Chilli Con Carne

A delicious recipe for Chilli Con Carne with step-by-step photos which the whole family will love! The meat sauce is slow-cooked with herbs and spices with lots of kidney beans for extra protein and texture. Serve with rice or tortilla chips for a tasty meal!

Easy Chilli Con Carne

For me, there is much comfort to be found in having a large pot of Chilli Con Carne bubbling away on the stove, especially since I know that many meals can be derived from this one dish.

At other times, it happens to be a great dish to make if you are entertaining a small crowd (especially one that involves lots of children).

Why This Recipe Works

  • Chilli Con Carne is a great dish to make when entertaining. Simply double or triple the recipe.
  • This Chilli Con Carne forms the basis for many delicious meals. Serve alongside some rice and/or a bowl of tortilla chips.
  • This recipe is also great for serving with baked potatoes or baked sweet potatoes .

Chilli Con Carne Recipe

This Chilli Con Carne recipe is much like making a bolognese sauce, but with some Mexican-inspired flavours added, including smoked paprika, ground cumin and cinnamon.

I once didn’t have dried oregano to hand, so I used dried thyme instead, and found that I quite enjoyed the gentle fragrance of the latter (thyme is one of my favourite herbs, though!).

I also like to use a mix of fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes, especially when tomatoes are in season. I find that fresh tomatoes add a nice sweetness to the sauce, but it is completely fine to just use canned tomatoes instead.

Chilli Con Carne with Beans

My son loves kidney beans so much that he often tells me to add more, so I often add two cans of kidney beans to make sure there is enough to go around.

How to Make Chilli Con Carne

There are countless recipes for Chilli Con Carne, and the one below is one which my family and I enjoy the most.

Start by softening the onions and garlic in some oil, and then add the minced beef (ground beef).

Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches so that the meat gets a chance to brown and slightly caramelise; if you add too much meat into a small pan, the meat will instead steam and turn grey (which is not necessarily bad but you will miss out of some of the flavours which you can only get by browning and caramelising the meat).

cooked ground beef with onions and garlic in cast iron pot with wooden spoon

Once all of the meat has been browned, add the spices. I also like to add some tomato paste to add extra tomato flavour to the chilli, and which also helps to give a nice colour to the chilli.

Then add the canned tomatoes, kidney beans and chicken stock.

Simmer the chilli on low heat with the lid on for about 1.5 hours, stirring from time to time to make sure that it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

After 1.5 hours, remove the lid, and let it simmer gently for about 15 minutes until it has thickened nicely.

chilli con carne in cast iron pot with wooden spoon

Tips for Making Chilli Con Carne

For recipes where minced meat (ground meat) is the main ingredient, I like to freshly grind the meat myself using a good quality piece of beef. If you don’t have a meat grinder (I love my KitchenAid meat grinder attachment), you can ask your butcher. But, of course, there is nothing wrong with buying ready-minced meat!

If you are not feeding young children, I would add a bit more chilli powder to the pot. Otherwise, I like to serve some freshly chopped green chillies or jalapeno peppers on the side, or even pickled jalapeno peppers are delicious.

If you have a large enough pot, I would recommend making a double batch on, say, Sunday, and you will have several meals sorted throughout the busy week.

chilli con carne with kidney beans in cast iron pan with wooden spoon

How to Serve Chilli Con Carne

It might not be authentic, but we love to serve Chilli Con Carne with steamed basmati rice. It turns the dish into a comforting spoon-in-bowl type meal, perfect for those evenings when you just want to slump on the sofa in front of the TV.

We also offer warmed tortilla chips, and the children happily eat these together with their rice and chilli.

chilli con carne with beans in bowl with rice, sour cream and avocadoes

One of my favourite ways of serving leftover Chilli Con Carne is with baked potatoes – I can’t think of a more comforting meal to enjoy in the middle of the week.

And for those occasions when I make a bit pot of chilli, I love to serve it with a cornbread baked right on top of the pot. For this, I love this Cornbread recipe.

{Easy Cornbread Recipe}

More Recipes Using Ground Beef

For more recipes using ground beef or minced beef, you may also like:

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Vietnamese Spaghetti Bolognese


Chilli Con Carne

5 from 13 reviews

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 mins
  • Yield: Serves 3-4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Mexican

A delicious recipe for Chilli Con Carne which the whole family will love! The meat sauce is slow-cooked with herbs and spices with lots of kidney beans for extra protein and texture. Serve with rice or tortilla chips for a tasty meal!


For the Chilli Con Carne

To serve

  • Basmati rice, cooked according to packet instructions
  • 12 ripe avocadoes, largely diced
  • 1 cucumber, largely diced
  • sour cream or crème frâiche garnished with chopped chives
  • fresh green chillies or jalapeno peppers, or picked jalapeno peppers
  • tortilla chips, warmed in a hot oven


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan.
  2. Cook the onion and garlic until they have softened.
  3. Turn the heat up to high and add the the minced beef (ground beef). Cook until all of the meat has browned. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches.
  4. Season the beef generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the chilli powder, dried thyme, paprika, cumin and pepper. Cook for a few minutes.
  6. Stir through the tomato paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the chopped fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, kidney beans, chicken stock, bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
  8. Mix everything together well and bring the mixture to a boil.
  9. Then turn the heat down to a low simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for about 1.5 hours.
  10. Give the mixture a stir every 20-30 minutes and check that the mixture is not sticking to the pan.
  11. After 1.5 hours, remove the lid, and continue cooking over low to medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  12. If the mixture looks too thick, add some water.
  13. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as necessary.
  14. Just before serving, stir through the chopped coriander (cilantro) and sprinkle some on top for garnish.
  15. Serve the chilli con carne with steamed Basmati rice and the chopped avocadoes and cucumber. Garnish with green chillies or jalapeno peppers, and a dollop of sour cream or crème frâiche.

Kitchen Notes

The chilli pepper used in this recipe is pure ground hot chilli peppers (common in Asian cuisine) which is very spicy, and NOT a chili pepper spice blend (common in the US) which also contains other ingredients.

This dish keeps well in the fridge for several days, and even frozen in small portions for quick thawing and reheating.

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 320
  • Sugar: 10.2g
  • Sodium: 388.3mg
  • Fat: 9g
  • Carbohydrates: 27.1g
  • Fiber: 6.9g
  • Protein: 34.3g
  • Cholesterol: 76mg

Did you make this recipe?

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This recipe was first published on 7 December 2016. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe notes.

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  1. Simon 20 January 2017

    I could copy paste this text and write it on my own Chili recipe haha! Everything fits. The kids love it too and we make it in big batches! I love those recipes where you can go creative and find your own style! Never used thyme in my chili. Might give it a try!

    • Eat, Little Bird 20 January 2017

      Ha ha! There must be a million and one recipes for chilli con carne, and I agree that it’s one of those recipes which you can easily tweak to make your own. I used to not add many herbs, but then I saw a recipe using dried thyme, and as I had a bottle of never-used dried thyme in the pantry, I decided to use it and was pleasantly surprised 🙂

  2. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine 21 January 2017

    Beautiful photos of this chili. It’s one of my favorite dishes to make as well. I made it recently for my husband’s family in Australia and they made a pot of rice to serve it over– in America, we don’t serve it over rice!

    • Eat, Little Bird 22 January 2017

      Oh that’s interesting to know! The first time I ate chilli, it was served with rice, so that’s how we always eat it at home. Of course, the children like to eat it with tortilla chips 😉

  3. This is pure comfort food! I love any recipe that allows me to cook once and eat several times. Gorgeous photos too!

    • Eat, Little Bird 22 January 2017

      Thanks, Allison! This is one dish I don’t mind eating for several days in a row 🙂

  4. valentina 21 January 2017

    This is exactly the type of meal my whole family loves! Such delicious ingredients — love those spices! And beautiful pictures!

  5. Dannii 21 January 2017

    This really is the ultimate comfort food isn’t it. It’s so easy to make and a great way to use up leftovers too.

    • Eat, Little Bird 22 January 2017

      Yes, it is absolutely comfort food 🙂 One of my favourites too!

  6. Rose 14 March 2018

    This was a really easy recipe to follow and tasted great! We also love to serve chilli con carne with rice.

  7. Julia 14 April 2018

    I can’t wait to try it out! Its fantastic! This looks sooooo good!

  8. Rachel 23 March 2021

    Great recipe! I’ve never used thyme in my chili before but it totally worked. The flavors were really beautiful.

  9. Maya 8 May 2021

    This is the best chilli I have ever tasted! I love how fresh it tastes, not too meaty. I’ve never eaten chilli con carne with rice but will try that with the leftovers. I made your beef bourguigon the other day too. Love your recipes!

  10. Susan 12 May 2021

    I made this and it was delicious! The chili was somehow very light and fresh tasting – I couldn’t stop eating it straight from the pot when I was cooking! Love your recipes.

  11. Bill 29 May 2021

    I love this recipe 🙂 thank you

  12. Jeanne 7 August 2021

    Great recipe! I was looking to cook something for a crowd and this chilli was perfect. I didn’t have dried thyme but used herbes de provence. I also made your cornbread recipe. Everything was perfect. Thank you!

  13. Rebecca James 9 February 2022

    Fantastic recipe! This was my second time making it and I doubled the recipe this time to keep some in the freezer. It goes perfectly with your cornbread which is my favorite recipe from your website. Love them!

  14. Adam Law 6 April 2022

    Tasted fantastic! Huge fan of your cornbread recipe which goes perfectly with this chilli con carne. Family favourite. Thank you!

  15. Celine 15 April 2022

    This recipe is amazing! We all loved this chilli con carne.

  16. Terry Liaw 12 May 2022

    Great recipe, very tasty and delicious. Wish I had made more to freeze for another time.

  17. Jase 18 May 2022

    Just yum! Leftovers are great with baked potatoes.

  18. Simone 22 June 2022

    We all loved this chilli con carne, and we especially loved it with your cornbread recipe too! Everything was delicious. Thank you.

  19. Karen Ann 25 August 2022

    We loved this recipe. Thank you!