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Chili Con Carne (Chili Beans)


If you love a hearty chili, with plenty of ground beef and pinto beans-- chunks of tomato and a perfect balance of chili, cumin and mild green chilis...this one is for you! I've been making this chili recipe for decades, and it's become a Super Bowl tradition. My version is pretty mild, but you can always add chipotle chili or lots of hot sauce if you want five-alarm chili. This is perfect to slow cook in a crockpot. Serve with grated cheese, or sour cream and guacamole. We love it with warm flour tortillas.
NOTES: This recipe might seem like a lot of work, but hold on! You don't have to make the homemade salsa, and can use your own bottled salsa. I can assure that my homemade version is really easy to make, and I use it all the time. The Mexican seasoning is also optional, if you have your own Chili seasoning that you prefer.

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  • For the Mexican Seasoning:
  • 1 pound bag pinto beans
  • 2 pounds of ground beef (80% lean recommended)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican seasoning (recipe below)
  • 1 large (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes (low salt, preferred)
  • 1 large (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste (TIP: Freeze the remaining tomato paste for future use)
  • 1 large can (7 oz.) diced mild green chilis (not jalapeno)
  • 1 cup salsa (heat level of your choice) or make my homemade version
  • 1/4 cup corn meal (optional to thicken chili) mixed with water
  • salt
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. oregano
  • For homemade salsa:
  • (optional, this makes about 32 oz)
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)**
  • 1 can canned mild green chili works fine, if you can't find Rotel tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cups Chopped Onion (I used red)
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin (use 1/2 for a milder version)
  • 1/4 teaspoons Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoons Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 cups Cilantro (more To Taste!)
  • 1/2 whole Lime Juice


Preparation time 45mins
Cooking time 120mins
Adapted from


Step 1

For the chili seasoning:
Combine the seasonings into an empty spice bottle (or small mason jar) and shake well. Can be stored for weeks. Leftover spices are perfect for seasoning taco meat or any kind of Mexican themed recipe.

For the salsa:
NOTE: You don't need to make the salsa for this recipe. I do, because I can use the leftover salsa with chips, which gives me two recipes for one!

You only need to rough chop the vegetables and toss them into a food processor, which includes:
Onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse just a few times.

Add the tomatoes and mild green chilis (or the Rotel tomatoes, if using). Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

For the chili:
The night before, rinse and drain the pinto beans; check to be sure there aren't any rocks or debris.
Heat, covered with water and a pinch of baking soda until boiling. Cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes, until the beans are tender. Drain and set aside.

To make the "Con Carne":
Brown the beef and drain any excess fat; set aside.

In a large skillet or pot, heat a little vegetable oil until shimmering.
Cook the onion until softened, about 3-5 minutes, on medium heat.
Add the minced garlic, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add two tablespoons of Mexican seasoning and the tomato paste and cook and stir until well combined-- about 3 minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and diced green chilis.
Bring the meat sauce to a simmer and taste for seasonings.
Add more Mexican Spice, if desired and add salt to your personal taste.

Add the beans to the "Con Carne" sauce. TIP: I don't add all of the beans, at once. This is where you have control of the bean-to-meat-sauce ratio.

Add the salsa and combine. You can add more salsa if you wish, but I always start with about one cup. This gives a nice acidity and balance of flavor to the Chili Con Carne.

Pour the Chili Con Carne into a slow cooker and heat on low for 4 hours. Keep on warm, which makes this perfect for a potluck.

NOTE: If the chili seems too thin, use 1/4 cup of corn meal and add enough water to create a thick paste. Add one tablespoon at a time, until thickened to your liking.

Serve with warm flour tortillas, or with corned bread, or over cooked rice.

OPTIONAL: Cook on low on the stove for an hour or two.
Freezes well.

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