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The classic family favourite, Chilli Con Carne. Here’s my version, tried and tested over 25 years. Great for batch cooking, or an easy midweek dinner. Packed with minced beef and red kidney beans, make it mild.. Or go hot!

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

This Chilli Con Carne, I am convinced, is the best and easiest ever version made with beef mince and NO packet mix sauce.

The full recipe is at the bottom of this post, and I’ll give you lots of tips, to make your best chilli yet, including an extra secret ingredient that you really need to try!


Why you’ll love this recipe

⭐️ Classic comfort food

⭐️ Family favourite

⭐️ Freezes so well – a real batch cook hero!


Close of a bowl of Easy Chilli Con Carne.

Sarah’s Notes

I’ve been making and batch cooking chilli con carne since I started cooking dinners 25 years ago..

Last year my family and I travelled a little around the USA (you can read about our USA road trip here) and one of our stops was Houston in Texas.

We ate some amazing, true TexMex chilli (or chili as it’s called there) and I’ve tried to incorporate some of what I’ve learned on that trip here.

I hope you love my method ❤️

What is Chilli Con Carne?

While Chilli Con Carne (or Chili – one L – if you’re in the States) 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.

The ‘con carne’ part just means ‘with meat’.

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.
  • 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.
  • Onion and garlic – Use fresh or frozen. 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
  • Sweet Smoked Paprika – I like the brand that comes in the red tin best
  • Ground cumin – Use seeds if you don’t have ground
  • Dark brown sugar – Maybe sounds odd, but it gives this dish depth and a slight caramel sweetness to offset the spice. Honestly, it really works.
  • Tinned chopped tomatoes – As good a quality as you can
  • Beef stock – Made with a stock cube is fine
  • Red kidney beans – I use cooked, canned, ready to eat beans. Drain them and rinse them well before using.
  • 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 as per the recipe below.

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.


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 batch cooking 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.

What to Serve with Chilli Con Carne

  • Over any type of rice
  • Use as a filling to Tacos
  • Over oven baked potato wedges, grilled and covered in cheese!
  • Tortilla chips or corn chips to dip, or over as chilli beef nachos
  • Topped with sour cream and chopped chilies (if you like extra heat!)
  • Crushed (or smashed 😆) avocado
  • Jacket Potatoes / Air Fryer Baked Potatoes – makes a great hearty filling
  • Pasta (over pasta shapes or baked into a lasagne)
  • If feeling really fancy, as a hot dog topping

FAQs

Can I make this a vegetarian chilli recipe?

Yes, simply use quorn or soya 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.)

Other TexMex Recipes

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).

4.95 from 39 votes

Chilli Con Carne {Easiest Ever Recipe}

This Chilli Con Carne recipe is packed with minced beef and red kidney beans. The BEST version of the family classic!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 2 tsp Sunflower oil
  • 750 g Beef mince
  • 1 Onion, Peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Peeled and crushed
  • 2 tsp Mild chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp Dark brown sugar
  • 800 g Chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Tomato puree
  • 800 g Kidney beans, Drained and rinsed
  • 2 Red peppers, Chopped into 3cm pieces
  • 300 ml Beef stock
  • 25 g Dark chocolate, Approx 1 square
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • Heat the oil in a large, deep pan or saucepan over a medium heat. 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.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and add the onion, garlic, chilli powder, paprika, cumin, brown sugar and plenty of salt and pepper.
  • Cook gently for a further 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the spices are toasted in the pan. Stir and reduce the heat if the mixture starts to 'catch' on the bottom of 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 to taste.

Notes

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
Peppers: I like red or green, but whichever colour you have is fine.
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

Nutrition

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

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4.95 from 39 votes (31 ratings without comment)

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15 Comments

  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!