Try our best chilli con carne recipe or check out our top chilli recipes, including vegetarian chilli, vegan chilli, slow cooker chilli and five-bean chilli.

What is the origin of chilli con carne?

Chilli con carne is originally a southern Texas dish that has been adopted and adapted quite heavily. It’s essentially a stew of meat and spices, served with or without beans depending on which recipe you use.

What are the traditional chilli con carne ingredients?

Variations on the recipe are as huge as the country it’s from. Beef is most commonly the meat used (either minced or in chunks) but pork is also a popular ingredient as well as sausage and chorizo. Kidney beans are probably the most familiar bean but black beans, turtle beans and pinto beans all work brilliantly too.

Which chillies do you use in chilli con carne?

You can get quite creative with spices in a chilli. A regular jar of chilli powder is usually a mix of cayenne, cumin, oregano and garlic, all of which are traditionally featured. You can also add cinnamon for extra warmth, smoked paprika and explore more traditional Mexican chillies which are now more readily available such as smoky chipotle and fruity ancho chilli.

Can you put chocolate in chilli con carne?

There are a couple of surprising ingredients which can add depth to your chilli. A square of dark chocolate (70% or over) added at the end will add a sweet richness to the finished dish and many recipes add a little black coffee. Neither of these ingredients will be obvious in the finished recipe so don’t worry about them overpowering.

How do you make chilli con carne?

The secret to the best chilli is building layers and layers of flavour and long-slow cooking to let all of those flavours meld and develop. For that reason, it’s a perfect dish to cook in a slow cooker. Try our slow-cooker chilli here.

Twists on chilli con carne

  • Swap kidney beans for black beans (tinned or dried and cooked).
  • Make your chilli chunky by using hand-cut beef: buy a piece of chuck or braising steak and cut it into pea-sized pieces (or bigger if you like it really chunky).
  • Bump it up with more vegetables if you want it to go further – add more peppers, courgettes and cherry tomatoes.

Chilli con carne recipe


  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • olive oil
  • 500g good quality or aged minced beef
  • 3 tsp chipotle powder or paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml red wine
  • 20g 70% dark chocolate
  • 4 semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • vegetable stock cube
  • 2 x 400g tins kidney beans
  • red pepper, cut into chunks (optional) 


  • STEP 1

    Heat the oven to 180C/fan160C/gas4. Gently fry the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy based casserole. Turn up the heat and add the mince and fry until evenly browned and you have a light crust on the bottom of the pan. Add the chipotle, spices and dried oregano, then cook for 1 minute until the meat is well coated.

  • STEP 2

    Add the purée, chopped tomatoes, wine, chocolate, semi-dried tomatoes, stock cube and kidney beans. (You can use less or no wine if you prefer, just use water instead, plus a small splash of vinegar or lemon juice.) Put in the oven with a lid on for at least 1 hour 30 minutes. Add the peppers (if using) for the last 30 minutes – you may need to add a touch of water at this stage as well.

  • STEP 3

    Serve with quinoa, iceberg lettuce, avocado salsa (or guacamole), fresh coriander and a dash of Tabasco.

Looking to use up leftovers? Put them to use in these easy, satisfying chilli con carne quesadillas, perfect for lunch the next day.

Make some guacamole to serve with your chilli

Best Guacamole Plus How To Video


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Janine RatcliffeFood director

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