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Chilli con carne

The big bowl o' red may have hotly contested origins, but chilli con carne's smoky, spicy appeal is indisputable.

By Adelaide Lucas
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs 20 mins cooking
  • Serves 6
  • Print
Chilli con carne
The name, origin and authenticity of chilli con carne have been debated since its creation. Meaning literally "chilli with meat", it's been asserted that everyone from the Texas Rangers to a Spanish nun and a Chinese chuckwagon cook invented the dish.
A popular theory pins the origins on Mexico, though some Mexicans have refuted this, defining it in a 1959 dictionary as: "A detestable dish sold from Texas to New York City and erroneously described as Mexican."
Chilli con carne most likely originated in south-west USA, with Texans, New Mexicans and Arizonans laying claim to the dish. While there is no definitive recipe, the most common ingredients are meat, chillies, tomatoes, spices and beans. It's the inclusion of beans that's the biggest controversy in chilli cookery with the purists eschewing their use. Whatever floats your boat, we reckon.


  • 180 gm dried kidney beans, soaked overnight (1 cup)
  • 60 ml olive oil (¼ cup)
  • 1 kg minced beef
  • 2 chorizo, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 500 gm pork shoulder, cut into 1cm pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 fresh green jalapeños, thinly sliced (see note)
  • 500 ml beef stock (2 cups)
  • 400 gm canned tomatoes
  • 50 gm dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
  • 60 ml malt vinegar (¼ cup)
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and finely ground
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and finely ground
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • To taste: ground chilli powder
  • ½ cup coriander leaves (loosely packed)
  • To serve: soft tortillas, warmed
  • To serve: sour cream and lime wedges
  • 3 avocados, coarsely mashed
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 vine-ripened tomato, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coriander, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp lime juice


  • 1
    Place kidney beans in a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  • 2
    Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and cook mince, breaking up with the back of a spoon, for 5 minutes or until brown, transfer to a plate. Add 1 tbsp oil to saucepan, add chorizo and cook for 2 minutes or until starting to brown, add pork shoulder and cook for another 5 minutes or until brown, then add to mince. Add remaining olive oil to pan, add onions, garlic and jalapeños and cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Return meat to pan with stock, tomatoes, chocolate, vinegar, oregano and spices, season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and ground chilli. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours stirring occasionally until pork is tender. Add beans and cook for another 20 minutes or until sauce is thick. Adjust seasoning and chilli heat to taste.
  • 3
    Just before serving, make guacamole by combining all ingredients and season to taste. Scatter chilli con carne with coriander, and serve with guacamole, tortillas, sour cream and lime wedges to the side.