Chilli con carne is a classic comfort food dish. It’s delicious all year round, but it really hits the spot when the weather gets colder, and the nights get longer.
There are many versions of this Mexican-inspired dish, but we’re sticking with a simple chilli con carne recipe here, so you can master the basics. From there you can experiment with whatever you’ve got to hand: try adding chorizo when you brown the onions to bring a bit of smokiness, throw in some sweet potato to pack in more veg, while a sprinkling of fresh chilli will bring on the spice!
Whatever you fancy doing, get started with our simple step-by-step guide on how to make chilli. The recipe serves eight, so it’s ideal for feeding a crowd, or batch-cooking and stashing in the freezer for future meals.
2 cloves of garlic
2 sticks of celery
2 red peppers
1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
2 x 400g tins of quality plum tomatoes
500g minced beef
½ a bunch of fresh coriander (15g)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
optional: natural yoghurt and guacamole, to serve
Total time: 2 hours
How to make chilli con carne
- Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. Trim and finely chop the carrots and celery. Deseed the peppers and roughly chop.
- Place a large pan on a medium-high heat. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of oil and add the chopped veg.
- Add the chilli powder, cumin and cinnamon to the pan, followed by a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring regularly, or until softened.
- Drain and add the chickpeas and kidney beans. Pour in the tinned tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon, then fill the tin with water and pour into the pan.
- Add the minced beef, breaking up any larger chunks with a wooden spoon. Finely chop the coriander stalks and stir through, then drizzle in the balsamic, season again and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove the lid from the pan and cook for another 15 minutes, adding a splash of water if it looks like it’s starting to dry out.
- Roughly chop the coriander leaves and cut the limes into wedges for squeezing over.
- Dish up the chilli, serving each portion with coriander and lime, and a spoonful of yoghurt and guacamole, if you like.
Let’s talk sides
Chilli is delicious served with fluffy white rice, a baked sweet potato, or mix things up and pile on top of crunchy tortilla chips with grated cheese for loaded nachos. Make your own flatbread to mop up the smoky sauce, or keep things fresh with a Mexican-inspired salad that’s great for balancing out the spice. If you want to go all-out and make your own toppings, start with classic guacamole and a fresh tomato salsa, or give this corn salsa a go for something a bit different.
Check out our other chilli con carne recipes for more inspiration, or if you’re veggie, here’s Jamie with his sweet potato chilli recipe…