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

Chilli con carne recipe

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(1209 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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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.
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.


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
19th Jan, 2014
Make sure you boil it down enough so the liquid evaporates. It should be noticeably thicker once you come to adding the kidney beans - if it's not, just let it boil for a few extra minutesbefore adding the kidney beans. You could also try adding more tomato puree as this helps to thicken the chilli. If all else fails just use less stock.
13th Jan, 2014
Maybe a silly question but just wanted to make sure since the taste is absolutely different between the two. For this recipe the red pepper would be a hot - like chilli red pepper or a bell pepper?
goodfoodteam's picture
21st Feb, 2014
Hi there, thanks for getting in touch. You could use a red bell pepper or a long pointed red pepper in this recipe - both would work well. Best wishes, BBC Good Food team
19th Jan, 2014
You use a bell pepper, although I use both as I like my chilli spicy!


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