Slow cooker chilli con carne in a bowl with avocado

One of the most popular dishes in the UK, chilli con carne is warming and comforting. Perfect when the nights start to draw in and the air is cooler. This slow cooker chilli con carne is simple and easy, whilst the elongated cooking helps to really bring out the flavours.

Looking for a vegan option? Check out this quinoa chilli recipe.

What is it?

Chilli Con Carne translates from Spanish as ‘chilli with meat‘. While stews with beef and chillis have been traced back hundreds of years to Mexico, there is debate as to whether the Chilli Con Carne we know today originates from Mexico or Southern Texas. Today, Chilli con carne is the official dish of Texas, so it has very much been claimed by the state.

It combines beef, kidney beans, tomatoes and spices to make a delicious slow-cooked stew that goes with a variety of sides and toppings (read on!)

Is there a difference between chili and chilli con carne?

In the US chilli con carne is most commonly referred to simply as ‘chili’, whereas in the UK the full name ‘chilli con carne’ is typically used. There may be some variation in common ingredients and what it is typically served with although the essence of the dish is still the same.

This recipe is based on the type of chilli you will most commonly find in the UK, where chilli is also spelt with two l’s and if you asked for a chilli you would get a chilli pepper rather than a steaming and spiced beef stew!

Slow cooker chilli con carne on a plate served with rice

What can I serve it with?

In the UK the most popular accompaniment for chilli is probably rice. This is a solid choice but if you’ve made a batch and want to mix things up a little then why not try it:

  • Ladeled over a bowl of nachos
  • In a steaming baked potato
  • Inside stuffed peppers
  • Wrapped in a burrito
  • Spooned over chips (fries)
  • Served with a side of garlic bread – try this garlic pizza bread for something a little different

As for toppings and side dishes, there are so many options and you can really customise your bowl. Some great pairings are:

  • Sour Cream
  • Sliced avocado
  • Guacamole
  • Sliced red onion
  • Grated cheese (cheddar is great)

Can I make it in advance?

This chilli is perfect for making in advance. Not only is there no discernible effect on the texture after chilling and reheating, but the flavours actually intensify a little over time. You can keep this chilli con carne for up to 3 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer. Defrost before reheating and reheat on the hob/stove or in the microwave.

Slow cooker chilli con carne with chili and lime

Do I have to brown the meat first?

Technically you can place the meat and onions straight into the slow cooker rather than browning them first. However, it is strongly advised to not skip the step of browning the meat.

While it is a myth that this helps lock in the juices, the browning process actually adds flavour to the dish. When using a slow cooker the ingredients cannot brown because of the low heat and liquid content.

Why add chocolate to chilli?

If you’ve never added chocolate to chilli then prepare to be amazed. I was a true sceptic that a small amount of chocolate could really make that much difference to a big vat of chilli, but it really does! It adds body to the recipe and balances out the flavour to make it super-rich. (You need to use strong dark chocolate for this, which is bitter more than sweet).

It also makes the colour deeper, transforming the chilli into a deeper silky shade of brown!


For a full list of ingredients with weights and measurements jump to the printable recipe card.

Slow cooker chilli con carne ingredients
  • Red pepper/capsicum, diced
  • Garlic, finely chopped
  • Tinned chopped tomatoes
  • Tinned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Tomato puree (tomato puree in the US)
  • Beef stock cube or stock pot
  • Minced beef
  • Onion, diced
  • Dark chocolate minimum 70% cocoa (optional)
  • Chopped coriander, to serve


  • Red chillisubstitute with chilli powder if preferred
  • Ground cumin
  • Dried oregano
  • Smoked paprika

How to make it

For detailed steps with recipe tips jump to the printable recipe card.

Recipe steps 1-6
  1. Mix the red pepper, garlic, chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato puree and beef stock in the slow cooker pot. Set the heat to low.
  2. Sweat the onion in a large frying pan/skillet.
  3. Add the minced beef to the pan and stir often until browned all over.
  4. Add the onion and beef to the slow cooker and season well.
  5. Cook for 6-8 hours or increase the heat to high and cook for 4 hours.
  6. Add the chocolate to the chilli and allow to melt before stirring through.

Looking for more great slow cooker recipes? Try:

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Slow cooker chilli con carne in a bowl with avocado

Slow Cooker Chilli Con Carne

  • Author: caroline
  • Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Perfect for the cooler months. This slow cooker chilli con carne is simple & easy, whilst the slow cooking brings out the flavours.

The default recipe serves 4.


  • 1 large red pepper/capsicum, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 400g / 14oz tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 400g / 14oz tinned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree (tomato paste in the US)
  • 1 beef stock cube or stockpot
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g / 1.1lb minced beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 30g / 1oz dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa (see note 1)
  • finely chopped fresh coriander, to serve


  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (see note 2)
  • 1 large red chilli, finely diced (see note 3, 4, 5, 6)


  1. Add the spices, pepper, garlic, chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, and tomato puree into the slow cooker pot. Crumble over the stock cube. Mix everything together well and place on low heat and add the lid.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sweat until softened (about 4-5 minutes). 
  3. Add the mince and cook, stirring regularly, until browned all over. 
  4. Tip the mince and onion into the slow cooker, season well and stir everything together. Replace the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours or increase the heat and cook on high for 4 hours. Stir halfway through cooking to make sure that the stock cube is well distributed through the chilli. 
  5. Add the chocolate to the chilli and let melt. Stir to combine.
  6. Serve with rice and with the finely chopped coriander sprinkled on top.


  1. You can skip the chocolate if you prefer. However strong dark chocolate actually adds a savoury umami flavour due to its bitter notes.
  2. Use hot paprika if you want a lot of spice or cayenne pepper. If you want a milder chilli then use sweet paprika.
  3. Generally the larger the chilli, the hotter. Therefore if you are using small chillis you don’t necessarily need to use the same volume. 
  4. Use more chillis if you want more spice, or less if you want a mild result.
  5. Remove the chilli seeds and the inside membrane (the paler bits) unless you want it really spicy!
  6. You can substitute the whole chilli for chilli powder. Add 1-3 tsp based on your heat preferences.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 435
  • Fat: 20g
  • Carbohydrates: 25g
  • Protein: 35g

Keywords: mexican, chilli con carne, british adaptation, dinner, easy, slow cooked

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