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9 January 2019

A recipe for rich and authentic chili con carne, 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.

Dried peppers, jalapenos, onion and garlic, essential for making Chili Con Carne

Tomatoes or No Tomatoes?

Tomatoes or tomato sauce are often included in chili con carne dishes, 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!

Chili Con Carne in a pot, ready to serve

About the Chili Peppers

I like to include spicy fresh peppers in the mix, either jalapeno peppers, which have a bit of spice, to serrano peppers, which give a nice level of heat.

If I’m making it just for me, I’ll include habanero peppers for some great heat. Of course you can go with any of the superhot chili peppers, you crazy spicy food lovers! You know I love you guys.

For the dried pods, I use ancho peppers and guajillo peppers, which are filled with wonderful flavor.

Let’s talk about how we make it, shall we?

Chili Con Carne in a pot, ready to eat

How to Make Chili con Carne – the Recipe Method

First, make your chili sauce by lightly toasting dried ancho and guajillo peppers in a dry pan about a minute or 2 per side. This will help to release the oils. The skins will puff up and darken a bit.

Lightly toast the dried chili peppers to release their 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.

Soaking dried chili peppers for our chili sauce

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.

Chili Sauce for making Chili Con Carne

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.

Rub down the cubed beef

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.

Brown the seasoned cubed beef along with peppers and onions

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.

Add the chili sauce to the browned meat for making chili con carne

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!

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!

Chili Con Carne in a pot, ready to eat

Recipe Tips

  • 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.

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.

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!

Chili Con Carne in a bowl, ready to eat

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

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 in a bowl with a spoon, ready to eat

4.93 from 14 votes
Chili Con Carne - Recipe
Chili Con Carne – Recipe
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
3 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 15 mins
 

A recipe for rich and authentic chili con carne, a spicy stew of beef and chilies, including ancho, guajillo and jalapeno, and many wonderful seasonings. Make it with or without beans.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chili, recipe, spicy
Servings: 8
Calories: 434 kcal
Author: Mike Hultquist
Ingredients
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.
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. Remove from heat and cool enough to handle. Remove the stems and pour out the seeds.
  3. Soak the peppers in hot water for 20 minutes, or until they are nice and soft.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Add the garlic and stir. Cook another minute.
  8. Pour in the reserved chili sauce and stir. Cook it for 5 minutes to let the flavor develop a bit.
  9. 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.
  10. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the beef is very tender.
  11. Serve with your favorite fixins!
Recipe Notes

Serves 6-8

Nutrition Facts
Chili Con Carne – Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 434 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 10g50%
Cholesterol 136mg45%
Sodium 286mg12%
Potassium 941mg27%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 40g80%
Vitamin A 1865IU37%
Vitamin C 7.4mg9%
Calcium 68mg7%
Iron 5.4mg30%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

34 comments

  1. Freek Gorrissen

    I’m growing several different peppers, can I also use fresh guajillos and anchos (and jalapenos and habanero) instead of dried?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Freek, yes, you can use fresh peppers. However, dried pods do bring a very distinctive flavor to the dish, so if you’re not using dried, you may want to incorporate chili powder (particularly guajillo powder). Let me know how it turns out for you.

      1. Freek Gorrissen

        5 stars
        Michael, I live in the Netherlands. It’s impossible to get a hold of Mexican peppers here, which is why I’m growing my own. I added some chile powder (the variety isn’t mentioned) with the peppers from the recipe. It turned out delicious, but I think the flavor from dried peppers would add an extra burst of flavor. When I have some more ripe peppers I’ll dry them, see how that works out.

  2. Gerald Hayes

    5 stars
    Yet another winner. I altered the recipe a bit to use a slow cooker (I just have a thing about low & slow!). Everyone came looking for seconds.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Excellent, Gerald! I’m glad everyone loved it. I appreciate it!

  3. Gary Finch

    5 stars
    i’m from the uk and we got a load of cheap irish lean beef chunks in our freezer – used some of them for this and as my partner doesn’t really like ‘hot’ i swapped the guajillo papers for a home grown ‘Ohnivec’ dried chilli – really tasty recipe, though i did all put some fried smoky bacon lardons in as well. Really tasty with cheddar cheese and chilli scones.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Excellent! I love the addition of the bacon. Nice touch.

  4. Rob Champagne

    4 stars
    This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing this great recipe! It’s a cold winter wonderland where I am right now, and this warmed the family up.

  5. Gary Krawchuk

    5 stars
    OMG this chili is awesome. Thank you I couldn’t wait so I tried it just after it was done. Cant wait to have some tomorrow.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Excellent, Gary! It is SO good even after it just finishes, but the next day, BOOM! HUGE on flavor for sure. Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Margo Haynes

    5 stars
    Absolutely outstanding! Thank you! Would be absolutely delicious made with venison also!

      1. Margo Haynes

        5 stars
        I forgot to mention to you Michael that many years ago when I was about 40 I found the most delicious recipe for chili con carne in a tiny paper pamphlet from a popular Mexican restaurant down in Brownsville, Texas, that the owner sold for $1, it was his favorite recipes that he served in his restaurant. His chile con carne was so delicious, but I only made it once before my home was flooded (the water mark reached my clothes rod) & I lost everything & had not memorized all of the seasonings used, but the taste has lingered many years in my memory & I had never been able to duplicate it. When tasting your delicious chili con carne my taste buds were overjoyed as your recipe far surpassed the one of 41 years ago. Yours, has now been saved in three different cookbooks of mine. My husband absolutely loves this chili! My children used to watch a cartoon where the villain had a dog that love his special treat & when he was tossed one in the air one he was so ecstatic after grabbing it he would float back down to the earth. That was the delight of my taste buds after the first bite of your delicious chili con carne! They also thrilled to the taste of you Cajun Beans & Rice. Thank you so much for these delicious recipes!

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Wow, Margo! I have never received such a compliment! It means the world to me that you and your family love it so much. I GREATLY appreciate your comments. Enjoy!!!

  7. 5 stars
    I just tried tour recipe yesterday. It’s quite different from my own recipe, but I wanted to faithfully follow yours. I loved it! Full of flavors and very authentic!
    I choose to include tomatoes and red beans and to top it with sour cream, shredded cheddar , cilantro and sliced jalapeños! NOM NOM NOM!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Outstanding, Jeremie! I’m glad you enjoyed it! NOM!

  8. Omg! That chili looks awesome with all the heat. Will be great on rice or some naan to scoop up all the deliciousness. Love this!

  9. 5 stars
    The peppers look so beautiful, but it also makes me wonder if I can take so much heat? This recipe looks great!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      It isn’t TOO spicy, Diana. It might be just right for you. =)

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Tilly! I like to include extra “carne” for sure.

  10. 5 stars
    Oh man, this looks like the most delicious chili ever!! I LOVE all those peppers and know my husband would be thrilled if I made this on a Sunday game day afternoon!

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