This thick and delicious homemade chili con carne recipe is made with ground beef and simmered on the stovetop to develop a full, rich, flavour that could modestly be called award-winning. After years of testing-till-perfecting, I can truly say this is the best chili recipe ever.
The Secret to Award-Winning Chili Con Carne
This chili recipe is humming with flavor. It’s deep, rich, and will be a massive hit with whoever you serve it to. Here are a few of the reasons why it’s just so good:
- It’s absolutely packed with flavor. We’re talking about chili, tomato, jalapeno, some good garlic, and perfect seasoning. Layers and layers of those meaty, savory umami flavors.
- Color: Before chili con carne has touched our lips, we’ve decided whether it tastes good or not based on its color. This one has got that deep red hue that screams “hearty and tasty.” There’s nothing watery or bland about this chili con carne; it’s going to deliver all the goods.
- Super easy to make: really. As long as you keep an eye not to scorch the thick sauce , you can’t really go wrong with this recipe.
What’s in Chili Con Carne?
Here’s what you’re going to need to gather for this incredible chili con carne:
- Chili powder: Chili powder in North America is a blend of spices for making chili (it includes ground chillies, cumin, cloves, oregano, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, etc.). Don’t confuse this with cayenne pepper or chilli powder, in international grocers, which is straight-up, super-spicy ground red chillies. Don’t have it on hand? Here’s my easy chili seasoning recipe to make it from scratch.
- Ground beef: In my opinion, beef is hands down the best meat for chili. I suggest using regular ground beef (as opposed to lean or extra lean) for more flavor and richness.
- Tomato paste: this ingredient really contributes to the flavor and depth of color in this chili.
- Jalapeños: alongside the chili powder, jalapenos will give your chili con carne that little zing that everyone is expecting. I love the distinctive flavor this ingredient gives the dish.
How To Make Chili Con Carne
Ready? Let’s make a dish with a serious yum factor.
You’ll start out with some really basic steps like cooking the onions, garlic, and jalapeños. After that, the meat goes in with some seasoning and chili powder.
After the meat has mostly cooked through, you’ll bring in the tomato and the remaining ingredients. Thirty minutes of simmering, and you’ll be good to serve.
Here are the steps:
- First off, cook your onions in a large pot or pan over medium-high heat for around 20 minutes or until golden.
- Once you’re onions are a good color, add in your minced garlic cloves and jalapeño. You’re going to cook everything for another minute. You’ll begin to smell those flavors coming through.
- Add in your ground beef and season it with 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and chili pepper. Cook the meat, breaking it up with a spoon as you go. Cook it until it’s no longer pink inside.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook it with the beef, stirring continuously for about 2 minutes. It should turn a shade darker.
- Add in the remaining ingredients. Bring the mix to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes longer.
What’s the Difference Between Chili and Chili Con Carne?
Simply put, chili can be made from chicken, turkey, sweet potato, vegetarian, ground round, corn, beans – there truly are just about endless possibilities.
Chili con carne, however is made with meat; ‘con carne’ translates directly from Spanish to ‘with meat’. Most commonly, chili con carne is made with ground beef, but there’s again a number of possibilities to opt for other types of ground meat.
What’s the Best Meat for Chili?
Pro Tips and Tricks For a Great Chili Con Carne
Here are a couple of pointers to making your best chili con carne:
- Don’t skimp on the chili powder. This is really what gives your dish that incredible, rich flavour and thick texture. So don’t cut back on this spice in this recipe. As you can see, I add in a ton, and its for good reason.
- Break up your ground meat when cooking it but don’t over-do it. A chunky texture is so hearty and satisfying.
- Seasoning. When cooking ground meat, you will want to taste and adjust the seasoning as you go. Getting the seasoning right is really an important factor with this recipe. Depending on the other ingredients, you may need more or less salt and pepper.
- Use good canned tomatoes (I love San Marzano for their meaty richness and intense flavour) or else get your hands on the ripest tomatoes possible. Deep red tomatoes are likely to give you a beautifully flavored and colored sauce. The addition of the tomato paste will help your sauce along if your tomatoes aren’t properly ripened, though.
What Else Can You Add to Chili Con Carne?
If you’re looking to vary your dish, here are a couple of ideas of what to add to it:
- Spices: cumin and onion powder are lovely flavour to chili. They can be added with chili powder or at the end if you want an extra flavor punch and will bring extrafragrance to the dish. Smoked paprika is a delicious addition to a chili con carne.
- Herbs: add in a handful of your favorite herbs to your chili con carne. Fresh oregano, Italian parsley, and cilantro are really good options. You can also sprinkle in some dried herbs with the garlic.
- Add a little bacon fat or chopped chorizo with your onion for a smoky flavor.
- Vegetables: aside from the red kidney beans and black beans, you can add other veggies. Boost your chili con carne with bell pepper or corn. Half a cup of grated carrots or zucchini is a good way to add in some good fiber.
- Beef broth or vegetable stock concentrate for a little savory something (but beware, they are super salty).
Don’t forget to add your favorite chili toppings, like shredded cheese, pickled onions and avocado slices.
What Makes Chili Thick?
Starting with browned tomato paste for the tomato component adds rich tomatoey flavour without adding too much liquid. Keeping the amount of liquids to a minimum is important for a thick chili, as the ingredients (onions, beef, etc.) will release a fair bit of moisture themselves.
The hefty amount of chili powder in this recipe also contributes to its hearty thickness as it absorbs moisture too and thickens the chili up.
If you’ve added too much liquid, a long simmer will thick up a runny chili, just be sure to stir frequently so the bottom doesn’t scorch.
Other Fan-Favorite Mexican Recipes:
If you love flavor-packed Mexican cuisine as much as I do, you MUST try these super-popular dishes:
- Baja Fish Tacos: with crisp battered fish, topped with easy, quick-pickled red onion, drizzled with creamy Baja sauce and the best cabbage slaw for fish tacos.
- Cheese Quesadillas: A classic, perfected to gooey, cheesy deliciousness. Perfect paired with Avocado Crema or Authentic Guacamole.
- Mexican Corn in Cup: super-yuummy Mexican Corn Salad, also known as Esquites or Elotes Salad.
- Crispy Baked Chicken Tacos: A crunchy twist on traditional tacos, stuffed with seasoned ground chicken and melty cheese. Serve with easy guacamole from scratch.
- Instant Pot Mexican Rice: This Mexican Rice recipe is so quick, easy and tasty. Chicken Street Tacos: Spicy, citrusy chicken tacos with a drizzle of Cilantro Lime Crema, a trip to Mexico in every bite!
- Spicy Fish Tacos: Crispy, spicy fish topped with crunchy cabbage slaw and tangy lime crema, perfect for a fresh and flavorful taco night.
- Authentic Beef Tacos From Scratch: Flavor-packed ground beef tacos made from scratch, using a blend of spices and fresh ingredients for an authentic taste.
More yummy chili recipes:
And don’t miss my complete guide to What to Serve with Chili – from appetizers to toppings and side dishes, I’ve got your dream menu figured out.
Hearty Chili Con Carne
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups chopped onion
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 jalapeno finely chopped
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 2-3 tsp kosher salt divided use
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¾ cup chili powder blend of spices, not ground red chile
- 156 mL tomato paste
- 2 19- oz cans black beans
- 2 19- oz cans kidney beans
- 4 cups diced tomato
- 3 cups filtered water
- Cook onions over medium heat until golden, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño, cook 1 minute more, until fragrant.
- Add beef and season with 1 tsp salt, pepper and chili powder. Cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink inside. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, until it turns a shade darker.
- Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or longer.
Last Updated on November 14, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD