Chili con carne is a spicy stew-like dish generally made with ground beef (or a substitute), tomatoes, often beans, and spiced with chili peppers. This dish is the state dish of Texas. It means 'Chili with meat'

Table of contents
1 Simple Chili Con Carne Recipe
2 Nutrition
3 Variations

Simple Chili Con Carne Recipe

Although the original intent of all stew-like dishes, like this one, is to make otherwise inedible meat palatable, the beef used can be fatty or lean, tough or tender or simply whatever is on sale.

This recipe is a pattern from which you can make either a side dish or a complete meal for a lot of people for a small amount of money using (literally) off the shelf ingredients available in most markets and aside from the meat easily pre-stocked in your pantry.


Notice that the quantities mentioned above are very vague. Almost any combinations of quantities will produce a good result. Experimentation and common sense will quickly determine the quantities which please you and those you cook for the most.

Obviously the number of people served depends on how much you make and if it's a side dish or the main part of the meal.

Preparation Time

Working, about 5 to 10 minutes. Waiting, about an hour.


A pot with a lid large enough to contain all the ingredients with a bit of room to spare. Heavier pots are better, but you don't need to go to cast iron. A small cup or pan for melting butter, and a kitchen knife. Optionally you may want to acquire a garlic press.


Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove. Remove from heat and let stand a few minutes. When the fatty parts of the butter have floated to the top, skim them off with a spoon. The goal is to produce a low salt, low butterfat substance similar to ghee.

Meanwhile, if you are not going to be using a garlic press strip the skin from some garlic cloves, remove the tough part where the root was and any blemishes.

Open the cans of crushed tomatoes and pinto beans so they will be ready to add to the mixture. DO NOT DRAIN the beans!

If you have a garlic press, make a slit in each clove of garlic so it will burst open in the press. If you do not have a garlic press, smash the garlic with the flat of a kitchen knife and mince it.

Heat your pot on a medium-high burner until you're sure you would be burnt if you stuck your thumb on the bottom of it.

Pour in the skimmed butter, but make sure any solids that might have settled to the bottom are not included.

Add the garlic, using the press if you have it, or just dumping in the minced garlic if you don't and stir CONSTANTLY until the garlic is slightly browned. Usually takes less than 15 seconds.

Dump in the beef chunks and stir to get them evenly coated with the garlic-butter. Stir every minute or so till most every side of the beef chunks have been seared.

Add in the contents of the chili packets. Stir to try to evenly coat the beef chunks.

Add the crushed tomatos. Stir well.

Add the canned pinto beans, including any liquid in the can.

Stir well, let it come to a boil stirring every minute or so. When the contents of the pot have just come to a boil, put the cover on the pot, turn the heat down to low and go do something else for an hour.

Come back, stir and taste. Pull out one of the beef chunks, let it cool and then eat it to see if it's done. If it isn't let it cook another 15 minutes, repeat.

When it's done it may not be as thick as you want it to be. If that is the case, turn the heat back up to medium high to get the chili back to a boil. In the meantime mix 2 tablespoons of flour into a half cup of water so that it is a thin, watery white. While stirring the chili, drizzle this mixture into it. Let it come back to a boil then cover it, turn off the heat and do something else for about 10 minutes.

Final Adjustments

It will almost certainly seem to need salt. If you think so either let your diners add it for themselves or add it at this point. If it does not taste hot enough, you can stir in some hot sauce, but be careful to not add too much.

Serve in a bowl with grated cheese on top or over rice on a plate.

Although the recipie as described is perfectly good when served "fresh", It is a well known fact that chili is often much tastier if it has had the chance to sit overnight in the refrigerator. If you have the luxury of waiting that long, when you're ready to serve it, just reheat it on medium low heat in a pan or warm it gently in the microwave using a low power setting.


If you serve it over rice, the combination of the beans and rice make it a complete meal with ALL of the amino acids that humans need in which case the meat adds protein to balance the carbohydrates.


Instead of beef, use whatever meat you want, however I have yet to hear of a successful use of fish as it is generally much too tender to survive the process intact. Use different canned beans but make sure they're "starchy" like red kidney beans or lima beans. Use different kinds of canned tomatoes or use a food processor to prepare fresh tomatoes. I find that the Roma variety works best when using them fresh. In short - play with your food!

Vegetarian Chili (Chili Sin Carne)

Saute chopped
onions and red and green bell peppers instead of meat, then add the tomatoes and beans. Optionally, you can add corn (maize) and finely-cubed squash (Three Sisters Chili). Or feel free to be creative with veggies. Vegetarian chili can also be made with a meat substitute, such as textured vegatable protein. Sin means without in Latin.

Texas Chili

The authentic
Texas Chili Con Carne has no beans, and often no tomatoes.

Cincinnati Chili

Chili served over pasta instead of rice. Beans are optional.

Green Chili (Chili Verde)

Made with green chiles and usually
pork or chicken. Tomatillos are a recommended addition.