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.
This 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. (Don’t you just love a non-precious and forgiving dinner that can work in so many ways and be reheated without fuss?!)
Why you’ll love this recipe
⭐️ Comforting, delicious and healthy
⭐️ Family favourite with a spice level you can control
⭐️ Freezes so well – a real batch cook hero!
About Chilli Con Carne
Whilst 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.
What you’ll need
- 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
- 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 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 it
- Heat the oil in a pan and brown the mince.
2. Add the onion and spices and cook.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer.
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.
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 recipe freezes well. 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.
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!
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.
- 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.
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.
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.)
Yep. Follow my Slow Cooker Chilli recipe here.
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).
Easy Chilli Con Carne
- 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.
Kerry @ Kerry Cooks says
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!
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!
Sarah Barnes says
Oh my goodness that must have been awful! So pleased you like the beef tip, it’s so much better honestly!
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 🙂
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.
g bryan says
Chili that is how it is spelled. Just saying
Sarah Barnes says
It’s actually not in the UK, it’s spelled Chilli here. Thanks for your comment! 🙂
Kids loved this meal , compliments all round
Made in slow cooker, super easy! Delicious as usual. Only had casserole steak in supermarket, worked well.
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.
Sarah Barnes says
Welcome Wayne! Hope you enjoy.
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.