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

Chilli con carne recipe

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(1157 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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7th Aug, 2017
Amazing recipe staple dish. I used steak strips instead of beef and double the amount of canned tomatoes but kept everything else the same as I made it for 6 people and wanted leftovers and it tasted great
9th Jul, 2017
I have made this a few times now and it's the best chilli I've had, is a great chilli recipe, I always add the chocolate but I add oregano, extra garlic and some smoked paprika aswell.
Garth Mac
29th Jun, 2017
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!
22nd Jun, 2017
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.
20th Jun, 2017
The best chilli recipe I've tried. Really comforting with a great depth of flavour.
2nd Jun, 2017
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.
8th May, 2017
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.
1st May, 2017
Super chilli, I've made it several times exactly as instructed using hot chilli powder and hot smoked paprika, and it always delivers.
26th Apr, 2017
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
25th Apr, 2017
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.


goodfoodteam's picture
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. 
11th Nov, 2014
How would you do this in the slow cooker?
goodfoodteam's picture
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. 
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
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.
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?


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!!
11th Apr, 2014
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
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