 2017
Beautiful easy meal the family loved it I added mushrooms extra peppers and used fresh ingredients instead and added two cubes of chocolate definitely a winner in my house
16th Feb, 2017
Foolproof recipe which makes for a very, very tasty dinner. I added button mushrooms to bulk up the veg and, as previously suggested, increased the spices slightly - turned out perfectly )
Heather Julie
9th Feb, 2017
Good simple recipe - tastes fine, great for a simple supper.
tyrannical pug
7th Feb, 2017
This chilli beef turned out perfectly but I made a few changes. Like the person before me this recipe was more of an inspiration for me. I used a kilo of extra lean beef, 1/2 a red capsicum (a whole capsicum seemed too much to me), two cans of diced tomatoes, 1 cup of water, 2 tbsp brown rice flour...and I made my own seasoning mix with 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp beef stock powder, 1/2 tsp stevia, 1/2 tsp sea salt, ground black pepper, 2 tsp dried basil and 2 tsp dried parsley. I simmered it with the lid ajar for about an hour and served it with rice, corn chips, guacamole, light sour cream, Edam cheese, freshly chopped coriander, lime wedges and Tabasco sauce for those who like it hotter. I liked one person's idea of serving it with potato wedges...that sounds delicious and I might try that next time. I will definitely be making this chilli again.


17th Sep, 2014
I'd like to make this for the freezer - should I add the beans before freezing or at the reheating stage?
13th Sep, 2014
How easy would this be to convert to a slow cooker recipe?
12th Aug, 2014
Is the nutritional info per 100g or per serving or per pot of chilli?
goodfoodteam's picture
2nd Sep, 2014
Nutritional info is per serving, so per 1/4 of the recipe.
12th Feb, 2014
Could someone please tell me if the nutritional information includes the rice?
goodfoodteam's picture
21st Feb, 2014
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
19th Jan, 2014
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?
20th Jul, 2014
Mash a few beans on the side of the pot, that should do it.
2nd Jul, 2014
Cook it for longer uncovered.
goodfoodteam's picture
21st Feb, 2014
Hi Charlotte, thanks for your question. If you're unhappy with the amount of liquid just simmer it uncovered until the excess has evaporated and the sauce will thicken. Simmer for as long as you need to get the desired consistency. Best wishes, BBC Good Food team


26th Jan, 2014
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.
3rd Jun, 2014
"If you don'y like Kidney Beans"...eh????..What 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.
8th Jul, 2014
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.
5th Jul, 2013
OH, and if you don't have marjoram - oregano works well too!
21st Sep, 2014
because oregano is dried marjoram!
5th Jul, 2013
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.
26th Jun, 2013
Great chilli but used three green chillies instead of chilli powder and browned off mince separate so as not to have it to greasy