How to make the ultimate chilli con carne

Learn how to make a wonderful no-fail chilli con carne with expert advice and tips from Donal Skehan.

Think you’ve got it? Find Donal’s ultimate chilli recipe here and give it a go yourself.

How to make the ultimate chilli con carne

Hearty food like this meaty chilli makes me feel happy inside. It’s full of great spices and filling ingredients and – best of all – it feeds a crowd.  I love dishes like this. They can be served straight to the table, allowing everyone to get involved.” – Donal Skehan


The cut: I think ready-made mince can be a bit bland sometimes, so I use finely chopped pieces of meat here, which give a more interesting texture and a much deeper flavour. I make mine with rib-eye steak, which can be cooked for a shorter time than stewing steak and still turn out tender.


The spicing: When feeding a crowd it’s important to keep your seasoning in check as I find people’s tolerance for hot food varies widely. I tend to make my chilli on the milder side, but you can always add more chilli powder if you think your guests can take it. I’ve also used smoked paprika and a pinch of cinnamon here, which gives the taste of the dish more complexity.

And I’ve added a spoonful of treacle, which doesn’t make it taste sweet but rounds the whole dish out beautifully. Feel free to experiment and find what works best for you.

The accompaniments: While the chilli is great on its own topped with just a dollop of crème fraîche, you can turn it into something special by serving it with some colourful side dishes such as a zingy guacamole and a fresh-tasting tomato salsa.

This chilli is a great recipe for first-time cooks and it’s perfect for entertaining crowds as you can make it ahead of time and heat  it up when you need it (the flavour improves overnight, too). It’s also a useful time-saver as you only have one pan to wash. I hope you give it a go and make it a part of your regular repertoire.



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