Chili con carne is a delicious and flavourful dish that can be made in various ways.

Secret to Chilli con carne

While there are no fixed secret ingredients for chili con carne, there are certain ingredients that can add depth and flavour to the dish. Here are a few suggestions that you might consider:

Cocoa Powder: Adding a small amount of unsweetened cocoa powder can enhance the richness and complexity of the chili.

Cinnamon: A touch of ground cinnamon can provide a subtle warmth and depth to the flavours.

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce: These smoked jalapeño peppers packed in a tangy adobo sauce can give your chili a smoky and spicy kick.

Dark Beer or Coffee: Adding a splash of dark beer or brewed coffee can add depth and richness to the chili.

Worcestershire Sauce: A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce can contribute a savoury umami flavour.

Honey or Brown Sugar: A small amount of honey or brown sugar can help balance the acidity of the tomatoes and add a touch of sweetness.

Anchovy Paste: Adding a small amount of anchovy paste can lend a subtle umami flavour that enriches the overall taste.

Remember, the secret to a great chili con carne lies in finding the right balance of flavours that suits your preferences. Feel free to experiment with different combinations and adjust the quantities to create your own unique recipe.

Types of chilli’s for chilli con carne

When making chili con carne, there are various types of chili peppers you can use to add heat and flavour to the dish. The choice of chili pepper largely depends on your personal preference for spiciness and the flavour profile you want to achieve. Here are some popular chili pepper options for chili con carne:

Ancho chili peppers are dried poblano peppers with a mild to moderate heat level. They have a sweet, smoky flavour that adds depth to the chili.

Chipotle peppers are dried and smoked jalapeño peppers. They have a medium heat level and provide a rich, smoky flavour to chili con carne.

Guajillo chili peppers are mild to moderately hot with a fruity, berry-like flavour. They have a slightly tangy taste and add a subtle heat to the dish.

New Mexico chili peppers are mild to moderately hot and have a sweet, earthy flavour. They are commonly used in traditional chili recipes and provide a mild heat level.

Cayenne peppers are known for their heat. They have a high level of spiciness and can add a fiery kick to your chili con carne if you enjoy a hotter dish.

Serrano peppers are moderately hot and have a bright, crisp flavour. They add a vibrant heat to chili con carne and are a popular choice for those who like a spicier dish.

Remember to remove the seeds and veins from the chili peppers if you want to reduce the overall heat level. It’s always a good idea to taste-test your chili as you cook and adjust the amount of chili peppers to achieve your desired level of spiciness.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
500 g minced beef (you can also use minced turkey or chicken)
2 tablespoons chili powder (reduce if you can’t take the heat)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust according to your spice preference)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 cup beef or chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped coriander, diced avocado, lime wedges, etc.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

Add the diced onion, minced garlic, and diced red bell pepper to the pot. Sauté until the vegetables are softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add the minced meat to the pot and cook until browned, breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon or spatula.

Once the meat is cooked, add the chili powder, ground cumin, paprika, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper to the pot. Stir well to coat the meat and vegetables with the spices.

Pour in the diced tomatoes with their juice, drained and rinsed kidney beans, and the beef or chicken broth. Stir everything together.

Bring the chili to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and let it cook for at least 30 minutes, but preferably longer to allow the flavours to develop. You can simmer it for up to a few hours if you have the time.

Stir occasionally and check the seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the chili hot with your favourite toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, and lime wedges.

Note: You can customize the chili con carne recipe to your liking by adding additional vegetables like corn, using different types of beans, or adjusting the spice level. Enjoy your homemade perfect chili con carne!

Source: 2023 deur Annelien Pienaar

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