Chilli con carne cooking in a pan with chocolate melting on top

Chilli con carne recipe

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(1789 ratings)

Prep: 10 mins Cook: 1 hr


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

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal387
  • fat17g
  • saturates6g
  • carbs25g
  • sugars1g
  • fibre6g
  • protein36g
  • salt2.32g
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  • 1 large onion



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 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 (or add a thumbnail-sized piece of dark chocolate along with the beans instead, see tip)



    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.

  2. Cut 1 red pepper in half lengthways, remove stalk and wash the seeds away, then chop. Peel and finely chop 2 garlic cloves.

  3. Start cooking. Put your pan on the hob over a medium heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and leave it for 1-2 minutes until hot (a little longer for an electric hob).

  4. Add the onion and cook, stirring fairly frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft, squidgy and slightly translucent.

  5. 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.

  6. Give it a good stir, then leave it to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  7. Brown 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Make the sauce. Crumble 1 beef stock cube into 300ml hot water. Pour this into the pan with the mince mixture.

  10. Add a 400g can of chopped tomatoes. Tip in ½ tsp dried marjoram, 1 tsp sugar and add a good shake of salt and pepper. Squirt in about 2 tbsp tomato purée and stir the sauce well.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Drain and rinse a 410g can of red kidney beans 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.

  14. Taste a bit of the chilli and season. It will probably take a lot more seasoning than you think. 

  15. Now replace the lid, turn off the heat and leave your chilli to stand for 10 minutes before serving. This is really important as it allows the flavours to mingle.

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

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Comments, questions and tips

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Fred Holmes's picture
Fred Holmes
17th Mar, 2020
Some of the comments regarding bland, watery taste make me laugh. You are not making it right!! It isn't meant to be a Tex Mex special with chunky beef either. It's home cooking and this recipe works fine for me and my family and we have used it for years. Enjoy....
14th Mar, 2020
I have made and enjoyed this recipe many times over the years and planned to make it again today. I needed beef mince so went out to get some but (due to the virus situation) there was none available in our nearest supermarket. So we bought some low fat turkey mince and made the recipe with that, only substituting chicken stock for beef. And it was really delicious so we decided we would definitely use turkey again.
9th Mar, 2020
Lovely rich and hearty meal, although I've never noted the difference between using sugar or chocolate. The recipe reads like a short story though.
Reg Clark's picture
Reg Clark
20th Feb, 2020
Made this today really enjoyed it, didn't have any marjoram so substituted Oregano, didn't use sugar or chocolate or soured cream and it was still delicious, Just put two lots in the freezer too. Would recommend and will be making it again.
12th Feb, 2020
It was ok. I had to add a lot of extra ingredients to enrich the taste - particularly tomato puree and salt. It took almost 3 hours including prep and cooking. I can understand why people say its bland and watery if they followed the recipe strictly by ingredients and time. One regret is adding the sugar. It ended up tasting far too sweet. After taking a serving, I'll put it in the slow cooker to strengthen in flavour overnight.
12th Feb, 2020
It was ok. I added a lot more tomato puree and salt to enrich it. It ended up taking nearly 3 hours with prep and cooking. I suppose part of the extra time was letting it reduce while continuing to season. I can understand people saying it was bland and watery if they went strictly with the recipe and cooking time.
9th Mar, 2020
three hours? you using a hair dryer for heat?
Marcel Lovera's picture
Marcel Lovera
6th Feb, 2020
I cook the chilli for a minimum of 4-5 hours and it's delicious
hybridauth_user 2804's picture
hybridauth_user 2804
31st Jan, 2020
Nice taste but too watery based on this recipe and had no kick. I would suggest doubling the hot chilli powder and halving the beef stock.
Tara Sykes's picture
Tara Sykes
26th Jan, 2020
I love this recipe, it's so tasty and the whole family loves it. I've only ever used it in the slow cooker and it's been perfect everytime, I'm surprised people have said it's watery as the only liquid you are adding to it is the tinned tomatoes. My children and husband both like a kick so I add teaspoon of chilli flakes as well and we don't have the sour cream. We tend to have it with a jacket potato, it's perfect for those cold winter evenings.


Raj Verdi's picture
Raj Verdi
18th Jul, 2019
any tips on what I could replace the kidney beans with as my kids don't like them?
goodfoodteam's picture
22nd Jul, 2019
Thanks for your question. Flageolet beans make a great alternative for kids as they are smaller and have a subtler taste and texture. Alternatively, you can leave out the beans altogether if you prefer.
4th Aug, 2018
Those of you cooking this in the slow cooker, how did you get it not ending up watery or bland? Any tips?
goodfoodteam's picture
19th Aug, 2018
Thanks for your question. For tips on how to adapt this recipe for a slow cooker, take a look at the following feature: We also have a slow cooker chilli recipe here:
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: We also have a family-friendly slow cooker chilli recipe here:
24th Sep, 2019
9th Nov, 2017
Was wanting to use smoked paprika, do I use this smoked instead of the paprika or in addition to it?


Gareth Davies's picture
Gareth Davies
29th Feb, 2020
Good recipe, but with a few tweaks it can be a fantastic recipe. Along with the tomatoes add the following: 2 tbsp fish sauce. 1.5 tbsp soy sauce. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Boosts the umami richness and adds a slightly different heat note with virtually no extra effort.
27th Oct, 2019
I love this recipe. However nowadays's I use turkey mince instead as lower in fat and cheaper win
Stephen Howard's picture
Stephen Howard
26th Oct, 2019
Replace the chilli powder with smoked Chipotle flakes, use smoked Paprika, half-and-half water and coffee for the stock, and finally maple Syrup in place of sugar, and you end up with a thing of smoky sweet beauty.
2nd Jul, 2019
Made this for the first time. It's tasty but definitely needs more spices, a bit bland as it is.
Katerina Mattock
7th Mar, 2019
Slow Cooker users: I cook for 4 hours on high and add the beans in half way. At the end I mix up 2 tbsp of cornflour and 2 tbsp of water and add it to the slow cooker. Stir every 5 minutes say over 20 minutes and see how you go. If you want it thicker - repeat the step. Works a gem. Also to make this vegan replace the mince with TVP and you're set :)
Darren Payne's picture
Darren Payne
24th Feb, 2019
First time making this today. Read through some of the comments... Definatley double the spice ingredients! Turned out amazing! Also used 4 bean can instead of kidney beans. Big thumbs up for this recipe!
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!


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