Chilli Con Carne

This basic chilli con carne recipe can be made with beef mince or with veggie mince or just a larger amount of veggies and beans to replace the meat – it’s a very versatile recipe (see Variations listed below). It’s a great way to use up veggie leftovers and storecupboard ingredients. 

Chilli con Carne means ‘chilli with meat’ in Spanish and originates from Mexico in Latin America. The sauce is authentically flavoured with a little dark chocolate, but this is optional!.


Vegetarian: replace the beef with meat-free mince (like Quorn or supermarket’s own) OR leave out the mince and add an extra 400g of mixed diced veggies.

Do vary the veggies as to what’s in season or you have in: carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, courgette, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, peas or sweetcorn are all delicious in a chilli too. Add tougher root vegetables at the beginning of the cooking time and peas/sweetcorn towards the end.

To make hotter: add hot chilli powder instead of mild and/or a couple of finely sliced fresh chillies.


  • 1 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil

  • 1 onion, finely diced

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed

  • 1 heaped teaspoon mild chilli powder

  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander

  • 400g mixed diced veggies (choose from peppers, butternut squash, pumpkin, green beans, courgette, peas, sweetcorn, carrots)

  • 400g lean minced beef

  • 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 300ml hot water

  • 1 × 400g can chopped tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree

  • 1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano

  • ground black pepper

  • 1 × 400g can black beans or kidney beans

  • 1 square dark chocolate (10 to 15g), optional


  1. Assemble all the equipment needed (a large saucepan, wooden spoon, chopping board, vegetable knife, measuring jug, tablespoon, teaspoon, colander) and prepare all the ingredients according to the list.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the garlic and spices to the pan and cook for 2 minutes before adding the 400g of mixed veggies. Give everything a good stir.
  4. Now turn up the heat a little and add the minced beef. Stir and prod the meat until it’s broken up and browned, which should take around 5 minutes.
  5. Pour in the hot stock, can of chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano and a pinch of ground pepper. Give everything a good stir. Bring to a simmer then turn the heat down to very low. Cover with the pan lid and leave to gently bubble for 20 minutes. If the sauce looks a little dry add a splash of water. 
  6. Drain the beans from the can into a colander and rinse under running tap water. Store the beans and chocolate into the chilli. Cook for a final 10 minutes with the lid off. 


Simply serve with rice with added sour cream, grated cheese and guacamole if you like. Or it’s delish as a jacket potato topping with or without grated cheese. To make into burritos, dollop a spoonful of chilli on to a tortilla wrap and top with any/all of these: sour cream, grated cheese, guacamole, tomato salsa, sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce. Wrap, eat and enjoy.