A bowl of chilli con carne garnished with chopped avocado, red onion and coriander

Next level chilli con carne

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(18 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 3 hrs

More effort

Serves 8

Reinvent this classic comfort food with our one-pan version that is enrichened with peanut butter, espresso powder and dark chocolate. You won't look back

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: Per serving

  • kcal463
  • fat24g
  • saturates9g
  • carbs12g
  • sugars4g
  • fibre6g
  • protein46g
  • salt0.6g
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  • 2 dried ancho chillies
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano



    Closely related to marjoram, of which it is the wild equivalent, oregano has a coarser, more…

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1½ kg braising steak, cut into 4cm cubes – meat from the brisket, short rib, blade or chuck steak are all good



    Steak is essentially a boneless thick or thin slice of red meat, cut across the grain of a large…

  • 2 onions, finely chopped



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

  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter

    Peanut butter

    pee-nut butt-ah

    Peanut butter starts with dry roasting peanuts, which concentrates and heightens their flavour…

  • ½ tsp instant espresso powder
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1l beef or chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • small piece of cinnamon stick



    A fragrant spice which comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. When dried, it curls into…

  • 2 tbsp semolina, polenta or Mexican masa flour



    Semolina flour is pale-yellow in colour, high in gluten and used for traditionally made pasta,…

  • 25g dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa solids)
    Dark chocolate soup pots with double cream in spoons

    Dark chocolate

    dahk chok-o-let

    Dark chocolate means the shiny, dark-reddish brown treat produced from the cacao bean, theobroma…

  • 400g can kidney beans, drained but not rinsed (optional)
    Kidney beans scattered on a white surface

    Kidney beans

    kid-nee beenz

    Native to the Americas, kidney beans are so called because of their shape and come in very…


  1. Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Over a high heat, toast the whole chillies on all sides until you can smell them cooking, then remove and set aside. Keep the pan on the heat and toast the peppercorns, cumin seeds and coriander seeds until they just start to change colour, then grind to a powder using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Mix with the smoked paprika and oregano (this is a standard tex-mex seasoning), then set aside.

  2. Return the casserole to the heat, add half the oil and heat until shimmering. Fry the beef in batches, adding more oil if you need to, until it’s browned on all sides, then set aside. Fry the onions in the pan over a low heat for about 8 mins until soft and golden, then add the garlic and cook for 1 min more. Working fast, add the meat and juices, the spice mix, tomato purée, peanut butter and coffee to the pan and cook for 2-3 mins, stirring to coat the meat until everything is thick and gloopy, then pour in the vinegar and stock.

  3. Add the toasted chillies back into the casserole, along with the bay leaves, cinnamon and some salt. Bring to a simmer and stir well, then cover with the lid and cook in the oven for 3hrs, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender but not falling apart. Take the casserole out of the oven, put back on the stove and remove the lid. Simmer the sauce for 5 mins, then stir in the semolina flour and simmer for 2-3 mins more. Finely grate over the chocolate, stir through with the beans and simmer for a minute more to heat through. Fish out the chillies, then leave everything to rest for at least 15 mins.

  4. Bring the pan to the table. Serve with bowls of accompaniments and the chilli paste (see tip below) to add heat.

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Comments, questions and tips

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8th Jul, 2020
What a wonderful recipe. The flavour continues to resonate, long after the mouthful, much as great wines or beers do. So nuanced, which is indicative of any complex cuisine where the spices are roasted/toasted prior to use. Well worth the time. 5 star for sure. Not too hot; M.S. is wide of the mark. 2 chillis in 1 1/2 kg meat is certainly not excessive. Remember if you want it milder cut out the membrane or pith and you’ll significantly reduce the heat. Thank you to the provider, or should that be providore.
Ramona B
25th Jun, 2020
Just tried this recipe today, good gawd is divine! I am very grateful for discovering this!
Mike Shepherd's picture
Mike Shepherd
17th May, 2019
I do like spicy food but this was so hot as to be just inedible and spoiled the family meal. It may be worth completely removing the seeds from the Ancho Chilis first.
29th Mar, 2018
Gorgeous and best made a few days before you need it. Making the chilli oil to serve on the side is a must so follow the recipe tips.
Dima Feoktistov's picture
Dima Feoktistov
17th Feb, 2018
Brilliant recipe - love the 'next level' series. Lots of heat and the flavours really start to develop after a few days in the fridge. Ancho chillies can be found quite cheap online, don't buy from Waitrose.
jenniferjones76@gmail.com's picture
6th Nov, 2017
Loved this - worked really well and a real crowd pleaser!
dadgooner's picture
24th Sep, 2017
Wow. Just wow. Try it ........ you will love it. Best chilli since I did Gordon's. Got a really lovely kick and has layers of flavour and real depth. You will know what I mean when u make this. Great chilli.
6th Feb, 2018
Where on Earth are you supposed to get dried Ancho chilliest & what can you use instead?
goodfoodteam's picture
6th Feb, 2018
Thanks for your question. You can buy ancho chillies from a variety of suppliers online as well as some of the bigger supermarkets such as Waitrose and Tesco.
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