The Best Chilli Con Carne Recipe

I’ve seen a lot of recipes for chilli, some elaborate and some very simple. Many do the job and people will always have different preferences. Here’s what I think is important for the presentation of chilli and my recipe. Chilli should…

  • Be cooked for a long time to ensure the meat is soft;
  • Have a good consistency – not too runny;
  • Have a strong but deep flavour, i.e. it should be hot, but not knock your socks off so you can taste the different flavours;
  • Be a nice deep dark red colour.

Ingredients (a la Robin)

  • 500g beef mince (although I’m assured by my American chilli-quaffing friend that the best way is to use chuck steak, finely diced, which I’m going to try out in due course) NB, I’ve since tried this and it’s AWESOME.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin (personal preference)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (hot Hungarian)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp i.e. long squirts of tomato purée
  • Salt n pepper
  • 2 hot chillies or 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • Shake of Worcestershire sauce
  • Seasoning

To cook it:

  1. Get the pan hot and keep it hot, while frying the beef mince in the olive oil. The aim is to brown it, but no need to go overboard and it’ll probably just cook as there will be a lot fat coming off the meat.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and add the onions. Once these are starting to brown, turn the heat down to medium and start adding the garlic and spices. Cook for a few minutes, then add the meat back in.
  3. Add the glass of wine and allow it to absorb/reduce into the meat for a few minutes, before adding the Worcestershire sauce and the tomato purée. Stir that in, then add the tins of tomato.
  4. Season and then leave to cook for a few hours, checking it frequently. It should be bubbling gently. Use the lid for the first hour unless it’s going mental, then lid-off for an hour. The longer you can cook it the better really.
  5. Add the kidney beans shortly before serving (like 15 mins before) Serve with rice or crusty bread, a baked potato, mash or whatever you like. It’s another great dish to freeze and use at your convenience.



19 thoughts on “The Best Chilli Con Carne Recipe

  1. 7 November, 2010.
    Thank you, Robin for an eminently well-balanced recipe, with priorities stated loud and clear at the outset. Having attempted to digest Heston Blumenthal’s offering for Waitrose this weekend – half a bottle of wine in his recipe! – yours has the right blend of seasoning and sense. Cinnamon always works well with beef while cumin and coriander (only one “r” required) give a depth of flavour. And keeping the fiery components to a minimum is no bad thing, either. Best regards, Jane

  2. Hi Jane – thanks for the comment, I’m delighted you liked the recipe! There are certainly enough out there to keep you going; I tend to base mine around this and adapt as I go.

    Half a bottle of wine? I’m sure more is less but I don’t see why you’d want more of that flavour when you’ve got so many others in the mix. Perhaps it was someone at Waitrose (with alcohol markup in mind) who decided to insert that suggestion!


    P.S. thanks for spotting the type.

  3. Pingback: 2010 in review « Source it, cook it, eat it

  4. Very nice !!, gave a serving to my neighbour – they loved it as did I. will be using this one again. Printed off for future reference.

  5. Hi Natalie – yes about four people, but I always over compensate for those who are very hungry and if you have some leftover, slow-cooked meals are almost always even better re-heated.


  6. Thank you!
    Going to make it on Saturday for about ten people so i will make another two times the ingredients should have plenty!!! xx

  7. Hi this is Pod in Thailand. I am simmering this recipe as I write, a few minor alterations, using beer instead of wine as wine is very expensive out here. Also added some cocoa (mixed in hot water) because I too have heard that chocolate and chilli go well together.

    Have friends coming tonight…..will let you know how it goes down. Thank you.

      • Hallo Robin,

        The Chilli was wonderful! Went down a treat.This recipe is now in my book of favourites. As you have probably heard, we have had a lot of rain in Thailand recently, and those of us who have lived here a few years, experience it as pretty cold, so Chilli con Carne is a great recipe to eat during the low season when the resorts are closed, it rains for days and we meet up to play Wii games, eat good food and share good stories about the crazy tourists.

        Many thanks Robin!!!!

  8. Hey Robin – thanks for the follow. I have returned the favour after having a better squizz around. I kinda’ like your food philosophy. The best Chilli Con Carne recipe will be attempted as the weather cools (it’s book marked!) 🙂

  9. Cooking this as I type – smells amazing. I am using a slow cooker to brew this up for 3 hours and have added 2 squares (small) of dark 74% chocolate. Somebody told me you get a better flavour when it’s cooked by letting it go cold and then reheating after about 1/2 hour before serving – any comments? My wife doesn’t like rice so I’m doing baked potatoes – prick all over with a fork and rub in a mix of herbs/black pepper and salt and bake on gas 6 for 1 hour in the oven (much better than microwave baked potatoes). I’m probably serving the spuds split with sour cream and chives and then adding a spoon-full of guacamole. Any suggestions to improve? Oh – final addition I’m serving with freshly picked watercress (the British broad leaved variety – not that poncy stuff you get with egg and cress sandwiches). I think cheese should be in here somewhere so I’ll probably stick a lump of mature cheddar in when I split the baked potato and bang it back in the oven before I add the sour cream. Never seen your site before – keep up the good work – thanks.

  10. Hey There. I discovered your weblog the usage of msn. That is a really neatly written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to learn more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly comeback.

  11. Thanks for the recipe Robin .. I have cooked this a few times now with chuck steak and it’s great. Sometimes I’ll add two small squares of dark chocolate with the tomato paste and melt them down before adding the tinned tomatoes. See what you think.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s