This post may contain affiliate links.

We all know the classic, family favourite, Easy Chilli Con Carne – but do you know these tricks for the best version ever?!

A super simple recipe with big results. Great for batch cooking, freezing extras and ideal for entertaining or parties. Let a pot of this bubble away as a comfort food crowd pleaser.

Big bowl of cooked Easy Chilli Con Carne topped with cheese.

This is Easy Chilli Con Carne is full-blown comfort food which benefits from the low cost, versatile, tasty beef mince with heaps of rich flavour.

It’s perfect for any time of year as it can be tailored to whatever side dishes you fancy. You can even make it as part of a winter banquet with baked potatoes, rice or pasta, or even an al fresco summer meal alongside tortilla chips and dips (and a margarita!) 

Of course, it’s ideal for batch cooking too, so keep some in your freezer for those quick-turnaround evenings, and it’s so easy to double up and keep warm on the stove if you have lots of guests to feed.

You can also adapt it to a Slow Cooker Chilli Con Carne if you need to and it’s all made in one pot. (Don’t you just love a non-precious and forgiving dinner that can work in so many ways and be reheated without fuss?!)

And to give this simple and easy chilli con carne a bit of a special edge too… we have an extra secret ingredient that you really need to try!

Why you’ll love this Easy Chilli Con Carne recipe

⭐️ Comforting, delicious and healthy

⭐️ Family favourite with a spice level you can control

⭐️ Freezes so well – a real batch cook hero!

Close of a bowl of Easy Chilli Con Carne.

What is Chilli Con Carne?

While Chilli Con Carne is often served in Mexican restaurants, it’s actually firmly in the Tex Mex camp. In other words, it is mainly from Texas with inspiration from Mexico.

It’s taken so seriously in the USA, there’s even an International Chili Society, which hosts the World Champion Chili Cook-Offs!

The ingredients in a traditional Chilli Con Carne vary a lot but tend to always include red meat, onions, chilli of some kind and cumin.

You can read more about the history of the dish here or find a very technically detailed version of the dish here.

Easy Chilli Con Carne Ingredients

Easy Chilli Con Carne recipe ingredients laid out on a counter.
  • Olive oil – Or a mild/flavourless oil
  • Beef mince – See tips below for which kind to choose
  • Onion – Use fresh or frozen
  • Garlic – I use garlic puree as it’s so easy, but you could use fresh too
  • Mild chilli powder – Use this to taste for spice level
  • Smoked paprika – Not the sweet kind
  • Ground cumin – Use seeds if you don’t have ground
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Tinned chopped tomatoes – As good a quality as you can
  • Beef stock – Good quality stock cube is fine
  • Kidney beans – Canned, drained and rinsed is fine
  • Peppers – Red or green work best
  • Dark chocolate – This is our secret weapon for elevating the recipe and it needs to be really dark and good quality (70% or higher). Don’t substitute with anything else as it will just make the chilli too sweet. Leave it out if you don’t have it.

How to make easy Chilli Con Carne

Step 1 in the recipe for how to cook Easy Chilli Con Carne.
  1. Heat the oil in a pan and brown the mince.
Step 2 in the recipe for how to cook Easy Chilli Con Carne.

2. Add the onion and spices and cook.

Step 3 in the recipe for how to cook Easy Chilli Con Carne.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer.

Step 4 in the recipe for how to cook Easy Chilli Con Carne.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it’s melted.


  • Mince – You can make this with quorn mince if you prefer.
  • Peppers – Red and green work best, but any will work. You can also use frozen peppers but these will be in much smaller chunks.

What to do with Chilli leftovers

In the fridge You can keep this recipe in the fridge for 3 days. Reheat fully in the microwave or hob before serving.

In the freezer This is a great recipe for freezing. Just wait until it’s totally cold and then put into a freezer proof container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost thoroughly before reheating in the microwave or hob.

Top tips

Secret ingredient hacks

There are a couple of little extras in this recipe that a pretty minor in term of effort, but really elevate the flavour. Firstly, the adding the sugar to the onions at the start brings a rich sweetness, and the dark chocolate at the end takes it to another level again. Try it out!

Beef mince 

In terms of fat content, 10% is ideal for this recipe. If you prefer, you could go for 5%, but it might not be quite as tender in texture. If you go for 20%, it will be very tasty but you might need to drain some fat away when cooking it. 

During the browning process, your mince should be coloured all over and starting to turn golden in places before you add the rest of the ingredients.

What to serve with Chilli Con Carne
  • Any type of Rice.
  • Use as a filling to Tacos.
  • Over oven baked potato wedges, grilled and covered in cheese!
  • Tortilla chips to dip, or over as chilli beef nachos.
  • Topped with sour creme and chopped chilies (if you like the extra heat!)
  • Crushed (or smashed 😆) avocado. 
  • Jacket Potatoes – makes a great hearty filling. 
  • Pasta (over pasta shapes or baked into a lasagne)
  • If feeling really fancy, as a hot dog topping


Can I make this a vegetarian chilli recipe?

Yes, simply use quorn mince instead of beef mince and follow the packet instructions as to how best to cook it. Alternatively, try my Vegan Butternut Squash Chilli recipe.

Can I make chilli ahead of time?

You certainly can. It’s a perfect recipe for that. Just keep it in the fridge or freezer until it’s time to eat it. (Instructions on this above.)

Can I cook this chilli in the slow cooker?

Yep. Follow my Slow Cooker Chilli recipe here.

Why do you add chocolate to a chilli?

A small amount of very dark chocolate is often used in a chilli to finish it off but off setting the tomato acidity and adding rich, sweet, earthiness to the flavour. It’s optional but I would definitely recommend. (It must be very dark chocolate though! Anything too sweet will taste rather odd.)

Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.

Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).

4.94 from 32 votes

Easy Chilli Con Carne

This Easy Chilli Con Carne recipe is perfect for the whole family or for feeding guests. Low cost, full of flavour and versatile for serving too.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 2 tsp Olive oil
  • 750 g Beef mince
  • 1 Large onion, Chopped into small pieces
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Peeled and crushed
  • 2 tsp Mild chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp Dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper , To taste
  • 800 g Chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Tomato puree
  • 300 ml Beef stock
  • 800 g Kidney beans, Drained and rinsed
  • 2 Peppers, Chopped into small pieces chunks
  • 25 g Dark chocolate, Approx 1 square


  • Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan. Add the mince, and fry for 5-10 mins, or until browned all over. Use a wooden spoon to break up the chunks as you go.
  • Add the onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, chilli powder, salt, pepper and sugar. Cook gently for a further five minutes, stirring frequently so the spices are toasted in the pan.
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, kidney beans, red peppers and beef stock, stirring well, pop a lid on the pan.
  • Simmer gently for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, stir through the chocolate until it's melted. Check for seasonings. If it's not spicy enough add more chilli powder or sauce to taste.


Beef mince: 10% fat mince would be best for this recipe, however – you could use 5% but the mince may be slightly tougher, or 20% (as it is cheaper) but you may want to drain off some of the fat
Cooking the mince: Your mince should be coloured all over and stating to turn golden in places
Garlic: I use garlic puree as it is so easy, the rough conversion would be 1tsp per clove
Dark chocolate: This needs to be really dark, good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or higher) you cannot substitute this with another type of chocolate as it will just make the chilli too sweet, so if you don’t have the chocolate then leave it out


Calories: 445kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 42gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 395mgPotassium: 1544mgFiber: 14gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 2212IUVitamin C: 67mgCalcium: 124mgIron: 10mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Family Food
Like this? Leave a comment and rating below!Mention @myusername or tag #myhashtag!

new cookbook!

Featuring 100 delicious recipes that can be cooked in one pot, you can open any page in this book and find something that will give you not only a meal that the whole family will eat and enjoy, but also one that makes your life a little simpler in the process.

More Recipes

Sarah Rossi founder of and author of 'What's for Dinner?' books.


Hi, I'm Sarah. I help busy people decide 'What's for Dinner?' Find hundreds of recipes here, and also in my bestselling recipe book. Hope my recipes make your life easier ❤️

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. The chilli tasted great until I added the dark chocolate. Unfortunately this ruined the taste for me and I had to try and save it.

  2. 5 stars
    I like the sound of this one. I try many chilli recipes, but 30 years in I still have not found ‘The one’. Am making tomorrow morning, will put in a very low oven for around 4-5 hours whilst we visit family, then up the heat and add the peppers etc when meat is just about tender. First time on your site, but won’t be the last.

  3. 5 stars
    Made in slow cooker, super easy! Delicious as usual. Only had casserole steak in supermarket, worked well.

  4. Hii i think when you fancy a chilli con carne but don’t have the time for slow cooking – this is the recipe for you
    you can make this recipe instant. very easy recipe.

  5. 5 stars
    My husband is a big lover of spices. I am confident that this recipe will definitely satisfy his taste buds. Thanks for sharing it Sarah 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    I love your tip to use chunks of beef instead of mince – I’m adding this recipe to my shopping list this week 🙂 I also need to start using the gloves when chopping chillis. I once chopped some chillis and then later took my contact lenses out. I cannot tell you just how painful that was!

  7. 5 stars
    This recipe looks delish Sarah! I love making big batch meals and freezing some. As someone who has previously touched my eye after cutting chilli, I’d say those gloves are a must have too!