Chili Con Carne Recipe


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Enjoy the best ever easy Chili con Carne recipe! This chili is packed full of Tex-Mex and Mexican flavors.

Chili Con Carne

If you’re looking for a flavorful Chili con Carne recipe that everyone will love, this is it. It’s turned non-chili lovers into huge chili fans, and there are never any leftovers when I bring a batch of this anywhere.

A bowl of chili con carne next to a bowl of fried tortilla strips.

What’s The Difference Between Chili and Chili Con Carne?

These names are often used interchangeably. Chili con Carne translates to “chili with meat”, and it’s normally shorted to just “chili” when people talk about it.

What’s The Best Secret Ingredient?

From beer, to liquid smoke, to honey, to chocolate, to Worcestershire sauce, there are so many different favorite “secret ingredients” in chili. It’s definitely worth experimenting to see which one you like best!

Should There Be Beans In Chili?

This is a hotly debated topic, and the answer is: it depends on who you ask.

Texans will adamantly tell you that there should be no beans in chili. In chili competitions, that is true. The beans have an overpowering flavor so they’re left out for competitive tastings.

I like some beans in my chili (but not too many), so I include 1 can of kidney beans. You could also try pinto beans if you prefer them.

What Kind Of Beef Should I Use?

Ground beef is my meat of choice for this recipe, because I think it’s the most classic variation of chili that most of us grew up with.

Shredded beef, pulled beef, or diced chuck roast are some of my other favorite types of beef to use. You can even use burger meat in a pinch.

What’s In Chili Powder?

Chili powder in the United States is totally different than the chili powder sold in the UK and Europe. In the US, it’s a spice blend that isn’t overly spicy. In Europe, it’s pure ground chilis.

Swapping European chili powder for US chili powder would not work, and would probably ruin your meal. I’ve written this recipe using individual spices, so it will work from anywhere.

Why Would You Put Vinegar In It?

Mixing a spoonful of vinegar into it right before serving adds some acid that really brightens the dish up. If you want to add an acid, I’d recommend adding some of the brine from a jar of pickled jalapeños. If you’ve ever tried my Copycat Taco Bell Quesadilla Sauce, you’ll know it’s one of my favorite ingredients to use.

Should You Put Sugar In It?

If you’re going to simmer it for an hour and a half, you don’t need to add any brown sugar. Cooking the tomatoes down imparts a sweetness without any added sweetener.

If you’re in a rush and plan to thicken it by adding cornstarch or flour instead of simmering it down, then I’d recommend adding in some sugar.

Is Cumin Good In It?

I love the earthy flavor that ground cumin adds, so I included it in the ingredient list. I think some recipes go a little too heavy on the cumin though, so it might be less than you’re used to seeing in other recipes.

How To Make It Spicy

To make this recipe spicier, simply add in more cayenne! You could also add in more fresh jalapeños, but cayenne is a spicier pepper, so adding in ground cayenne is an easier way to up the heat factor.

A process collage showing onion, jalapenos, and ground beef cooking.

Does It Get Better The Longer It Cooks?

Up to a certain point, yes. Simmering the chili melds all the flavors together and is a critical step in making delicious award winning chili. It is possible to cook it for too long though, so there’s no need to simmer it beyond 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Why Is It Better The Next Day?

Letting it rest in the fridge overnight does two things. First, it allows the meat to absorb more of the delicious flavors (all those spices and aromatics). Second, since the meat absorbs more as it rests, it creates a better texture.

Should It Be Cooked Uncovered or Covered?

I prefer to simmer it uncovered. The key to cooking chili is to simmer it low and slow. It’s easy to accidentally have the temperature too high when you put a lid on the pot (that steam, heat, and pressure builds up fast inside a lidded pot!). Cooking it without the lid lets you easily keep an eye on it to make sure it isn’t cooking on too high a temperature.

A process collage showing spices, tomatoes, and beans added to a pot.

What Goes With It?

Try topping it with a bit of sour cream, cheddar cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, and fried corn tortilla strips!

If you’re looking for a side, try cornbread, rice, or potatoes. They’re my favorite classics to serve with a hot bowl of chili. Corn chips or tortilla chips are another popular thing to serve it with.

What To Make With Leftovers?

My favorite dish to make with leftovers is chili cornbread casserole – oh my gosh, it’s SO good! Chili potatoes are another favorite of mine, and I love that it’s such an easy leftovers dish.

Some other popular ways to use up leftovers are in tacos, on nachos, in quesadillas, and in enchiladas.

How To Make It Keto

To make this recipe low carb, you’ll need to omit the beans.

How To Make It Vegan

To make this recipe vegetarian and plant-based, you’ll need to substitute the ground beef with a vegan ground beef substitute. You’ll also need to use a vegetable bouillon instead of beef bouillon.

Chili con carne in a white bowl.

Keep In Touch

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

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Pinterest pin with pictures of chili con carne and title text.

Beef Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out our entire beef recipe section! Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 10 servings

Chili Con Carne Recipe

An overhead image of the best homemade chili con carne recipe in a white bowl.

Enjoy the best ever easy Chili con Carne recipe! This chili is packed full of Tex-Mex and Mexican flavors.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions (chopped)
  • 2 medium jalapeños (stem, veins, and seeds removed - diced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic (diced)
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon Better Than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base (or other beef bouillon of choice)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • Ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Fresh cilantro (diced, for topping)


  1. Heat a large Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat. Once hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onions and saute for 2 minutes, then add the jalapenos and saute for an additional 2 - 3 minutes (or until the onions are turning translucent). Add the salt and stir to combine. Add the garlic and saute for approximately 30 seconds (or until aromatic).
  2. Add the beef and brown it. Saute until there is no visible pink (approximately 8 minutes).
  3. Add the cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and stir to combine and evenly coat the meat. Saute for 2 minutes to toast the spices.
  4. Add in the tomato paste, diced tomatoes with juices, water, roasted beef base bouillon, and kidney beans. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the chili has thickened somewhat.


This chili will be noticeably better the next day. If it's all possible, I recommend making it a day ahead and then reheating it before serving it.

Be sure to cook this in a large pot - if the beef is too crowded it won't brown, and browning is an important step in building the flavors.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 335Total Fat: 16.5gCarbohydrates: 17.1gNet Carbohydrates: 11.8gFiber: 4.3gSugar: 5.3gProtein: 28.3g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


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Try making this incredible homemade Chili con Carne!

An overhead image of the best homemade chili con carne recipe in a white bowl.

16 thoughts on “Chili Con Carne Recipe”

  1. Hi! This chili looks delicious. Would it be possible if I can substitute ground turkey instead of the beef. Also substitute green pepper in place of the jalapeno. Would love to make this for our weekly dinners. Thank you.

  2. Hi Alexa! Thank you so much for the delicious recipe. The suggestions worked out great as well. It definitely does taste better when it has a chance to sit and reheat. Take care.

    • Hi Anna, So happy you like the chili! Resting does make such a big difference with flavor. Thanks so much for leaving feedback! -Alexa

    • Hi Eduardo, Yes, small red beans instead of red kidney beans should work. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out! -Alexa

  3. Going to sub one LB of beef for one of bison. And I’m adding black beans, could I sub the half cup water for .5 cup of bean juice? Thanks much!! Can’t wait to make this tonight!!

  4. Hi folks

    Great recepe, but if you want to add something very special to it, try the dark chocolate version.
    Add 50 to 75 grams of dark chocolate during cooking. Just amazing.

    Greetings from Belgium

  5. I’ve used this recipe about half a dozen times now and it’s fantastic! No changes apart from 1/2 tsp of cocoa powder. Big thumbs up.


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