This rich and authentic chili con carne recipe is a spicy stew of tender beef slowly simmered in a mouth-watering chili sauce, irresistible, and easy! Make it with or without beans. You can also make it with tomatoes, if desired. It's very simple to customize to your own preferred spice level.
The Best Chili con Carne
"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 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 pepper 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.
Does Chili con Carne Have Tomatoes and Beans?
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.
I did not include any beans for my recipe. 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.
Beans or no beans, it's great either way! I'll take both!
Let's talk about how to make chili con carne, shall we?
How to Make Chili con Carne - the Recipe Method
Make Your Chili Sauce. Heat a dry pan to medium 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. Add in red pepper flakes for additional spice and heat.
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, stirring occasionally, to let the flavor develop a bit.
Stir in the 2 cups of beef broth and bring to a boil over high heat. 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 fixings!
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Chili peppers are KEY to the best chili con carne. I like to include a mix of fresh and dried peppers, with fresh jalapeno peppers or spicier serrano peppers, and dried ancho peppers and guajillo peppers, which together result in a wonderful flavor combination.
- For 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. You'll be amazed at the difference.
What is the Best Meat for Chili con Carne?
Chuck roast is ideal for making chili con carne, as it benefits from low and slow cooking, which results in tender, fall apart beef. The slow cooking process also allows your chili to develop more flavor.
Similar cuts of beef work as well, like brisket or rump roast, or cuts of pork like pork shoulder.
You can make chili con carne with more tender cuts of beef or pork, like flank steak, ribeye, or tenderloin, but you will need to cut down on your cooking time. You can also make it with ground beef or other ground meats, which is a great time-saving solution.
Slow Cooker Chili con Carne
You can easily make chili con carne in your slow cooker, crockpot or instant pot, but you need to sear the meat first for best results.
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!
Best Chili Toppings
I usually like to keep my toppings 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!
Storage and Leftovers
Leftover chili con carne will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator in a covered container. For longer keeping, seal it in containers and freeze it, where it will last for 6 months.
That's it, my friends! I hope you enjoy the way I make my chili con carne. 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
- The Best Chili Recipe (Classic Chili)
- 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.