This rich and authentic chili con carne recipe is a spicy stew of beef and chilies, including ancho, guajillo and jalapeno, and many wonderful seasonings. Make it with or without beans. You can also make it with tomatoes, if desired. It's very easy to customize to your own preferred spice level.
"Chili con Carne". Three little words that describe such a wonderful meal. It literally translates from Spanish to "Chili with Meat", and as generic as that sounds, it is filled with fantastic flavor.
Let's discuss this wonderful meal in a bowl.
What is Chili con Carne?
At its core, Chili con Carne is a spicy stew of meat with a homemade seasoned chili sauce. The meat is usually beef, but you can also make it with pork or a combination of the two, or other meats to your preference. The chili sauce is made with chili powders or dried chilies that are rehydrated and cooked into a sauce, usually with onions and garlic, and seasonings like cumin and oregano.
Where is Chili con Carne From?
Chili con carne originated in the region spreading Southern Texas and Northern Mexico. It was originally a working class dish, something easy to prepare with basic ingredients, though it has spread in popularity due to its incredible flavor. It is named by Texas as it's official state food.
Tomatoes or No Tomatoes?
Tomatoes or tomato sauce are often included in chili con carne recipes, and even though "chili con carne" translates literally to "chili with meat", you CAN include beans if you'd like. However, be prepared for "chili con carne" purists to argue that chili doesn't contain beans.
Beans or no beans, it's great either way! I'll take both!
About the Chili Peppers
For the dried pods, I use ancho peppers and guajillo peppers, which are filled with wonderful flavor, though other dried chili peppers can be used, as well as chili powders. Cayenne pepper is nice for extra spicy.
Let's talk about how we make it, shall we?
How to Make Chili con Carne - the Recipe Method
First, make your chili sauce. Heat a dry pan to medium-high heat and lightly toast the dried ancho and guajillo peppers about a minute or 2 per side. This will help to release the oils. The skins will puff up and darken a bit.
Remove from heat and cool enough to handle. Remove the stems and pour out the seeds.
Soak the peppers in hot water for 20 minutes, or until they are nice and soft.
Add them to a food processor with 1.5 cups of the soaking water and a bit of salt to taste. Process until nice and smooth.
Set aside for now. Look at how wonderful this sauce is. It is incredibly flavorful.
Add the cubed beef to a large bowl and toss with the paprika, Mexican oregano, black pepper, brown sugar, cumin, coriander and a bit of salt.
Make sure everything is nice and coated.
Heat the oil in a large pot (heat to medium) and add the beef along with the jalapenos and onion.
Cook them down 6-7 minutes, searing the beef all over.
Add the garlic and stir. Cook another minute.
Pour in the reserved chili sauce and stir. Cook it for 5 minutes to let the flavor develop a bit.
Stir in the 2 cups of beef broth and bring to a quick boil. If you’d prefer a soupier chili, add in 4 cups of beef broth.
If you are using the optional additions, add them in now.
Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the beef is very tender.
Serve with your favorite fixins!
If you want even MORE developed flavor, cool the whole pot of chili, cover it, and refrigerate it overnight to let the flavors mingle. Heat and serve it up the next day!
Recipe Tips & Notes
- What is the Best Meat for Chili con Carne? I've used chuck roast for this recipe, and I feel it is ideal. It is easy to cube and it has a lot of flavor. However, you can try it out with other cuts of beef or steak. Or, it is also delicious with ground beef, which is often a time-saving solution.
- What Beans in Chili con Carne? I did not include any beans here, and again, purists will tell you that beans do not belong in chili con carne. However, this is your pot of chili, so if you want beans, add beans! Great beans for this dish include red kidney beans, black beans, or great northern beans.
- How Long Does Chili con Carne Last? This will last a week in the refrigerator in a covered container. For longer keeping, seal it in containers and freeze it, where it will last for 6 months.
Looking for a more basic chili con carne?
How Do You Make Basic Chili con Carne?
You can easily make a basic chili con carne by using ground or cubed beef that is seared off, then mixed in a pot with tomato sauce seasoned with a good amount of chili powder. This will save some time from rehydrating the chili peppers for making your chili sauce. Just toss it all into a Dutch oven or big stew pot. However, you won't achieve quite the same flavor. It will be tasty, but there is much to be said about making the chili sauce from scratch. It's hard to beat.
Slow Cooker Chili con Carne
You can easily make chili con carne in your slow cooker, crockpot or instant pot. To do so, cook down your peppers and onions and brown the seasoned meat in a pan first, then add them to your slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients. Slow cook on low for 4-6 hours, or on high for 2-3 hours, until the meat cooks through and the flavors meld. Stir it up occasionally. Then, serve in bowls with your favorite fixings. Super easy!
About the Fixins
I usually like to keep my fixins simple and serve it with spicy chili flakes and fresh chopped cilantro, and sometimes sliced roasted jalapenos or serrano peppers.
SO GOOD this way!
But popular toppings include shredded cheese, crema or sour cream, diced tomatoes, crunchy tortilla chips or corn chips, and chopped tomatoes. Go to town with whatever you love!
Developing Extra Chili con Carne Flavor
As mentioned above, if you want even MORE developed flavor in your chili, cool the whole pot after cooking, cover it, then refrigerate it overnight to let the flavors mingle.
Heat and serve it up the next day! This waiting period really brings the flavors together into a harmonious pot of chili that you're sure to love. However, if you decide you don't have time to refrigerate it, it's still GREAT as is!
I love it!
That's it, my friends! Let me know how it turns out for you. And please let me know if you include beans and/or tomatoes with yours. I'm super curious to hear your preference!
Try Some of My Other Popular Chili Recipes
- Chili Colorado
- Chili Verde
- Southwest Style Slow Cooker Chili
- White Bean Chicken Chili
- Homemade Roasted Tomatillo Pork Chili
- Pork Chili with Roasted Red Hatch Chili Peppers
- Shrimp and Red Bean Chili
- Cincinnati Chili
- Beef Chili
- Texas Chili
- Frito Pie
- Try it with my Jalapeno Cornbread Recipe! So good!
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Chili Con Carne Recipe
FOR THE CHILI SAUCE
- 4 guajillo peppers
- 4 ancho peppers
- Salt to taste
FOR THE CHILI
- 3.5-4 pound chuck roast cut into ¾-1 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 jalapeno peppers chopped
- 1 large onion chopped
- 10 cloves garlic chopped
- 2-4 cups beef stock
- OPTIONAL ADDITIONS Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, chili or kidney beans, extra spicy chili powders
- FOR SERVING Crema or sour cream, fresh chopped herbs, spicy chili flakes or chopped chiles, shredded cheese – all your favorite chili fixins. I served mine with spicy chili flakes and fresh chopped cilantro.
- Make your chili sauce first by lightly toasting the dried ancho and guajillo peppers in a dry pan about a minute or 2 per side. This will help to release the oils.
- Remove from heat and cool enough to handle. Remove the stems and pour out the seeds.
- Soak the peppers in hot water for 20 minutes, or until they are nice and soft.
- Add them to a food processor with 1.5 cups of the soaking water and a bit of salt to taste. Process until nice and smooth. Set aside for now.
- Add the cubed beef to a large bowl and toss with the paprika, Mexican oregano, black pepper, brown sugar, cumin, coriander and a bit of salt. Make sure everything is nice and coated.
- Heat the oil in a large pot and add the seasoned beef along with the jalapenos and onion. Cook them down 6-7 minutes, searing the beef all over.
- Add the garlic and stir. Cook another minute.
- Pour in the reserved chili sauce and stir. Cook it for 5 minutes to let the flavor develop a bit.
- Stir in the 2 cups of beef broth and bring to a quick boil. If you’d prefer a soupier chili, add in 4 cups of beef broth. If you are using the optional additions, add them in now.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the beef is very tender.
- Serve with your favorite fixins!
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 8/7/20 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 1/9/19.