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Chilli Con Carne Recipe | Cooking with Nana Ling

chilli con carne


A tasty, versatile and budget-friendly dish made with minced beef.

chilli con carne

Chilli Con Carne translates to “chilli with meat” – but there’s so much more to this tasty and versatile dish than this translation suggests.

This popular meal may have originated far from Australia’s shores, but the chilli con carne I know (and love) is the one that was hugely popular in Australia in the 1980s and 90s.

chilli con carne 1

Easy Chilli Con Carne: Aussie style!

There is much debate (isn’t there always?) about the origins of the Chilli Con Carne Recipe.

Some argue that beef Chilli Con Carne comes form Mexico, while others point to Spain. The Canary Islands are also mentioned by historians, however the weight of evidence suggests this recipe is actually from Texas.

Wherever it originated, it had arrived in Australia by the 1930s and by the 1940s had made it to the Australian Women’s Weekly!

It has continued to be shared and revised over the years here, and my recipe is based on several of these recipes that have been shared around over the years.

You can buy packet Chilli Con Carne base these days from the supermarket, but it really is so simple to make it from scratch yourself – with a much more delicious result.

chilli con carne recipe
Recipes for Chilli Con Carne from Adelaide’s The Mail, September 1939 (top left), The Canberra Times, July 1992 (top right), The Australian Women’s Weekly, April 1951 (bottom).

Ingredients for Chilli Con Carne

The popularity of this recipe surely comes partly from the fact it’s made with readily available and relatively affordable ingredients.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • olive oil 
  • onion
  • garlic
  • beef mince
  • green capsicum
  • canned tomatoes
  • beef stock
  • bay leaf
  • chilli powder
  • dried basil
  • paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • tinned red kidney beans
  • dark chocolate (optional).

Keep scrolling through to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.

Note that this Chilli Con Carne recipe creates a very mild dish. You’ll need to multiply the quantity of chilli powder as indicated if you like it a little hotter!

chilli con carne ingredients

Making Chilli Con Carne

Another reason this recipe is so popular is because it’s easy to follow. Really, really easy!

Start by cooking the chopped onion and minced garlic over medium heat in a large frypan for a few minutes until the onion is translucent.

Next, add the chopped capsicum and continue cooking for one minute. Now, add the bay leaf, chilli powder, basil, paprika, salt and pepper, and mince. Cook over med-high heat until the mince is browned and there is no liquid in the pan.

Add the tomatoes and stock. Bring back to the boil and then turn down heat so the mixture is gently simmering.

chilli con carne method

Simmer for one hour, topping up with water as necessary so the mixture maintains the consistency of bolognese.

When you are ready to serve, add the beans (and optional chocolate) and stir over low heat for a few minutes before serving.

making chilli con carne

How to serve Chilli Con Carne

The biggest reason for the popularity of this recipe has to be its tasty versatility. There are just so many ways to enjoy Chilli Con Carne.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • serve with steamed rice
  • plate it up surrounded by tortilla chips and topped with sour cream and guacamole
  • add it to soft tacos with lettuce, salsa and cheese
  • use leftovers as a filling for a toasted sandwich
  • bake a potato and top with chilli con carne, cheese, sour cream and a sprinkling of coriander and lime juice (my favourite).
chilli con carne serving idea

Can I freeze Chilli Con Carne?

You sure can! It’s the perfect frozen meal to pull out on those busy weekday nights.

Chilli Con Carne will be fine frozen for up to 4 months.

In the fridge, it will last 2-3 days only.

Looking for other easy and delicious family meals?

Find recipes for Retro Apricot Chicken, Aussie Curried Sausages, Keen’s Chicken Curry and more here.

chilli con carne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 500 grams beef mince
  • 1 green capsicum, chopped
  • 400 grams canned tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (for very mild heat, x2,3 or 4 for medium-hot heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 pepper
  • 400 grams tinned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 10 grams dark chocolate (2 small squares, optional)
  • Cook onion and garlic over medium heat in a large frypan for a few minutes until onion is translucent.

  • Add bay leaf, chilli powder, basil, paprika, salt and pepper, mince and capsicum and cook over med-high heat until mince is browned and there is no liquid in the pan.

  • Add tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and then turn down heat so mixture is gently simmering.

  • Simmer for one hour, topping up with water as necessary so the mixture maintains the consistency of bolognese.

  • When ready to serve, add beans and chocolate and stir over low heat for a few minutes.

Calories: 577kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 1334mg | Potassium: 1376mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 422IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 7mg



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